Our streets can be dangerous places, particular if you are a “vulnerable” user of that space - in other words, you are not travelling in a vehicle that is heavily equipped to protect the passengers inside, but remains a danger to those outside of it.
Campaigns for Safer Streets (that focus on mobility) will largely centre on reducing the number of accidents and fatalities on our roads, with a particular focus on protecting vulnerable users such as those individuals who cycle and walk. The goal is to increase access to the street for non-car use - i.e. social, play, active travel and exercise, commerce, etc.
Since the vast majority of these incidents are caused by people in vehicles, the tactics are largely around:
The main cause of danger are vehicles, so it stands to reason that we need to measure how they use the street.
The primary measure will be the average speed of travel. Even low traffic volume streets can be dangerous if cars tend to travel at speeds that endanger others. Telraam devices measure the distribution of speeds over a period, but also report on the V85 speed changes throughout the day. It is, in fact, possible to see great variations if, for example, streets that are congested at peak hours, but with low traffic periods, create ‘open roads’ that encourage speeding.
Another measure would be total volume across the day, and week, of vehicles, and how this affects the number of active travel road users. It is likely that roads with high volumes of motor vehicle traffic, particularly if the speeds are high, will not see as many cyclists or pedestrians, who will be put off by the potential danger and pollution. Telraam devices track the different modes at the same time, and so analysis can demonstrate the effects they have, and whether interventions have any effect.
The primary measure of success of any action in respect of safer streets, would be a decrease in accidents resulting in damage to people or vehicles. However, as the goal would be to reduce this to zero, it would also be useful to show whether road use has improved to meet the goals of the local traffic plan. This could be a greater number of cyclists and pedestrians, or could simply be a better flow of traffic with lower congestion and lower speeds, and a reduction in pollution resulting from idling vehicles.
After identifying streets with existing safety issues and the factors leading to them, local residents could be recruited not only to gather traffic data using Telraam devices, but to engage them in a process to identify their experiences, and measure their levels of confidence in the safety of the street.
By co-creating interventions and solutions, residents not only will help to provide data, but are likely to have a better understanding of what needs to be done and why, and be likely to support changes that might otherwise appear to be further restrictions on them.