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Pedestrian casualties ‘look the wrong way’

Road Safety

21 February 2020

Pedestrians hit by buses in London were often looking the wrong way when they stepped into the road, according to Transport for London.

Researchers are looking at possible ways to reduce such incidents. Claire Mann, director of bus operations, surface transport, told TfL’s safety panel: “TfL’s and bus operators’ routine investigations into major collisions (including some fatalities) have shown that a number of the most serious collisions involve a pedestrian looking the wrong way as they cross the road, giving the bus driver insufficient time to react and avoid an impact, even at low speeds.”

TfL appointed consultant Integrated Transport Planning Limited (ITP) to research pedestrian behaviour and risk management. ITP first undertook  a literature review with input from behavioural psychology and transport planning specialists. 

“The literature review covered the impact of electronic device usage on pedestrian distraction and behaviour, as well as pedestrian risk management measures that have been trialled elsewhere,” said Mann. 

The insights informed on-street observational surveys at a range of locations in London, including bus stops and bus lanes. 

“Data from the on-street observations is currently being analysed and will increase understanding of the nature and circumstances of risky pedestrian behaviours, and the correlation of variables involved,” said Mann.   

Potential solutions included “those that are physical (engineering responses that alter the physical layout of the street); technical (changes or additions to street technology, including ground surfaces and signals equipment); or technological (interventions that take advantage of changes in technology, particularly the connectivity of smartphones and other smart devices, but also considering potential technologies on the horizon)”. 

TfL has started a six-month trial of an acoustic vehicle alerting system that emits an urban bus sound on quiet-running buses travelling below 12mph.

The equipment has been fitted on 11 electric buses on route 100 (St Paul’s Cathedral and Shadwell). The trial will establish the optimum sound level in a range of urban environments.

Additional routes will be added to the trial. The 94, C10, P5 are confirmed when  zero emission buses are introduced. 

The system, developed by AECOM, Anderson Acoustics and Zelig Sound, will be fitted to all new buses from July 2021. 

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