Road Safety News

DfT launches consultation on Cycling Delivery Plan

Thursday 16th October 2014

The DfT has launched a consultation on its Cycling and Walking Delivery Plan which is intended to “double levels of cycling by 2025”, and explore how further funding can be generated for cycle schemes across England.

The Government’s vision is that cycling, alongside walking, will become “the natural choice for shorter journeys, regardless of age, gender, fitness or income, beginning with encouraging children to walk or cycle to school where possible”.

Annual funding for walking and cycling is currently around £5 per person, but the DfT aspires to increase this to £10 by 2020/21.

The plan sets out specific actions to improve leadership, funding, infrastructure, planning and safety.

It includes measures to forge partnerships between Government and local authorities who, in exchange for committing to actions to deliver ambitious changes in cycling and walking, will receive priority access to funding, knowledge sharing, and sector expertise.

The plan also sets out further work to ‘cycle proof’ the road network, to ensure that cyclists are considered at the design stage of new and improved road infrastructure.

It also highlights work to develop guidance for engineers and other professionals working on cycling infrastructure, to ensure they have access to skills development and guidance on how to design best practice cycle infrastructure.

The plan also explains the DfT’s strategy to tackle cycle safety issues with a view to reducing the rate of those killed or seriously injured on the roads, and addressing the public perception that “cycling is not safe”.

Robert Goodwill, transport minister said: “This Government is serious about making the UK a cycling nation. We have doubled funding since 2010, with £374m committed between 2011 and 2015.

“We want cycling and walking to become the natural choices for shorter journeys, kick starting a cycling revolution that will remove barriers for a new generation of cyclists.

“This strategy provides a road map for the way forward.”



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"On a purely unscientific basis I find risk compensation credible in some contexts and incredible in others."

You're right Tim, that is unscientific. There is plenty of data which shows that kitting people up in "safety" gear results in more risk taking. In this case, all the reliable data shows that cycle helmets do not improve the safety of cyclists. Given that helmets must provide some protection, no matter how little, the question is why don't they improve the safety of cyclists? Part of the answer is certainly risk compensation by people who have been told that cycling is dangerous, but that a helmet will make you safe.

My MSc dissertation was on cycle helmets, and some of my colleagues were dismissive of the theory of risk compensation, and claimed that wearing a helmet did not affect how they rode. I challenged them to do their usual ride without a helmet and those who did so (a couple refused) reported that they were much more cautious. The protection offered by a cycle helmet is very little, and it doesn't take much change in behaviour to negate it, and the evidence supports that this happens.
Richard Burton, Bristol

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

"Cycling is a nineteenth century solution to a twenty-first century problem. It is past its sell by date."
Robert Bolt, St Albans
It's hard to conclude that you checked your facts before writing that comment. The implication of your comment is that you believe the car is the solution to twenty-first century problems. You have to show this is true.

The twenty-first century is beset by a whole suite of problems, which include but are not limited to: congestion; air-pollution; noise-pollution; obesity; diseases of inactivity; parking; death of the high-street; footways (pavements) blocked illegally (1835 Highways Act) by hoards of cars & vans forcing pedestrians, disabled people, and parents with young children into the roadway (plus causing damage to paving resulting in trip hazards and damage to the underlying services) & etc.

The car is certainly not a solution to any of these, indeed it is the primary cause of many of these, while replacing as many unnecessary car journeys as possible by active transport is the solution. Cycling is naturally more convenient because it's much faster and less tiring than walking and it's faster than driving in congestion.

Since the demand for road-space by drivers is essentially insatiable, as can be demonstrated by the decades of failed government policies of road-building to ease congestion when demand is increasing exponentially, there would of course need to be strategies to ensure that the drivers who are encouraged to leave their cars and get onto their bicycles would not be instantly replaced by the pent-up demand.

IIRC, 20% of car journeys are two miles or shorter and 55% are five miles or shorter. A significant proportion could easily be cycled. Since average vehicle occupancy is 1.58 [IIRC] (commuting) with 85% being the single occupancy rate and even the smallest car is substantially large than a bicycle, that would make a huge impact on congestion and the resulting space required for parking.

We are told that particulate air pollution kills an estimated 29,000 people per year. I believe that ~70% of these are attributable to transport. That's 20,300 per year, or 55 people per day. Bicycles do not emit particulate pollution.

Bicycles are hugely efficient, being the most efficient source of transport known. A standard bicycle is simple and is easily maintained.

I could go-on, but you should by now realise that what you claimed was utterly false, untrue, indeed egregiously so. I look forward to your reply in which you provide the evidence to support your case. I can cite sources for my claims.

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

Again I am making a point about the unsuitability of the terms "safe" and "unsafe". I am only mentioning helmets because Duncan did, and not making any personal statement about their effectiveness. I do not support compulsion to wear helmets for exactly the reason you give.

But for the sake of argument, if a would-be cyclist thinks, even erroneously, that wearing a helmet would render cycling safe instead of unsafe, that surely would be potentially a positive outcome.

On a purely unscientific basis I find risk compensation credible in some contexts and incredible in others. I find it credible that motorists corner faster and brake later now many cars have abs and esp. I regret I find no credibility in the notion that a cyclist would take more risks when wearing a helmet than when not. If there is a probable reason for this it is that esp and abs enable actions perceived as desirable, that were not previously available, while wearing a helmet does not, but emphasises the notion of vulnerability. It's actually not a bad thing for all road users to recognise the risks inherent in what they are doing (to feel unsafe, if you like) because only then do we feel the need to moderate our behaviour.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

Agree (3) | Disagree (4)

I concede I should have included cyclist incompetence! But I was not making a point about responsibility. I was expressing that in road use terms, it is mainly interaction failure between users that determines likelihood of injury. This being so, the labels "safe" and "unsafe" are not helpful because interaction failure is infinitely variable dependent on circumstances and participants. The challenge for the infrastructure is to prioritise ways in which good user interaction can be assisted and identify where separation would be better.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

Sorry Tim but I think you have it wrong there.
You should have said it was generally safe unless it was met by the negligence, ignorance or wilful stupidity of the person riding or someone else. That someone else could be the engineers, architects, designers, Highway authorities, maintenance road crews, to name but a few and also other road users, pedestrians, motorcyclists, drivers, bus drivers, HGV drivers, taxi drivers and others. I hope this creates a correct balance of responsibilities.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

Tim re. "My point is that, like donning a cycle helmet, having such procedures in place is an acknowledgement that things may go awry. The irony is that by acknowledging something is potentially unsafe, you actually make it safer."

The problem with cycle helmets is that they cause cycling to be "acknowledged" as unsafe but the safety they provide is minimal. This may well result in the "risk compensation" resulting eliminating the benefit. That is apart from the resulting loss of public health benefit due to many eliminating the risk entirely by not cycling.
John Catt, Loughborough

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

I have no issue with the importance of airline safety procedures. My point is that, like donning a cycle helmet, having such procedures in place is an acknowledgement that things may go awry. The irony is that by acknowledging something is potentially unsafe, you actually make it safer.

I am unclear from your post whether you think a) cycling is unsafe or b) cycling is safe but has been misrepresented as unsafe. In my view neither badge applies particularly well. It has been persistently labelled as universally unsafe, which I do not think is true. The problem is that how, when and where it is unsafe depends very much on circumstances. To put it bluntly, it is generally safe until met by the negligence, ignorance or wilfull stupidity of someone else. Sartre was right - Hell is other people.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

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The card given to airline passengers is to give them instructions what to do in an emergency. Remember that airline passengers are completely untrained in getting out of an aeroplane in an emergency, opening aeroplane doors and using the slides etc.

Is flying unsafe? Yes it is and no it isn't, it just depends on how you measure safety. If you measure it by casualty rate per million passenger miles then it is very safe, but if you measure it by million passenger journey's then it's ten times less safe than driving a car. The public believes in the first figure, whilst my colleagues in aviation safety work with the second.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

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It's nice to see Dave Holladay joining this discussion!

As a schoolboy I delighted in opening the train door and jumping out before it had stopped (ooh, what a rebel). I'd have to observe that preventing deaths by this means has been achieved not by inculcating more intelligent behaviour but by denying passengers the option to injure themselves.

In the highway context advances in vehicle design have achieved this too but have apparently not reduced motorists' scope to injure other people. The difference is that, unlike the railway, outcomes on the highway are determined largely by autonomous users. Good infrastructure can mitigate problems, poor infrastructure can exacerbate them, but essentially road danger is down to user failure. Attempts to deny motorists complete freedom of action are met by claims that anything that impinges on their decision-making will make matters worse.

So we are left with an imperfect situation and no agreement about how to make it less imperfect. I’m intrigued by Duncan’s earlier comment about no safe activity requiring a helmet. Whenever I take a flight the first thing that happens is the carrier gives me emergency instructions and tells me where the lifejacket is. Does this mean flying is unsafe? Or is it a bit more complicated than that?
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

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We have more vehicles driving on and parked on our roads than ever before. Most vehicles, including cars, are wider, higher and longer than in the past - when our surfaced roads were being developed. Most of our roads are lined by buildings, walls and hedges and we will struggle to expand them in the way and at the rate that vehicles have expanded. All this equals less available roadspace and a greater need to share, to be patient and to consider others as well as our own journey. Adjusting our behaviour costs nothing and can be done instantly.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

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Yes Rod, it would be safer if there were less traffic on our roads and more room for cyclists, for motorcyclists and pedestrians alike and should that ever occur then maybe, only maybe, we won't need to spend millions, sorry billions, on integrating or separating cyclists of the future from all the inherent dangers that our history has caused. Maybe then with far less traffic and quieter roads with more SPACE between vehicles we will improve all aspects of road safety. Then we won't need to reduce the speed limits to 20mph anywhere. Or separate cyclists, just integrate.
bob craven Lancs

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I am sure that you are not biased or holding any sort of prejudice against cyclists. But perhaps you could comment on the following statement.

"Is it the infrastructure that's deficient or is it the motor-cyclists inability to integrate with the other users of it that's the problem? If there were no trucks or cars then I'm sure that motor-cyclists would be more than happy with the infrastructure as-is so it's clearly not an infrastructure problem."
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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Is it the infrastructure that's deficient or is it the cyclists inability to integrate with the other users of it that's the problem? If there were no trucks or cars then I'm sure that cyclists would be more than happy with the infrastructure as-is so it's clearly not an infrastructure problem.
Duncan MacKillop, Startford on Avon

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Duncan is concerned that recent growth of cycling is recreational. Rather than "the market" we could blame the deficiencies in infrastructure which leads to commuting usually involving fighting with heavy traffic. This is the area that the final strategy must address with rather more determination.
Paul Luton , Richmond

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Dave Finney of Slough wrote:

"The question is whether 1/3 billion pounds added every year to the debt of generations to come will produce any noticeable benefit for them or us, especially given that we must lose Police officers and nurses in order to pay for it."

The answer is that it's a case of pay now to gain later. Research suggests that the savings produced by reductions in obesity & other health problems could amount to £25 Billion per year.

George Riches, Coventry

Agree (11) | Disagree (4)

There is one way that we could drive down casualties and achieve a Vision Zero casualty count - just like we have already achieved for Rail, Air and Maritime transport. If the DfT was serious about driving down casualties they would throw out Section 39 RTA 1988 and replace it with a regime which is fit for purpose, and modelled on the same structure that, in the past 40 years have drastically cut rail casualties - from over 40 deaths per year from just the single cause of passengers falling out from the old slam door trains. Now we see most years having no passenger deaths at all.

Quis Custodiet ipsos Custodes mused Juvenal 2000 years ago and Section 39 is a classic case of this. Roads Authorities are mandated to investigate crashes, and then mandated to tell themselves how to put things right, and unlike rail and air incident investigations there is no mandate to publish anything!
Dave Holladay

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I completely disagree, Robert.
Cycling can be the best solution particularly when 3 conditions are met: 1: short journeys (1-5 miles), 2: congested roads, 3: good weather. Add in low costs, wind in your hair and exercise and it can be a clear winner over car, bus, walking, and even motorcycle.

The question is whether 1/3 billion pounds added every year to the debt of generations to come will produce any noticeable benefit for them or us, especially given that we must lose Police officers and nurses in order to pay for it.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (7) | Disagree (11)

Cycling is a nineteenth century solution to a twenty-first century problem. It is past its sell by date.
Robert Bolt, St Albans

Agree (2) | Disagree (43)

Let's not forget that this government since 2009 has spent in the order of £1000.000.000 in aid of the cyclist and their supporters. All at a time of so called austerity. I can't believe that this so called austerity exists, the way cyclists are being favoured in such a way.

That money doesn't include the financial support that is coming out of Local Authorities as well, and at a time that they have shaved down to the bone, making thousands redundant.

It appears to me that without cyclists being feted there would be a lot more money about, maybe for repair of the roads infrastructure for every road users benefit, or sewers or something else that drastically needs doing.
bob craven Lancs

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Is that £5 for every man, woman and child (in other words: a third of a billion pounds) every single year? That is a colossal amount in austerity Britain. And the proposal is to double the amount being spent. It might be cheaper and more effective for the government to simply buy every single person a brand new bicycle.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (14) | Disagree (29)

The public perception that “cycling is not safe” has maybe been fostered by the fact that the Government and the BBC has been telling them it's not safe for years! Why would you need to wear a helmet for an activity that's safe? Safe activities require no special kit, so an activity that does require some must therefore be unsafe.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (27) | Disagree (9)

The Document states that nearly all cycling journeys are local (as an excuse for not setting national standards). Is that true? I am in a neighbouring borough very quickly and do a lot of cycling in Surrey.
Paul Luton , Richmond

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I don't think your unfortunate experience is grounds for disagreement with the general principle that some people may find leisure cycling a useful precursor to commuter cycling. If you don't want to cycle, then don't, but please allow others to find some value in it. I wonder if you would stop driving if someone stole your car......?
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

Agree (30) | Disagree (2)

I disagree with Tim, I am afraid. Having been a keen cyclist in my youth, in rural Cardiganshire, I cycled 12 miles to work across West London and was delighted to find at 5.30pm that my bike had been stolen. Not that I would have used it again for that purpose in any case.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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I think we first have to ensure that local planners actually take "cycle proof" seriously, all too often changes to road systems remember the bike (and the pedestrian) at the last minute.

I suspect the £5 a person figure is nonsense and does not line up with figures I understand. The danger is that you cannot break costs out of an infrastructure installation, so these figures are just wild guesses. I struggle with the idea of doubling a number you don't know. How is it measured, certainly not the way that cycling countries do it? So, maybe some more money, to do something unmeasured....
Bilbo Burgler, Otley

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It would not be surprising for many new or returning cyclists to begin by leisure cycling, in which one is free to choose a route, pace and companions. It is entirely credible the experience of doing so may imbue said cyclists with the confidence to transfer to commuting having learnt more about the actual risk level and how to deal with it, and about their own capabilities over time/distance.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

Agree (19) | Disagree (3)

There may be a desire to make cycling the natural choice for shorter journeys or commuting in other words, but the market seems to have different ideas. The industry is reporting that the biggest growth is in the leisure market where rather than riders going 'to' somewhere they are going 'out' for a ride, just for the fun of it. The cycling revolution may have already started but it is happening out on the highways and byways rather than on the commuter routes.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (21) | Disagree (5)