As much attention as air travel safety gets, it’s ultimately not airplanes that Londoners have to be worried about. As the data shows, it’s London buses and cars that are most dangerous to the city’s public health. The question is, what – if anything – is Mayor Sadiq Khan actually doing about it?
The deadly nature of London roads
Roadway safety is an issue all over the world. Globally, millions of people are injured or killed each year. But when you zoom in and look at London in particular, the causal factors seem so preventable. In particular, we’re left asking, why are London buses so dangerous?
According to one of the most recent reports, 719 people were seriously injured by city buses in the 12 months between July 2017 and June 2018. Another eight people were killed.
In other words, nearly two people are injured by Transport for London (TfL) buses every single day – a figure that Mayor Sadiq Khan has been forced to acknowledge.
“I agree with you that the statistics included in Michael Liebreich’s report are chilling, and I can assure you that I am not complacent on this issue,” Khan recently told a reporter. “It is absolutely unacceptable for anyone to be killed or seriously injured on our transport network.”
In addition to causing direct pain and suffering to victims and their families, these incidents are creating a financial burden for the TfL and other government entities in the form of lawsuits and settlements.
“A personal injury can affect your health, security, your family and your financial well-being,” Scott M. Brown & Associates explains. “You deserve compensation for damage to your health, damage to your property, lost wages, financial setbacks or medical expenses.”
But with more injuries and deaths occurring in 2019, it’s hard to shake the idea that talk is cheap. In order for progress to be made, tangible changes must be made.
Creating a plan for safer roads
In response to the deadly nature of London roads – and particularly the catastrophic impact TfL buses are having – Khan, the Metropolitan Police Service, and the TfL have joined forces to publish the Vision Zero action plan. The plan – the first of its kind – establishes a bold plan for reducing and ultimately eliminating serious injuries and deaths from London’s transport network.
The objective is to reduce the number of people injured or killed by 65 percent by 2022. By 2030, the hope is that there would be no deaths. The full Vision Zero plan will be realized in 2041.
At the heart of the plan is a goal to reduce speed limits to lower road dangers.
As London.gov explains, “TfL is now proposing to make 20mph the new general speed limit on all TfL roads within the Congestion Charging Zone (CCZ) by 2020, prioritising the part of the capital with a high volume of vulnerable road users including people who walk, cycle or use a motorcycle. 8.9km of new roads within the CCZ will now become 20mph by the end of the Mayoral term to fulfill this ambition.”
Speed limits are a major focus because of the direct correlation between vehicle speed and the rate of death and serious injury. A pedestrian hit by a vehicle at 20mph is five-times less likely to be killed than if they’re hit at 30mph. Someone hit by a vehicle traveling at 30mph has a 40 percent chance of being killed.
The TfL has also been hard at work identifying junctions with the worst safety records. They’ve compiled a list of 73 different junctions and will enact location-specific improvements to lower the risk of injury or death in these areas.
There will also be an increased emphasis on making London roads safer for cyclists. In the past, Khan has said he would triple the number of cycle lanes in London and create more connection points to a safe cycling network. However, progress has been lacking. Perhaps Vision Zero will make it a reality.
Investing in a safer future
You don’t go from 719 injuries in one year to zero the next. However, you have to start somewhere. A plan is in place to make Londoners safer. Now it remains to be seen how the plan will unfold.