Challenge 1: Traffic Safety

Traffic safety is the definite and most important priority for each road user. The current “system” provides the main leverage to punish for breach of traffic rules. However, the most decisive factor is street design and correct engineering solutions ultimately aimed at preventing breaches of traffic rules and minimizing consequences in case any road user made a mistake. 

Survey conducted within the SUMP development, as well as the objective data on the traffic accidents incidence involving casualties indicate huge issues with traffic safety. Over recent decade, the number and severity of road accident consequences has tremendously increased in Lviv. Whereas, the higher numbers of cars is not the primary cause.

The prevailing cause for road accidents, injuries, and casualties is travel speed. Calming the travel speed leads to reduced likelihood of road accidents, and lower probability for severe injuries and fatalities

 

Objective 1. To reach fatalities in road accidents

Current “system” provides that a key incentive to follow the rules is the punishment in the form of fines charged by the police. Therefore, with no patrol team around, it is considered acceptable to make “minor” violations that assumedly have a weak effect on safety (slight speeding, entering the busy intersection, a “five minute” stop wherever it is prohibited, crossing the street wherever you find convenient, rather than using a zebra, etc.). However, these violations raise risk levels and foster people to stay out in the streets, outside the vehicle, as little as possible, thus increasing the number of car drives and the number of vehicles.

Global practices show that engineering solutions work best. Their efficiency does not depend on the presence or absence of the police officer around. However, a large number of streets repaired in recent years have not taken it into account. Consequently, we have wide roads comfortable to drive at 90-110, while the speed limit required is 50 km/h.

A key reason for injuries and fatalities in road accidents is the driving speed. Calming the traffic speed also reduces the likelihood of severe injuries and fatalities among road users.

Despite the multiple causes for road accidents (drunk driving, driving with no driver’s license, etc.), and the fact that the city council is not able to address some of the issues without the police support, severity of consequences of the road accidents mostly depends on the speed of the vehicle. Therefore, even though the city is not able to reduce the number of drunk or unlicensed drivers it can still take measures to minimize the number of casualties or fatalities among citizens.

1.1. To impose the liability for traffic safety in the city to the level of local self-government. 

It can be achieved by establishing an institution or a structural unit at the city council to analyze road accidents, and to take measures in order to prevent further road accidents.

1.2. To introduce a traffic safety audit system in the city.

Presently, there is only the State Expertise system for construction projects to verify the conformity with the State Construction Standards of Ukraine and Ukrainian National Standardization System. Traffic safety audit shall take into account the actual behaviour of people, their mistakes, and responses.

1.3. To create a budget program to foster safe mobility for all. 

Presently, there are no dedicated planned budget entries to promptly arrange various infrastructural measures to boost traffic safety. 

1.4. To introduce a clear hierarchy of streets in terms of driving speed. 

Infrastructure shall be in line with the speed limits, while the speed limits shall comply with the surrounding conditions.

1.5. To ensure traffic violations enforcement.

The punishment shall be irreversible even in cases of minor offense, such as a fine. Photographic evidence for breaking traffic rules is key to implement this activity.

1.6. Freight vehicles and special vehicles shall be safe for the city.

Large size vehicles moving around the city shall be equipped with pedestrian safety features. Procurement of new vehicles for municipal needs shall take into account safety of other road users.

Demonstration measures:

  1. Reduction of speed limits according to street classes.
  2. Special features to enforce speed calming in residential and arterial streets.
  3. Traffic regulation and management with the help of road marking, traffic lights, road signs, and other engineering solutions.
  4. Safe trip to school.

Catalogue of activities

To create a structural unit at Lviv City Council in charge of traffic safety on the level of local self-government in order to develop and implement the Program for Improvement of Traffic Safety in the city:

  • To establish an institution with the competent staff who could process, implement and achieve the identified traffic safety objectives.
  • The unit shall have the resources to analyze road accidents.
  • To analyze each road accident with severe consequences and high-incidence sites for possible infrastructure improvements.
  • The newly established institution shall develop and implement the Program  for Improvement of Traffic Safety in the city and coordinate it with other municipal programs and maintenance organizations.
  • To review high-incidence sites for traffic rules violations by pedestrians for possible arrangement of crossings.
  • To review the needs to arrange traffic lights and safety islands at available crossings.
  • Stock-taking of road signs and marking within the city, creating the respective GIS layers.

To introduce a system for traffic safety audit in the city:

  • To introduce mandatory traffic safety audit for new projects for reconstructions and capital repairs. 
  • To introduce mandatory traffic safety audits for changes in traffic arrangement near new developments.
  • To allocate budget for traffic safety audits.
  • To determine liability of project engineers for failing to account for traffic safety audit findings.

To create a budget funded program to enforce safe mobility for all

Infrastructure shall take into account the fact that all road users may make mistakes, and shall reduce to minimum the likelihood of any consequences of these mistakes. The measures include:

  • safety islands, 
  • elevated crossings and intersections, 
  • narrowing the roadway to standard lane width, 
  • mini-roundabouts, roundabouts and quasi-roundabouts (around the urban block), 
  • measures of shifting traffic trajectory, 
  • traffic (speed) calming measures, etc.

Suchlike measures shall have a reliable funding source. It is suggested to cover such activities partially from the funds collected from fines and fuel excise duty.

To introduce a clear street hierarchy in terms of speed limits:

  • Taking into account the currently allowed maximum speed limit when designing projects for overhauling, reconstructions, and changes in traffic organisation.
  • Development and implementation of traffic organisation schemes and traffic calming measures for residential streets and areas, transit restraints.
  • Arranging traffic calming and improvement measures in arterial streets.
  • Introducing speed limits of 30–40 km/h in the city center, enforcement with the guaranteed penal fines.
  • Showing the maximum speed in GPS navigators.
  • Traffic calming measures on streets with joint cycling traffic and other modes of transport.
  • Analysis of speed limits at entry points to the city and formally municipal roads, increasing the speed limits to the traffic flow speed wherever possible.

To put in place the irreversible nature of punishment for breaking traffic rules:

  • Implementing relevant measures (including also fines) in places of regular traffic rules violations, such as overtaking public transport on the counter (opposite direction) lane (police raids, cameras, infrastructure and communication through media) and blocking the intersections.
  • Community works (not the penal fines) for regular breaking of traffic rules – an initiative to amend the law.
  • Search for stolen bicycles and theft prevention measures.

Trucks with lowered cab and increased visibility area for urban conditions

Freight and special vehicles safe for the city

Despite the small share in the traffic flow and high professional level of drivers, large size vehicles have multiple times been a cause for fatal road accidents within the city. In order to make the heavy vehicles traffic safer, they shall be equipped with special features to increase observability. It is important to procure the vehicles for city needs that would have maximum safety for other road users, with minimum blind spots (for trucks and public transport, it is the low-profile cabin, no long motor hood that could obstruct the view of a child, etc.). For light vehicles, the pedestrian protection shall be at least 50% under EuroNCAP, with an increase up to 70% in 2025.

To develop the program to incentivize delivery services and other providers operating within the city to shift to more environmentally friendly and safe vehicles (Euro-6, electric cars) and delivery modes (rentals of cargo bicycles in post offices / supermarkets; a shared network for different operators with post boxes for small parcels within walking distances).

Program “Safe Streets Near Schools and Kindergartens”

The primary objective is to analyze children school routes and implement traffic safety enforcement measures for pedestrians / cyclists along the routes.

 

Photos by: Volodymyr Karaim

Read the full version of the chapter “Challenge 1: Traffic Safety” in the Lviv Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan: