Jeremy: So, I like the idea of introducing elements of intrigue and uncertainty, sometimes, particularly into lower speed, neighbourhood style environments.
Prof. Wegman: Yeah. For me, it starts with a functional classification as you call it, to make clear what function the road has to perform. Then I'm very much in favour of safe and credible speed behaviour. And I'm pretty much in favour of giving a predictable road environment to the road user so he knows what to expect from the road and he knows what to expect from other road users.
Jeremy: We have, in Adelaide, as you'd be aware, there are several limits of speeds that are applicable in the metropolitan area. Some might argue that they're too high across the board, whether or not we should have a 50km/h speed limit in the center of Adelaide, particularly when we have a lot of vehicles which are capable of accelerating to that speed very quickly, as well. Large, powerful cars are one of the aspects of the Australian car driving culture. But when we compare that to a suburb, say like Unley in South Australia. I don't know if you're familiar with yet, but I'm sure you will be.
Prof. Wegman: I've been there.
Jeremy: OK. They've had a 40km an hour speed limit for 11 years now and, in conjunction with that, they did a lot of traffic management strategies within their local council area. The only local council in South Australia who adopted that speed limit and very radical at the time, but the result of that has been very much a safe and convenient neighbourhood environment. I only say that anecdotally by looking at the number of children who cycle to Unley Primary School. Whereas a lot of primary schools have seen a reduction in bicycle use and they've been taking out their bicycle racks, the bike racks at Unley Primary are full every day. I think that is, very much, a correlation of that safe neighbourhood speed, perhaps the location of where Unley Primary School is as well. But we have a very safe and convenient access to that school for the local kids. Whereas that's not the case for a lot of other primary schools who are stuck in high speed traffic, urban environments.
How does that compare to, say, the examples in Holland in as far as local, neighbourhood speed limits and also the responsibility of the car and certainly the responsibility of the driver, that if they have an accident with a cyclist or pedestrian? It's usually the driver who is deemed to be at fault in the first instance, in some of the European countries.
Prof. Wegman: The first question: How does this road environment, such as in Unley, relate to how kids are coming to school and whether parents do see a need to bring their kids because they're considered unsafe or whatever. An interesting example you mentioned, I'm certainly going off of that whether that's fully right and that's for these residents and these children. It's important that they have an environment like that because I've travelled these Unley streets and they are pretty wild. If you have a bad mood and would like to travel faster than 40 k...
Prof. Wegman: It's more impossible to do, I see it every day.
Jeremy: ...it's more than impossible to do that. Oh, OK. But it's an interesting concept so to say.
Prof. Wegman: Yeah.
Jeremy: We have in Europe far more narrow streets, if you talk about the residential streets. In Europe, it's not unusual to make these streets 30 k. Whether you can make 30km/h or 40km/h or 50km/h in these fairly wide residential streets here in South Australia in Adelaide, I don't know yet. I have to make up my mind. But, I learned that in the past it was very traditional to go by bike to a primary school and that, in the meantime, that has been changed over here. Same is true for secondary schools, high schools where I learned in the past in Australia, it's very usual to travel by bike, and now...
Prof. Wegman: Yes, it's more common for the parents to drive the children to school.
Jeremy: There's a cultural element and it has to do, of course, with sort of time of everybody's busy travelling to a job and it seems like that's an important element. Talking about who's at fault in a crash, that's interesting to learn that there was a minister in the past in the Netherlands who changed the law and came to the conclusion that, by definition, the car driver's responsible for a crash with a pedestrian or a cyclist. But they changed it again back.
Prof. Wegman: Right.