ECOMM 2011
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When working on the promotion of walking and cycling one inevitably encounters the issue of road safety. The modal share of walking and cycling can hardly be increased if people feel it is unsafe to use these modes of transport. That is why this e-update will explore the relationship between Mobility Management (MM) and road safety. We will also give you an overview of the major issues and actors in the field of road safety in Europe.


‘Soft’ measures for road safety

Blurry Vision

Road safety is all about three basic factors and their interactions: road infrastructure, vehicle construction and the road user. Similar to mobility management, road safety improvement can be categorized into ‘hard’ technical measures (safer vehicles and roads) and ‘soft’ behavioural measures (awareness raising for safe behaviour). The main behaviours to be targeted are drinking and driving, speeding, and seat belt use. It is estimated that, if everybody would fasten their seatbelt, respect speed limits, and would not drive under the influence of alcohol, we could save more than 12 000 lives a year on European roads.


Campaigning for safe behaviour

CAST logo

Logo Preventable

Thailand fake accident

Awareness raising for safe behaviour is vital for road safety. The EU project CAST focused on how to design effective road safety campaigns. It stressed the need to do a baseline measurement and an evaluation, so the effects of the campaign can be measured and money can be spent in a rewarding way. The CAST tools, including a step-by-step booklet in 21 languages, are available for download here.

A remarkable campaign against speeding was carried out at the beginning of the school year in Vancouver, Canada. For one week, a 3D illusion of a playing child was installed on a dangerous street (see photo), accompanied by a sign saying “you’re probably not expecting kids to run out on the road”. With this type of “guerilla” marketing initiatives, the non-profit organisation Preventable wants to stress the fact that 95% of injuries are preventable and to remind drivers to think before they act.

Althoug the Vancouver campaign probably gave drivers quite a scare, it did adopt a more positive approach than the much debated fear appeals. These are communications which portray possible negative consequences of risky behaviour in a very explicit, shocking way (watch for instance this Think! ad – or this one). A lot of research has found that fear appeals do not always work and even can have reverse effects. Whereas some people react to fear appeals with danger controlling behaviour, others respond with fear controlling behaviour, rejecting the message or minimizing the risk that this could happen to themselves. Therefore, many organisations choose to give positive messages, giving the viewer concrete examples and tips on how to act (for instance this campaign ad). Read more on fear appeals in this online encyclopedia or read these 5 tips on how to make fear appeals work.

Some road safety campaigns target very specific groups. The Irish RSA campaign He drives, she dies caused a great deal of controversy by doing so. It started from the basic facts that males are the drivers in 80% of fatal collisions in Ireland and that 67% of female passengers killed from 1998 to 2007 were in a vehicle with a male driver. The same ideas underly the Norwegian campaign Girls take action, aimed at young girls aged 16-19. The campaign encourages these girls to act as a figurative “brake” for their friends, because they appear to have a great influence on their peers.


Road safety and/or sustainable mobility?


child with helmet

Concerns about road safety may refrain people from walking or cycling their short distance trips. And this is not an idle fear: according to ETSC, cycling and walking have a fatality risk per distance travelled 7-9 times higher than car travel. (The statistical analysis report is available here.) See these fact sheets from the VOICE project for a road safety analysis for vulnerable road users in 12 European countries. A recent Dutch study by SWOV found that a 10% increase of the modal share of cycling for short distance trips would cause 4 to 8 extra fatalities and 500 more seriously injured victims every year. Several other studies have found indications in different countries that policies leading to increases in the number of people walking or cycling appear to be effective in improving the safety of people using these modes. Another Dutch study however, found that the health benefits associated with this modal shift heavily outweigh the increased risk of injury.

Some aspects of road safety improvement may also interfere with mobility management efforts. For instance, to improve road safety for cyclists, the use of bicycle helmets is highly recommended. That is why in many countries, a lot of debate is going on about making bicycle helmet use mandatory. However positive such a measure would be for road safety, some believe that making a helmet mandatory would make bicycle use decline. An interesting overview of bicycle helmets laws in Europe, and the discussion on it, can be found here.

On the other hand, Mobility Management can enhance road safety by reducing car use. Traffic congestion is found to increase the frequency of car crashes, as is explained in this literature review on road safety and congestion by the Dutch SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research. Another example is the promotion of public transport, which is in fact the promotion of a safer mode of transport as compared to car traffic. (For the statistics, click here.)

Because of these links between road safety and mobility management, it is worth while to address both issues at the same time in policy making. In Finland, the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and Enviroment has made traffic safety plans with the municipalities for years. Recently, mobility management and sustainable mobility have been included in this type of plans. The first example is available here (in Finnish and Swedish).

Road safety for schools

logo klima:aktiv

Particularly in schools, the issue of road safety is bound to come up when discussing sustainable mobility. Next to practical concerns, road safety concerns are one of the top reasons why parents will not let their children walk or cycle to school. However, driving kids to school creates a negative spiral: the more cars at the school gates, the more parents feel it’s not safe and the more they will drive their kids to school. Parents’ concerns can be countered by pointing out that the overall health benefits of regular cycling heavily outweigh the risk of injury. Lately, the health argument has been very high on the agenda in the UK, where obesity in school children and adults is becoming a major issue - see for instance this fact sheet from Sustrans. The actual risks of cycling in the UK are assessed in this article. In 2008, nearly one-fifth of the children between the ages of 5 and 9 killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians. On the other hand, parents are not aware that 2/3 of children killed in road traffic die as passengers and not active road users.

In many countries a lot of effort is raised to ensure safe routes to school. This intiative was initiated in the 70s in Denmark, where every child has a right to a safe route to school and where government investment over many years has made this a reality: 80% of Danish children cycle or walk to school. An evaluation study of 45 school route projects in the municipality of Odense was made in 2002.

Most tools for schools, such as school travel plans and safe school route maps, work on both fields – road safety improvement and mobility management – at the same time. The same is true for walking and cycling buses: because of the supervision by a responsible adult and the fact that the children move in groups (better visibility), parents can be convinced more easily to let their kids cycle and walk. Also, a broad traffic and mobility education is needed to equip children with the necessary skills, including practice in protected environments (e.g. the school yard) and in real traffic, and including a critical view on different transport modes and how we use them. Based on the experiences of 25 EU countries, the ROSE 25 project produced a booklet with European guidelines on road safety education for young people.

Schools often need some guidance in developing a traffic and mobility action programme. In the Austrian klima:aktiv programme “Mobility Management for children, parents and schools”, schools are coached to build an action plan involving both mobility management and road safety actions. A klima:aktiv newsletter points teachers to success stories from other schools and to useful resources, such as this online tool (in German) for learning how to walk safely to school. For more examples of Mobility Management measures for school, you can consult the e-update on Mobility Management for Schools.

Regulating or sharing space?


For most people, safe roads mean that there are separate facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, and that traffic is strictly regulated and controlled. Although these measures did result in reducing fatalities, they also tend to speed up traffic and distract drivers with an overload of signs and markings. The Shared Space movement thinks the other way round: by putting cyclists and pedestrians back on the roads and removing signs, markings, humps and barriers – thus heightening the subjective sense of danger – motorised traffic is slowed down. The concept of shared space was tested in the framework of a European project called Shared Space (2004-2008). The principals of shared space are now being further developed by the Dutch Shared Space Institute and their partners, architects and planners all over Europe. e.g. in Great Britain, Ben Hamilton Bailie and in Austria The Shared Space Network. In Switzerland Fritz Kobi has developed a special form of shared space, called the Berner Modell. Another strong advocate of the underlying principles of shared space is Australian expert David Engwicht, one of the speakers of ECOMM 2010 (see the e-update on ECOMM 2010).

Out of similar concerns, British television producer Martin Cassini is campaigning against the use of traffic lights, saying that removing traffic lights would not only save a massive amount of money, but would also increase traffic safety and reduce traffic jams. See and

Promoting road safety in Europe

Internationally, road safety still has a long way to go, as the World Health Organisation pointed out in its World report on road traffic injury prevention. Therefore this topic is quite high on the agenda. In March 2010, the UN General Assembly decided to increase action to address the road safety crisis over the next ten years, proclaiming a Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.

In July 2010, the European Commission published the 4th European Road Safety Action Programme “Towards a European road safety area: policy orientations for road safety 2011-2020” (link). The document takes into account the results of the previous Action Plan and reiterates the target of halving the overall number of road deaths in the EU by 2020. For a brief overview of the Action Programme, read this EPOMM-Plus EU-Brief [link to EU-Brief Issue 3 – not yet online].

As road safety is considered to be everyone’s responsibility, from the local up to the European level, all organisations, companies, associations etc. are invited to sign the European Road Safety Charter []. Read more about the Commission’s efforts in improving road safety here. The European Road Safety Observatory (ERSO), first developed as a pilot (2004-2008), has now been integrated into the Commission’s website. It provides an access to European legislation on road safety , to European projects dealing with road safety and to statistics.

Another major player in Europe is the European Traffic Safety Council (ETSC), which monitors road safety developments in 30 European countries (Road Safety Performance IndexRoad Safety Performance Index or PIN). Each year, ETSC awards the PIN Award to a high level policymaker responsible for the best performing country's road safety policy. In several thematic newsletters, ETSC monitors the latest developments in Europe in the field of road safety.

International Seminar on Flexible Transport - Asti (Italy) 24 January 2011

Flexible Transport is becoming more and more important for the organisation and offer of public transport services, especially for areas with low and/or scattered mobility demand.

Therefore, the Province and Municipality of Asti together with the company iMpronta, and within the European Project MoMa.BIZ, are organising an International Seminar on Flexible Transport at Asti (Italy) on the 24th of January 2011.

The aim of the Seminar is to offer a better understanding of Flexible Transport and its potential, and promote its application at a European level. Find further information here.

MoMa.BIZ is a project supported by the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme.

ECOMM 2011 - extension of Call for Papers

The deadline for submission of papers for the ECOMM 2011 has been extended until 17th January 2011! Take the chance to present your work fitting into the framework of the conference in Toulouse.

Find more information on the Call for Papers on the ECOMM 2011 website.
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