In broad terms, we support the ideas and recommendations set out by Cycling UK in their excellent “Cycle Safety: Make It Simple” report.
In this report we look more closely at issues such as: side road junctions and engineering convention, the issue of equality in transport design and practice, and the need for parity of spending for roads transport so that it is fairer to women, children and the disabled.
This document follows the structure set out by the Department for Transport CWIS Safety Review Survey.
1. Infrastructure and traffic signs
2. The laws and rules of the road
4. Educating road users
5. Vehicles and equipment
6. Attitudes and public awareness
We respond to questions with specific recommendations.
1.Infrastructure and traffic signs
Do you have any suggestions on the way in which the current approach to development and maintenance of road signs and infrastructure impacts the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users?
How could it be improved?
1.1 The Equality Act is not currently met by highways practice.
Highways practice needs to provide for those with protected characteristics. We would like to emphasise that the Public Sector Equality Duty and The Equality Act which requires councils not to discriminate on the basis of age and ability. Therefore, the roads we live on, or use to get about, need to be usable for all ages.
The Public Sector Equality Duty states that a public authority must, in the exercise of its function, have regard to the need to:
“eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under this Act” and “take steps to meet the needs of persons who share a relevant protected characteristic that are different from the needs of persons who do not share it;”
There are legal duties placed on local authorities through the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to promote public health through transport. These are not being met by most local authorities.
Current practice and design standards do not adequately allow for the needs of children, who, by nature, will make unpredictable and spontaneous movements, run out unexpectedly and wobble as they learn to ride a bicycle. Children are also less able to judge speeds and negotiate with drivers. Our road environments need to be radically changed to ensure that they are usable for children of all ages. In order to be safe for all, road environments must not require behaviours and skills which are outside the cognitive, developmental, behavioural, physical or sensory development of the youngest in our society.
Figure 1: Pedestrian casualties per 1,000 population against population by age-band in Greater London 2009. Percentage of pedestrian casualties of known age against the percentage of Greater London population in five-year age bands. This again emphasises the disproportionate number of young pedestrian casualties, particularly those aged between 10 and 14 years.
Source: Transport for London, ‘Pedestrian casualties in Greater London’, 2010.
Children should not have to pay for a mistake with their lives. Speeds and traffic volumes on roads where children live or might live need to be substantially reduced through design, legislation and enforcement. We would recommend 5-10mph for all residential streets and that the priority should be with pedestrians, cyclists or children playing out. The nature of children will not change; the road environment must.
1.2 Side road junctions
Continuous footways should to be the norm for side road junctions
The most common conflicts resulting in serious injury to cyclists occur at side road or staggered junctions . London Cycling Design Standards and Manual for Streets state tight corner radii should be used in urban areas to reduce speed of turning traffic. “Designers should start from the assumption that corner radii should be minimised to benefit vulnerable road users, and then test whether this raises any issues.”
Figure 2: Extract of text and diagram from London Cycling Design Standards, p.132
However, even with tight turning radii, the visual priority remains firmly with the turning traffic because the line of the kerb follows the direction of travel of turning motorists, rather than the direction of travel of those continuing their journey along the footway. Therefore, this configuration – however tight – ensures pedestrians do not have (visual/design) priority if they wish to continue straight across the side road.
Engineering convention is therefore inherently prejudicial against pedestrians, particularly disadvantaging children who are:
• non-drivers, so dependent on walking, cycling, scooting for independent travel so must rely on the footway for their journeys
• often effectively confined to using the footway for scooting and cycling since the carriageway space rarely offers adequate facilities for these activities
• more likely to behave spontaneously
• physically smaller so potentially less visible to drivers
• less able to judge of motor vehicle speeds
• less able to make eye contact with drivers to negotiate the roads etc
The conventional side road configuration used routinely in the UK can be framed as a physical manifestation of unconscious design bias in favour of the motorist. By inciting pedestrians to cede to motorists, highways convention puts children at a disadvantage at every turn.
Figure 3: Recently constructed conventional side road geometry. Kerb line follows path of motorist to ensure visual priority for driver not the pedestrian (in contravention with Highway Code Rule 170) and higher turning speeds so more chance of cycle collisions. Bournemouth.
Figure 4: Newly constructed side road junction. Conventional geometry with slayed, wide junction, and ‘refuge’. Lack of priority and comfort contravenes aims of Equality Act by providing pavement-users with an inferior infrastructure/priority to carriageway-user
Figure 5: Blended footway: Despite the change in surface material and the raised table the visual priority is still with turning traffic due to kerb line and give-way markings. Wimbledon. Figure 6: Blended footway, Sutton. Despite the raised table, motorists still assume priority.
Even where raised tables or blended footways are implemented, they do not provide priority over turning traffic. The kerb line follows the path of the motorist, so the motorist assumes priority; as illustrated above (Figure 5 and 6).
Given the established effectiveness in terms of comfort and safety of pedestrians of continuous footways these ought to become the default side road configuration, rather than the conventional side road geometry. Other countries systematically use continuous footways for side roads (see Figure 8). The UK should follow suit.
Due to the clear visual priority offered by continuous footways they are inherently ‘inclusive’ giving better physical protection, priority, safety and comfort to children, disabled people and the elderly in line with the Equality Act. In addition, continuous footways mean pedestrian journeys are not repeatedly interrupted by having to cede to turning traffic at side roads, so they improve journey times for footway-users.
As noted by Dorset Disability Group when consulted on continuous footways installed in Bournemouth, they “have the effect of making drivers think they are crossing a pavement (rather than pedestrians crossing a road) resulting in drivers giving way to pedestrians. . . This is excellent and could be extended to other future schemes.”
Tactile paving or other visual clues that pedestrians should give-way to turning traffic must not be included in the design of continuous footway; such features undermine the principle of the continuous footway alignment which prioritises the movement of people walking ahead.
Figure 7: Continuous footway Walthamstow. Enables children to walk independently and in safety and comfort.
Figure 8: Continuous footways are standard practice in Denmark.
1.3 Role of local authorities
Authorities who do not take every opportunity (including maintenance schemes) to improve priority for those with protected characteristic should be held accountable.
Local Authorities need to have some accountability when it comes to casualties, particularly where roads have been recently maintained. Local authorities have the powers to ‘design out’ injuries. There are physical measures which can be installed to reduce the risk and severity of casualties; modal filters on residential roads, crossings, protected cycle routes, continuous footways, removing centre lines.
Multiple duties require authorities to put people walking at the top of the hierarchy in design terms. There is research and evidence in the public domain on how best to do this. Yet, as is so often the case with maintenance schemes, often no attempt is made to update or improve the design of the road.
Councils should be obliged to take every opportunity, including maintenance schemes, to improve the safety and comfort of those walking. Councils who fail to update roads ought to be penalised where they simply re-instating what’s there which may well have been designed in 1970s or 80s or earlier.
A system more akin to Building Regulations could be considered for Highways. That is, all new or amended highways schemes should be reviewed by an independent body to check the design is in line with current design standards, prior to receiving approval.
A death on a road needs to be treated in a similar way to, for example, a death on a construction site. In that situation the incident would be extensively investigated, and appropriate changes put in place to prevent such an incident from occurring again. The same process should be applied to road design and policy.
1.4 Cycle-friendly design guidance.
We agree with Cycling UK that there should be a “single consistent source of cycle-friendly design guidance on cycle provision” which should apply not only to specific “cycle schemes” but to the highway environment in general.
2. The laws and rules of the road
Set out any areas where you consider the laws or rules relating to road safety and their enforcement, with particular reference to cyclists and pedestrians, could be used to support the government’s aim of improving cycling and walking safety whilst promoting more active travel.
2.1 Roads policing
Policing of close passing of cyclists and related policing (enforcing 20 mph, dangerous parking) as carried out by the West Midlands Police Road Harm Reduction Team and other police services is essential. On the road activity has to be widespread and frequent, and must be backed up by high quality social media output (as for example by Surrey Roads Police) and well publicised facilities for third party reporting, as for example with Operation Snap.
Without this level of activity the central feature of this type of policing – that drivers should be aware that they should not commit rule and law infractions which endanger cyclists and pedestrians – will be absent and have minimal or at best inadequate effect.
We believe in massively increasing the numbers of road traffic police officers to reduce road danger, facilitate more and safer walking and cycling, as well as dealing with non-traffic crime associated with motor vehicle usage.
We are pleased to have supported the work of West Midlands Police Road Harm Reduction Team (WMPRHRT), with which the Minster and his Department are familiar. An excellent summary of their approach is here and here. We support their view that: “the need for a continuous probable threat of prosecution to be present to ensure wide-scale compliance with the laws that are so commonly broken on our roads” (https://trafficwmp.wordpress.com/2017/06/) and similarly: “So drivers need to expect a zero tolerance approach for any offence involving a vulnerable road user, or an offence that could contribute to a collision involving a vulnerable road user. The only way to change driver behaviour and concentrate minds on looking out for vulnerable road users and change driving habits is through enforcement, and the resulting fear of being prosecuted.” (https://trafficwmp.wordpress.com/2016/09/ )
This is echoed by the Metropolitan Police Service’s Cycle Safety Team, who carry out the policing of close passing of cyclists with plain clothes police cyclists with their message that: “We can’t be everywhere but we could be anywhere”.
It should be noted that all of the policing carried out by WMPRHRT is done within existing legislation, usually involving charging under Section 3 or other sections of the 1988 RTA.
We note that this roads policing has resulted in dramatic reductions in cyclist casualties at a time when cycling in the Birmingham area has been increasing.
In addition, roads policing has additional benefits in that stopping motor vehicles often leads to charges for non-traffic law breaking.
The critical element in successful roads policing for cyclists and pedestrians has to be a firm level of commitment with integration between frequent and visible on road activity, social media, significant numbers of prosecutions (c. 500 have been made after charges by WMPRHRT) and associated education of drivers.
The purpose of policing close passing of cyclists is to address the danger posed to cyclists, irrespective of whether a collision occurs, as the experience is scaring, intimidatory and may dissuade people from cycling.
Nevertheless, there is a relationship between close passing and cyclist KSIs. For example, in the 2015 statistics analysed by Transport for London here (pp.12 – 13) .We see that close passing is related to no less than 25% of collisions leading to cyclist KSIs.
These are three of the five main types of collision involving cyclists, and are: motor vehicle turning left across cycle (11.6%); opening motor vehicle door into path of cycle (8.5%); motor vehicle colliding with cycle while overtaking (5.2%) (Total 25.3%).
All these types of collision are related to close passing: “dooring” occurs as many cyclists ride in the “door zone” as they are scared of moving further out because of the fear of close passing.
Other work we have carried out on cyclist KSIs in London in previous years has come up with up to 30% of all cyclist KSIs. Therefore we can conclude that addressing close passing will deal not just with experience of intimidation, but a significant proportion of actual deaths and serious injuries of cyclists.
Regrettably, while at least eight police services are doing some form of policing of close passing of cyclists (with another ten or so considering or in the process of doing so), these actions are often not as widespread or frequent as necessary to make drivers aware of this kind of rule and law breaking and why they should not be doing it. Similarly, with these police services there may be inadequate or under publicised third party reporting systems in place and inadequate social media activity.
Without this integrated and committed approach the message is unlikely to be properly made known to the motorised public or to generate confidence among cyclists that behaviour which endangers them will be taken seriously.
2.2 Civil law
Strict/presumed driver liability should be introduced.
The UK should come into line with most other European countries to change civil law in this respect (with drivers being presumed liable in collisions involving pedestrians or cyclists). It is difficult to know how this would have a beneficial effect in reducing road danger to pedestrians and cyclists, but if publicised correctly it would seem likely to – but most importantly it would have a benefit on the civil rights of walkers and cyclists in obtaining proper compensation after incidents where they are hurt.
2.3 Criminal law
Revision of “dangerous” and “careless” traffic offences with sentencing policy revised accordingly. It is absolutely fundamental to the success of any attempts to reduce danger to cyclists and pedestrians that drivers should have awareness that any of their behaviour which endangers cyclists and pedestrians stands a realistic chance of resulting in driving bans (and custodial sentences in the more extreme cases). Such deterrent sentencing is required if policing is to have a proper effect.
This is an absolutely fundamental area for not simply providing cyclists and pedestrians with necessary confidence, but creating civilised response to road danger. We agree with Cycling UK (pp.13 – 14, “Cycle safety, make it simple: Why wouldn’t you?”) on their definition of the current problems and what to do about them.
Associated with this we support our colleagues in RoadPeace with their insistence on transparency and effectiveness in crash investigation and the process of the Courts, including the Coroner’s. We repeat the recommendations made here: p.21 “Cycle safety, make it simple: Why wouldn’t you”
2.4 The Highway Code
There are six main changes in the rules of the Highway Code which should be introduced as part of a long overdue revision of the Highway Code.
1. A rule at the beginning of the section of the Highway Code (HC) making it clear that use of a motor vehicle has a dramatically greater potential lethality than walking or cycling, and that there is therefore far greater responsibility and obligation from those in charge of them. This responsibility is greatest towards those outside motor vehicles, particularly walkers, horse riders and cyclists.
2. New rules on junction priority. These rules will be required with the introduction of separated cycle lanes and at other junctions. (See (p,15 “Cycle safety, make it simple: Why wouldn’t you?”).
3. Rule on the safe space required when overtaking cyclists. Again we agree with Cycling UK (p. 15 “Cycle safety, make it simple: Why wouldn’t you?”). It is not necessary to introduce specific laws on overtaking distances for there to be effective policing and successful charges under Section 3 RTA 1988 here, as the actions of WMPRHRT have shown.
4. Remove the requirement for cyclists to wear a crash helmet. If necessary this rule could be amended to “consider wearing helmet” as in the previous HC. We agree with Cycling UK that this gives drivers’ insurers a spurious basis for making financial and legal claims. We do not think there is adequate evidence to regard helmet wearing as of significant benefit: indeed we consider the evidence in real world studies to be notable in its absence of benefits in reducing casualty or even specifically head injury rates among helmet wearing cyclists. We believe that helmet advocacy has, unwittingly or otherwise, acted as a victim blaming red herring in discussions about cyclist safety.
5. Remove the requirements on cyclists and pedestrians to wear hi-viz clothing. Again, we believe the necessary evidence for benefits to cyclist and/or pedestrian safety is absent, and that it gives drivers’ insurers a spurious basis for making legal and/or financial claims. In the case of hi-viz clothing it furthermore works to reduce the age old requirement on drivers to watch out properly for those whom they should be looking out for.
6. Rule on opening all motor vehicle doors safely. (See p. 15 “Cycle safety, make it simple: Why wouldn’t you?”).
In addition, Rules 66 & 67 do not match are not in with Bikeability training and need to be made so. When, where and why to use the primary and secondary positions is not mentioned and should be. There should also be an explanation of discretionary signalling and how this can often be more advisable rather than signalling for every manoeuvre which is implied if perhaps not intended in the current wording.
In rule 66 the wording on riding two abreast or single file is also inconsistent and illogical. As one of the reasons for larger groups to ride two abreast is ironically to enable safer overtaking it is illogical to say that riders should be in single file on bends where drivers should not be trying to overtake anyway. Riding two abreast at a corner will further discourage drivers from trying to overtake where they shouldn’t. Likewise the instruction to ride in single file on single track roads is similarly illogical as this can encourage drivers to overtake when they should not. It would be much better to explain when, why and where to ride two abreast or in the primary position to prevent unsafe overtaking and how and when to slow down and make space to enable motorists to overtake where the cyclist is in control.
Therefore, in support of these changes the rules for drivers should also have a new section on interacting safely with cyclists and pedestrians (see 2.4.1 above). This would explain why cyclists will ride in the primary position or two abreast and how this can actually benefit drivers.
Do you have any suggestions for improving the way road users are trained, with specific consideration to protecting cyclists and pedestrians?
Again, we support the recommendations set out in the Cycling UK report. Driver training to ensure drivers leave as much passing space to cyclists and they do should be obligatory as should the obligation to turning drivers to give-way to pedestrians who have stepped out. We also believe that transport practitioners need more thorough training as outlined below.
3.1 Training of practitioners
The bar for highways design has been set unhealthily low in the UK. The inclusion of protected cycle facilities suitable for all is the exception not the norm. Continuous footways are the exception not the norm. Woonerven (not the weaker British home zone), modal filters and crossings, are few and far between. Standard highways practice focuses on, and prioritises, the movement of motor vehicles. For this to change there needs to be an overhaul of design standards and the training of practitioners.
The industry would benefit from a more diverse workforce. Currently 91% of heads of transport in UK local authorities are male, 9% female and around 70% are engineers . A multi-disciplinary team approach with professionals from a plethora of backgrounds – health, the environment, social science – could be instrumental in the future of transport. The lack of gender diversity at senior level in highways departments and transport academia may also be a barrier to more inclusive roads. Women favour different road layouts to men, for example, they place greater importance on being separated from traffic while cycling . Their needs are more likely to be overlooked if they are under-represented, not in positions of influence, or absent from the discussion and decision-making process.
Road design is a life and death issue; road deaths, pollution and health are all inextricably linked to the way roads are designed. Revalidation ought to be compulsory for transport professionals to ensure those charged with road design are kept abreast of contemporary thinking and best practice. The institutes (CIHT, ICE, CILT, TPS etc) could play a major role in updating the transport curriculum and ensuring practitioners are up to speed with current best practice.
A vital part of the training of practitioners must be an awareness of the ways in which transport professionals have been a key part in supporting a road transport system which has, in effect, discriminated against cycling. There should also be an awareness of how the creation of safer vehicle and highway environments for motor vehicle occupants has shifted risk on to the more vulnerable and benign modes of cycling and also walking.
Practitioners should be aware of he need to move beyond traditional road safety metrics such as cyclist deaths (or KSI) per head of the population. Not only should better measures including exposure (such as cyclist deaths/KSIs per journey/time/distance travelled) be used instead, but other measures should be used as well. These would include those such as London’s Cycling Level of Service which give a better understanding of the level of danger to which cyclists are exposed.
Practitioners should be fully aware of the existence of risk compensation (adaptation to perceptions of danger) as a persistent feature of road user behaviour, as well as an explanation of phenomena such as the beneficial effects of pedestrian guard rail removal in London, or the adverse effects of compulsory seat belt legislation on the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
3.2 Training of cyclists
High quality on-road “Bikeability” cycle training should be available for all children and all adults who desire it.
This training is not there for the same reasons as driving instruction, as we are dealing with a fundamentally different level of threat to others by rule or law breaking users. Cycle training will never be effective while it is seen as a way of controlling errant cyclists. (See p. 16 “Cycle safety, make it simple: Why wouldn’t you?”).
We have concerns that current “cycle training” overemphasises the hazards of cycling and gives misplaced importance to the wearing of hi-viz and helmets. It should be made clear in training that cycling, even in current conditions, is generally a non-hazardous form of activity. We are particularly concerned that Bikeability courses will not generate sufficient confidence among trainees because of the lack of time given to training.
We believe it is imperative to allocate a far greater amount of money to the training of both adults and children. Approximately £60 per head should be allocated to providers for each child trained. Adults should have to pay a “booking fee” (c.£10) to be trained but otherwise the costs should be borne, as with child training, by the local authority financed by central Government
As well as increasing the amount allocated for training each child, Government should monitor Bikeability programmes to check that the original aims of Bikeability are being achieved.
3.3 Training of drivers
We support Cycling UK ((See p. 10 “Cycle safety, make it simple: Why wouldn’t you?”) in their section on driver training, testing and retesting. It should be made clear to new drivers that having “passed their test” does not make them superior road users to cyclists and that they are still far more likely to endanger, hurt or kill others than those cycling and that they are for that reason required to have additional controls on their behaviour.
In fact we have doubts that the existing driving test does have a significant overall safety benefit, given the sense of entitlement which appears to be associated with all too many drivers once they have “passed their test”. Nevertheless, we are prepared to accept that a more stringent test taken periodically (to address problems such as that of poor driving by older drivers) may be appropriate.
4. Educating road users
Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve road user education to help support more and safer walking and cycling?
4.1 Reducing driver sense of entitlement
We have a major cultural problem of all too many drivers believing that they have a special right to the roads which cyclists and/or pedestrians do not have. A key element of making a safer road environment for all road users is to effectively challenge and erode this culture of entitlement. Doing so requires a transformation of education in schools, in driver training, and in messages to the media from central and local Government.
For example, the driver feeling of “owning the road” is related to the common – but incorrect – belief that they have a special right due to having paid a “road tax”. This belief must inevitably lead to feelings of superiority amongst such drivers over cyclists, with inevitably bad consequences for safety. This belief has to be tackled to reduce such feelings, as well as the personal abuse which is often directed at cyclists and which has an intimidatory effect on them and their chances of continuing to cycle.
4.2 Reducing the driver mentality of “owning the road”.
The “road tax” myth should be tackled by Government as a necessary way of reducing feelings of driver superiority to cyclists, which is a serious impediment to achieving safety for cyclists and pedestrians on the road. It will be necessary to not just tackle the historical confusion about “road tax”, but to point out that drivers do not pay for the external costs (such as pollution, congestion etc.) they incur compared to cyclists.
4.3 Educating cyclists and pedestrians.
For too long “road safety” messages have focused on the supposed responsibilities of cyclists and pedestrians at the expense of educating them about their rights.
Education of cyclists (for example, in Bikeability training) should include inculcating a sense of their rights as cyclists to be on the road, as well as their responsibilities to other road users. This education for cyclists and pedestrians should be based on emphasising the primacy of not endangering the safety of other road users.
4.4 Educating potential drivers
Forms of so-called “pre-driver training”, which have not been shown to reduce danger from new drivers, should be replaced by education which stresses the disbenefits of driving to society (ill health due to inactive travel; noxious, greenhouse gas and noise emissions; visual intrusion, community severance, cost due to non-payment of external costs; local environmental destruction, community severance etc.)This would emphasise the relative desirability of walking or cycling to driving.
4.5 Support give-way on turning
The recommendations outlined in the ‘Turning the Corner’ report need to be implemented. We also support the recommendations set out by Cycling UK in relation to driver training and policing. However, given the changes to the Highway Code and legislation may take some time, we believe that in the interim there needs to be much greater enforcement of the existing principle set out in the Highway Code Rule 170; “watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way”.
This needs to be emphasised to all drivers particularly given the short-comings of the conventional highways design of side roads (outlined in Section 1 above). In addition, the police should enforce this rule and charge drivers who fail to give-way on turning.
Drivers should be made far more aware of Rule 170; few currently give way on turning once a pedestrian has stepped out. There ought to be far more prosecutions for hitting pedestrian and cyclists when a driver is turning into or out of a side road given it is one of the most common types of casualty.
4.6 Safe speeds: 5-10mph on residential roads
What is a ‘safe’ speed? Cycling UK states “Safe Speeds : Make 20mph the default speed limit for most streets in built-up areas, with 30mph (or higher) limits being the exception that requires signing, not the other way round.” ((p.6 “Cycle safety, make it simple: Why wouldn’t you?”).
“Lightly-trafficked low-speed streets or lanes, where through traffic is removed as far as possible, and which are designed to feel like community streets, with low speed limits” (p.7 “Cycle safety, make it simple: Why wouldn’t you?”).
But the ‘safety’ of speeds varies according to who is using the road. For example, 20mph is too fast for young children cycling independently (e.g.: aged 4-10 years) and too fast for playing out but may be safe for older children.
Nearly two in three road collisions happen when children are walking or playing and the risk of being involved in a road accident when walking or playing is more than 10 times greater for a child with hearing difficulties. Children on foot are more likely to be killed in road accidents in Britain than in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain or Sweden. The dangerous years are 11 and 12 ; greater independence brings with it a hugely increased risk of being killed or seriously injured in a road accident.
Much good work has been done recently on reducing through-traffic from residential streets by installing modal filters. To maximise the use of these streets for everyone, including children wanting to play or cycle, the speeds should be 5 or 10mph, comparable to the 15kmph used on residential streets on much on the continent.
5. Vehicles and equipment
Do you have any suggestions on how government policy on vehicles and equipment could improve safety of cyclists and pedestrians, whilst continuing to promote more walking and cycling?
5.1 Cars which can exceed the legal maximum speed limit should not be sold in the UK. Technology which can control the speed of cars to ensure drivers to not break the law and speed limits are observed should be adopted.
5.2 HGVs and other large vehicles
The Road Danger Reduction Forum has campaigned since the early 1990s for a reduction in danger from lorries, particularly to cyclists and pedestrians in urban environments. We support the measures taken due to the campaigning by ourselves, Cycling UK, London Cycling Campaign, RoadPeace and Living Streets specifically in London which have now borne (some) fruit with the introduction of Direct Vision lorries being pressed for by the Mayor of London.
We support the measures advocated by Cycling UK pp18 – 19 in “Cycle safety, make it simple: Why wouldn’t you?”).
5.3 Autonomous vehicles and new technologies
There is substantial discussion about the possible safety benefits of autonomous vehicles (AVs). We agree with Cycling UK (p.19 “Cycle safety, make it simple: Why wouldn’t you?”) that there are potentially both positive and negative features of AVs in this respect, and that there is a need to be aware of both. However, our view is that the negative – such as restrictions on movement of pedestrians and cyclists to – are more likely to prevail: we therefore think that there needs to be less enthusiasm for the AV project by Government, with funding for its development re-directed to active and sustainable transport
We do, however, believe in utilising new technologies which may be likely to address problems of road danger. Dashcam and helmet/light camera video taken by drivers and cyclists can be used in third party reporting. Dashcam and “black box” technologies should be encouraged for use on all motor vehicles to give legally valid evidence, particularly after collisions. Ultimately it should be a legal requirement to have such recording technologies on board motor vehicles, to be made available to police investigating driver behaviour, particularly after crashes.
6. Attitudes and public awareness
What can government do to support better understanding and awareness of different types of road user in relation to cycle use in particular?
We believe that this “understanding and awareness” should include that of transport practitioners (including highway engineers, road safety officers, transport planners) and those in related areas (particularly town planners) and associated areas such as public health and housing. Therefore 6.1 and 6.2 refers to the activities of these professionals.
Transport funding is currently skewed in favour of those who drive the most, despite road building schemes offering poor value for money (compared to walking and cycling schemes) and often, ironically, they exacerbate ill health and congestion.
No doubt some would argue that funding for roads also pays for better walking and cycling facilities. However, most of our roads, even new or amended roads, are not safe, accessible and comfortable to all ages on foot, bicycle, or mobility scooter. The focus for roads spending is overwhelming on congestion relief via expanding motor vehicle capacity with miniscule proportions (e.g.: 1 or 2 % of LEP funding ) going to walking and cycling. The funding imbalance means those most in need of safe, comfortable walking and cycling environments who ought to be protected by the Equality Act are being marginalised through the built environment; the government is falling short of its duties towards those with protected characteristics.
Annual commute trips per person, 2016. Source: Dr Rachel Aldred,
Spending needs to be re-balanced towards the benign modes. Walking and cycling funding needs to increase to be fair to those groups who either do not drive or don’t drive as much, and those who need less hostile road environments to walk and cycle; notably children, the disabled, older people and women.
Funds must enable local authorities to meet their walking and cycling potential as illustrated by the ‘Go Dutch’ scenarios on the Propensity to Cycling Tool. ‘Catch up’ funding is needed for walking and cycling in order for the UK to move towards the levels of cycling now seen in places such as Denmark or the Netherlands.
The vast majority of funding for roads focuses on commuting car trips. Funding for short local walking and cycling journeys remains inadequate. Again, this current spending is biased in favour of men who are more likely to make car trips, more likely to make commuting trips and less likely to be involved in escort education trips. The funding weighting prejudices children (who do not drive) and those who are most likely to make education escort trips most of which could be done on foot or bicycle, given the right road conditions.
Funding could be framed as a ‘Transport Equality Fund’ rather than walking and cycling; a fund to ensure that our roads are safe and accessible to all such that the government is able to meet its equality duties.
In addition, the change in awareness amongst local and central government practitioners concerned with potential changes to the safety of those cycling and walking should involve – in the context of discussions about funding – awareness of the massive unpaid external costs of motoring.
Here is a conventional economic analysis of such costs. This is relevant not just to justify increased funding for more cycling and walking, but to the mythology of “road tax” (see 4.2 above)
6.2 Raising the bar in highways design and legislation
All streets need to be safe and accessible for all ages. Significant increasing funding with specific spending remits for local authorities could ensure:
• All residential roads to have a minimum Level of Service of 80% (i.e.: modal filters, 5 or 10mph speed limits etc.)
• All main roads to have a minimum Level of Service of 80% (i.e.: protected cycle routes etc.)
• Continuous footways on all side-roads
• Regular crossings
• Roundabouts are continental geometry with crossings on each.
6.3 General public’s awareness
Much of the change required is referred to in sections 3 and 4. However, there will still be a need for announcements, policy papers etc. from central Government to make the general public aware of the need for modal shift to walking and cycling, and for those doing so to be at less risk from others.
This includes awareness of the problems associated with current levels of car use (such as physical inactivity associated with inactive travel and associated ill health; danger to other road users; noxious, noise and greenhouse gas emissions etc.) as well as the benefits of active travel to its users and the community as a whole.
As a general rule, education , training and general awareness should be based on generating or reinforcing understanding that cyclists have at least as much right to be on the highway as drivers and to not be discriminated against, particularly in terms of danger presented to them.
6.4 Abuse and expression of negative views of cyclists/pedestrians
Social media contain numerous accounts of verbal abuse, wilfully intimidatory driving etc. as well as “normal” rule and law breaking by drivers in the vicinity of cyclists. This kind of behaviour, as well as endangering cyclists also deters actual or potential cyclists from cycling, to their and society’s disbenefit. Such behaviour, however much it is presented as “a joke” should be taken seriously and repudiated and condemned.
Furthermore, road safety practitioners have consistently pointed out that being responsible for a collision when driving is “easily done”. While we have a higher opinion o drivers, particularly with their capacity to drive far more carefully if they wish, it is rue that there is an inherent potential to endanger, hurt or kill others – particularly cyclists and pedestrians, when driving. On that basis, negative attitudes towards cyclists and/or pedestrians should be seen as themselves dangerous and to be stigmatised and opposed.
RDRF: June 2018.
Photos by Lucy Marstrand unless otherwise stated. References available on request