Continuing the Drive to Improve Road Safety in Islington with Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Hokman Wong (specialist brain injury solicitor at Islington firm Bolt Burdon Kemp) looks at road safety in Islington and making streets safer with Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

Road traffic collisions are the main cause of severe traumatic brain injury in people aged 10 to 50.

Every day I work on cases involving brain injuries. I see the profound effect brain injury has on a person’s life and those around them. Knowing what I know about road traffic collisions and brain injuries, I realise the importance of improving road safety. Since I became a father two years ago, I’ve felt even more passionate about making streets safer for little ones, and big ones too.

Road Safety in Islington

Roads today are generally safer than they have ever been before. Over the last 15 to 20 years technology has been put in place to protect vehicle occupants. However, reduction of injuries to non vehicle occupants has been much smaller and there is evidence it may be rising.

In terms of national trends, according to Department for Transport provisional results 2019 across Great Britain:

  1. fatalities fell from 2006 to 2010 and from 2010 onwards remained flat, with year on year changes explained by one off causes or natural variation; and
  2. serious injuries declined from 2004 to 2010 and from 2010 onwards the decline continued but at a slower rate.

The overall trend is improvements in road safety have stabilised and any improvements are being made at a slower rate. There are concerns improvements are stalling.

Fatalities and serious injuries from road collisions in Islington have reflected the national trend, as can be seen in the table below.

YearTraffic volume in Islington all vehicles (million vehicles)1Islington reported total number killed or seriously injured2
2005277.290
2006280.181
2007279.2112
2008271.675
2009265.177
2010258.481
2011254100
2012248.7122
201324371
2014246.293
2015243.489
2016246.381
2017243.6125
2018237.2141

The figures for people killed or seriously injured in 2017 and 2018 are higher than previous years due to changes in the way police reported road collisions from September 2016. The previous reporting system was more subjective and is thought to result in under-reporting. TFL have adjusted pre-2017 figures to account for changes in reporting and prepared the graph3 below which shows Islington reflects the national downward trend of people killed or seriously injured in road collisions.

Continuing to Drive Improvements in Road Safety in Islington

With numbers of people in Islington killed or seriously injured in road collisions being relatively stable, bold progressive action is needed to ensure road safety continues to improve. This will be needed if TFL is going to achieve Vision Zero for London, that by 2041 all deaths and serious injuries will be eliminated from London’s transport network.

Historically Islington has taken a progressive approach to road safety. In 2002, Islington introduced its first 20mph zone. By 2009, 50% of roads in the borough were limited to 20mph. In 2010, Islington became the first borough in London to limit all residential roads to 20mph. In 2012, all roads controlled by the council were limited to 20mph. In 2018, remaining roads in Islington, controlled by TFL (for example the A1 and Camden Road), were limited to 20mph. As a pedestrian there is a massive difference being hit by a car at 20mph and 30mph. It is estimated at 20mph 1.5% will be killed and at 30mph 8% will be killed4.

In July 2020, Islington’s first Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) was put in place in St Peter’s ward. A Low Traffic Neighbourhood is an area in which “through” motor vehicle traffic is discouraged or removed. This stops rat running, improves air quality, reduces noise pollution and makes streets safer for people to walk and children to play.

Islington Council has plans to cover 1/3 of the borough with LTNs by the end of 2020. LTNs will be put into place on an experimental basis with both residents’ and users’ views being collected continually during the experimental period. Changes can be made, or the scheme re-thought, in response to observations at any time. After the 18 month experimental period a final decision is made. Using an experimental period provides for greater opportunity for consultation and views obtained are based on experience, rather than what a person thinks is going to happen.

Introducing LTNs across Islington is bold and progressive. Action like this is needed to make sure road safety continues to improve. Change is often met with resistance, but without change our roads would be no safer than they were 20 years ago. It is vital we show our support for LTNs in Islington to ensure they become permanent.

1Department for Transport Islington road traffic statistics https://roadtraffic.dft.gov.uk/local-authorities/96

2Department for Transport STATS19 records of reported road casualties in Islington http://www.travelindependent.org.uk/area_103.html

3http://content.tfl.gov.uk/2017-borough-data-factsheet-islington.pdf

420mph Zones and Speed Limits Factsheet, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, 2017