Report of the Interim Executive Director, Environment.
An Officer introduced the report and stated that the Vision Zero plan set out the ambition to reduce road danger on the City’s streets and reduce the number of fatal and serious injuries to zero in the longer term. Members were informed that the plan had been considered by the Streets and Walkway’s Sub-Committee and the Police Authority Board. There had also been a briefing of Planning and Transportation Committee Members and Police Authority Board Members. The Officer stated that the plan had been amended following Member feedback. He informed Members that the document was now more succinct and focused on the areas where the most difference could be made. In addition, the engineering and infrastructure improvement elements had been moved to the front of the document and there was a new section on delivering the plan which set out timescales and funding sources. The Officer stated that the funding for the plan was now in closer alignment than it was previously, in terms of the City of London Police funding envelope, and there was not an expectation of additional unfunded commitments from the City of London Police. The Officer stated that there was a broad range of ambitious proposals to help achieve the interim targets, reducing fatal and serious injuries in the City.
The Officer stated that aside from existing TfL Local Implementation Plan funding, the delivery of the plan depended on the success of future capital funding bids. He assured Members that the approach to these forthcoming bids would be considered, would be spread across the period of the plan and would fully comply with all existing governance and decision-making procedures.
In response to a Member’s question, the Officer confirmed that there had been a reduction in terms of the numbers of fatal and serious injuries during the pandemic, mainly due to lower numbers of people in the City. Through the delivery of the schemes and initiatives, steps had been taken to try and ensure that as additional numbers of people returned to the City, there was not a concurrent increase in the numbers of those fatally or seriously injured. Unfortunately, in 2022, the figures for the City, and across London, showed an increase in the number of people killed and seriously injured. This showed the need for a more ambitious plan, as outlined in the Officer report.
A Member asked if work was being done with the Safer City Partnership regarding unsafe cycling and taking enforcement action or educating cyclists. The Officer stated that the plan set out the different types of conflict that existed between different street users in the city e.g. the conflict between people walking and cycling. There were a number of commitments included within the plan which built upon existing work principally undertaken by colleagues in the City of London Police in terms of ensuring that dangerous cycling was tackled in an appropriate way. It was also central to the design of new infrastructure improvements to ensure it was addressed and discouraged as much as possible. The plan set out initiatives across the themes of streets, people's behaviours, and the vehicles themselves.
An Officer stated that the police were currently running a successful operation, Operation Lewis, with a cycling team dealing with cycling issues. There had been a high level of engagement with cyclists and pedestrians. There had also been a number of stop and search outcomes from it, warning notices and fixed penalty notices issued, and the outcomes were reported through the Safer City Partnership to the Police Authority Board.
A Member stated that 50% of accidents were caused by inattention and this needed to be addressed through behavioural change. He asked how it was proposed to do this. The Officer stated that it was difficult to change behaviour and while themes of activity within safe behaviours would be considered, it was important to take a holistic approach to understand how behaviours could be influenced in other ways too e.g. through the design of the street environment.
A Member commented that pedestrians distracted on mobile phones was an issue and was not referred to specifically in the plan. An Officer stated that the plan stated there was a need to understand more about the system and more about conflicts that occurred. The plan recognised there was more to do in terms of understanding and building on knowledge and research in this area. There was a commitment to looking at this in more detail. Findings of research would then lead into the potential for more intervention in future.
In response to a Member’s concern about dockless cycles being abandoned rather than left in bays, an Officer stated that a Member briefing had been held with one of the operators and a report to the next Streets and Walkways Sub-Committee had been requested on short, medium and long-term proposals to demonstrate the actions being taken. A Member briefing would also be held with another operator had also been arranged.
A Member commented that the police cycle team had recently been increased in size. She stated that many Members had been out with the police either observing or collecting data and that the police were working to tackle cycling issues. She raised concern that it was more difficult to tackle the issue of inattentive pedestrians. A Member stated that cyclists and motorists should be made aware that the City was predominantly a pedestrian-friendly environment and they should be looking out for pedestrians.
In response to a Member’s question, the Officer stated that the quality of data was imperative for the development and delivery of the plan. There had been improvements in the data received and there were actions in the plan to continue to improve the insight and understanding from the data. In addition, the allocation and prioritisation of funding in relation to the plan was associated with the priorities seen in the data.
A Member asked if measures could be taken to discourage vehicles from entering the space at junctions intended only for cyclists, and if increasing the offer around cycling proficiency courses was part of the plan. The Officer stated the importance of maintaining cycle safety through protected and safe space for them, including advanced stop lines and advanced stop boxes and this was referred to in the plan. The Officer also stated that cycle training had been delivered for a number of years and would continue to be funded through the Transport for London Local Implementation Plan. The Officer referred to the work being done by City of London Police colleagues, including through Operation Lewis, for example, where officers were riding bicycles and having a visible presence, and also the good work of the roads policing unit which would continue to enforce and discourage encroachment into advanced stop lines by motorists.
A Member stated that it would be difficult to change the behaviours of pedestrians and there had to be a focus on improving safety at junctions and crossings. She stated that the report mentioned that the majority of accidents took place at T-junctions and crossings and at nighttime. She commented that speeds tended to be higher then than they were during the day. She raised concern about the clusters of collisions shown in the report and asked if having all the traffic lights at a junction turning red at the same time so pedestrians could cross would reduce pedestrian confusion and the risk of collisions. She asked if more raised ramps and better lighting at T-junctions could also help. The Officer stated that there was a list of the 10 priority junction locations, to be a priority for the period of the plan with the process of junction prioritisation undertaken on an annual basis to ensure that any emerging issues and new hotspots were acted upon. The Officer stated that Officers worked closely with Transport for London as the strategic highway authority, responsible for traffic signals, including the extent to which there might be more appropriate ways and more understandable ways for people walking to cross junctions. He stated that Officers would continue to work with colleagues at TfL to ensure that they continued to evolve and harness new technologies regarding signalling.
RESOLVED – That the Vision Zero Plan 2023 – 2028 be approved.