Saturday, 2 May 2009

11 year boy old killed by a car in Westbury on Trym

The police are reporting that an 11 year old boy was killed on Friday evening when a car went up onto the pavement in Westbury on Trym and hit a group of kids -the (female) car driver then ran off.

This is a really bad week on Bristol's roads, with two children, one 15, one 11 killed by hit and run drivers, as well as someone on a bike injured by another hit-and-run incident. A trend perhaps? It's too early to say. What is clear is that there is a single unified cause: a car. And there seems to be a unified decision by the drivers that the best thing to do is run off. Perhaps the drivers felt they could get away with it, or maybe there was enough alcohol in their blood that they didn't want a breath or blood test at the scene of the accident. Certainly when someone tried to run off from a car crash we were reporting on, alcohol was probably a cause of both the crash and them trying to run.

Everyone in the cycling/walking/street activist community will be pretty unhappy about this -as will, presumably, be the police and other emergency services. Every death of a pedestrian or a cyclist represents a failure of everyone's efforts. Yet what can you do if some people in the city are going to drive round in big metal boxes?
  1. It would be useful to know if (enforced) 20 mph speed limits would have saved lives. That would make for a better argument to have wide-area 20 mph zones, instead of leaving the main roads at 30. In particular, would Eastfield Road -the narrow hilly route between Westbury and Horfield, have counted as a main road?
  2. The Evening Post needs to keep an eye on the comment sections of any article involving cars crashing with bikes or pedestrians. The paper has put a lot of effort into pushing a bikes-are-the-enemy theme, and whenever something like this happens, the comments by some of the readers are appalling. They do eventually delete some of the comments, but by the time they do it's much later, when the damage has been done.
  3. In fact, we wonder if maybe it is time for the E.P to back from its bikes-are-the-enemy theme, as it doesn't appear to be true. The vehicle that kills people on pavements is called a motor car.
  4. When we look at the traffic logs of the web site, news of someone being killed on our streets brings a lot of traffic to this site. We'd rather that people didn't get killed out there; so that people didn't have to go to the web to get news about another tragedy. That web traffic is something to mourn.
  5. There's a good case for setting up a serious web site alongside this one. It's hard to mix satire that argues in favour of helmets and high-viz clothes for pedestrians with reporting the death of people walking down the pavement. Something that carry's the city's cycling news and events and not much else. Volunteers to help with this would be welcome.
This is the second time this week we've had to express our deepest sadness and condolencies to the parents, friends and family, yet we know that nothing we can say will ever take the pain away, especially for the parents. When we said on Wednesday that it was a dark day for Bristol, we didn't know how bad the week was going to turn out. It has been a dark week.

All scheduled postings that were indended to be entertaining have been postponed for a week. There's nothing funny to say.


WestfieldWanderer said...

A well written a very thoughtful post bearing incredibly sad news.

Thank you.

Quercus said...

This news is absolutely tragic.

My eldest son goes to Sam's school and is devastated - as are his peers. Children have been texting each other and crying all day. Awful news.

Deeply, deeply upsetting.

TonyD said...

A very good post.

There does seem to be increasing evidence of a "them vs us" agenda being promoted in some circles, often without a great deal of thought about the wider consequences of such an approach.

Sometimes, we need to remember that we are all human beings, just trying to go about our daily lives, almost all of us without intentionally wishing to harm anybody else.

As a frequent cyclist, I am aware that my bike can do considerable damage to a pedestrian and behave accordingly - and I think that the overwhelming majority of motorists are aware of the even greater damage their cars can do and, likewise, behave accordingly.

But, as in many other situations, once a particular group starts to be "demonised" in some way, it becomes increasingly easy for a minority to behave badly towards those demonised, and for that misbehaviour to be, if not actively condoned, at least passively tolerated by the more reasonable majority.

I fear that as the inevitable move towards greater levels of walking and cycling continues, if there are not major changes in the way some motorists (and yes, some cyclists) view other travellers the situation may get worse before it gets better. I hope that I am wrong.

Chris Hutt said...

It's very difficult to know how to respond to these events. Those of us thinking about road safety issues know that it symptomatic of an underlying malaise. But every incident has its own peculiar circumstances which tend to make it look like an isolated incident.

It's clear that grossly excessive speed was the major factor here, as is often the case. Skid marks often give compelling evidence of this. So is it not time to stop pussy-footing around the subject of speeding?

In 30 mph limit areas it is both illegal and irresponsible to exceed the limit by even the smallest margin, so effectively even driving at 30 mph is illegal, which is what the red circle around the 30 mph sign signifies - 30 mph is prohibited.

The existing 30 mph prohibition could be enforced quite easily and effectively by making use of existing traffic light infrastructure combined with existing speed detection technology to trigger every light to turn red whenever a vehicle approaches at or above 30 mph.

Motorists would soon learn that driving at or above 30 mph would trigger red lights and would become accustomed to driving at around 25 mph in areas with 30 mph prohibitions, which would profoundly change the perception and reality of how dangerous our roads are.

MrG said...

The point made earlier about the Evening Post is a salient one. Barely a day goes past without either a Clarkson-esque "All cyclists are evil" letter, or an "I was only doing 41 in a 30mph area and I got done - how unfair is that?" letter. However it spends its Cycling City money, the biggest issue to tackle is car drivers' atitude; how can we begin to change that?