The RAC Foundation complained today that motorists pay £32 billion in taxation each year but only get a ‘paltry’ £10 billion spent on road-building.
OK, so what if they had remembered to include the £8 billion ‘cost’ per year for road fatalities (Audit Commission, 2008), the £8-20 billion ‘cost’ of the 50,000 early deaths caused by air pollution, much of it caused by road traffic (Commons Environmental Audit Committee, 2010 ) and the £7 billion negative effects of the emission of 90 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year (DfT National Transport Model Road Forecasts 2011, page 52, at an estimated cost of £70 per tonne (Social cost of carbon OECD)? Include those and the direct measurable costs of motoring have reached £33 – 45 billion comfortably exceeds what motorists pay, even without considering of noise pollution, loss of amenity and military campaigns aimed at protecting access to fossil fuels!
Also, why does one have to keep on reminding these organisations that taxation is expected to cover more than the direct consequences of the activity? Not doing so is like a gambler complaining that it is unfair that taxation from gambling brings in more money that is spent on the negative social to families and communities of gambling addiction, or a drinker/ smoker complaining that taxation exceeds the negative effects to society and family of their activity. Check out the great campaign, iPaxRoadTax for a history lesson in how motorists have been pleading for special tax treatment since Winston Churchill ended the Road Fund in 1937!
Edinburgh is proposing a significant increase in the number of streets covered by 20mph. This is being promoted as a way to encourage waking and cycling and to improve road safety. It has been reported that they also support the scheme because ‘lower speeds make people feel safer when they are walking and cycling and make streets better places to live’. I am very supportive of 20mph zones, I live in one myself, and they do indeed help make streets feel less intimidating. However.. it is also very clear that 30 mph speed limits are being retained on the roads where most people are getting injured.
Here are three maps to show the compromises being taken between road safety and ‘keeping traffic moving’. The first map shows the proposed streets to be 20 mph (green and yellow) and 30 mph (blue). The second map shows where people have been injured between 2000 and 2010 by mode (blue for pedestrian, red for cyclists, tan/green for vehicle occupant). The final map shows these two superimposed illustrating that very few crashes from the past 10 years have actually occurred on the roads included on the scheme. (Click on maps for full size versions)
Existing 20 mph zones (green) and proposed schemes (yellow)
Location of traffic casualties by mode in Edinburgh 2000-2010
Overlay, traffic casualties 2000-2010 on top of proposed speed limits
One realistic approach for now might be to welcome the introduction of these 20 mph limits in residential areas and also to also press for average speed camera checks on the remaining arterial roads enforcing the 30 mph limit as they have just installed in part of Plymouth.
The Stats19 casualty data that the police have been patiently collecting for many years now is a mine of information. Here are some maps looking at where pedestrians and cyclists are injured and killed depending on their ages. I have taken three places which show up some patterns which deserve more analysis (London, Edinburgh and Northampton). There are some obvious patterns, in that children are hurt in the residential areas, 16-55 year olds tend to be injured in the commercial centres and along the main arterial roads whereas 55+ year olds have their own distinct patterns. However, it is also possible to see tell-tail clusters which deserve more investigation, including the apparent rat-runs along ‘residential’ roads that have much higher levels of injury than surrounding roads, and also the junctions and sections roads where higher numbers of casualties that surrounding ones. Click on the maps to make them bigger and see what you can find.
South London pedestrian and cyclist casualties by age 2000-2010
Edinburgh pedestrian and cyclist casualties by age 2000-2010
Northampton pedestrian and cyclist casualties by age 2000-2010
Lots more mapping coming up on the lead up to World Remembrance Day for Road Traffic Victims on the 20th Nov.
Thank you to the hundreds of cyclists who took part in the Tour du danger today to highlight a number of London’s most dangerous junctions and put pressure on the Mayor and on TfL to do some serious work on them.
Here are some maps showing where people are have been getting killed and injured in recent years. The first one shows deaths and injuries from traffic crashes between 2000 and 2010, the second for 2010 only and the next one for 2009 and the final one for 2000. Areas of blue indicate were pedestrians are getting injured and killed, red shows the high risk areas for cyclists. Purple is for motorcyclists and tan/green for vehicle occupants. Click on the images to see them full size.
Road casualties in Central London 2000-2010
Road casualties in Central London 2010
Road casualties in Central London 2009
Road Casualties in Central London 2000
These maps appear to show that fatalities amongst vehicle occupants has fallen from 17 in 2000 to one in 2009 and then zero in 2010. For cyclists the trend is apparently going the other way (up from four in 2000 to eight in 2009 and also in 2010). Motorcyclist fatalities are up from 0 in 2000 to 6 in 2010, pedestrians falling significantly. Do however be aware that this map only shows one fatality blob for crashes with multiple fatalities (which may include multiple modes). I will do some more work on this in the coming week and the figures may then need to be adjusted upwards.
Based on Stats19 road casualty data. See ‘Reported Road Casualties Great Britain‘ for more details.
Having abolished the M4 bus lane some hard-line motorists are now gunning for getting rid of bus lanes and are regretably even getting the support of local papers. A great example of this sort of thing is the campaign to get rid of the bus lane along the A40 into High Wycombe is now being championed by the Bucks Free Press who have created a ‘ban the bus lane’ petition to support their ’cause’.
The advocates of removing the bus lane say that it is dangerous and slows motorists – the council patiently explains that removing the bus lane will not increase the number of vehicles able to get into the town and will only result in slower journeys because of bus passengers switching to cars. The bus company point out that the lane is well used by buses and that they are about to increase the level of service with new buses.
Here are some maps showing what is going on (all taken from official data). The first one shows bus service frequency on roads in the area (yellow most frequent) and confirms that there are many bus services along the A40 from Loudwater in the bottomm right of the map into High Wycombe at the top left. The second one shows traffic counts and traffic mix in the area in 2008 – the small yellow dot on the A40 towards the bottom right indicates that over 85% of the vehicles using that road are private cars or taxis. This confirms that the problem of congestion on the road is from cars not buses!
Bus service frequency on A40 into High Wycombe
Traffic counts and traffic mix around High Wycombe
One of the reasons given for removing the bus lane is because ‘it is an accident waiting to happen’. Here are the actually accident results since 1985 on the road (big red dots a pedestrian fatality, small red dot a pedestrian serious injury, big blue dot for a driver fatality and a small blue dot for a driver serious injury). There have regrettably been six of pedestrian fatalities and two driver fatalities and also a number of driver serious injuries (how fast do you have to be traveling in a car in an urban area to have a serious injury I wonder)! Possibly this is a good reason to slower well-enforced speed limits rather than the removal of a bus lane?
The final map shows where the schools are and where the kids live. As you can see most of the kids have to cross the A40 road to get to school each day.
Fatalities and serious injuries on the A40 approach to High Wycombe
The location of school and school-age kids to the SE of High Wycombe
All maps produced by the pre-release version of ITO Map. Base mapping OpenStreetMap and contributors. All maps cc-by-sa 3.0.
Ministers have just announced that there will be no ‘travel mode’ question in the next school census. I find this curious because the school run is a hugely challenging and emotive subject for parents and for other car commuters. Here are a couple of charts showing who how things have changed over the past 15 years during which time this information has been collected. Notice that more primary age kids will be traveling to school by car than on foot soon if current trends continue, also that the car and local bus is gaining with secondary school age kids at the expense of waking. Cycling is lost in the noise at the bottom. I wonder if the parents at these Brentwood schools parents will start chucking rocks at traffic wardens again? Was it relevant, per-chance that these statics were first collected in 1995 just after the previous conservative government abandoned the ‘great car economy’ following an epidemic of road protests in the 1990s? (walking is dark blue and is highest for both groups, cars are in yellow and are next highest for primary school kids and have similar percentage as for local buses for secondary school kids. Local buses are in dark purple).
Travel to school by mode of transport (1995-2010)
Exploring the idea of ‘peak car‘ a little further, here is a chart showing the percentage of people with full driving licences by age and how this has changed over time. It seems that driving is morphing from something that younger people do to one that older people do and from a male thing to a much more gender-neutral thing. Notice how the percentage of 17-20 and 20-30 year olds has fallen since the mid 1990s and how the number of 50-60, 60-70 and 70+ year olds has been rising steadily; the percentage of people 60-70 year olds overtook the percentage of 20-30 year olds in 2001 and the 70+ year olds are about to do the same.
The two smaller charts break this data down by gender. The percentage of 70+ men overtook 20-30 men in about 2003. The percentage of women with driving licenses grew fast from a much lower base in 1975 getting much closer to parity with men over time. The recent decline in licences held by younger women has been less pronounced than for younger men. Source data from the Department for Transport.
Here are an interesting set of charts created from data published by the DfT showing car ownership levels in each of 11 areas making up GB (the nine English regions together with Scotland and Wales). These figures have been adjusted to changing populations within each region. What is interesting is to see how some areas with high ownership levels already are continuing to add more every year (South East and South West for example),but that levels are much more stable in the East of England and West Midlands with percentages decreasing significantly in London and in the North West. Is this an effect of the recession, of regional economic issues or ‘peak car‘? I suspect that all of these issues are relevant to different degrees in different places. The total increase in registered vehicles in the period 2000 and 2010 for Great Britain was an impressive 4,015,328 units or of which have had to go somewhere, mainly in the south it seems.
Car ownership levels 2000-2010
I have updated the above chart to include population changes within the period using this data.
There has been quite a lot of interest in the idea of ‘peak car‘ recently which proposes that we may have already reached a point of ‘peak car’ and that from here on car use may decline rather than grow further or level off. Total vehicle mileage in the UK has indeed declined since 2005 and in London since the early 1990s. Read about this in The Independent and in the New Statesman. Significantly, the government predicted back in 2003 that traffic would grow by 25% by 2025 and that vehicle ownership would grow by 30%. Both of which now seem very unrealistic and should probably be reviewed!
By contrast the number of cars on UK roads has continued its relentless rise (growing 27% during Labour’s term in office from 1997-2010). This should mean that each cars are each traveling less distance per year and this is indeed true. Mileage per car peaked at 10,600 in 1995, and is now down to 9,200 and heading down to levels last seen in the 1960s!
Mileage per car per year
Interestingly the percentage of 21-29 year olds with driving licenses has also fallen. It is now 65%, down from a peak of 74% in 1992-1994 and a percentage which was last seen back in 1985.
Vehicle mileage: ‘TRA9908 Road traffic by type of vehicle, historic in kilometres‘
Vehicle stock: Various sources from Vehicle licensing statistics