Leon Daniels Promotion of Cycling, and Vision Zero Failing

OnLondon have published a very interesting talk by Leon Daniels  – see link below. He was the former Managing Director of Surface Transport for TfL and “acted extraordinarily quickly” to implement the Cycle Superhighways. Indeed he suggests that he might have barged them through without properly considering the views of all interested parties and assessing the outcomes properly.

The reason he gives for their implementation was to cut the number of cyclist deaths on London’s roads and to tackle the air quality issue by encouraging more cycling. But he concedes that the cycling infrastructure has had a negative effect on bus speeds and “indeed for all traffic”.

His solution to end the war between different kinds of road users is a “self-healing” city although it’s not totally clear what he means by that.

Comment: Cycle superhighways and other cycling infrastructure have not cut cycling deaths and cycling is still very much the interest of a small minority so the reallocation of road space to them has had negligible impact on traffic. Indeed it has caused more traffic congestion and hence more air pollution. It was clearly a poorly thought through policy with unintended consequences.

You can read Mr Daniel’s talk here:

https://www.onlondon.co.uk/leon-daniels-london-cycling-and-the-self-healing-city/

Vision Zero is one of the policies being pursued by TfL to reduce road casualties. It promotes traffic speed reduction among other things. We have commented previously on how ineffective it has proved to be – see https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2019/07/29/mayors-vision-zero-strategy-failing/

Now there is similar evidence from the USA. Vision Zero is aimed at reducing deaths and serious injuries to zero, but in major US cities who have adopted the strategy they are far from achieving their target. In fact cyclist and pedestrian casualties in the USA have been increasing and the figures for individual cities show there are very mixed result. See https://www.citylab.com/newsletter-editions/2019/11/citylab-daily/602455/ and here  https://www.motorists.org/blog/do-vision-zero-programs-equal-more-traffic-accidents/ for details.

Vision Zero was a policy invented in Sweden in 1997. To quote from an OECD report on accident figures in Sweden: “The longer-term trend for road deaths in Sweden has been downwards trending. Between 2000 and 2018, the number of annual road fatalities fell by 45%. However, the trend in the decline of traffic fatalities has stagnated since 2010. The road fatalities total for 2018 is actually a 21.8% increase on 2010’s total”. It would seem that the policy is failing in Sweden also now.

Comment: Vision Zero is probably failing because it is like all simplistic road safety policies pursued by well-meaning but ignorant politicians. Having an objective which is widely publicised without a clear view on what measures will actually achieve it in the long-term is not helpful. Vision Zero seems to be diverting road safety resources from what is known to work to policies that don’t.

Roger Lawson

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2 thoughts on “Leon Daniels Promotion of Cycling, and Vision Zero Failing

    • Not much is being done to correct the mistake as the Mayor supports the current Transport Strategy so if he gets re-elected nothing will change.

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