Our first policy – Sustainable Safety

At the Committee meeting on Monday 23 June 2014 we adopted our first policy covering ‘Sustainable Safety’. We want to use Sustainable Safety more, as it offers a positive attitude to creating space for cycling which is such an important ingredient in every liveable city. Sustainable Safety also tackles road safety with a can-do attitude, unlocking and enabling cycling and walking. It does that by respecting user needs and taking a look at the full road network, not just little pockets of improvements. Sustainable Safety is not immune to the vagaries of political power. We believe, nonetheless, that using the principles of Sustainable Safety would set a decent framework for everyone involved in making Newcastle fit for cycling. Over the coming months we will talk to you much more about Sustainable Safety, what it means, its principles and origins. We’ll work to promote Sustainable Safety to Newcastle council, and other organisations. We will review this policy (and any other) on an annual basis, coinciding with the organisation’s Annual Report.

A holistic and structured look at the city’s road network is the key to making Newcastle’s road system safe for all users. It will require political resolve to reduce vehicle traffic and speeds and a sense of strategic organisation and structure in the highway and planning authority, Newcastle council. We will therefore campaign for Newcastle’s adoption of Sustainable Safety principles for road design to take account of desired future modal share, human behaviour and user needs. We will keep an eye on developments in the Netherlands – where this principle originated and where it is very successful – and adapt these to UK-specific situations.

Read more about the five principles of sustainable road safety
1) Functionality
2) Homogeneity
3) Predictability
4+5) Forgivingness & State Awareness

Sustainable Safety is common in the Dutch approach to road safety and design, as the Dutch Institute for Road Safety Research (SWOV) explains:

“The Sustainably Safety vision is based on five principles which each in their own way contribute to achieving sustainably safe road traffic. The five principles are based on scientific theories from traffic engineering, biomechanics and psychology; they take the human being as the physical and psychological starting point, and relate to the functioning of traffic in general. Especially the original three principles of functionality, homogeneity, and predictability have been worked out and put into practice for the first time in the Netherlands. Together with the two newer principles, forgivingness and state awareness, they are still being elaborated further.” Read more SVOW fact sheet

Here’s how other authorities describe and define Sustainable Safety

Cycling Embassy of Great Britain

And here’s a super-quick checklist taken from our recent presentation to Newcastle’s Cycle Forum

Principles of Sustainable (Road) Safety are based on

• Observing and accounting for human behaviour
• Inserting a margin of error in the design
• Designing-out risk with view to increase cycling
• Removing conflict situations (don’t pitch driver vs cyclist)
• Taking a full network approach when making changes, classify your roads
• Making designing for cycling safety a priority ahead of driving

In the meantime, you can also have a look at Ton Hummel’s presentation from the Love Cycling Go Dutch last year