Commuters call for safer roads for cycling
Calls for widespread 20mph limits and other measures to protect cyclists in the capital grew today, as two in three London commuters (67%) said most roads were unfit for cycling in a survey by charity Brake and solicitors Bolt Burdon Kemp.
The survey revealed a huge proportion would be persuaded to cycle if roads were safer. Four in 10 (39%) said they would switch to cycling their commute if the route was less dangerous. A huge 44% would be persuaded to make other local journeys by bike given safer roads.
Just over half said they cycle on roads already (53%), but most of these (60%) only do so occasionally. Only one in seven (15%) use their bike as their main form of transport to commute.
The majority of those surveyed said 20mph limits and other safe cycling measures were needed in their area. Only a minority already have widespread 20mph limits (8%) and other safe cycling measures like cycle paths (10%). Of those who don’t already have them, seven in 10 (71%) would back widespread 20mph limits and eight in 10 (81%) would back measures like cycle paths being introduced in their community.
Brake and Bolt Burdon Kemp are launching a Cycle for life campaign calling for:
More London boroughs to follow Islington’s lead and implement widespread 20mph limits to protect cyclists and pedestrians, and more traffic-free and segregated cycle paths on commuter routes and connecting homes and community facilities;
Government to encourage and fund more local authorities to take these steps;
Drivers to slow down to 20mph in communities and look out for cyclists, especially at junctions and on bends;
Employers to play their part in promoting safe cycling, raising awareness about safe driving to protect cyclists, and ensuring commercial vehicles have the latest blind spot devices.
Individuals and organisations can back the campaign at www.brake.org.uk/cycleforlifecampaign.
Organisations signing up to back the campaign will receive guidance on promoting safe cycling.
Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “It’s positive the government and Mayor are working to encourage cycling to improve health and reduce emissions, but we must also ensure roads are safe for cyclists. Widespread 20mph limits and cycle paths where people live and work would encourage more people to cycle, without their lives being threatened by fast traffic. It would also, crucially, help prevent those already cycling from falling victim to devastating crashes. This survey shows the huge amount of public support for safe cycling. We’re calling on the authorities, employers, and the driving public to act upon this, to enable people to take to their bikes without fear.”
Cheryl Abrahams, Partner at Bolt Burdon Kemp said
“These results show that more people would be encouraged to cycle if roads were perceived as being safer for cyclists. In view of the many positive benefits cycling can have on health, the environment and people’s finances, this has to be encouraged. Through our work with injured cyclists all over the Country, we understand the difficulties that cyclists on the road face. We have seen the devastation that road crashes can cause and that’s why we are working with Brake on the Cycle for life campaign and we call on the government to do more to ensure that roads are safer for cyclists”.
In 2010, 117 cyclists were killed on roads in Great Britain, an increased of 7% from 2009, while cycle traffic increased by 1%. The number of seriously injured cyclists also rose by 2% from 2,606 in 2009 to 2,660 in 2010 . 65% of cycle casualties occurred Monday to Thursday during commuting hours.
20mph limits help protect cyclists and pedestrians because driving at 20mph gives drivers a far better chance of reacting to unexpected hazards and stopping in time in an emergency. Lower urban limits have been shown to reduce cyclist casualties by 17% in a study of 20mph zones in London . Further studies have concluded that reducing the speed and volume of traffic would improve cycle safety more than narrow cycle lanes .
Calls for government action
Brake wants 20mph limits, plus safe routes for cyclists and pedestrians, to be the norm in our communities. Brake welcomes that some forward-thinking local authorities are investing in safe widespread 20mph limits, and other safe cycling measures, but wants the government to enable, encourage and fund far more work of this kind to take place.
The government recently announced £15 million in funding for cycle routes, storage facilities and repair centres on top of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, which Brake welcomes. However, Brake calls on the government to ensure this funding is used primarily for making cycling safer, and to commit more funding for this purpose.
The government is also currently reviewing its guidance for local authorities on setting local speed limits. Brake is urging the Department for Transport to revise this guidance to encourage widespread 20mph limits, and remove red tape that often hinders implementation of these schemes, in line with evidence on the benefits 20mph limits deliver for communities.
Advice to drivers
Brake is calling on drivers to commit to slowing down to 20mph or below in communities to protect people on bikes and on foot, and to slow right down for bends or whenever visibility is poor on country roads. Drivers should take particular care to look out for cyclists at junctions, on busy commuter routes, and whenever is hard to see the road ahead, and slow down and give cyclists a wide berth when passing.
Commercial vehicle operators should ensure drivers are well trained in this, and have the latest devices fitted to vehicles to reduce blindspots.