Thu 20 Oct 2011
Ever wondered why it is that the Netherlands came to have such great transport infrastructure? I have, so I was pleased to find this wee video which explains how the Dutch got such a cycle friendly counrty.
Note that in 1971 the Netherlands suffered over 400 child deaths on the roads, that is about the same as the UK at that time, but as a result of this Dutch transport policy changed. This has brought the death rate for children on Dutch roads down to 14 in 2010. In the UK there were 55 children killed on British roads in 2010 (down from 81 in the year before, the UK stats are here), that is over four times the death rate of the Netherlands. Britain has one of the worst records in western Europe for child pedestrian safety (the most up to-date figures show the number of children Killed or seriously injured on UK roads in the year to June 2011 were 1650, 1% higher than the year before). So what is the British Government doing about it? Well, they are producing videos like this:
These videos are produced by the Department for Transport to give “tips and advice for 6-11 year olds” as part of their THINK! Road Safety campaign. Watching this stuff makes me think: “why are the British people not angry about the rate of child death on our roads?” This blame the victim approach to road safety is clearly far less effective than the Dutch harm reduction approach. Why are people not angry with a government department whose mission statement is “Our vision is for a transport system that is an engine for economic growth”, and that considers this “economic growth” to be more important than the lives of British children? These car centric policies pose other threats to our children, as if the risk of being run over wasn’t enough, British children are also prone to higher levels of asthma and obesity than the rest of Western Europe.
Why do we allow politicians in Britain to think of the lives of our children as being so cheap?
Addendum: Since this blog post was written, the number of vulnerable road users killed or seriously injured (KSIs) on Britain’s roads has increased, at the same time the rate of physical activity and the general health of the population has decreased.