Pavement safety: facts not myths

1 min read
Pavement safety: facts not myths
Photo by the blowup / Unsplash

A sense of weary déjà vu gripped me as I read Ruth Rosenthal's recent letter in the Islington Tribune.

The letter suggests that

pavements are unsafe because of the lack of care by cyclists and users of scooters.

Such views are as common as they are misconceived.

In fact the real danger we face, even on our pavements, is from motorists. Of the 548 pedestrians killed on UK pavements in the last 13 years, 542 of the deaths involved motor vehicles. The oldest and youngest are most at risk from drivers on pavements, with 28% of pavement deaths among the under-fives. Road and weather conditions rarely play a part, with three quarters of collisions in daylight and most on dry roads, with no winds and three quarters in 30mph zones.

One crash caused 21 pedestrian casualties, among them the death of a 16 year old girl, when a young man, Ben Gemmell, drove at 47mph in a 30mph zone and swerved at a group of 30 school children to frighten them. He lost control, and ploughed into the children, receiving a custodial sentence but only a temporary ban for the 21 killed or injured.

Pavements should be a safe place for us, yet one person is killed by a driver every week while on the pavement or verge.

It is a popular and lazy trope to berate cyclists, skateboarders and others while ignoring a deadly danger so normalised, that drivers can kill or maim 21 children and not receive even a lifetime driving ban.

Let us draw a distinction between what are normally annoyances and a real and far too common threat, one that leaves families bereaved and lives wrecked.

Source: Road Peace - Pedestrian pavement deaths

Published in Islington Gazette on 11 August 2021