2016 was a horrendous year for road casualties

The latest government figures on road casualties confirm the link between austerity and increased danger on the roads. The link was outlined in a report by RoadPeace in May this year https://jennyjonesdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/roadpeace-lawless-roads-report-2017.pdf  Today’s figures show that the number of people who were killed or seriously injured (KSI) on the roads in 2016 has risen. The Government has caveated the rise in serious injuries by saying that the police under-reported such injuries in previous years and suggest that the number remains virtually unchanged. However, the flatlining of KSI figures since 2010 contrasts with a 16% decline in the 5 years prior to austerity starting in 2010 and far bigger declines in the years before that. Continue reading “2016 was a horrendous year for road casualties”

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Air pollution and the Labour Party

As a speaker at the Transport Times breakfast debate on air pollution at the Labour Party conference, I told the audience:

 

  • Traffic reduction is the fastest most direct way of reducing pollution. Stop building new roads and invest in public transport instead. When Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone reduced traffic by 1% a year, despite the population growing by a 100,000 per annum. With Green Party support, he brought in the congestion charge, and an expanded bus fleet.

 

  • All governments (Labour, Conservative and Coalition) have failed to protect human health and prevent premature deaths because they have relied on the technical fix of cleaner vehicles to solve the problem. The UK government waited for the EU to act and the European Commission got scammed by many of the vehicle manufacturers (i.e. defeat devices etc..)

 

  • There is a post-Brexit opportunity to push through a new Clean Air Act and to create an enforcement agency similar to the Environmental Protection Agency in the US. It needs to be independent of DEFRA, set its own regulations, and people must have the right to sue it if the agency fails to deliver.

 

  • Local authorities in air pollution hotspots must introduce Low Emission Zones by next year, or join the UK government in court. They owe it to their residents and to their council tax payers to over-ride objections from the motoring lobby. Client Earth have successfully taken the Government to court and won. In response, the Government’s new strategy is to pass the buck to local authorities. You have been warned.

Best way to reduce congestion is to reduce traffic

Yesterday, the Lords debated congestion and being the only green in the room, I said what the experts say – we need ‘pay as you go’ driving. I was pleased that I got a bit of support from some of the Labour and Lib Dem peers. The government don’t deny it will work, they just think it will be unpopular with motorists. Continue reading “Best way to reduce congestion is to reduce traffic”

Brexit, a Clean Air Act and cycle lanes

Brexit will impact on every aspect of our lives, creating endless trauma but also the chance to improve things. We will need our own laws and our own enforcement agencies, and it’s an opportunity to create a body like the Environmental Protection Agency in the US, with its own staff, legal powers and a culture of independence from Government.
Continue reading “Brexit, a Clean Air Act and cycle lanes”

New report shows need for driving bans

I was involved in taking evidence and drawing up the recommendations in the new report from the Parliamentary cycling group. Many of the stories I heard were of injustice, as the rules of the road are either unenforced by overstretched police or sidestepped through the use of legal loopholes.

For example, does anyone seriously think that the number of driving bans has fallen by 62% over the last 10 years because the quality of our driving has improved? The rules on claiming ‘hardship’ to avoid a driving ban haven’t changed, but the inclination of Magistrates to let people off has. When the ‘exception’ becomes the norm, then the law has to be changed to close the loophole and ensure that dangerous drivers are taken off the road and restricted to using buses/taxis.

The Guardian has a good summary of the report here

 

Government ignores London’s pollution cloud

London has suffered two major air pollution episodes so far this winter and the Government appears to have ignored both.  I have written a series of questions asking about health warnings to the public and advising people to avoid driving in polluted areas. Also, why they haven’t released the figures from a study into deaths related directly to the air pollution episode in 2012. Continue reading “Government ignores London’s pollution cloud”