I’ve taken the opportunity today to have a look at the road casualty map produced by ITO World, which maps all the UK road casualties since 2000. It’s an excellent, if eye-opening, application.
Below is a screenshot of the map of my town, Horsham.
One pattern is immediately apparent. Nearly all of the vehicle occupant fatalities – the purple squares – have occurred on Horsham’s ring road, skirting to the west of the town. This is not surprising – it is where vehicle speeds are highest – a speed limit of 70 mph.
Another pattern. While one 23-year-old male vehicle occupant has died on the inner ring road – the purple square in the centre, at the location shown in the photograph at the top of this blog – and a motorcyclist (the orange square) was killed in a collision with a milk van on the Brighton Road, the majority of fatalities within the town are those of pedestrians. What is also notable is the age of these pedestrians – 67, 78, 86, and 88. The most vulnerable people.
We also see two pedestrian deaths on the ring road – precisely at locations where they have to cross the dual carriageway. The 18 year-old-male killed on the northern bypass was hit trying to cross here –
And the young man killed on the western section was evidently trying to cross here –
These are both ‘ancient’ crossings that were severed when the bypass was built in the 1980s; the former a country lane, the latter a footpath.
I have used both of them; the first on foot, and the severed country lane by bicycle (astonishingly it is, in my experience, actually the safest place to cross the northern bypass. There are no bridges or underpasses anywhere on this section – only fast roundabouts). They are unnerving. Traffic approaches at a speed of 70 mph, at least, and you have to cross two lanes of it, in both directions. I don’t think many people try to use these crossings, and yet two pedestrians have died attempting to do so in the last ten years. They form a disproportionately large share of the fatalities on this bypass, to put it mildly.
Meanwhile in the town centre, it is, again, pedestrians who are being killed disproportionately. Car drivers are evidently quite safe at speeds of around 30 mph. By contrast, pedestrians, particularly elderly ones, are obviously far from safe in an environment in which cars are travelling at these speeds.
I don’t know how many of these pedestrians would be alive today with safer crossings and lower speed limits in Horsham – we don’t know the precise circumstances of each collision. What is certainly true is that maps like these are a powerful reminder of the vulnerability of pedestrians around motor vehicles.