14 October 2013

Guess What?



I have a confession to make. Since I got interested in all things related to cycling infrastructure and road design, I find myself all excited when my monthly email update arrives from SWOV, the Dutch Institute for Road Safety Research. This is why the bloody Internet does to you and it is a disgrace. Anyway...this particular paper caught my attention for being a bit chameleon like. It is both interesting and informative, whilst also having a whiff of The Daily Mash about it.

The basic premise seems to be a bit radical for these shores, so I'm glad no self respecting UK highway engineers would be caught dead reading it. Those Dutch traffic boffins claim that the speed vehicles travel at along a section of road directly affects both the number of accidents that will happen there AND their severity. After that mind altering revelation, they go on to make the heroic suggestion that in order to achieve a desired speed limit on a road, you need to design the road environment accordingly. I presume, in my typically naive and unqualified way, that means going little bit further that just sticking up a speed limit sign and hoping that the moral fibre of passing drivers is sufficiently robust.

I like the SWOV papers not just for their earnest (and thus faintly amusing) air. More importantly, they demonstrate an enthusiasm for modern, updated and continuous research into road safety measures. They are not afraid to test ideas they themselves once promoted and to note where they fall short in practice. They cover all road users. This body of knowledge helps policy makers take decisions on the basis of study, and does not simply rely on the endlessly regurgitated, and hopelessly outdated, publications of yesteryear which seem to underpin the equivalent in this country.

I do hope that something similar exists here.


Note that this has been in my pending tray for almost a year, such is the lack of blogging I now manage to indulge in. Oops.


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