India’s hurried quest for development and its disregard for road safety have resulted in a major public health problem that demands serious thought and action.
This article by Professor K.S. Jacob, which is central to the matters which bring us together here in the Safe City 2018 Challenge, originally appeared in the pages of The Hindu of 6 October 2010 and was reprinted immediately in our sister publication Streets of India. As with John Whitelegg’s prescient 1993 piece on Time Pollution which was published here on Monday of this week, this independent expert commentary on safe, or rather unsafe, streets helps us to better understand the realities we need to face on the streets of our cities. Continue reading
Any public conversation about on-road cycling in Australia seems to have only one metaphor for the relationship between drivers and cyclists: equal reciprocity.
An utterance like “Drivers must respect cyclists’ space on the road” must inevitably be followed by something like “For their part, cyclists must ride responsibly and obey the road rules.”
For instance, the campaign promoting a new road safety law in New South Wales tells us:
Drivers, bicycle riders and pedestrians all need to Go Together safely. We should all respect each other’s space and ensure that everyone stays safe.
The construction of a well-defined, broadly accepted agenda for New Mobility until the present time has been sadly lacking. But what we and a numb er of our international colleagues have managed to develop over the last two decades is a certain number of agreed basic principles spanning many different areas and kinds of operational situations, but somehow until now we have failed to put them all together into a well-defined, convincing operational and policy package. We think of this as the move toward a new paradigm for transport in cities – and it all starts with . . . slowing down.
Today I would like to extract and comment on some of the graphics and thoughts developed by our colleague Carlosfelipe Pardo in a presentation which he entitled “The psychology of urban mobility”. I have extracted from his presentation three sets of images which I would now like to present you and comment briefly. (For the full original presentation please click here.)
The Highway Code: a collection of laws, advice and best practice for all road users, which mainly functions as a written basis for learning to drive as well as stipulating the letter of the law (licensing, required safety equipment, default rules, etc.) In Europe this happens at a national level, with room in some places for stricter local ordinances. In the US mainly a state prerogative. In all cases the code itself is the creature of the automotive age and is primarily concerned with defining the role and characteristics of motor vehicle driver and owner behavior.
Many European cities are of late starting to advance on the idea of establishing a far tougher “street codes”, specifically adapted to the special and more demanding conditions of driving in city traffic. This is becoming especially important as we start to see a much greater mix of vehicles, speeds and people on the street. If streets are for cars, well this is probably not a priority. But if they are “public spaces” and open to the full range of uses and users, then perhaps something along these lines is called for.
The idea is works is that legal responsibility for any accident on street, sidewalk or public space, is automatically assigned to the heavier faster vehicle. This means that the driver who hits a cyclist has to prove his innocence, as opposed to today where the cyclist must prove the driver’s guilt (not always very easy to do).
This is not quite as good as John Adams’ magnificent 1995 formulation whereby every steering wheel of every car , truck and bus would be equipped with a large sharp nail aimed directly at the driver’s heart– but it can at least help getting things moving in the right direction.
We propose to make this a major campaign theme of World Streets in 2018 and invite our readers to submit their reports, ideas and comments over the course of the months ahead.
If you look over toward the top of the left menu here, you will see that we have opened up a reader poll in an attempt to get your views as well. We also invite comment here on the results.
Some first references:
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Bio: Educated as a development economist, Francis Eric Knight Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion, he is MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent non-profit advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, incomplete information, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities. In the autumn of 2018 he committed his life work to the challenges of countering climate change from GHG emissions from the transport sector. (For more see Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh, @ericbritton. email at firstname.lastname@example.org) and Skype: newmobility