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Making Bristol better for cycling

Road safety – why don’t we take it seriously?

Many of you will have seen the tragic rail crash in Aberdeenshire on the news where three people have sadly died. These are the first fatalities due to a derailment in the UK since 2007. Despite this very safe track record, a full and thorough investigation will be carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

The investigation isn’t about assigning blame or making prosecutions – it will result in safety recommendations being made to both the infrastructure manager and the train operator to prevent or mitigate such an event in the future.

Similar investigations occur in air travel, by the AAIB, in an industry where again safety records are very strong thanks to an ingrained “safety first” culture. Every incident, including near misses, is investigated.

In the year ending June 2019, there were 1,870 road deaths in the UK, and a further 25,950 serious injuries. Why is each one of these not investigated to see if there were any systematic failures as contributory factors?

We do see action occasionally, but it usually takes multiple incidents (sometimes deaths) at the same location before any change is made. How is that acceptable?

We’ve previously discussed just how different things might be if we were to take A Health and Safety Perspective of Cycling Safety, as in rail, aerospace, construction, or indeed any workplace. Our Road Justice campaign pressed for a Road Danger Reduction Strategy for Bristol. We’re now halfway through the 10 year plan adopted by the Council in 2015 which stated that “Almost all road deaths and injuries are preventable events”, Putting lives first on Bristol’s roads – A Safe Systems Approach.

The introduction to that strategy states the issues clearly:

Safe mobility around our city is central to the quality of life of all who live and work in Bristol. […] The citizens of Bristol should be able to go about their daily lives without being placed under undue risk of injury from traffic. A Safe Systems approach to road safety is based on the principle that life and health should not be compromised to meet the demands of mobility. Bristol should be a city where it is safe for a 10 year old child to walk independently to school.

When are we going to get serious about the appalling consequences of these daily tragedies?