Children in deprived areas "at greater road risk"

The following press release, from the press agency Reuters, is reasonably balanced and tells a story.  It's a sad story about young people and how they are more likely to die on roads in areas like where I live, Tower Hamlets in London, because of their socio-economic standing.  It also discusses a minor issue amongst the cycling community, and approaches to road uses in general.  So far, so straight-forward.  I encourage you to read it and then re-join my for a little analsis at the bottom...

LONDON (Reuters) - Children in deprived areas are four times more likely to be killed in road accidents than those in wealthier locations, a report by MPs said on Thursday.
The Public Accounts Committee also said more should be done to examine the "irresponsible behaviour of some cyclists" and what impact they had.
Although Britain is one of the safest countries in the world in terms of road deaths, the death rate of child pedestrians was worse than in many other countries, the committee said.
In 2007, 646 pedestrians and 136 cyclists were killed, with more than 30,000 pedestrians and 16,000 cyclists injured.
The committee called for the Department of Transport (DfT) to introduce more road safety measures, such as speed humps, 20 mph zones and speed cameras, saying the current child casualty rate was unacceptable.
The committee said the higher death rate in deprived areas might be because children in such places were more likely to be unsupervised and to be near roads when they returned from school.
"The department's approach towards child deaths must be one of zero tolerance," said the PAC's chairman Edward Leigh.
"It should give priority to promoting child pedestrian road safety schemes in deprived areas, which suffer disproportionately from such casualties."
The MPs' report said the number of deaths and injuries of cyclists had fallen since the mid-1990s but that from 2004 to 2007 there had been an 11 percent increase, despite no significant rise in the amount of cycling.
It said the DfT appeared unaware that many people thought some cyclists were a "hazard to themselves and other road users."
"Some cyclists are perceived to behave irresponsibly, such as riding on pavements and disregarding red traffic signals, thereby posing a danger to themselves and making other road users including elderly pedestrians feel unsafe," they said.
The DfT said only a minority of cyclists were irresponsible.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison)
© Thomson Reuters 2009. All rights reserved.

So, the general gist of this story is that, tragically, 646 pedestrians and 136 cyclists killed in 2007.  I only know of ONE death to a pedestrian by a cyclist in recent history.  Which means the other 781 deaths must have been caused by something else, some awful child-killing monster lurking on our streets.  The press release doesn't mention what this killer must be, but I would hazard a guess that it is the automobile...

And what did our national broadcaster interpret this press release as? 
"Cars kill kids"?
"Poor kids more likely to die on our streets because they are poor"?
Nope, not that either.
"Lots of people die on our roads but some cyclists are a little bit of a nuisance"?
Nope, not even.
Yes, you've guessed it, the BBC, our national and venerated broacaster, interpreted this story like this:

Never mind all those dead kids in our roads, what about those pesky cyclists?!!
I am beyond words, really, I am.


anna said...

Wow, sad news and even sadder interpretation by BBC. Thanks for sharing this.

In Austria we don't have so many children killed in traffic, but it's remarkable that most children (far more than 50%) are killed INSIDE a car as a passenger and NOT as a pedestrians or cyclists (where they are most likely also killed because of cars). I think that's an important aspect too, which is hardly ever recognized.

Dottie said...

Stuff like this really pisses me off. Can't be good for my blood pressure.

ibikelondon said...

I totally agree - some times it's hard not come across as a foaming-at-the-mouth "I'M ANGRY ABOUT THIS!" kind of guy, but you know what? This DOES make me angry!

At least the cycling will help to keep the blood pressure down Dottie!

Anonymous said...

Sad thing is Britsin has achieved such a low absolute casualty rate among pedestrians and cyclists by scaring all the pedestrians and cyclists off the streets.


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