16 December 2009

A road map for, er, better road safety

Interesting blog post I saw today from Dr Ian Walker. He's colour-coded English regions according to road accident severity.

Not your chance of having an accident, then - but your chances of coming out badly if you do have an accident. The darker red the area, the more chance you stand of being seriously injured or killed.

Ian is a traffic and transport psychologist, who proved conclusively in a recent study that wearing a long blonde wig is safer than wearing a helmet. (Obviously that's a bit of a media simplification. It's more complicated than that. Brunette or ginger probably works just as well.)

His dangermap of England only shows general accident figures. There's nothing specific to bikes. On his colour-scheme, North Yorkshire and East Riding, my homeland, are vast scarlet lagoons of Viking carnage; Plymouth on the other hand is a milk-white haven of gentle bumps and mildly bruised shins.

In London, Southwark - my borough - comes off pretty well, in lightly blushing pink. But down in the south-west, the lawless and wild Richmond and Kingston and Hammersmith, it's one mighty middle-class crimson bloodbath.

Like an MP's defence of their expenses claims, all this raises more questions than it answers, as Ian acknowledges. But it does rather raise the question of whether all those bull-barred 4x4s and safety-conscious Volvos down in London's moneyed and well-manured suburbs are actually making the outcomes of accidents worse. Luckily I don't know any rich people, so I never have to cycle down there.

Anyway, I'm off to the food being given away at the Feeding of the 5000 event in Trafalgar Square now. Is there such a thing as a free lunch? I hope so.


  1. Umm, but wasn't Ian Walker's blog post from May 2008? What wories me is that he coloured in the map but doesn't seem to supply a key to explain what the shades mean. You could be forgiven for thinking from the colours that Newham is much 'safer' than Kingston, however in that year more people were killed on the roads in Newham (3 vs 2) and overall in Newham there were 860 injury collisions versus 309 in Kingston. Seems to me that there's a big difference between what police officers in Kingston consider to be serious and what officers in Newham think is serious. Just goes to show you have to be careful with interpretation.

    What was new this week was the 'interactive map' shown on the BBC's website plotting the location of every fatal collision between 1999 and 2008.

  2. Dur! So it was. Ian mentioned the blog post in his Twitter feed of that morning and I just didn't twig that his post was as old as most of the things in my fridge, and thought, in the blizzard of danger-maps all coming out at the same time, that it was from that day. Sorry. Obviously I've been working too hard and need a holiday...