The Blackburn with Darwen Safer Roads Strategy has been developed to create a local action plan to improve safety on our roads.
The strategy dovetails with that of the Lancashire Road Safety Partnership (LRSP) and recognises the importance of a coordinated regional response, whilst emphasising the value in locally devised action. Whilst a consistent regional approach to road safety across Lancashire is vital in line with the Lancashire Road Safety Partnership, addressing issues at a local level will be important to improving safety on BwD roads.
The ultimate vision of the BwD Safer Roads Strategy is a Towards Zero approach, with no fatalities on our roads. On our way to achieving this vision, targets have been set within the BwD Safer Roads Strategy period:
- Target for a 30% reduction in fatal and serious casualties on BwD roads by 2026 from 2019 levels
- Target for 30% reduction in fatal and serious casualties in those 15 years and under by 2026 from 2019 levels
- Target to reduce the number of Air Quality Management Areas in the borough from four to one by 2026
- Target for an increase in walking and cycling in line with the BwD Walking and Cycling Plan
Data from the Public Health Outcomes Framework demonstrates that compared to other local authorities in the North West, Blackburn with Darwen had the second highest rate of people killed and seriously injured on our roads per billion vehicle miles travelled in 2019 (223 compared to the modelled North West average of 86 per billion vehicle miles travelled). We also had highest crude rate in the region of children aged 0-15 killed and seriously injured on the roads during 2017-2019, and the highest rate when compared to our nearest statistical neighbours throughout the country. The importance of a coordinated road safety strategy amongst partners in the borough is therefore clear.
Blackburn with Darwen’s Assistant Member for Growth and Development, Councillor Zainab Rawat said:
“This is great news for residents. Addressing actual and perceived risks to people walking and cycling on our roads is a key part of the Safer Roads Strategy.
Working in partnership across Council departments, together with local community groups, actions to improve road safety and rates of active travel have been embedded into the action plan. Increasing walking and cycling and reducing car use is an important part of the road safety agenda.
BwD has high rates of physical inactivity. Helping people feel safer to use transport other than their car is an important step within this agenda. This also complements the aim of improving air quality and the council’s commitment to taking action on the climate emergency.”
The Lancashire Road Safety Partnership 2016-2026 strategy details a vision of Towards Zero Lancashire and the following aims: reduce road traffic fatalities by user group and age, reduce severity and numbers of road traffic injuries by user group and age, improve outcomes of ‘vulnerable’ road users and improve and change road safety attitudes and behaviours.
Our strategy emphasises safer but also healthier roads with the primary aim to reduce casualties on BwD roads. Secondary aims include; increase the number of people who feel safe on BwD roads including when walking and cycling, reduce car use and increase active travel and take action to improve air quality. Based on the Lancashire Road Safety Partnership strategy framework, the BwD Safer Roads Strategy details actions within the areas of Engagement, Education, Enforcement and Engineering to make our roads safer and healthier.
Our strategy follows a safe systems approach recognising it is up to all who use and maintain the roads to improve safety. Actions are considered for road users throughout the life course, and consider both current and future directions of the borough.
The strategy development and oversight takes a partnership approach with the formation of the Blackburn with Darwen Safer Roads Operational Group. This group has brought together stakeholders involved in road safety in the borough including within the Council, Lancashire Constabulary, Lancashire Fire and Rescue, and the voluntary, community and faith sector, therefore ensuring that the strategy was developed in close partnership.
Blackburn with Darwen has higher than average numbers of people killed and seriously injured on the roads compared to regional and national figures, and therefore addressing this with a local strategy is vitally important.
Road traffic injuries and death have a devastating impact on families and the wider community, as well as implications for local services. The value of prevention for each fatal car crash is estimated at over £2 million, and the average cost of every car crash (including those which are non-severe) at over £100k each. These are the costs for the year 2020 as laid out by the Department for Transport and are calculated both by estimating the cost of medical care, police time and so on, but also the value the public places on prevention. Additionally, inequalities are seen in road traffic incidents with the most disadvantaged more likely to be involved in crashes. Therefore, prevention of road traffic injuries is a health and wellbeing, social justice and an economic issue.
This strategy uses the recognised 3 E’s of Education, Enforcement and Engineering along with an emphasis of a coordinated and evidence based response. However the BwD Safer Roads Strategy makes use of the same framework and adds a further E in Engagement, emphasising the importance of engaging with our communities at a local level, along with encouraging engagement from all local service and stakeholders within this agenda.
In 2019 the Department for Transport released a 2 year action plan for road safety with a particular focus on lifelong driver learning and improving driver behaviour, as well as an emphasis on active travel and making use of a Safe Systems approach. Our strategy also reflects these national priorities. Globally, the United Nations has announced a goal to reduce road traffic injuries and deaths by 50% in the period 2021-2030.
This same goal has also recently been committed to in Scotland. The casualty reduction targets in this strategy therefore reflect these global priorities. Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council has committed to improving rates of physical activity as part of the Eat Well Move More Strategy and the BwD Walking and Cycling Plan. Increasing rates of walking and cycling will increase physical activity within the borough and help to reduce the risks of physical inactivity including heart disease, diabetes and mental health problems.
Creating safer and healthier roads in BwD therefore ties into a number of agendas and priorities for the Council, including those of the BwD Borough Council’s Corporate Plan such as improving health inequalities and outcomes and ensuring a safe and clean environment. This strategy complements the ambitions of the council to improve rates of active travel as detailed in the BwD Walking and Cycling Plan, and the Local Transport Plan 4. Additionally, with aims around reducing car use, increasing active travel and improving air quality, this complements the BwD Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy, the Council’s statutory duty to maintain acceptable levels of air quality and the BwD Climate Emergency Action Plan.
Addressing actual and perceived risks to walkers and cyclists on our roads is a key part of the Safer Roads Strategy and the BwD Safer Roads Operational Group has close links to the Blackburn with Darwen ‘Stride and Ride’ active travel group. Therefore, synergistic actions to improve road safety and rates of active travel have been embedded into the action plan. Poor air quality is associated with poor health, and local air quality management policies have been shown to reduce hospital admissions in their local areas.
Increasing walking and cycling and reducing car use is an important part of the road safety agenda. BwD has high rates of physical inactivity. Helping people feel safer to use transport out of their car is an important step within this agenda. This also complements the aim of improving air quality and the council’s commitment to taking action on the climate emergency.
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council has been able to revoke four of the eight air quality management areas (AQMAs) in the borough in recent years. The BwD Safer Roads Strategy will contribute to reducing air pollution through raising awareness of the dangers of poor air quality, encouraging active travel and other behaviour change actions to reduce emissions, and continued improvement of electric vehicle infrastructure.
There is also recognition of the importance of improving electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure within the action plan, which complements the announcement made by the UK government that all new housing developments will be required to provide EV charging points by 2022.
A targeted online consultation survey on the content of the strategy was undertaken via stakeholder networks, social media, and the Lancashire Constabulary platform Lancashire Talking. It received 333 responses. Responses were used to inform the aims and actions within the strategy. An interactive consultation process was undertaken by the social marketing company Social Sense with 3 high schools in the borough. The children and young people specific survey received 321 responses, and will be used to inform a social marketing campaign promoting road safety designed by young people. Council portfolios were consulted via Senior Political Team meetings including public health, adults and prevention, children and young people, and growth and development. The strategy will also be taken to the Health and Wellbeing Board.
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