Someone is severely injured or dies virtually every day on Gloucestershires roads. Britain has reduced the number of vehicle accidents but in the process we have also discouraged cyclists and pedestrians from using our streets and now have the worst record for child safety in Europe. This approach is a contribution to the debate about which way forward for Stroud District and indeed Gloucestershire. We would welcome comments and thoughts.
English Heritage, the Campaign for Protection of Rural England, the Women's Institute and others have expressed support for many of the ideas, and many Councils, including our own have started to look at some of these ways forward. This report hopes to widen the debate and make this approach more accessible to a wider audience of those interested in reducing danger on our roads.
Approach in brief
The approach is not for all roads, but research has shown that reducing speeds, particularly in residential areas, to 20 mph and removing highway signage like traffic lights, speed bumps, right of way indicators, centre lines, speed-limit signs, bicycle lanes and even pedestrian crossings, can infact actually make roads safer. Basically roads can be made less dangerous when drivers stop looking at signs and start looking at other people. It is about social behaviour rather than conventional methods of separation and control of road users; the biggest mistake we make is giving people the illusion of safety.
It is not just theory. In Holland this approach has been introduced in several towns with impressive results.
Street clutter is another issue. Bill Bryson, author and English Heritage Commissioner, said: “Nothing says more, nor more immediately, of how a nation feels about itself, than the way it dresses its streets.” Councils have made a good start on this in some areas, but there are still poor environments as photos in the report show.
This approach makes sense. Already some of the ideas are being adopted in Gloucestershire. Much more is needed to really change the way we look at our roads. Gloucestershire could lead the way in really making our communities safer.
The "Better Streets for Stroud District" report by P. Booth and Cllr. S. Lunnon is online and downloadable (pdf. 2.5M) at: www.glosgreenparty.org.uk