Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for July 24th, 2007

Traffic Deaths Decline, NHTSA Says

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Health – RedOrbit

Highway crashes killed 42,642 people last year, said Nicole Nason, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That compares with the 43,510 who died in 2005, according to the agency’s latest figures.

So that’s Good News, right?

Just for the sake of perspective the number of deaths in combat of US troops since the Iraq war started  in March 2003 is now 3,637. (source:

Written by Stephen Rees

July 24, 2007 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Road safety

Accidents Halved As Street is Stripped of Safety Features

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Business – RedOrbit

It started in Holland and has now spread to the UK. I am willing to bet that none of the risk averse professional engineers who command our streets will be willing to risk trying it here. The entire professional ethos of the PEng is not to step out of the conventional way of doing things.

The whole point of the exercise is to change expectations. Drivers are forced to think about that they are doing. How many collisions occur because the driver is convinced that because he was doing what the sign says he was justified in ignoring everything else? How often have you heard the excuse “I didn’t see you!” – of course not, you were not looking for me.

the number of accidents in Kensington High Street has fallen from 71 a year to just 40 a drop of nearly 44 per cent. Accident levels on comparable roads across London have fallen by only 17.5 per cent, an internal council study shows. Since the scheme was completed in September 2003, the number of pedestrians hurt has fallen from 26 a year to nine.

Today the scheme’s champion, Councillor Daniel Moylan, said it would be copied nationwide.

“We are having visitors from all over the UK and indeed from overseas and they all want to produce their own versions,” he said. “It is about re-establishing eye contact between road users. They are now looking at each other instead of just signs” The report says vehicle speeds have fallen and drivers appear “more alert to the presence of pedestrians and that they cross the street over its whole length”.

UPDATE July 26

I got a message in email from CITE (Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers) about Walk21 Toronto 2007

Walk21 Toronto is excited to feature reknowned traffic engineer, Hans Monderman of the Netherlands, as a keynote speaker on Wednesday morning. Monderman is recognized as a pioneer of the ‘shared space’ approach to designing streets. This innovative approach, often referred to as naked streets, is designed to create spaces where pedestrians, cyclists and drivers are considered equal, by removing the traditional traffic safety devices such as traffic lights, stop signs, traffic signs, lane markings and sometimes curbs. The result is safer streets where drivers and pedestrians respond to their environment rather than the “rules of the road”. Initially ridiculed, Monderman’s traffic design ideas are now imitated around the world. Hans’s presentation will be followed by a lively discussion on the shared space and naked streets. For more information about this concept visit the European Union sponsored Shared Space project.

So maybe my jeremiad about engineers will not come true and we may see something happening – if not in this region, somewhere in Canada. The conference is in October but the “early bird” savings end at the end of this month.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 24, 2007 at 11:58 am

Posted in Road safety