Saturday, 10 March 2018

Cycling and Walking Review Consultation response

This Thursday the  Government announced a review and consultation process as part of it's cycling and walking strategy. the response questionnaire can be found here, and I strongly urge everyone to read the consultation and respond.

Some of the questions seem a little odd, and almost seem intended to ask for training and licencing for cyclists, although that may just be my bias and cynicism shining through..For what it's worth, my responses are below

Q17. 1. Infrastructure and traffic signs - view in consultation document 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? 

Where possible seperated infrastructure for cycling needs provided and joined up into networks. For example in the last 4 yrs the first 10 miles of my commute to work has become a joined up traffic free route. This has made my trip much more relaxed, and I see a lot more others cycling along that route now.

All cycling infrastructure needs to be build to a uniform national standard, which needs to be of high quality. The strategic roads guide IAN 195/16 is a good start, as well as the TFL design guide and The Dutch CROW design guide. All three need to be merged into a single mandatory design guide for the UK.

All junctions and roundabouts should have cycleways to navigate which should be visible, and have prioritised crossing for cyclists and pedestrians to enable smooth progress. Often people don't use cycle paths due to the loss of priority at junctions. This would resolve that and actually make the cycle paths more attractive to use. 20mph zones are helpful, but need to be filtered to prevent through traffic, but allow walking and cycling. My estate went 20 a few years ago, but it was only when LA prevented rat running traffic last year that it became a much pleasanter and safer place to be.

Local authorities need to maintain cycle paths as they do roads,and sweep on a regular basis. In winter they need to be treated when icy similar to the adjacent road. Off road routes need to be treated where they are a parallel or key link in a network. Another issue is the limited and piecemeal investment outside of a few key cities.

All local authorities should be given resources to draw up cycle network plans that go where they are needed, and clear quick timescales to implement. And then given the investment to build. Investing in parallel cycling routes to major commuter routes would give many an alternative to cars and would ease peak traffic as a result and would be much more cost effective than spending millions squeezing an extra lane at a roundabout. My LA is spending a total of £16mn on 2 junctions on the A194. They are putting in shared paths beside, but not linking them up. This piecemeal approach to cycling and walking infra needs to change.

Q18. 2. The laws and rules of the road - view in consultation document 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.

 Presumed liability is the first law that needs introducing. This is already the case in most of Europe, and places a hierarchy of responsibility on the more powerful road users. This would help pedestrians against cyclists and cyclists against drivers etc.

A close passing law making it illegal to pass a cyclist close than 1.5m. several police forces are already practicing this successfully and it needs to be enshrined in law. In addition all police forces need to accept and act on received 3rd party video. Not all forces do. I have been the victim of several scary close passes which have been so bad I have reported them, and only 1 was acted on.

Driving offences need have much stronger enforcement but especially punishment. The points system needs to have an automatic disqualification at 12 points. There are 10000+ drivers with more than 12 points. The UK need to get convicted dangerous drivers off the roads before they kill. There are many examples of pedestrians and cyclists killed by drivers with long history of motoring offences but still allowed on the roads.

Pavement parking needs to be banned across the UK backed up by online reporting so that vehicles parked on pavements can be reported and the drivers prosecuted. Police and LA enforcement officers cannot be everywhere, online reporting and action would be an excellent tool.

Q19. 3. Training - view in consultation document Do you have any suggestions for improving the way road users are trained, with specific consideration to protecting cyclists and pedestrians? 

I strongly feel that that the driving test should have a minimum number of hours of practical cycling or the bikeability training as a prerequisite. This would give more people a sense of understanding and hopefully empathy of cycling and they would learn the rules of the roads at a more human speed. This Australian study proved that people who cycle are better drivers

Bikeability should also be mandatory in all schools.

Q20. 4. Educating road users - view in consultation document Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve road user education to help support more and safer walking and cycling? 

A national media campaign about close passing and the dangers would be helpful, but it needs to be backed up by online reporting of offences.

Similar for pavement parking. This again needs online reporting and follow up by LA or police and then a media campaign.

Education can only go so far. It does not solve those who already have no regard for the law

Q21. 5. Vehicles and equipment - view in consultation document 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? 

Phone use in vehicles is a national epidemic with upto a third of drivers admitting to use smartphones behind the wheel.
A mandatory ban for phone use, including hands free would determine more. UK needs more enforcement though, although close pass operations by police have a high success rate of catching other offences.
Stronger education and enforcement of windscreen mounted equipment such as phones needs to be done

I would like to see smart card driving licences introduced and tech that does not let a person operate a vehicle without a valid licence or insurance. In the interim ANPR checks before a vehicle is allowed to refuel would tackle some of the many unlicenced and uninsured vehicles on the road. Drivers of those vehicles often present a higher risk to pedestrians and cyclists

Q22. 6. Attitudes and public awareness - view in consultation document What can government do to support better understanding and awareness of different types of road user in relation to cycle use in particular? 

As stated in question 3, mandatory bikeability for all school children, and also as part of the driving test process. Media campaigns about close passing, but only when police forces have introduced online reporting and enforcement.

The biggest key to more cycle use though is more protected infrastructure as part of joined up networks that are convenient and feel safe

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