Smarter Cambridge Transport

Response to the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy safety review

The UK Government published its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy safety review: call for evidence on 9 March 2018. The consultation ran until until 1 June 2018. This is the response from Smarter Cambridge Transport.

Responses are provided here in summary form. Numbers in brackets refer to relevant paragraphs in the consultation document. We offered to provide further evidence orally or in writing.

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. The number one priority to increase safety is to physically segregate motor vehicles, cycles and pedestrians. Protected cycle lanes should be the gold standard, designed so that motor vehicles cannot enter or park on them. This is the only way to make cycling safe for all ages. (3.5 & 3.6)
  2. Streets need more pedestrian and cycle crossings, especially where there are shops and other amenities, and close to bus stops. (3.5)
  3. Policies around road design and transport planning need to be updated with all references to “vehicle flows” replaced with “people flows”, counting all modes. Vehicle flows should be converted to people flows by applying appropriate occupancy factors. This would put cycling and walking on an equal footing with driving in terms of movement priority and funding – for both capital investment and maintenance. (3.9)
  4. Too much signage is confusing and distracting to drivers: Highways England and highway authorities should systematically review and reduce the number of signs and volume of information conveyed to what is necessary to inform drivers and can be absorbed at typical driving speeds at their location. (3.12)
  5. “Cyclists dismount” signs are often unnecessary and discriminate against people who are able to cycle but not walk far. See also next point about pavement cycling. (3.12)

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.

  1. A review of pavement cycling is needed as the law, common sense and police guidance on enforcement are not congruent. For instance, should it be legal for young children to cycle on pavements? And an accompanying adult? Or people of any age, provided that they are cycling with due care, attention and consideration for other footway users? Should that permission apply only where there are not protected cycle lanes (i.e. not physically separated from motor traffic) available as an alternative? Should permission depend on the road speed limit (e.g. cycling is always permitted on pavements alongside roads with a speed limit of 40mph or higher)? (3.15, 4.8 & 8.5)
  2. Simplifying the rules for priority at junctions along the lines of the Turning the Corner campaign by British Cycling could reduce collisions and give confidence to vulnerable people walking and cycling. (4.9)
  3. If that is deemed “too difficult”, DfT should nevertheless issue clear guidance to local authorities that the default design for side road junctions should give people using a designated foot/cycleway clear priority, with give-way lines either side of the crossing. (4.9)
  4. The government should review the case for a no-fault insurance scheme, such as implemented in New Zealand by the Accident Compensation Corporation. It provides a simple and effective way to ensure that anyone involved in a collision, whether driving a motor vehicle, cycling or walking, receives an appropriate level of care, rehabilitation and financial assistance promptly, and for as long as necessary. The advent of driverless vehicles adds strength to the case for this. (4.10 & 4.11)
  5. The default speed limit on rural roads (where most collision occur) should be reduced to 50mph. To avoid excessive signage, new rules need to be devised and promoted (e.g. motorway: 70mph; A roads: 60mph; all other roads 50mph). Only variations on the new rules need be signed. (4.13)

3. Training

Do you have any suggestions for improving the way road users are trained, with specific consideration to protecting cyclists and pedestrians?

  1. Use of virtual reality simulation software can teach people to adopt behaviours that minimise the risks and dangers to which they expose themselves and other road users. Anything can be simulated: driving a car, bus, HGV; towing a caravan or trailer; riding a motorbike or bicycle; using a mobility scooter or wheelchair; etc. Simulation training should be incorporated into the driving test, Compulsory Basic Training for riding a motorbike, Bikeability training for cycling, and awareness training courses for people (driving or cycling) who have been convicted or cautioned for bad driving/cycling. (5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.5, 5.7, 5.8, 6.3 & 8.6). See, for instance, Ford’s WheelSwap simulation and see also this recreation of a close pass of cycles by a bus.

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?

  1. It is now socially unacceptable to drink and drive, but it is still socially acceptable to speed. People (including in positions of influence in the media and lobby groups) trot out the line that prosecuting people for speeding is unjust because they didn’t cause any harm (“speeding is a victimless crime”). These attitudes need to be combated through education, public information campaigns and role models. The concept of a “designated driver” was deliberately inserted into TV sitcoms and films, and proved to be an influential role model. Similar creative effort needs to go into de-normalising speeding. (6.4)
  2. Bikeability courses should be available, and possibly compulsory, at all schools. (5.8)
  3. All police forces should follow the example of West Midlands Police in publicly enforcing the Highway Code guidance on overtaking cycles. (6.2)

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?

  1. The government should promote and encourage development of technology to alert drivers of unseen dangers or when they appear to be drowsy or distracted. Automatic braking and steering in emergency situations can also save lives. These should be prioritised over investment in driverless vehicle technology, which has huge social, ethical, legal and economic implications, which society and government need time to prepare for. (7.1)
  2. Proximity sensors for parking are becoming a common feature of motor vehicles. These could and should be developed and tuned to alert drivers when they are at risk of colliding with another road user – pedestrian, cycle, motorcycle or motor vehicle. (7.1 & 7.3)
  3. There should be a legal requirement for retailers to ask customers buying a road cycle without lights to confirm that they will fit their own. (7.7)
  4. We do not recommend using the law to mandate the wearing of cycle helmets or high-visibility clothing. The safety benefits are small and are greatly outweighed by the disincentive it creates to cycling, which exposes people to far greater health risks of inactivity (heart disease, obesity, etc). Such a law would virtually eliminate casual use of short-hire bikes, which have an important role in reducing car dependency in urban areas. Statistics in every country/region that has mandated helmets (such as Australia and New Zealand) show a significant decline in cycling as a result and little, if any, drop in rates of injury. (7.8)
    See this video and this and this.

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?

  1. Public education is needed to give cycling and walking a more positive image. Research is needed to establish what messages are effective and how they need to be presented to different audiences. (8.2)

    There are many potential messages to convey about different modes of travel:

    • congestion (imagine if everyone who cycles or walks drove instead)
    • health impacts and costs of inactivity, such as sitting in a car
    • pollution (including differing exposure levels by mode of travel)
    • mental health benefits from activity and social interaction
    • quality of life (comparisons with cities and regions with high levels of active travel)
    • carbon footprint
    • general environmental impacts
    • etc.

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