Councillors have backed a plan to make roads in Bristol safer but raised questions about a shortage of money. Over 100 people a year are seriously injured in car crashes on the city’s roads, leading to cross-party calls for Bristol City Council to make driving less dangerous.
A new target was set for zero deaths or serious injuries on Bristol’s roads in seven years time. According to the latest government data, eight people were killed in 2021, and on average 134 people are seriously injured each year in Bristol.
Green Councillor David Wilcox, shadow cabinet member for transport, put forward a motion asking other political parties to back the pledge of zero road deaths by 2030, during a full council meeting on Tuesday, July 11. He suggested the council lower speed limits, install speed bumps and cameras and change the design of dangerous junctions.
Cllr Wilcox said: “The term ‘accident’ is benign. It implies an unpredictable event nobody can be blamed for. But people drive vehicles, people set the rules of the road and people design the street space. Collisions and crashes are avoidable, as are deaths and serious injuries from them — we can and we must prevent them, by engineering out the potential for serious harm, by slowing vehicles down and separating road users.
“Nobody should have to risk their lives or their children’s lives driving, cycling or walking in our city. The only acceptable number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads is zero.”
Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats backed the motion, but raised questions about who would pay for the work needed to stop so many people dying or getting seriously injured. Tories also objected to a specific part of the motion criticising electronic billboards.
Labour Cllr Tim Rippington said: “The issue of funding cannot be ignored here. We obviously support the concept of making our streets safer and are doing so through various projects like School Streets, Liveable Neighbourhoods, and an extensive pedestrianisation programme.
“But we cannot possibly accelerate their delivery without identifying the funding streams to enable the planning, consultation and construction of these projects. Actions in the [motion] are laudable but will need to have future funding identified. Road deaths are neither acceptable nor inevitable, and we’re happy to support this motion.”
Conservative Cllr Mark Weston, leader of the Tory group, added: “Electronic billboards can cause distraction to drivers, but so can three children in the back seat. There has been no demonstrable link between billboards and road deaths.
“One of the key things we’re going to have to do is look at how we’re going to actually pay for it. There have been five crashes in the past year at the junction of Hallen Road and Avonmouth Way. One lady has just come out of hospital, she was horrifically injured. How do we engineer a road system that stops morons driving like morons? You can’t do it without funding.”