In some ways the British version is half-hearted. To reach the South Kensington museums, visitors must still cross a busy four-lane road using traffic lights. In places, bollards have been erected to stop vehicles straying where the pavement would be. Ranks of bicycles available for hire and parked cars clutter the street. The road surface itself is not completely flat: following a legal challenge mounted by Guide Dogs, a charity for the blind, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was obliged to install ridges where the kerbs used to be. And the kerbs themselves reappear at bus stops, to enable step-free access.
This story has provoked the inevitable criticisms that the additional safety feature will encourage some to drive more recklessly on the basis that the consequences of an error would be reduced. This is exactly what was said by similarly pessimistic people about seat belts when they were first invented, and it has been the same for just about every other safety technology invented since.
The car, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, features sensors in the front bumper that register physical contact between the car and the pedestrian. The rear end of the bonnet is released and elevated by the airbag as it inflates to cover the entire area under the raised bonnet as well as around a third of the windscreen. The raised, cushioned bonnet and airbag should help reduce the severity of pedestrian injuries.
Driver awareness of the safety of pedestrians is improving all the time. There are still way too many fatal collisions, however. Anything that can reduce the severity of those collisions has to be a good thing.