While over 26,000 people have been killed in UK traffic collisions over the last decade, the actual death toll from our motorised traffic culture is far higher. The NHS estimate that 50,000 people were killed by traffic pollution and Professor Garthwaite, from the University of London, estimates that up to 400,000 may have died through physical inactivity due to lack of cycling infrastructure. Transport CO2 emissions are already killing people due to their contribution to climate change.
There are literally millions more living with disabilities, lung and heart diseases caused by traffic pollution. In addition there is a national obesity epidemic not only among adults but among our children who have been exiled from our neighbourhood streets by motor vehicles.
All this is clearly intolerable in a civilised country.
A major protest is being organised on 15th November 2014 in London, to highlight this pyramid of death and disease caused by our current transport system. We will also be launching 10 Demands for action by the government. The protest is being organised by the Stop The Killing Coalition, that grew out of the Stop Killing Cyclists protests in London following the tragic spate of cyclist killings in November 2013.
The protest is called The National Funeral of the Unknown Victim of Traffic Violence. It will follow a hearse down London's Oxford Street and then place the symbolic coffin on a stand under Marble Arch. The plan is then to hold the UK’s largest ever Die-In. The entire protest will lie on the ground surrounding the coffin, to signify the terrible carnage caused by our traffic. This will be followed by a rally where the protest will hear from families of victims.
The National Funeral protest’s 10 Demands are:
1. Stop the Killing of Children – set up national, multi-billion pound programme to convert residential communities across Britain into living-street Home Zones to abolish dangerous rat-runs.
2. Stop the Killing of Pedestrians – establish a national programme to fund pedestrianisation of our city and town centres, including the nation’s high-street, Oxford Street.
3. Stop the Killing of Pensioners from excessive speed – introduce and enforce speed limit of 20 mph on all urban roads, 40 mph on rural roads/lanes and 60 mph on all other trunk roads.
4. Stop the Killing of Cyclists - invest £15 billion in a National Segregated Cycle Network over the next 5 years.
5. Stop the Killing by HGVs - ban trucks with blind spots by making safety equipment mandatory and strictly enforce current truck-safety regulations, to reduce levels of illegally dangerous trucks down from estimated 30% to less than 1%.
6. Stop the Killing without liability - introduce a presumed civil liability law on behalf of vehicular traffic when they kill or seriously injure vulnerable road-users, where there is no evidence blaming the victim.
7. Stop the Killing from Lung, Heart and other Diseases caused by vehicular pollutants – make it mandatory for particulate filters that meet latest EU emission standards to be fitted to all existing buses, lorries and taxis.
8. Stop the Killing at Junctions - introduce pedestrian crossing times long enough for elderly disabled to cross. Legalise filtered junction crossings by cyclists with strict legal priority for pedestrians and carry out urgent programme of physically protected left-hand turns for cyclists.
9. Stop the Killing from Climate Crisis caused by CO2 emissions – all transport fuels to be from environmentally-sustainable, renewable sources within 10 years.
10. Focus on Life! Transport governance must make safety and quality of life the top priority. Reform all council transport departments, the Department of Transport and Transport for London into Walking, Cycling and Transport Departments with formal pedestrian and cyclist representation.
The protest is seeking to build as broad a coalition as possible beyond the usual road-safety groups, and to include community groups, environmental charities, trade-unions, students, pensioners, parents and businesses, among others. A list of groups endorsing the protest is on the event's website, www.stopthekilling.org and people are already signing up on the event’s Facebook page (search for 'National Funeral For The Unknown Victim of Traffic Violence') to show their support. An endorsement simply means that a group are willing to have its name added to the public list of endorsing organisations and businesses and if they have a membership or newsletter that they will let them know about the protest.
The National Funeral of the Unknown Victim of Traffic Violence is a clarion call to people across the UK to unite to bring this carnage and environmental destruction to an urgent end. It is being organised by grassroots activists and so is dependent on grassroots support. Please help spread the word and help make our roads fit for humans once again.
Donnachadh McCarthy is co-organiser of Stop the Killing Coalition and Stop Killing Cyclists.
Protest and Die-In Facebook Sign-Up Page: http://goo.gl/M0TJK6
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