On Friday 20th Feb, representatives from West Midlands campaign groups met with David Jamieson, WM PCC, to discuss road safety. The meeting was organised by Denis Murphy, from the Campaign for Better Transport. It was also attended by David Cox, chair of the CTC, George Reeves, from Sandwell CTC, Chris Lowe, chair of Push Bikes and John Davidson from Living Streets.
Denis Murphy's presentation highlighted the importance of improving road safety for vulnerable road users, to bring the West Midlands up to the standard of countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands. While the UK does very well for safety for people in motor vehicles, risk for people walking and cycling is too high. He argued that there must be evidence based strategy setting - that the West Midlands police must use traffic policing strategies that have been proven to succeed, rather than using polite notices about speed that are ignored. David Cox, for the CTC, highlighted the high compliance with traffic regulations in the USA due to strict policing measures.
David Jamieson told us about his review of the Police and Crime Plan that will be released soon, along with a supplementary document with 116 steps for the police to follow to implement this plan. He highlighted the addition of road safety to the plan where previously it had been absent. In the West Midlands, 6 of the 7 local police boards had previously put road safety on their list of priorities but that had not been recognised in the regional plan. This plan will be released soon (watch Push Bikes’ website for details).
The issue of the split personality of people was discussed: Most people are strongly in favour of controlling motor traffic on the street where they live, but then want to ‘make progress’ (not be delayed) when they are driving elsewhere. We must have a road culture that recognises that residential roads are for people, not for rat-running, and the police need to play their role in enforcing that.
Speed cameras are an important part of enforcement, but the old film cameras have been decommissioned. Local authorities are responsible for buying new digital speed cameras (£30,000 each), while the police are responsible for processing the tickets afterwards.
Another issue is how easy it is to report road traffic incidents. We have heard that people are discouraged from making reports because of the long process involved. It is important that the West Midlands PCC ensures better processes are in place for reporting.