Growing up in the rural and semi-rural counties, a rite of passage for all teenagers was getting themselves mobile. Initially, it was a very healthy bike but then progressed to motorbikes, cars, and the occasional tractor.
For the Directors of Rural Techs, it was all great fun in the 1980s and '90s and our generation all have stories of our own stupidity and near-death experiences of being inexperienced drivers.
A Moral Question
As we get older, we realise that we knew several people who were killed, seriously injured within our friends and classmates' sphere. Despite Covid there are fewer but still news reports of serious and fatal accidents. Frequently they’re with young and inexperienced drivers.
As parents, this raises the moral challenges of the rural mobility assumption, which with the lack of public transport assumes get a car. Government statistics (Reported road casualties in Great Britain: 2019) show that rural travel is more dangerous than urban travel, yet investments perennially seem to be in urban mobility.
Death Affects the Young Disproportionally
Fatality statistics show that the 17-24 age group has a higher fatality rate than other groups, until you pass the 70+ age range. If you compare fatalities against miles travelled, the picture gets even worse for young people. Also, there is a significant skew towards rural areas for fatalities and injuries in cars.
Drilling down to the Gloucestershire Council area, the data supports the government analysis that population cars and motorbike travel by head of population; significantly more dangerous in rural areas.
A Hypothetical Calculation
The cost of a fatal accident is reported in the UK by Statistica as just over £2M and £200,000 for serious injuries.
In the Forest of Dean in 2019, this meant the 5 fatalities and 30 serious injuries cost £16M per year. So perversely we're spending £16M not to provide a good rural public transport system, but instead allowing considerable harm and hardship to people particularly the young.
In context, Gloucestershire spends around £500K on bus subsidies. Morally, we've made some very poor choices in rural counties where we've cut back on transport services only to replace that cost with a greater one and infinitely more painful one.
At Rural Techs, we believe we could provide a top-notch rural mobility solution, which lowers the economic and social cost of poor mobility. It also reduces the rural rites of passage of car ownership and replaces it with better, safer ways to travel. And at the same time reduces carbon to aid the fight against the Climate Emergency.