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Road safety strategy: Letter to Jane Kennedy and Steve Rotheram

Letter from Wirral Pedestrians Association, Merseyside Cycling Campaign, and Liverpool Pedestrians Association

The letter below was sent on 13 September 2017 setting out concerns that the July 2017 regional road safety strategy would do little to improve road safety.

Replies were received on 17 and 18 October from Jane Kennedy, Steve Rotheram and Sean Traynor - see https://wacm.org.uk/50.html. Sean Traynor is Vice Chair of the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership.

Meetings have subsequently been held, but have not so far (December 2018) resulted in any improvement in the strategy.

96 deaths on Merseyside’s roads and the lack of action

To Jane Kennedy, Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner,
Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor

Dear Mrs Kennedy and Mr Rotheram,

We are writing to you about the recently agreed LCR Road Safety Strategy 2017-2020 [1] .

We welcome the production of a Strategy, but have serious concerns that it will do very little to reduce road casualties.

During the 4 years of 2012-2015 (the last 4 years for which we have figures), there were 96 road deaths in Merseyside. Like the 96 people in the Hillsborough tragedy, these 96 people left home expecting to return safely, but were never again seen alive by their families. Unlike Hillsborough, very little has been done to prevent a recurrence, and so another 96 people are now dying on Merseyside’s roads over the coming four years 2017-2020.

Merseyside needs an effective road safety strategy, not just to prevent these 96 deaths, but also to prevent the 2200 serious injuries and the 14,000 other injuries that will occur, and to remove the widespread fear of taking healthy exercise by walking and cycling.

We have serious concerns about all aspects of the recently published LCR Road Safety Strategy 2017-2020.

Considering it (and rating it) under 10 headings:-

1. What is the vision? The vision in the Strategy of zero road deaths is excellent, as is the interim target reduction in KSIs to less than 400 per year by 2020. However, there is no mention of removing the fear of motor vehicles when walking and cycling that is causing so much ill health in Merseyside, or of making roads accessible for all road users of all needs, or of reducing vehicle numbers to reduce pollution. So overall the vision should be judged FAIR.

2. What is the current situation? The summary in the Strategy is POOR, e.g. (a) the emphasis in the Strategy is on blaming road users for injuries and deaths rather than accepting that casualties occur because of the unsafe road system that has been created, and that road danger needs to be reduced; and (b) the high rate of child pedestrian KSIs per 100,000 children (second worst in Great Britain [2]) is ignored.

3. What has been done recently and did it work? The Strategy is POOR, e.g. it overclaims responsibility for the fall in numbers of child pedestrian casualties, ignoring the decline in children walking independently.

4. What options could be included? The Strategy is POOR. There should be a review of best practice interventions, but only a very limited range of measures are considered in the Strategy, e.g. there is no reference to 20mph speed limits, or the comprehensive Safe System approach as implemented in the Netherlands.

5. What options should be selected? The Strategy is POOR. To meet the target KSI reductions, there needs to be a radical, new, Safe System approach to road safety, but the measures included in the Strategy are little different to those that have failed to reduce casualties over the last 5 years. The Strategy should include a discussion of which options have been selected, and which have not, and why - but this is absent. For example, there is no indication why greater use of 20mph speed limits has been left out of the Strategy.

6. How will the most vulnerable be cared for? The Strategy is POOR. The most vulnerable road users are (a) child pedestrians, and (b) adult pedestrians with disabilities, but the Strategy includes no special measures for them. Even worse, child pedestrians have been excluded from the groups that have been identified as areas of concern, which ignores Merseyside’s high rate of child pedestrian KSIs.

7. What resources will be allocated and when? The Strategy is POOR - it includes no funding commitments or timescales.

8. Is the Strategy as good as it can be? The process of writing the Strategy has been POOR. There was no public consultation on the Strategy; and scrutiny procedures in the region are not working properly, e.g. in 2014, Liverpool City Council announced an inquiry into its poor road casualty figures, but the Scrutiny Committee never produced a report.

9. How will the Strategy be monitored? The Strategy is POOR. It states (p12) that “We will develop a monitoring and evaluation plan”, but this should have been done already.

10. Do we have the right culture? The road safety culture in the region is POOR. We need a caring, competent and committed approach to road safety, but the Strategy does not show it. We need urgency, but it has taken over 2 years to produce the Strategy, and now that it has been produced, the local authorities should be announcing and publicising their own strategies, but there is no sign of this happening. We need relentless pursuit of excellence and meticulous attention to detail, but we do not have them.

In summary, we feel that the Strategy is very poor, that it shows a failure in safeguarding children, that it will do little to reduce road danger, that this will result in a further 96 road deaths in Merseyside in the four years covered by the Strategy, and that a revision, update or supplementary plan is needed.

We would be very willing to attend a meeting with you to elaborate on these concerns.


Ian Campbell, Secretary, Wirral Pedestrians Association
Andrew Grimley, Secretary, Merseyside Cycling Campaign
Eleanor Foster, Campaigns Manager, Liverpool Pedestrians Association

[1] www.liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk/uploadedfiles/images/Item x LCR Road Safety Strategy FINAL 2017 - 2020.pdf
[2] http://www.pedestriansafety.org.uk/casualties_by_police_area.html

Last updated: 16 Dec 2018