Road Safety News

Report calls for cycling revolution

Wednesday 24th April 2013

A new All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group report published last week (24 April) includes an aspiration to increase cycle use from less than 2% of journeys in 2011, to 10% and 25% of all journeys by 2025 and 2050 respectively.

The report – Get Britain Cycling – calls for road-space reallocation, more cash for cycling, and a national cycling champion to lead a drive for the increase in cycling.

It also calls for 20mph speed limits to become standard in urban areas and for lower speed limits on many rural roads. It also says that all children should be given the chance to learn the skills of on-road cycling, at primary and secondary school.

According to the report, more of the transport budget should be spent on supporting cycling, with an initial rate of at least £10 per person per year, rising to £20.

The report – sponsored by The Times and the Bicycle Association – is based on the six week ‘Get Britain Cycling’ inquiry, which started to hear evidence in January 2013.

The Times’ cycling campaign led to the creation of the inquiry and the newspaper is seeking to capitalise on the report’s launch to get 100,000 signatures on a petition on the Government’s petition website.

The inquiry heard evidence from more than 100 individuals and organisations, including cycling organisations, the Automobile Association, and a wide range of Government departments and ministers.

More cycling will lead to reduced congestion, environmental benefits and healthier citizens but to achieve this leadership is needed right from the top, the report concludes.

Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge and co-chair of the group, said: “Cycling has huge advantages – it is fast, safe, healthy, efficient, reliable, environmentally sound, and fun. We all benefit when people choose to cycle.

“One of the most consistent points made was that lower speed limits reduce the number and severity of collisions for both pedestrians and cyclists – we should heed that advice. It will improve safety and reduce the fear of cycling that too many feel.

“This generation of politicians has the chance to be long remembered for having a vision for cycling that includes us all. Put simply, Britain needs to re-learn how to cycle. This report sets out how this can be done.”

Ian Austin, MP for Dudley North and co-chair of the group, said: “Too often cyclists are just an afterthought. When collisions happen, the police and courts let the victims down with sentences that do not fit the harm caused – this must be changed.

“The real test of whether something is taken seriously in Government is who leads on it – and that means the Prime Minister has to take that lead.”

Jon Snow, journalist and broadcaster, said: “At last parliament is pedalling the talk and recognising the urgent need for political leadership on actions for cycling. Whichever party leader now seizes this opportunity will reap dividends.”

Click here to view the report.


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You have a great point "congestion alone costs £18bn pa in lost GDP".

Do you not think this is a problem that needs solving? By increasing investment in cycling infrastructure and sustainable transport modes, making them much safer, you will encourage more people to cycle and adopt more sustainable modes of travel. This will lower the amount of people using motor vehicles, therefore lowering the cost on the economy of congestion.
Steve, Merseyside

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I understand that your response is meant to be tongue in cheek, but in surveys of people asking why they don't cycle, hills are not mentioned. What is mentioned the most is the hazardous state of Britain's roads where motor vehicles are given priority over people.
Steve, Merseyside

Agree (3) | Disagree (2)


More hills = fewer cyclists, fewer hills = more cyclists, simple.

Solution - either flatten the hills or fit cycles with engines.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (2) | Disagree (5)

The article in the Times referring to this states that "less than 50% of school children in England and Wales received the free training to which they are entitled by law." To which law does this refer?
Peter London

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The improving of Britain's roads, making them fit for cycling would actually reduce travel time for business deliveries on the roads, generating £2.5 billion in savings, according to a 2006 Government report.
Steve, Merseyside

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Of course Idris.

The economic future of the country is entirely dependent upon "White van man" being able to cruise our residential and community streets at 30mph. No cause for concern either in crowded shopping streets, or even for the elderly in the quest to retain their independent mobility by walking to the shops in later life.

No, "commerce is King" and if "Speed is greed when it prevents our people walking and cycling through fear of traffic" then its just the "way of the world" and the young, and old, and deaf and those without the spatial awareness or visual acuity of "white van man" had better stay off the roads!

Of course this is not actually about "white van man" but those who subscribe to a libertarian road environment where the strongest and most able have priorities over the weak and more vulnerable.
Rod King, Cheshire

Agree (10) | Disagree (3)

Idris: Do you mean in the real world or in the context of a hypothetical maths problem? This forum, as far as I am aware, only deals with issues arising from how traffic moves in the real world.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Would Hugh Jones care to explain how and why a delivery firm whose vehicles are slowed by 20mph restrictions in urban areas will not need to more vans and drivers or longer shifts to do their work?

If these objectives are achieved the results will be more deaths and injuries, more wasted time (eg congestion alone costs £18bn pa in lost GDP), lower competitiveness and output. And how many lives will that cost through lower funding for health and other services?
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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I'm glad you agree with me. The key is properly implemented cycle infrastructure. This actually smooths traffic flow, reduces traffic volume (more cyclists = less single person occupancy motor vehicles) and increases the overall health of the population. Saving an estimated £billion a year on the burden of obesity and sedentary lifestyle related health issues on the NHS. (The NiCE Report, covered earlier on in this news thread).

Also, as demonstrated in places such as the USA, the Netherlands and Denmark, delivery firms are not stupid. They are the first to jump on the benefits to their delivery times and status of sustainable transport methods.
Steve, Merseyside

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So Road Safety does not deal with casualty reduction of sustainable transport modes? Surely as Road Safety Professionals we should concern ourselves with all modes of transport, and not simply be 'fussy eaters' and only concern ourselves with one particular restaurant. Increasing sustainable modes of transport would also help to make our roads safer, reducing traffic volumes and speeds through re-engineering of the roads.
Steve, Merseyside

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With the greatest possible respect Dave and with regard to your third paragraph, it reads like a hypothetical scenario from a primary school maths text book. It's certainly not the real world.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Nothing wrong, Steve, with "properly implemented cycle infrastructure" if we can afford it and it doesn't impede other road-users.

But it is not a “report” with evidence and conclusions, it resembles a political manifesto. It proposes diverting over a £billion every year, which means fewer Police officers and nurses, and that's just the direct cost.

Suppose a delivery firm has 100 vans averaging 25mph but lower speed limits result in 20mph average. Completing all deliveries would require 25 more vans, adding further to the cost. And which is safer, 100 vans averaging 25mph, or 125 vans averaging 20mph, probably with drivers concentrating less?

Engines generally use least fuel around 45-55mph, going slower (or faster) uses more fuel. With each van using more fuel, and more of those vans, slower speeds can damage the environment more.

I want to encourage cycling, but not at the expense of the economy or environment.
Dave, Slough

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Steve, that doesn't really answer the question.

Promotion of sustainable transport is one job, casuatly reduction is another. If I want really good Indian food I go to a specialist restaurant not the takeaway that does Indian and Chinese and pizza and kebabs... I just wonder whether we're in danger of losing the focus and skills that come with pure specialism to the detriment of both disciplines?
Dave, Leeds

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Motor vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, don't we all use the same roads? Do you not think that sustainable modes of transport require safety too?
Steve, Merseyside

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More and more news items are appearing on here which are more sustainable transport than road safety. I'm intruiged as to where the line is drawn. Many road safety teams are being merged with sustainable travel promotion teams too. Are we in danger of becoming road safety and sustainable transport GB? Can we can do both effectively?
Dave, Leeds

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The simple fact of the matter is that the roads in Britain are designed for 'smoothing traffic flow' and not for people. The inaccurate arguments against cycle infrastructure, proven wrong time after time in countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and even France where effective, well designed and implemented cycle infrastructure increases the number of cyclists, improves road safety dramatically and reduces the cost and environmental damage of carbon emissions.

Dave, where has properly implemented cycle infrastructure led to increased danger, damage to the economy and environmental damage through slower vehicles using more fuel?
Steve, Merseyside

Agree (8) | Disagree (3)

The report chucking in the 20MPH arguement just muddies the water about getting cycling. Dave has a point that the discrepency between traffic doing 20 and the cyclists going faster using the roads in a different way will be problematic. Reckless cycling is still on the books but hard to enforce.

In London Boris has said he wants more children cycling to schools but gives them free bus passes. I have tweeted that they could have a redemption scheme where a child returns his pass in exchange for a contribution towards a bike. This would help promote cycling and free up the afternoon buses full of students going 3 stops.
Peter Westminster

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As a cyclist, I oppose almost all the measures proposed because I've researched the evidence. Lower speed limits have not been demonstrated to “reduce the number and severity of collisions” and, in the case of 20mph, appear to cause more of them. Anyway, I can cycle faster than 20mph and I don't want to be overtaking drivers who are not concentrating due to such a slow speed.

Does Julian Huppert MP not see a certain irony in promoting cycling because it's fast (which is a good reason) but by trying to remove the same advantage from other road users?

And I find cycle lanes to be more dangerous except where they are separated from the road. And the cost! Not only the direct cost, but also the damage to the economy by slowing the traffic. And the cost and environmental damage by slower vehicles using more fuel.
Dave, Slough

Agree (5) | Disagree (14)