Labour MP for Poplar & Limehouse Jim Fitzpatrick on making roads safer for everyone


- Credit: Archant

The biggest issue for me last week was road safety. I made a speech at a Driving Instructors Association (DIA) conference on young drivers and a constituent got in touch on tunnels runs which have returned to the borough for the summer.

For those of you who don’t know what tunnel runs are, they’re organised races involving sometimes hundreds of cars through the Limehouse and Blackwall tunnels. They often use Westferry Circus as a pit stop which is where I’ve received several complaints from constituents about noise in the early hours of Sunday morning and dangerous driving.

Whether it’s road deaths which is still one of the biggest killers of young people, drifting in Westferry Circus or cyclist deaths which reached 14 in London last year it’s clear we still have more work to do on making our roads safer for everybody.

What’s encouraging to see is the pace of change. Attitudes are changing, in a digital world the public are speaking up and we’re hearing more personal stories about the casualties of road accidents than ever before. Last month the All Party Group on Cycling released their ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report which inspired many. It’s the public pressure behind the report displayed in 140 characters and in so many other ways that’s making change happen. Last week at the DIA conference we saw honest conversations about young drivers and what we can do to help not hinder this group. The great ideas that were put forward will reach many more people than before and hopefully spark new discussions.

When it comes to tunnel runs we need the same open conversation, taking in different views. Many people got in touch with me last year accusing me of having it in for modified car owners. I haven’t, but we need to strike the right balance between that group, local residents and other motorists. The tunnel runners need somewhere to go, local residents have the right to a quiet night and motorists deserve to have an unspoilt journey. I look forward to having this conversation in the coming months.

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