The growing popularity of cycling can only be a good thing for our health, fitness and mental wellbeing. While many cities are making progress, a lot more needs to be done to make urban roads safer.
By Ian Collier.
To help more of us to get out and about on two wheels, Pearson asked a panel of experts for three suggestions of what they would like to see happen, in 2021 and beyond.
First up, Britain’s very own...
Dame Sarah Storey - @DameSarahStorey
Paralympic cyclist and swimmer. Sheffield City Active Travel Commissioner.
1.) A comprehensive stream of funding for schemes to be built in a coherent and strategic way. This should include funding to engage local people, to help them access the infrastructure after it is built.
2.) Embed ‘active travel’ measures in all road schemes and ensure that new developments focus on the ease of getting around without the need for a motor vehicle.
3.) Develop more stringent deterrents for road crime. If driving ability were assessed from a health and safety perspective, it would require ongoing driver training to address the high numbers of avoidable deaths suffered every year.
Adam Tranter - @AdamTranter
Founder and CEO of Fusion Media. Bicycle Mayor for Coventry.
1.) Cycle crossings. A transport planner’s superpower, they're low cost, relatively easy to implement and can help start to build a cycle network. They're becoming increasingly popular and are a regular fixture in ‘active travel’ super-boroughs, such as Waltham Forest. A potential gamechanger.
2.) Change is hard and it's essential we bring other residents with us. People sometimes look at bike lanes and assume they’re for existing cyclists. They're not. They’re for people in cars and we need to make it safe and attractive for these people to switch their journeys. It’s also imperative we use data to evaluate any new schemes. Too often, schemes such as the Kensington High Street cycle lane, in London, are being ripped out; not because of data insights but because of a vocal minority writing to their local councillors.
3.) Road Pricing. Once you have a car, it becomes more cost-effective the more you use it. In England, 68% of all journeys are under 5 miles; 24% are under one mile. One way to discourage short journeys is road pricing. It could be a powerful tool in making people think twice about shorter journeys, especially if there was an ‘unlock’ fee of £1 or £2, then a charge for every mile driven thereafter. It’s being touted as an option for the Chancellor, as the adoption of electric vehicles brings the Treasury precisely £0 in Vehicle Excise Duty.
Christine O’Connell - @CLondon7
Pearson rider and breast cancer fundraiser.
1.) More people taking to their bikes to explore, even locally. There are so many hidden places I’ve found over the last few months, and I realise how privileged we are to have fantastic open spaces so close to London. It’s about striking a balance, allowing as many people as possible to enjoy these spots, while protecting the flora and fauna.
2.) Not everyone wants to cycle off-road, so we need to ensure we provide places to ride without fear of busy roads. Cycling infrastructure needs to be designed so we avoid conflict between bikes and cars; the hackneyed generalisations that all drivers hate cyclists and all cyclists are irresponsible.
3.) More safety training for drivers and cyclists. When I first started cycling in the capital, I was lucky to benefit from Bikeability training from the council, that taught me how to navigate busy roads and ride safely around cars. I would love to see that expanded to more local communities – and for drivers to receive training about how to coexist with cyclists.
Mark Philpotts - @RantyHighwayman (aka the Ranty Highwayman).
My three suggestions are linked because doing anything in isolation doesn’t work.
1.) Roll out Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). These remove motor traffic from a neighbourhood, while maintaining full access for residents, deliveries and emergency services. Though technically not cycling infrastructure, LTNs do create the conditions that will enable people to take their first (or returning) foray into cycling.
2.) Connect LTNs. We need to provide opportunities for people to cross between LTN areas over main roads. This could be with new crossings or with work at existing junctions. This allows people to travel some distance without being exposed to traffic and where they are, they are protected crossing between areas.
3.) Tackle the main roads, starting with junctions, where the most conflicts occur. Dealing with junctions first makes connecting them easier. Changing junctions isn't always simple but planning motor-traffic movements at a network level means interim changes can be made. For example, banning certain turns can make it safer for cycling.
We'd love to hear what you would like to see happen to this year, please submit in our comments section below.
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