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Europe must boost safety for cyclists and walkers

5 June 2015

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), authors of the new report, say unprotected road users need special attention because the numbers being killed are falling more slowly than those for vehicle occupants. In the last ten years, deaths among pedestrians and cyclists fell by 41% and 37% respectively, while vehicle occupant deaths fell by 53%.

Since 2010 the reduction in the number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths has slowed down markedly with numbers falling by only about 10% and 3% respectively between 2010 and 2013.

The risk of being killed in traffic as a pedestrian differs greatly among European countries. It is lowest in The Netherlands and Scandinavia, but about 6 times greater in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. Latvia and Lithuania are responding to this challenge by achieving two of the fastest reductions in risk.

The authors cite evidence of ‘safety in numbers’, showing that increases in cycling and walking can reduce the levels of risk to walkers and cyclists as motor traffic becomes more used to sharing the road, and could improve overall road safety if car travel were replaced by walking and cycling.

The European Union has a target of halving road deaths over the ten years to 2020, but figures released by the European Commission in March showed that last year progress slowed markedly.

Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of ETSC said:

“Despite the health and environmental benefits, people who cycle and walk are not getting a fair share of improvements in road safety in Europe. This year, the EU has a very powerful weapon at its disposal, namely the review of safety requirements for new vehicles – it should not shy away from mandating the changes that can save the most lives.”

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