During the COVID-19 pandemic there are less people on the roads across Europe. With less cars and traffic, drivers tend to drive more recklessly. There has been an increase in accidents on the continent. In response to this, cities around Europe are taking steps to improve safety when the roads are emptier and people are driving faster. While each city has their own problem with road safety, all of them are creating their own solutions. A universal issue that is contributing to accidents and making more dangerous roads is speeding. Below are some of the stats about speeding and how various European cities are dealing with it.
Empty Roads & Speeding
Whenever roads empty, the speeding increases for those still driving. Furthermore, according to the personal injury claims law firm McGinley Solicitors, speeds have gone up during the COVID-19 pandemic. While speeds have increased, the number of accidents have gone up. This goes for accidents with cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and more. Speeding isn’t the only problem, people are also drinking and driving and getting on the roads during inclement weather. Driving under the influence also increases the speed of drivers and the likelihood that an accident will occur. The problems are multi-faceted, but so are the solutions. Each country and city has their own way of dealing with speeding, driving under the influence, accidents, and deaths in their own way.
Berlin is already known for being a forward-thinking and progressive city. It is a city of constant change and flux. It has been destroyed and rebuilt, evolving into a modern and accessible place to live. The city has responded to the increase in speed and accidents by temporarily widening the cycle lanes, allowing wider distance for cars and social distancing. The response is to create new space for pedestrians and bicyclists, but with so many vehicles in Germany some are not happy about the new roads.
40 percent less people are on the roads. The extra space and less traffic has provided safer situations for people who want to walk and cycle, but cars are also now having to avoid more pedestrians. Currently there aren’t really reliable numbers on how this will effect accidents between cars and pedestrians, but it seems clear cars are having to be more careful when they are driving these widened roads. It is a significant change, and not everyone likes change, but they are necessary in this ever-evolving pandemic.
Brussels is another progressive city that has responded quickly to the changing roads during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city has decided to lower the speed limit inside their main drag, the inner ring road. The speed limit will be lowered to 20 kmh. Brussel’s center is shaped like a pentagon, which makes it ideal for pedestrians. This means that pedestrians have space to move around, and bicycles can more easily maneuver. Again this creates more foot-traffic for drivers to navigate, but with so few cars on the road it makes for a socially distanced and traversable intersection. There are also concerns about the center becoming a meeting place. With social distancing, Brussels is learning how best to use their city.
Milan is also taking measures to open up traffic to pedestrians while making the roads safer for drivers. They are doing their best to open up the center for walking, closing 35km streets to cars. Like other Italian cities, Milan is changing its environmental regulations to make cities livable and social-distanced. While many city centers like Milan are closing to car traffic and opening up for pedestrians, there are still less cars on the highways and people are speeding, causing an increase in accidents.
Many large cities around Europe have begun rolling out cycling lanes that give cars and pedestrians more room. The city aims to create 650 kilometers of lockdown cycle lanes. This will not only provide space for social distancing, it will help commuters and others who are taking a ride for exercise. With fewer cars on the streets of the French capital, it provides a more regulated system of streets where drivers have to be careful with pedestrians around. This system, while it is becoming common, is especially suited to French society.
European cities around the continent are adapting to the new streets that have less cars and more pedestrians on them. Everyone is adapting to social distancing with less people on the roads and more people trying to get out of the house and other closed spaces. We all can learn how to adapt our cities like the ones above.
Just before New Year’s Eve – easily the booziest holiday of the year – New York State uncovered a litany of insurance laws that effectively outlaw the practice of ride sharing. This comes at a devastating loss to a vast group of people, from app owners, who are losing a significant area of service, to regional drivers, who lose another opportunity to earn cash, to riders, who no longer have a fast, convenient means of transport.
Around the country, city and state legislatures are beginning to question whether ridesharing is safe. However, users of ridesharing apps consistently clamor that the service is the transit of the future. Fortunately for business owners, drivers, and ride share users, it seems that ride sharing is indeed a smart and safe means of transportation, and it should continue to be as policies and technologies develop.
Ride Sharing Engenders Road Safety
The more cars there are on the roads, the more chances there are for disastrous collisions. The simple concept of probability is why automobile accidents are so much more common than plane crashes: While there are at most about 5,000 planes, the global number of cars and trucks has already surpassed 1 billion. On average, there are over 3,000 deaths and 50 million injuries on the road every day, so every automobile is a potential health hazard.
Ride sharing helps cut down on the number of cars on the road, decreasing congestion, and limiting the possibilities for harmful collisions. In fact, ride sharing is particularly popular amongst the intoxicated, which means communities that allow ride sharing business to operate are likely to have fewer drivers under the influence. Inarguably, providing intoxicated people an alternative to driving home drunk and high is a significant boon for the ride sharing service.
Some regions are concerned less with overall road safety and more with individual security of passengers. For example, Austin was among the first cities to pass legislation mandating extensive criminal background checks for ride share drivers in the hopes of reducing the likelihood of kidnapping, theft, or assault on passengers. Yet, emerging studies on the issue have found that risks to passengers are no greater than they are in traditional taxis; if anything, their cashless payment system and digital documentation lower the risk of violent crime.
Ride Sharing Is More Sustainable
Additionally, fewer cars and more ride sharing is a remarkable win for the environment. As concern over climate change climbs, more citizens are becoming interested in any way they can cut down on their environmental impact. Carpooling has long been touted as one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions, but rarely have carpooling initiatives found much success. Ride sharing is effectively paid carpooling since users are riding in a shared vehicle instead of driving their own. Ride sharing requires less fuel and emits fewer pollutants than the most likely alternative – everyone driving a private vehicle – which is unequivocally good for the environment.
Some ride sharing companies have even more progressive plans for sustainable services. For example, RideCell has developed software to help ride sharing businesses build their apps, but thanks to a partnership with BMW, the company might become a pioneer of autonomous fleets in the coming years. Autonomous vehicles are dramatically more efficient than human drivers for a dozen reasons, including their superior engines and their attention to fuel use. Though the widespread use of driverless cars often raises more questions about safety, it is likely that autonomous fleets will have less environmental impact than traditional automobiles.
Ride Sharing Is a Smart Market
Ride sharing has always been by and for the people. Long before startups like Uber and Lyft developed apps to facilitate (and profit from) the service, citizens and cities built their own low-tech ride sharing organizations to combat traffic and other harmful effects of commuting.
Though businesses have built ride sharing into a larger market, it is still largely controlled by average people. Not only do users choose whether they will ride share or not, but they also decide when they need a ride and which app to use.
Meanwhile, drivers have control over their vehicles and their routes, and they can even decide whether they will accept a certain passenger. It is this degree of individual power that has allowed ride sharing to nearly overtake other forms of transit. Cities can hardly expect citizens to accept the prohibition of ride sharing when it promises such outstanding opportunities for growth.
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