Road Safety News

Government shifts cycling up a gear

Tuesday 13th August 2013

On 12 August the prime minister announced what is being described as “the biggest ever single injection of cash” for cycling, alongside plans to make roads safer for those on two wheels.

£77 million will be divided between Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and Norwich, while the New Forest, Peak District, South Downs and Dartmoor will each share a slice of £17 million funding for national parks.

With local contributions, the total new funding for cycling is £148 million between now and 2015.

The announcement includes a commitment from the Government to cut red tape that can stifle cycle-friendly road design, and to encourage changes to the way roads are built or altered. The Government expects councils to “up their game” to deliver infrastructure that takes cycling into account from the design stage.

Prime minister David Cameron said: “Following our success in the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Tour de France, British cycling is riding high - now we want to see cycling soar. Our athletes have shown they are among the best in the world and we want to build on that, taking our cycling success beyond the arena and onto the roads, starting a cycling revolution which will remove the barriers for a new generation of cyclists.

“This Government wants to make it easier and safer for people who already cycle as well as encouraging far more people to take it up and business, local Government, developers, road users and the transport sector all have a role to play in helping to achieve this.”

The Government says that new trunk road schemes that have a significant impact on cyclists, such as junction improvements or road-widening, will be ‘cycle-proofed’ so they can be navigated confidently by the average cyclist.

This commitment to improved cycling facilities is intended to put Britain on a level footing with countries where there are higher levels of cycling, such as Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, said: “We have seen a significant growth in the number of cyclists in London over the last few years. But cycling shouldn’t be confined to the capital.

“This announcement shows we are absolutely committed to boosting cycling in cities and the countryside across the whole of England. I want to help open up cycling to more people and these measures to make cycling safer on our roads are an important part of that.”

The Government says that it has already made it easier for local authorities in England to help cyclists through measures including removing bureaucracy to introduce 20 mph speed restrictions.

All of the cities receiving funding have either already implemented, or are looking to expand, their network of 20 mph zones through the cycle ambition funding. The Government has undertaken similar work to make it easier for councils to introduce 40 mph limits in rural areas.

The Government is also encouraging the use of ‘Trixi’ mirrors at junctions so that HGV drivers can see cyclists more easily, and contraflow measures so that cyclists can use one-way streets to avoid the busiest roads and junctions.

Additionally, the Government is currently working with highway authorities to trial a raft of measures to improve roads for cyclists. These include mini signals at cyclists’ eye height; roundabout redesign; and making it easier for councils to install mandatory cycle lanes and contraflow cycle lanes.

Click here to read the full Government news release.


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Much has been made of the use of helmets, to my knowledge aren't they tested to 11 mph only? If that is the case the cyclist doing stupid speeds around my town are certainly in line for a shock should they hit their heads. I would presume that cycling on the continent, those places we are wishing to emulate, are riding slowly and not at the breakneck speed we see around London or other cities. They probably still wear heavy macs and have leg clips. Am I right?
Bob Craven, Lancs

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

Phil, I have been involved in a cycle accident (though not as serious) where I was side swiped off my bike in the summer of 1976 and bashed my left elbow and head. I got a head X-ray but no obvious signs or symptoms of concussion. At that time the only helmets were £50 (£350 today) New Zealand imports and well beyond student means so I invested in the "buch of bananas" type of protecton, covered by a cotton cycling cap. I normally wear a cycle helmet (though not having one won't stop me cycling for a short trip), but I have seen the arguments and respect other's rights to disagree on the safety whilst supporting the education of the benefits.
Mark - Caerphilly

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

I have just returned from a few days in Berlin where I observed how the Berliners cycle. The picture accompanying this story shows all the differences between British and Berlin cycling. (Editor's note - there was no pic attached)
1. Berliners ride 'proper' bikes with mudguards, carriers and fitted lights.
2. Most Berliners don't wear helmets, perhaps 5% do.
3. I only saw one person cycling with a hi-vis vest - as she also had a helmet and a mountain bike I presumed she was British.
4. Berliners keep their children close to the kerb.

Other points I observed in Berlin were: no advanced stop lines for bikes, very few Zebra crossings, no push button crossings, absolute respect by turning traffic for pedestrians crossing, many junctions with no obvious priority, people gave way as necessary.
Bobbio Chiswell Green

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)


I have a question. Have you ever been involved in a serious cycle accident where you had sustained a head injury? I did back in the late 1980s when cycle helmets were not even available. I very nearly fractured my skull when I was catapulted off my bike straight into a kerb. I drifted in and out of consciousness as I was taken to hospital in the back of an ambulance. The doctor who did the emergency surgery on the top right hand corner of my forehead mentioned that the chunk ripped out of my forehead was very close to my skull. That's why I will not cycle without a cycle helmet and I think a cycle helmet would have protected me if they were available at that time.
Phil, Kent

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

Duncan, mirrors are discouraged as divers can tell if a cyclist has seen them becasue they see them look back.

Phil, you can't enforce speed limits on vehicles with no speedometer. The stats on cycle helmets can (and are) used by both sides to prove that they are or are not a safety improvement. Stangely you are more likely to get a head injury as a car occupant or pedestrian than as a cyclist - helmets for all road users, anyone?
Mark Caerphilly

Agree (7) | Disagree (2)

Good luck to all the major cities receiving a cash injection, but what about everyone else? Cycling can be hazardous simply because of the state of our roads in the area one metre from the curb (damaged surface, potholes and broken drain covers) thereby forcing cyclists to swerve to avoid a hazard.
Ian, Gloucester

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

As a cyclist I think it's great that they are increasing spend on 'cycle facilities' in the UK, and regional areas will have a decent pot of money to spend on such facilities; but what will these facilities be? Cycling facilities in the UK are so disjointed between areas and therefore there is no consistency. Most adult cyclists who commute (who this will be aimed at?) tend to cycle on the road and on roads where there are few cycle facilities (outside London anyway). Spending money on toucan crossings (I’ve never used one to cross a road!), mirrors (which create other problems), low level signals and other fads seems like a short sighted idea in my opinion and unlikely to increase numbers of cyclists or drastically improve safety for them. If more cyclists are going to be using the roads, which I think may be the case, designers/engineers need to be more innovative as do the government in what they spend this money on.
James, Wakefield

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

I think the time limited "grants" will only encourage botched planning instead of accommodating for all modes of transport. I also think that it would be a good idea to change the law so that motoring offences and fines (including speeding) would also apply to cyclists and to make the use of cycle helmets compulsory. That may at least persuade cyclists to be considerate towards other road users, regardless of their mode of transport.
Phil, Kent

Agree (3) | Disagree (10)

This is great news, but like all grants it is time limited. Some of the major schemes will need substantial planning and time to plan, particularly if they cut across boundaries such as Network Rail or Highways Agency land. My guess is half of this won't be spent due to this time limitation and it will be absorbed back in the government coffers.
Paul R- Cambs

Agree (8) | Disagree (4)

Too much too soon and a waste of money (when we have little or none and are in deep debt). There has to be a total shift in social/community and economics to accept the changes that are wanting to be made, like being similar to Germany, Holland etc. They have developed their own ways since before the 2nd World War and little has changed. We, however, went towards over 60 years progress in the post war revolution and of motorisation. There are going to be problems.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (10) | Disagree (10)

It is pleasing that the government are making things easier to install 20mph speed limits. So now the only danger to cyclists will be other cyclists exceeding the 20mph limit. In Bath recently, I slowed to 20 to comply with a part time 20 limit at a school crossing patrol site on a down hill approach to the patroller on duty and was overtaken by a cyclist doing some 30mph. Should we not all comply with the speed limits?
Alan Hale - South Gloucestershire.

Agree (11) | Disagree (6)

If the government really want to make cycling safer, then I suggest that rather than spending millions in road alterations they encourage the fitment of mirrors to all road-going bicycles instead. Riding a road-going motorbike without mirrors is a truly terrifying experience, so how cyclists manage without them is anybody's guess. Not even the much vaunted 'Boris Bikes' are fitted with mirrors, yet I understand that a significant number of collisions occur with vehicles coming from behind the cyclist.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (12) | Disagree (10)