Blair backs biking to school

The Government today announced measures to make roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists, especially closer to schools, a key plank in the Sustrans Safe Routes to School Campaign
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New road casualty reduction targets were announced today by the government. According to the Prime Minister Tony Blair such targets will help prevent "lives being blighted and families being devastated".

Statistically, the UK has a good road safety record compared to the rest of Europe but pro-safety campaigners point out that this is because many roads are so busy, pedestrians and cyclists avoid them, skewing the statistics.

The PM said it was not enough for Britain to have a "good record" on safety, roads had to become even safer.

Last year, 103 child pedestrians were killed on the roads and that was "103 too many", said Mr Blair as he helped launch the Government's new road safety strategy.

The Government is seeking to reduce child deaths and serious injuries on the roads by 50 percent by 2010 compared with average figures for the period 1994-98.

Overall the Government is seeking to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured by 40 percent by 2010.

The PM said he was encouraged by Safe Routes To School programmes such as the one popilarised by Sustrans. He met a delegation of cycling school children before Christmas, he said today:

"I was moved by their experiences and commitment and I promised to do something.

"The truth is, drivers are far more likely to kill if they travel at speed and we are expecting local authorities to take action to control speeds in areas where children are most vulnerable, particularly around schools.

"We want all local authorities to conduct a safety audit and we will improve the ways of educating our children on how to use the roads and we will do more to target those children who are particularly vulnerable."

The PM said the Government was taking new steps to enforce speed limits. He added: "I know there are always people who wish we could go further, but I am sure this strategy will make a difference."

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