In the “You Just Can’t Make This Stuff Up” department, Forbes.com writer Carleton Reid reports that out of 140 countries attending the Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Stockholm, only one country refused to sign the Stockholm Declaration on Road Safety. That country? The United States.
I have already written about the Stockholm Declaration and the nine recommendations. These have now been adopted by 140 countries and changes the paradigm of road speed to focus on speed management by better enforcement, and by “mandating a maximum road travel speed of 30 km/h in areas where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix.”
There is of course precedent with the United States refusing to sign the Paris Accord on global climate change in 2017. And there is already doom and gloom spin on what slowing traffic to 30 km/h or 20 mph in neighbourhoods will do to vehicular traffic. (Hint~absolutely nothing, vehicles can still circulate on arterial roads around the designated 30 km/h areas. ) Slower speeds in neighbourhoods lower carbon emissions and lower the chance of serious vehicular crashes, enhance livability and mitigate noise.
But look at the numbers~annually 1.3 million people are killed in crashes. Fifty million people are badly hurt. Globally these crashes are the leading cause death for people aged five to twenty-nine years.
In the United States, more than 7,000 cyclists and pedestrians died in 2018, the biggest increase since 1990. Between 2013 to 2017 the number of pedestrians killed by SUVs (sport utility vehicles) increased by 50 percent, while those killed by small cars increased by 30 percent. Even though the cost of crashes cost the United States economy 240 billion dollars a year, the vehicular lobby is still king.
In British Columbia it was Councillor Pete Fry with the City of Vancouver that advocated for a UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities) resolution asking the Province to give municipal approval for 30 km/h zones. That would allow the edges of the areas to be signed as 30 km/h, and not have every internal residential street signed as 30 km/h which would be costly.
To everyone’s shock, the Province refused to grant the cities the right to control the areas as 30 km/h. This proves once again that coming towards an election year more conservative inclinations are being exhibited by the Province to the detriment of the communities it serves.
Slowing speeds within residential areas works, and have been proven in many cities in Europe. We will just have to wait when permissive legislation allows for comprehensive slower, more thoughtful neighbourhood streets.
It will make a great election issue.