|A clear downward trend in traffic deaths|
While a good level of education of drivers in particular (as they are the ones bringing lethal force to the roads) is important, it is never possible to completely eliminate the chance of error, or of frustration leading to violent behaviour, if conflict is designed into the way in which roads are used. What's more, people are often tired or distracted. These things cannot be solved by education, they are a result of being human.
|Dutch roads are dramatically safer now|
than in the early 1970s. Child fatalities
on the roads have dropped by 98%. Just
9 children died on Dutch roads in 2013
Speed limit reductions are a useful tool, both in town and in rural areas (but note that merely posting speed limit signs is not enough on its own). Out of a total of 120000 km of roads in the Netherlands, 41000 km have had the speed limit reduced from 50 km/h to 30 km/h roads and over 33000 km have been reduced from 80 km/h to 60 km/h. From the article: "Currently over 70% of all 30km/h neighbourhood connector roads have speeds reduced at intersections and/or stretches of road, and 45% of 60km/h roads." It is estimated that 51 to 77 traffic fatalities were prevented by the 30 km/h roads and 60 more due to the rural 60 km/h roads.
On many of the 30 km/h roads, measures have been taken to exclude cars.
|Cycle-paths well away from traffic|
remove conflict and danger.
The measures have proven to be socially cost-effective, as benefits are a factor of four higher than costs. It's a common theme with Dutch policies concerning transport and in particular cycling that measures are not seen as a cost, but as a benefit. The Netherlands is a rich nation, in part due to sensible design of roads.
Of course it's all OK to have the world's safest roads, but to influence people to ride bikes you also need Subjective Safety to make cycling feel safe enough that people want to do it, and want their children to do it too. This has been addressed by a number of means, leading to the world's highest rate of cycling, and happily the same things which increase real safety and work for sustainable safety also work to increase subjective safety. The result is the highest rate of cycling in the world, with very high participation by the broadest possible population of cyclists, and what this means sometimes takes people by surprise.
Read also another blog post which explains about the importance of Sustainable Safety. Also about how the necessary segregation of cyclists from drivers is achieved even without cycle-paths because cycling routes are unravelled from driving routes.