International Transport Forum (ITF) in Leipzig

02 May 2016 News & Campaigns
The 2016 Annual Summit of the International Transport Forum (ITF) took place from 18 to 20 May 2016 in Leipzig. With over 70 countries represented and more than 1000 participants, including 38 ministers and vice ministers, the summit provided a global forum to discuss green and inclusive transport, the theme of this year´s meeting.
Among the more than 55 sessions and events that were held at the summit was the side event “Increased safety for unprotected road users”, a discussion organized by DEKRA, one of the Summit´s gold sponsors, to address new ways to protect pedestrians, cyclists and motor cyclists in urban areas. The speakers included Clemens Klinke, Head of Business Unit Automotive from DEKRA SE, Bernhard Ensink, Secretary General of the European Cyclists' Federation, Benjamin Welle, Senior Associate at EMBARQ, and Jorge Kogan, Senior Advisor from the Development Bank of Latin America.
Following the introductory remarks made by Craig Foss, New Zealand´s Associate Minister of Immigration and Transport, Klinke began the session with a presentation on the challenges in the field of road safety for unprotected users. After a period of steady decline in traffic fatalities, the numbers have recently been on the rise. Klinke cited several factors to explain this increase. Smart phones are a major distraction for both drivers and pedestrians, leading to accidents that could otherwise be easily avoided. Poor lighting conditions, both during the day and at night, lead to reduced visibility for drivers, for which pedestrians can compensate by being more careful on especially bright days or at night. Finally, Klinke called for changes in infrastructure to make roads friendlier for shared use. Despite the challenges, Klinke expressed great confidence that the Vision Zero project can be achieved if counter measures, such as information campaigns, improvements in automotive technology, and legislative action are undertaken.
Dr. Ensink from the European Cyclists´ Federation called for similar measures, with a special focus on safety for cyclists. He identified the three pillars of cyclist safety as safe infrastructure, safe vehicles, and safe behavior. Given that 1.25 million people die in traffic accidents worldwide every year, Dr. Ensik passionately insisted on the moral dimension of road safety and argued for Intelligent Speed Adaption systems, which prevent cars from driving above the speed limit, to be installed in automobiles. Looking towards the future, Dr. Ensink urged participants to consider the new issues that will arise with the increasing use of pedelecs and the introduction of automated cars.
As a representative of EMBARQ, a think tank that develops and implements environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable urban mobility solutions to improve urban quality of life, Benjamin Welle paid special attention to the question of city infrastructure in his presentation “Cities Safer by Design”. Welle argued that many traffic accidents could be avoided simply by giving safety greater priority in urban design, and highlighted measures such as refuge islands in pedestrian crossings, speed humps, and better bicycle lanes as effective tools for increasing road safety. Welle also insisted on the importance of data collection and analysis in identifying problematic spots within cities.
Finally, Jorge Kogan addressed the situation of road safety in Latin America. A unique feature on Latin American roads is the increase in motorcycles, which are increasingly favored over cars because of their relatively low maintenance costs, heavy congestion in cities, and ease of use in door-to-door transportation. Given this development, special attention must be given to safety for motorcyclists when designing roads in Latin America. Kogan described the measures undertaken by the Development Bank of Latin America to meet this challenge, notably financing the production of road safety manuals for motorcyclists.