How can the public be helped to spend their devolved funds on the best road safety measures?
An example for Bristol:
In Bristol, all money for small scale highway improvements are devolved to the public. It works with 14 “neighbourhood partnerships” which discuss local issues at forum meetings. The public can attend these meetings to express concern and suggest solutions. Highway issues are a common theme at these meetings. In 2014-15, between £30,000 and £46,000 is allocated to each partnership for highway improvements.
The majority of highway concerns raised relate directly to road safety.
However, internally at Bristol City Council (BCC), there were concerns that the traffic schemes chosen by communities to address safety concerns were not always the most effective. For some issues highlighted by partnerships, the chosen remedy has not been the most effective according to robust research.
Adrian Davis and I are public health academics and we started a project to help neighbourhoods address safety concerns on Bristol’s highways using the most effective measures. This involved finding peer reviewed and case study evidence for particular road safety measures, and assessing if the research was robust enough to include as evidence.
This information was then prepared for members of the public. It was summarised into easy-to-digest information for each remedy, and was written with no jargon, and avoiding an overbearing tone. A brief description accompanies each traffic safety measure, with advantages, disadvantages, and most importantly, how effective the measure is at increasing safety.
For the widest possible reach, the information has been published on the Traffic Choices website www.trafficchoices.co.uk. The site groups highway safety measures into two main “problem” areas: crossing the road and preventing speeding. By browsing these groups, it’s now much easier for Bristol residents to get a good idea of what highway schemes are available, and which one might work best on their road. Each scheme is accompanied by a rough price estimate, so residents can establish what their partnership budget might afford.
To help improve engagement, and make the information more accessible, three videos have been produced, creating a more concise summary of the most popular safety measures. One video was made for crossing, another speeding, and a final video to explain the neighbourhood partnership process in Bristol. With “real-world” on-screen moving examples from Bristol, the videos provide a commentary on safety effects for each of the chosen safety measures and help to draw in viewers to use the site. The videos have been one of the most popular aspects of the project.
During the coming year, the website will be expanded with evidence on more safety measures requested by the public. It will also include a “live” tracker of issues currently logged by BCC, and will display the progress of any traffic schemes in development to help address these issues.
View the traffic schemes on Traffic Choices.
James Coleman, Bristol City Council