Unfortunately, as a result of the restrictions arising from the CoviD-19 pandemic, it is not currently possible to update the KonSULT website. It is being maintained as a teaching resource and for practitioners wishing to use its Measure and Package Option Generators and its Policy Guidebook. Practitioners wishing to use it, should do so on the clear understanding that recent experience on existing and new policy measures has not been incorporated.

Cycle & Pedestrian Safety

This measure was provided by THE ASSOCIATION FOR URBAN TRANSITION - ATU in 2014 under the CH4LLENGE project, financed by the European Commission.

Every year, more than 1 million people die in traffic-related accidents around the world. Today, road traffic is the 9th biggest cause of death worldwide. By 2030, the rise in vehicle ownership and use will see road traffic become the 5th largest cause of death. For people aged between 15 and 29, road traffic accidents are already the most common way to die. Emphasis on motorised vehicles historically has focused on increasing the safety and mobility of these vehicles with less attention being given to non motorised modes of transport. The neglect of pedestrian and cycling safety has made these modes dangerous ways of getting around.

Walking, as the most traditional mode of transportation, can carry a high risk of injury or death on many of the streets. Pedestrian crashes and the resulting deaths and injuries are a serious problem on the streets as they represent the most vulnerable group of citizens. Each year, more than 270 000 pedestrians lose their lives on the world's roads. Globally, pedestrians constitute 22% of all road deaths, and in some countries this proportion is as high as two thirds.

Safety for non-motorised transportation greatly improves the experience of living and travelling around the city as the core issue of these experiences. Making streets safer for the pedestrians and cyclists is a key in deciding whether to use or not NMT and meeting casualty reduction targets represents a top priority.

The engineers, planners, and other public officials in state and local agencies can leave an important legacy of improved walking and cycling conditions and fewer pedestrian and cyclists crashes and injuries for future generations.  Many societal considerations indicate that cycling and walking (in combination with the use of public transport) should be encouraged.

The integration of safety and other important societal goals – environmental protection, health promotion and improvement of social interaction – should lead to increased public and institutional support for traffic safety measures.


Non-motorised transport

In many ways, walking and cycling are ideal ways to get around cities. These non-motorized travel modes cause practically no noise or air pollution. The only energy they require is provided directly by the traveller. Neither walking nor cycling requires much space at the city scale. Moreover, they are quite economical, involving much less expenditure than individual vehicles and public transport. Some might add that pedestrians, in particular, enhance the liveliness of urban environments, making both business districts and residential neighbourhoods safer and more interesting.

Key problems

Most road safety problems for pedestrians and cyclists result from a complex blend of factors, but at the bottom is the fact that the modern traffic system is designed largely from a car-user perspective with a lack of coherent planning of route networks for pedestrians and cyclists.

Vulnerability - Even at relatively low impact speed, pedestrians and cyclists suffer severe injuries, mainly because clothing is their only protection. Speed plays an important role in determining the severity of the outcome of collisions. If the collision speed exceeds 45 km/h the likelihood for a pedestrian or cyclist to survive the crash is less than 50 per cent. If the collision speed is less than 30 km/h more than 90 per cent of those struck survive.

Instability - Pedestrians and especially cyclists may trip or fall in the busy urban traffic environment. A minor failure of the cycle may result in a severe consequence even where there are no other road users present, and particularly so when there are vehicles involved. A pedestrian may stumble and receive serious injuries just because of an uneven surface.

Invisibility - Pedestrians and cyclists can be difficult to see and be seen. They are small compared to a car, and can be hidden by one. At night the problem is more acute.

Inconsistent abilities - Pedestrians and cyclists include children with lack of experience and visibility, elderly people with reduced aptitudes and people with different types of disabilities.


A pedestrian is any person who is travelling by walking for at least part of his or her journey. In addition to the ordinary form of walking, a pedestrian may be using various modifications and aids to walking such as wheelchairs, motorized scooters, walkers, canes, skateboards, and roller blades. The person may carry items of varying quantities, held in hands, strapped on the back, placed on the head, balanced on shoulders, or pushed/pulled along. A person is also considered a pedestrian when running, jogging, hiking, or when sitting or lying down in the roadway.

A bicycle is a road vehicle which has two or more wheels and is propelled solely by the muscular energy of the persons on that vehicle, in particular by means of a pedal system, lever or handle (e.g. bicycles, tricycles, quadricycles and invalid carriages).

Road (traffic) safety refers to methods and measures for reducing the risk of a person using the road network being killed or injured. The users of a road include pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, their passengers, and passengers of on-road public transport, mainly buses and trams. Best-practice road safety strategies focus upon the prevention of serious injury and death crashes in the face of human fallibility (which is contrasted with the old road safety paradigm of simply reducing crashes assuming road user compliance with traffic regulations). Safe road design is now about providing a road environment which ensures vehicle speeds will be within the human tolerances for serious injury and death wherever conflict points exist.

In practice, road safety is a relative concept, of which only changes can be measured. Changes are defined in a "negative" way, as what is measured is really the increase or decrease of "unsafety" or danger. The number of observed injury accidents or of casualties is a typical indicator of "unsafety", although it is an imperfect predicting tool and may have to be complemented with indicators based on surrogate data, in particular for research purposes.

Vulnerable road user – a road user belonging to a category most at risk in traffic and typically generating little risk to other road users. By extension: a road user unprotected by an outside shield, i.e. pedestrians and two-wheelers.

Among two-wheelers, cyclists are the most vulnerable. Moped riders and motorcyclists may be excluded from the group of vulnerable road users as they are more likely to inflict damage to other road users (pedestrians, cyclists, other motorised two-wheelers, and even cars where motorcycles are concerned).

Road traffic crash (or accident) – a road traffic crash is a collision or incident involving at least one road vehicle in motion, on a public road or private road to which the public has right of access, resulting in at least one injured or killed person.
Types of possible collisions:

  • between road vehicles;
  • between road vehicles and pedestrians;
  • between road vehicles and animals or fixed obstacles
  • between road and rail vehicles.

The Safe System approach to road safety recognises that transport is important to society, and advances the view that travel should be safe for all road users as they interact with roads and vehicles to facilitate movement.

The Safe System approach aims to abolish fatal crashes and reduce serious injuries through provision of a safe transport system that is forgiving of human error and takes into account people's vulnerability to serious injury. This is done through a policy focus on road infrastructure, vehicles and travel speeds, supported by a range of activities in education, behaviour change, regulation, enforcement and penalties.

The key principles of the Safe System approach are summarized as follows:

  • Recognition of human error in the transport system: People will make mistakes in traffic that can easily lead to injuries and death. The Safe System approach does not ignore road user behaviour interventions but emphasizes that behaviour is just one of many necessary elements to promote safety on the road.
  • Recognition of human physical vulnerability and limits: People have a limited tolerance to violent force, beyond which serious injury or death occurs.
  • Promotion of system accountability: Responsibility for traffic safety must be shared between road users and system designers. While road users are expected to comply with traffic regulations, system designers and operators have a responsibility to develop a transport system that is as safe as possible for users.
  • Promotion of ethical values in road safety: The ethical value underlying the Safe System approach is that any level of serious trauma arising from the road transport system is unacceptable. Humans can learn to behave more safely, but errors will inevitably occur on some occasions. The errors may lead to crashes, but death and serious injury are not inevitable consequences.
  • Promotion of societal values: In addition to ensuring safety, the road transport system is expected to contribute to overall societal values, particularly in three areas – economic development, human and environmental health, and individual choice.


Perception of safety

In a society that values choice and freedom, people should be able to walk and cycle safely, whether for fun and rec­reation, getting to work or school, shop­ping, or other reasons.

Whether real or perceived, the lack of safety prevents many people from walking or cycling. The main barrier to achieving high levels of walking and cycling is people's perception of safety. Among non-walkers or non-cyclists and also among occasional pedestrians or cyclists, safety concerns are most likely to be cited as a deterrent to taking up non-motorised transport or increasing the amount of its use for daily trips. The perception of safety is not just a barrier to more people taking up non-motorised transport; it could also cause existing users to reduce the amount of walking or cycling. Reasons mentioned in addition to safety concerns include: traffic too busy, fear of collisions, other road users and press coverage. (Transport for London, Annual Report 2012).

Risks: Who? Where? When? Why?


The trends for the number of fatalities among pedestrians and cyclists in Europe show that since 1980 both numbers have decreased by about 65 and 55% respectively. However, of all traffic fatalities, the proportion that are pedestrian fatalities is still about 17%, and the proportion that are cyclist fatalities is about 6%. Age groups that have the highest percentage of pedestrian fatalities are children younger than 10 years of age and adults aged 65 years or older. Cyclist fatalities have the highest share among children between 6 and 14 years of age. The percentages for these age groups are about twice as high as the average percentages for all age groups.

Most crashes involving children occur in the late afternoon, when they are either walking back home or playing outside. Several British studies have shown that most of the pedestrian fatalities were running or not paying attention at the time of the crash. In the Netherlands, fatal crashes with children are nearly always with a motor vehicle as crash opponent.

An important cause of the high fatality rate of older cyclists and pedestrians is the physical vulnerability of elderly people. The elderly have a higher chance of being involved in a crash because locomotive functions deteriorate with increasing years. This deterioration generally consists of slower movement; a decrease of muscular tone, a decrease in fine coordination, and a particularly strong decrease in the ability to adapt to sudden changes in posture (keeping balance).

The level of congestion on the roads and behavioural factors such as whether children are accompanied on their journeys also affect exposure to risk. The same applies for cycling experience. The more experienced a cyclist is, the lower his fatality rate is, and vice versa. Crash rates per km are also related to the total amount of cycling in a country. In countries where people cycle a lot, cyclists in general have a lower fatality rate.

As a specific category of urban users, pedestrians include citizens with different characteristics, including children (who may be impulsive or unpredictable), persons with mobility impairments (who may require specific visibility devices or facility features), and senior citizens (who may require ad­ditional time for roadway crossings).


The literature reveals a variety of risk factors that influence pedestrian and cyclist crashes and the severity of these crashes. For example, crash risk increases on wide roads (four lanes or more) with high motor vehicle speeds and volumes. Intersections are more dif­ficult to cross when pedestrians and also cyclists encounter wide crossing distances, wide turning radii, multiple turn lanes, or traffic control that is confusing or complex. Other high-risk factors include drug or alcohol use by drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, lack of road­way lighting, and lack of walkways or cycling lanes along roads.

Some 84% of cyclists injured in 2013 were at or within 20 metres of a junction. This highlights the particular vulnerability of cyclists at junctions. (TfL, Cycle Safety Action Plan, 2014). Most cyclist casualties occur at 'T' and staggered junctions (53%), a further 18% take place at cross roads and 6% at roundabouts, while 16% of collisions do not occur within 20m of a junction. This shows the importance of safe junction design and operation, particularly focusing on visibility, predictability and speed reduction as key design principles.

An understanding of these relative risks can be used to identify locations where, and for whom, safety can be improved. This puts risk at the heart of road safety assessment, helping practitioners find the best way to target resources where they will be most effective.


The number of pedestrians and cyclist casualties is sometimes slightly higher in the summer months compared to winter, reflecting higher walking and cycling levels. And maybe some differences during working days and weekends might occur.



In-depth knowledge of the details of collisions, including the conflicts, manoeuvres by other vehicles and behaviours of users can inform on the key issues that lead to crashes.

Three of the most common conflicts resulting in serious injury to cyclists involve another vehicle turning across the path of the cyclist: right turning vehicles in opposing traffic, left turning vehicles and right turning vehicles disobeying a junction control (for example, traffic signal or give way marking).

An accident may also occur when drivers turn across the path of a cyclist, and the cyclist, when filtering through traffic, is not seen by the driver; the driver's sight may be compromised by barriers to their view, such as the car's 'A' pillar or queuing traffic. In the case of left turning vehicles, drivers may not look for cyclists on their nearside before turning or there may be blind spots around the vehicle which may render a cyclist 'invisible' to the driver.

Drivers and passengers opening their doors in the path of a cyclist is the second ranked conflict type for bike users. Often cyclists do not feel able to take the primary position in the road (for example, further out from parked cars). Some do not know that the primary position is safer for them and that when cycling in the primary position, they are far enough away from parked vehicles to avoid being struck by an opening door.

Only about 50 per cent of pedestrian deaths occur while crossing a road. About a quarter occur while boarding or alighting from a bus or getting into or out of a car. Others occur while walking along the road, playing, running, or working. Most fatal crashes involving pedestrians are not located at a marked crossing, the vast majority occurring more than 50m from such a crossing. Elderly people are most frequently hit by vehicles when halfway or further across the street, while children are mostly hit when starting to cross.

Speed and traffic management

Speed plays an important role in determining the severity of the outcome of collisions. If the collision speed exceeds 45 km/h, the likelihood for a pedestrian or cyclist surviving the crash is less than 50 per cent. If the collision speed is less than 30 km/h, more than 90 per cent of those struck survive. (European Transport Safety Council, 1999)

Road safety engineering measures to create safer conditions for pedestrians and cyclists can be considered in terms of traffic reduction, speed reduction, junction treatments, the redistribution of road space and the creation of special facilities.

Other issues

Obstructed vision is a common factor for pedestrian crashes. In one study, almost a third of pedestrians said that something made it difficult for them to see the striking vehicle. Similarly, two-fifths of drivers stated at a certain moment it was difficult to see the pedestrian. A parked car was the most commonly cited source of obstruction. Only about one in ten drivers hitting a cyclist said they noticed them beforehand, whereas over two-thirds of cyclists said they had noticed the striking vehicle.

Familiarity with traffic situation - A high proportion of both pedestrians and drivers involved in collisions between them know the site and have travelled through it three to five times a week prior to the crash. Cyclists involved in crashes at junctions also tend to be familiar with the site. Of children aged under 7 injured in crashes, the majority are within 100m of home. In this age group, a larger proportion of crashes happen in lightly trafficked streets than is the case for older children and adult pedestrians.

Pedestrians and cyclists' behaviour


When people are walking to work, they usually choose the shortest route and do not want to spend any extra time on the trip. They obey the rules when they think it is sensible and necessary. Taking the shortest route can mean that they do not use underpasses or pedestrian crossings. They may not obey traffic lights, if waiting for the green light seems to take too long. Pedestrians on familiar routes tend to pay less attention to traffic than when walking in unknown surroundings.

Good pedestrian safety planning must include an understanding of the characteristics of pedestrians. With an understanding of pedestrian needs and characteristics, those involved in pedestrian safety planning can more effectively understand how new and existing facilities must operate, as well as how pedestrians will act when faced with certain conditions. Applying a practical understanding of pedestrian characteristics will provide insights when considering appropriate safety solutions and will particularly help ensure that facilities are inviting to pedestrians.

Many pedestrian crashes are the result of unsafe motor vehicle driving and pedestrian behaviour. Certain street design features can lead to unsafe behaviour by pedestrians and drivers. For example, excessively wide streets encourage higher motorised speeds. High-volume multilane roads with a lack of safe crossings at regular intervals can contribute to pedestrians crossing streets at unsafe locations, particularly those who cannot or will not walk long distances to signalised locations.


Cyclists have a difficult position in traffic. They are sometimes supposed to follow rules for motorists, sometimes rules like those intended for pedestrians. Their needs are similar to those of pedestrians (shortest routes, smooth surfacing, etc.), but they are taken into account in traffic as a last resort. The situation does not encourage homogeneous patterns of behaviour.

The most common contributory factors attributed to the cyclist as recorded by police attending fatal or serious cyclist casualty collisions during 2013, were: "failed to look properly", 'failed to judge other person's path or speed" and "careless/reckless/in a hurry". (Transport for London, Cyclist Safety Action Plan). The most common contributory factors attributed to the other vehicles involved are "failed to look properly", "careless/reckless/in a hurry" and "poor turn or manoeuvre".

Cyclist behaviour is learned through experience of cycling, formal training and from observing the behaviour of other cyclists. Cycling makes large demands on a cyclist's skills, requiring constant consideration of their actions along a journey. This is why, for those who are new to cycling, it takes time to build up the skills required on busy urban roads.

Training and skill building is not just for cyclists. When performing manoeuvres drivers make decisions based on their assumptions and expectations of other road users. Therefore, more knowledge of how cyclists ride will influence driving behaviour (for example, drivers may allow extra space for cyclists on a road with potholes, having recognised that cyclists may need to avoid them).

Safety solutions

Designing the streets for safety

Even though pedestrians and cyclists are legitimate roadway users, they are frequently overlooked in the process of building more sophisticated transportation systems. Whether building new infrastructure or renovating existing facilities, it should be assumed that people will walk and cycle, and plans should be made to accommodate these types of urban users. Where people are not walking or cycling, it is often because they are prevented or discouraged from doing so.

The traditional street system is based on a simple hierar­chy: most trips originate on local streets.  Travellers are then led via collector streets to arterials, which are intended to carry large amounts of motor vehicle traffic for long distances and at high speeds. This system is based on the assumption that most trips occur by motor vehicle, so most of the facilities are designed primarily for motor vehicle travel and along these main routes.

Therefore, the system results in street designs that do not serve pedestrians or cyclists well for several reasons:

  • They lack pedestrian facilities and cycling lanes
  • They are wide or have multiple lanes that are difficult to cross
  • They have high speeds
  • They have complex intersections
  • They create long delays for pedestrians and cyclists at intersections
  • They fail to protect pedestrians and cyclists.

Specific measures

Pedestrian safety measures that are the most comprehensive and most closely associated with urban planning philosophies are:

These two measures are complementary and can be implemented together without conflicting. Not only do they apply to different parts of the urban fabric, but they also address different objectives. The speed reduction and traffic calming schemes (the most widespread of which is the 30 km/h zone) are aimed at reducing vehicle speeds and thus at allowing for a safer mingling of pedestrians with motorised traffic. Integrated and continuous walking networks (usually centred on a downtown pedestrian zone) serve to remove and reduce conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles and to provide or improve the crossing points.

The same basic planning principles that apply for pedestrians apply for cyclists. Because cycling is suitable for trips over greater distances than walking, it is necessary to distinguish a flow and an access function. As is the case with motorised traffic, a network for the flow function is required. However, this network cannot follow the network for through traffic easily, since the mesh of the routes of the cycling network is smaller. Provisions for cycling should therefore not simply be seen as additional features of the traffic structure for motor traffic. Rather, they require a network of their own.

Those responsible for traffic systems should turn non-motorised transport development into a high priority for our urban areas to cater much better the needs and physical vulnerabilities of pedestrians and cyclists, including people with reduced mobility. The key strategies for achieving a safe traffic system for pedestrians and cyclists are:

  • Good management of the traffic mix, by separating different kinds of road use to eliminate conflicts where conditions are favourable to separation;
  • Creating safer conditions for integrated use of road space, for example through speed and traffic management, increased user and vehicle conspicuity, and vehicle engineering and technology;
  • Modifying the attitudes and behaviour of drivers of motor vehicles through information, training and enforcement of traffic law;
  • Consulting and informing pedestrians and cyclists about changes being made for their benefit, and encouraging them in steps that they can take to reduce their risk;
  • Mitigating the consequences of crashes through crash protective design and encouragement of protective equipment use.
  • Change of priorities in the minds of professionals and policymakers responsible for the traffic system through sharing of experience and promotion of research findings, and encouraging them to convince the public of the need for change.

Why introduce cyclist and pedestrian safety measures?

Walking and cycling are non-motorised transport modes where relatively unprotected road users interact with high speed and mass traffic. This makes pedestrians and cyclists vulnerable. Preventing collisions between fast and slow traffic is, therefore, one of the most important requirements for safe road use by pedestrians and cyclists. Therefore, measures have to be sought in making the crash opponents less harmful to pedestrians and cyclists.

Long-term planning is needed and essential to create the fundamental changes that will improve the safety and mobility of vulnerable road users. Measures require a well developed framework that considers the various needs of vulnerable road users.

Concepts like Sustainably Safe Traffic and Vision Zero (see Case study below) provide the framework that long-term planning requires. These concepts stop defining road fatalities as a negative but largely accepted side-effect of the road transport system.

Measures to improve safety of vulnerable road users can be roughly separated into two complementary groups: those which are based on road and traffic engineering or environmental planning, and can be termed "physical" or "infrastructural" measures; and the others, which aim at influencing road user behaviour without any intermediate action on the physical environment.

Road fatalities can and should be avoided, and the probability of crashes should be drastically reduced by means of the infrastructure design. Where crashes still occur, the process which determines the severity of these crashes should be influenced in such a manner that the possibility of severe injury is effectively eliminated.

Demand impacts

The demand impacts of pedestrian and cyclist safety depend on the types of implemented measures.

Measures that can be taken to reduce the future number of crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists, and/or to decrease the severity of resulting injuries, relate to:

  • The traffic system itself, such as separation of motorised traffic from non-motorised traffic, area-wide speed reduction, and the provision of walking and cycling networks 
  • Proper design of pedestrian and cyclist facilities
  • Improvement of the visibility of pedestrians and cyclists
  • Vehicle design, in particular crash-friendly car fronts and side-under-run protection on lorries
  • The use of protective devices like bicycle helmets, and
  • Education and training of pedestrians and cyclists as well as drivers.

Cities show a more varied aspect. In most old and dense city centres in Western Europe, traffic has been reduced, and public transport has partly taken over, so that pedestrians and, in some countries (such as the Netherlands or Denmark), cyclists, are getting a more and more comfortable environment to move in (if one ignores pollution, particularly from diesel engines). In some countries, such measures have brought back residents to city centres that had previously been reduced to daytime activities.

Apart from city centres, a substantial proportion of residential areas have been either built to avoid through traffic, or redesigned as traffic calming areas (or 30 km/h zones), and accidents have decreased.

Responses and situations
Response Reduction in road traffic Expected in situations
This is unlikely to occur.
Pedestrians and cyclists are likely to be encouraged to re-route at specific times according to the walking and cycling network.
Good quality and safe pedestrian and cyclists routes can link city centres and other destinations throughout the city. This could lead to more use of those places.
Yes, if walking and cycling routes provide enhanced, safer access to different amenities on foot and by bike.
Yes if walking and cycling routes improve catchment to the public transport network, by providing better and safer access.
This is unlikely to occur.
This is unlikely to occur.
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Short and long run demand responses

Assuming more reliable or greater service provision.

Demand responses
Response   1st year 2-4 years 5 years 10+ years
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Supply impacts

Density of development in urban areas offers the possibility, through land-use planning, for many of the purposes of day-to-day travel to be satisfied within distances short enough for walking and cycling if people choose to do so - though it cannot guarantee that they will so choose. It also makes viable relatively high levels of public transport services to provide for longer journeys, with associated demand for access on foot or cycle to public transport stops. At the same time, the density of road networks in urban areas offers great scope for providing safe, attractive and convenient routes for walking and cycling as part of the process of urban safety management. The key to this process is the availability of numerous alternative routes for most journeys through the network of roads, footpaths and cycle paths. Urban safety management and sustainable road safety adapt the layout of this whole network to provide a hierarchy of routes for pedestrians, routes for cyclists and roads with different mixtures of access and movement functions for use by motor vehicles. The motor traffic is managed so that it uses each road safely having regard to its functions, including any walking and cycling that takes place there.

Financing requirements

The financial requirements of the measures vary.  While an extensive new pedestrian or cycling network may require a capital outlay, most are not capital-intensive.  The principal operating costs are likely to relate to enforcement, particularly for low speed zones and for non-compliance with other traffic restrictions.

Expected impact on key policy objectives

Contribution to objectives


Scale of contribution


  / Sometimes sidewalks need to be enlarged or built along the roads. Cycle lanes might be built by using the first vehicle lane. This could result in adding to motorised travel times and potentially congestion.  In the longer term improved provision may reduce car use somewhat.
  These measures enhance the character of the street by providing a continuous and safe sidewalk and cycling network and incorporating design features that minimise the negative impacts of motor vehicle use on pedestrians and cyclists.
  The local environment might be improved.
  Walking and cycling are available to all.  Improved provision can enhance accessibility for those who cannot afford a car and, as pedestrians, for those with mobility impairments.
  It helps in reducing the number and seriousness of accidents (injuries and deaths).
  There is evidence that enhanced provision can improve the economy of local centres.
  These are low cost measures.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Expected impact on problems

Contribution to alleviation of key problems


Scale of contribution



This could result in adding to motorised travel times and potentially congestion.  In the longer term improved provision may reduce car use somewhat.

Community impacts

Streets are safer, more accessible and more comfortable for all users, including those travelling by car, foot, bike, or mass transit. Safer environments, where you are less likely to be in a traffic collision or get injured.

Environmental damage

The local environment might be improved.

Poor accessibility Better and safer access to more destinations, providing more choices in how you can get where you want to go without relying on a car. Better accessibility for disabled people.
Social and geographical disadvantage Walking and cycling are modes of transport heavily used by those on lower incomes and improve the environment for them while reducing inequity.
Number, severity and risk of accidents

It helps in reducing the number and seriousness of accidents (injuries and deaths).

Economic growth There is evidence that enhanced provision can improve the economy of local centres.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Expected winners and losers

Winners and losers




Large scale freight and commercial traffic

They might have to seek alternative routes to avoid the traffic calmed zones. Newly built cycling lanes might reduce the width of the streets.

Small businesses

These have been shown to substantially benefit from increased footfall arising from safer and continuous pedestrian and cycling routes.

High income car-users

If travelling by private car their accessibility could potentially be reduced as they would have to drive slower and use narrower streets.

Low income car-users with poor access to public transport

Walking and cycling are modes of transport heavily used by those on lower incomes and improve the environment for them while reducing inequity.
All existing public transport users They might benefit from the safer walking and cycling routes that would help them get faster to the PT stations. PT vehicles could share the use of dedicated lanes with cyclists.

People living adjacent to the area targeted

They will benefit from the safer walking and cycling routes and from the safer community.

Cyclists including children

They will benefit from the safer walking and cycling routes.

People at higher risk of health problems exacerbated by poor air quality

By reducing emissions of NOx, particulates and other local pollutants.
People making high value, important journeys If travelling by private car, they would have drive slower and use narrower streets.
The average car user The average car user might find that their accessibility to specific zones may be reduced.
= Weakest possible benefit = Strongest possible positive benefit
= Weakest possible negative benefit = Strongest possible negative benefit
= Neither wins nor loses

Barriers to implementation

Scale of barriers
Barrier Scale Comment
Legal Some traffic calming measures require changes to traffic regulations.
Finance The implementation for most of the measures is relatively inexpensive. It must be borne in mind that some of the activities are continuous (like education/campaigns) and they need constant funding.
Governance Responsibility usually rests with one authority, though collaboration with the police will be needed.
Political acceptability These measures generally attract political support.
Public and stakeholder acceptability The main barrier politically generally comes from car users opposing the traffic calming measures.
Technical feasibility These types of schemes that provide safety to pedestrians and cyclist have been introduced many years ago and it has been proved that they are technically feasible. New design features have been constantly introduced.
= Minimal barrier = Most significant barrier

Vision Zero Initiative - Sweden


The responsibility of road safety has traditionally been placed on the individual road user rather than on the designers of the system. Road safety has tended to focus on encouraging good behaviour by road users via licensing, testing, education, training and publicity. Sweden is among those countries with the lowest number of traffic fatalities in relation to its population. However, in spite of this excellent record, in 1997 the Swedish Parliament introduced a new approach to road safety called "Vision Zero".

Vision Zero is based on a refusal to accept human deaths or lifelong suffering as a result of road traffic accidents. It requires moving the emphasis away from reducing the number of accidents to eliminating the risk of chronic health impairment caused by road accidents.

Vision Zero in Sweden requires fatalities and serious injuries to be reduced to zero by 2020.

The 1990 Swedish National Traffic Safety Programme set a target of less than 600 fatalities for traffic safety by 2000. In 1993, the Road Safety Office merged with the Swedish National Road Administration (SNRA). In 1994 the SNRA, now responsible for national traffic safety work, presented a National Traffic Safety Programme for the period 1995–2000. A new target of 400 fatalities for the year 2000 was adopted. This original target was achieved in 1994. The intentions of the National Traffic Safety Programme, with ten sub-targets for traffic behaviour, were not reached but abandoned with the discussion of the Vision Zero concept. An interim target of reducing the number of road accident fatalities from 600 in 2000 to 270 in 2007 was adopted as a move towards the Vision Zero target. The annual number of fatalities has remained constant during the period 1994 to 2004. In 2004, there were 480 deaths (EC, 2004).

Vision Zero is based on the ethical imperative that:

"It can never be ethically acceptable that people are killed or seriously injured when moving within the road system."

Accidents have to be prevented from leading to fatalities and serious injuries by designing roads, vehicles and transport services in a way that someone can tolerate the violence of an accident without being killed or seriously injured. Common long-term disabling injuries and non-injury accidents are outside the scope of the vision. Vision Zero is estimated to achieve a possible reduction in the number of fatalities by a quarter to one third over a ten-year period.

Vision Zero strategic principles are:

  • The traffic system has to adapt to take better account of the needs, mistakes and vulnerabilities of road users.
  • The level of violence that the human body can tolerate without being killed or seriously injured forms the basic parameter in the design of the road transport system.
  • Vehicle speed is the most important regulating factor for safe road traffic. It should be determined by the technical standards for roads and vehicles so as not to exceed the level of violence that the human body can tolerate.

The approach is:

  • To create a road environment that minimises the risk of road users making mistakes and that prevents serious human injury when designing, operating and maintaining the state road network.
  • To set an example in the SNRA's own operations through the quality assurance (from a road safety perspective) of journeys and transports in all areas of activity, both those undertaken in-house and those contracted.
  • To analyse accidents that have resulted in death or serious injury in traffic and, where feasible, initiate suitable measures so as to avoid the repetition of such accidents.
  • To stimulate all players within the road transport system to work resolutely towards achieving mutually targeted objectives and conduct the work on road safety in close co-operation with all players within the road transport system.
  • To take advantage of, and further develop, the commitment of the general public to safer traffic.

In 1999, a short-term action plan was launched by the Swedish government, containing 11 points aimed at strengthening and stimulating traffic safety work in accordance with Vision Zero principles (Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communications, 1999):

  1. A focus on the most dangerous roads (e.g. priority for installing centre-guardrails for eliminating head-on collisions, removing obstacles next to roads, etc.)
  2. Safer traffic in built-up areas (e.g. a safety analysis of street networks in 102 municipalities led to reconstruction of streets; the efforts are continuing.)
  3. Emphasis on the responsibilities of road users (e.g. creating more respect for traffic rules in particular with regard to speed limits, seat belt use, and intoxicated driving.)
  4. Safe bicycle traffic (e.g. campaign for using bicycle helmets, a voluntary bicycle safety standard.)
  5. Quality assurance in transport work (e.g. public agencies with large transportation needs will receive traffic safety (and environmental impact) instructions on how to assure the quality of their own transportation services and those procured from outside firms.)
  6. Winter tyre requirement (e.g. a new law mandating specific tyres under winter road conditions.)
  7. Making better use of Swedish technology (e.g. promoting the introduction of technology - available or to be developed - that relatively soon can be applied, such as seat belt reminders, in-car speed adaptation systems (ISA), alcohol ignition interlocks for preventing drinking and driving, and electronic driver licences.)
  8. Responsibilities of road transport system designers (e.g. establishment of an independent organisation for road traffic inspection is proposed by a commission of inquiry on the responsibilities of the public sector and the business community for safe road traffic.)
  9. Public responses to traffic violations (e.g. a commission of inquiry is reviewing existing traffic violation rules in the light of the Vision Zero principles and of ensuring due process of law.)
  10. The role of voluntary organisations (e.g. the government is evaluating the road safety work of the Nationalföreningen för trafiksäkerhetens främjande' (National Society for Road Safety (NTF)) and its use of state funds.)
  11. Alternative forms of financing new roads (e.g. possibilities are studied for other forms of supplementing public financing of major road projects.)
  12. In the autumn of 2001 the Government presented an infrastructure plan, where the traffic safety work will fulfil the 2007 target.

Operational Strategy for Vision Zero

While acknowledging the importance of political commitment to a safe road system, Tingvall and Haworth (1999) outlined an operational strategy and key steps of Vision Zero to be implemented in the short term without political commitment. These three key steps in an operational strategy include:

1 Gradually aligning vehicle speed to the inherent safety of the system

This involves 'rating' the infrastructure-speed in terms of safety and compares the end product with the current situation. This will determine whether it is more effective to reduce speed or modify infrastructure. Aspects to be considered in determining a safe travel speed include:

  • roadsides
  • land separation
  • intersection
  • unprotected road users.

2 Improving vehicles to address driver behaviour issues

In terms of vehicle safety, three steps can be taken: seat belt interlocks; alcohol interlocks and intelligent speed limiters. In the long term such measures will have a substantial impact, especially within a safer infrastructure.

3 Stimulating the community to use the system in a safer way

By demanding professional users of the system to focus on issues such as speed, purchase of cars and fatigue a large proportion of the traffic can be influenced. A safe road system would affect transport within an organisation as well as transport provided by others (e.g. taxis, rental cars etc). A "safe" way of using the road transport system should be defined in order to assist the market; for example, in the form of modern quality management systems such as the ISO standards. This would ensure that the process is demand-driven rather than regulatory.

The Vision Zero approach to road safety is highly effective. Sweden has one of the world's lowest traffic-related fatality rates - and the statistics clearly show that safety does not compromise mobility. On the contrary, increased mobility actually depends on effective road safety. Traffic volume and fatality rates are partly linked to changes in economic growth. But it can be clearly noticed that road deaths have continued to decrease despite a steady rise in traffic. This chart shows the growth in traffic volume (blue) and recorded traffic fatalities (yellow) from 1950 to 2008.

Fig 01

There are other positive effects. Fatalities involving unprotected pedestrians in Sweden have fallen by almost 50% in the period between 2003-2008. The number of children killed in traffic accidents has also been cut. In 2008 the first traffic death involving a child did not occur until 22 October. And yet, the unexploited potential remains huge. In Sweden, the death toll could be further reduced by a further 90% if technical system failures, failure to wear seat belts, speeding and drunk driving could be eliminated - from 5 deaths per 100,000 to 0.5.

This is what the Vision Zero is about: looking forward and creating strategies to take safety to new levels.

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives
Objective Scale of contribution Comments
  There is no evidence of an efficiency effect.
  hifts in the priority of transportation policies and projects from speed to safety, with the philosophy that crashes can be avoided if streets are designed to protect all people - increase the livability, safety, and accessibility of our streets for all people.
  Lowering the speed of cars will contribute to a reduction in environmental impacts.

Higher levels of accessibility for those who cannot afford cars. Citizens are provided support from the National Society for Road Safety (NTF) and other associations and voluntary pressure groups all of which are striving for better road traffic safety. Through methodically spreading consumer information and lobbying for consumer demands, these organizations can contribute to safer products and services being placed at the disposal of both public and private parties.

  It is a traffic safety policy that puts the protection of the most vulnerable road users at its centre.
  The detailed analysis of Vision Zero has revealed that there are considerable economic gains to be had from such a policy innovation.
  The main obstacle was money from government. More money was needed to deliver Vision Zero (especially safety measures on roads/re-building of roads). There is still not enough money and this is still a problem.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives


Scale of contribution


  Due to a safer environment, the number of pedestrians and cyclists will increase and motor traffic may be reduced, but conversely some measures will reduce capacity.
  When many of the above-listed strategies are implemented in an integrated manner, the effect is to create healthy, efficient and sustainable communities where people may choose to walk and cycle in safety.
  Walking and cycling are important modes of transport given their potential to improve health and preserve the environment.
  Lowering the speed of motorised vehicles and safer environments will provide vulnerable categories of road users with the opportunity to have safer trips.
  By reducing motor traffic and its speeds, and creating less car-intensive environments.
  By developing more attractive areas for investors.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Contribution to problems

Contribution to alleviation of key problems


Scale of contribution



By encouraging modal shift to non-motorised transport modes and so reducing car traffic, but conversely some measures will reduce capacity.
Community impacts More liveable and sustainable communities, lower speeds, increased non-motorised traffic.
Environmental damage By reducing motor traffic in the city and reduced vehicle-kilometres travelled due to a shift towards safer NMT.
Poor accessibility Through increased accessibility and improved liveability of streets. By encouraging a situation for more cycling and walking, and by safer movement in the city.
Social and geographical disadvantage By encouraging a situation for safer walking and cycling environments, social and geographical groups are made more "accessibility equal".
Number, severity and risk of accidents

By reducing traffic speed and creating safer conditions for integrated use of road space, for example through speed and traffic management.

Economic growth A walkable city becomes more attractive.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Appropriate contexts

Appropriate area-types
Area type Suitability
City centre
Dense inner suburb
Medium density outer suburb
Less dense outer suburb
District centre
Small town
Tourist town
= Least suitable area type = Most suitable area type

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