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Whitby asks for zero-casualty approach

INSTITUTION NEWS

ENGINEERS HAVE a duty to tackle the shocking number of children killed on Britain's residential roads, ICE President Mark Whitby told participants at a seminar on urban design last month.

The seminar, part of the presidential visit to the East Midlands, highlighted grim statistics which show UK streets are the most dangerous in Europe.

The number of children killed and injured will only change with a complete switch in public attitudes towards the car, said Whitby, and engineers have a major role to play.

'We should be sensitising our public, mobilising our politicians and working with communities so that they can take ownership of their streets, ' he said.

Whitby contrasted traffic-congested streets in the UK with residential areas of the Netherlands and Germany where priority is given to pedestrians and cyclists.

North East Lincolnshire Council head of engineering services Adrian Coy emphasised the need to challenge society's tolerance of road accidents, quoting alarming UK accident statistics.

In 2000, 3,409 people were killed, 38,000 people seriously injured and 278,000 people slightly injured in road traffic accidents.

Coy criticised the government's lack of ambition in reducing casualties and said a more fundamental zero-casualty approach in residential areas is needed.

'Such an objective could only be achieved by changing driver attitudes and stimulating communities to bring about change in the streets where they live, ' said Coy.

'Engineers have an opportunity to work with communities to develop workable solutions.'

Speakers at the seminar tackled other urban design issues, including the relationship between street layout and quality of life, presented by Telford & Wrekin Council.

Historian Chris Upton reflected on the difficulties of introducing art into urban streets, particularly once the media began to campaign against it.

'On balance, and with a few exceptions, people are not fond of art, and in particular modern art, ' Upton said. 'There are three questions people always ask: what is it meant to be, what did it cost and why is it here?'

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