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UK city roads ‘unsafe for children’, say drivers

The streets of British cities are too dangerous for children to safely walk down – so say car drivers themselves.

With the number of road deaths rising, safety campaigners are supporting drivers’ calls for the transformation of city streets after a report showed that drivers do not think the streets are safe for youngsters, and who also support policies prioritising walking and cycling.

The report, highlighting drivers’ calls for government action to reduce the risk to vulnerable road users like children and cyclists, was carried out by road safety organisation Brake and insurance company Direct Line.

Move around in safe and health ways

Latest figures from the Department of Transport show that the number of child pedestrians – those aged up to 15 – killed on the road rose from 22 in 2017 to 28 in 2018, a rise of 27 per cent. During the same period there were also 1,276 serious injuries sustained by child pedestrians, an average of more than three every day.

Brake is supporting the drivers’ feedback, and says changes would enable children to move around cities in safe and healthy ways, with priority given to getting around on foot or bike. It wants a big increase in funding for walking and cycling infrastructure, safer speed limits in urban areas and more accessible and affordable public transport. The key goal, says Brake, is making cities ‘people-friendly’, and not geared mainly towards vehicles.

‘We should all be free to move around safely’

Drivers acknowledged the need to take action to reduce the risks to vulnerable road users, with almost half (46 per cent) saying that walking and cycling should be given greatest priority when moving around UK city streets. In contrast, just 15 per cent of drivers thought priority should be given to motor vehicles.

Joshua Harris, Director of Campaigns for Brake, said: “Walking to and from school or a friend’s house should be a natural, and safe, part of growing up and so it’s hugely concerning that drivers think children walking are at risk due to the threat posed by traffic in cities. We should all be free to move around in safe and healthy ways, whether on foot or by bike, but the dominance of motor traffic is preventing us from doing so.

‘It’s great that drivers support this’

“It’s time to transform our urban areas into places for people, not for vehicles, and it’s great to see that drivers themselves support this move. More and safer routes for people walking and cycling alongside slower vehicle speeds are vital to help make our cities more safe and healthy places to be – we need cities for people, not cities for vehicles.”

The report, Cities for People, is available here.

Author: Simon Weedy

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