Institutionally unwilling to learn

Four and half years ago, Lucia Ciccioli was killed by a lorry driver at Lavender Hill. At the Inquest, the Coroner recognised that the junction layout was a contributory factor and asked Transport for London to rectify this death trap.

Last year we wrote how Transport for London failed to design a safe junction layout in the timescale they had promised.

Gareth Powell [Managing Director of Surface Transport at Transport for London], is taking advantage of a broken system. The Coroner issues a request to fix a life-threatening situation but has no power (and/or interest) to follow up; so the relevant authority plays the game: writes a letter with empty promises and then ignores them.

It seems that our blog post has spurred TfL into action: it has been reported that they have finally prepared a design, although it has not been published.

Caroline Pidgeon, London Assembly member asked this pertinent question to the Mayor:

What steps has TfL taken to identify where other similar layouts are in place on TfL’s road network, so that similar improvements can be implemented?

The answer from the Mayor is appalling (but not unexpected from someone who has no understanding of Vision Zero:

The sites in Transport for London’s (TfL’s) Safer Junctions programme are determined using Excess Harm by applying a weighting to casualties based on severity and annual average daily traffic flows to determine total harm per million passenger journeys for each location. Excess harm is the additional harm observed per road segment compared to expected harm.

TfL has mapped the Casualty Harm Rate and Excess Harm data to highlight the most harmful roads and this information is available to the boroughs. Sites have not been identified where there are similarities to those found at the Lavender Hill / Elspeth Road junction because Excess Harm assessment is better for reducing road casualties. Similarly, TfL works closely with boroughs and encourages them to use a similar evidence-based approach to identifying priorities to reduce road danger on roads they manage.

As an answer to a follow up question, the Mayor adds

I understand that this is an experimental methodology and was used in conjunction with an existing framework to prioritise funding for existing schemes.

You can read a short explanation of TfL’s Excess Harm methodology here. This is the key formula:

In other words, TfL calculates the expected casualty rate on the network, allocates it according to road type, and will intervene only if the KSI rate on a stretch of road is higher than the expected one.

This shows that Vision Zero is NOT really one of the Mayor’s policies. Because if it were, the second part of the numerator would be zero and the methodology would become meaningless.

Let’s summarise:

  • Transport for London still equates casualties with danger: if they don’t see a corpse they will not fix it
  • Transport for London refuses to learn from failure and actively encourages other transport authorities in London to abstain from learning from failure
  • Transport for London adopts an experimental methodology that contravenes the most important principles of its core road safety policy and calls it evidence-based approach

Sadiq Khan is not an idiot; he is an arrogant liar who thinks he can fool Londoners; just like his predecessor.

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