Department for Transport consultation on cycling and walking investment strategy
Response from Brake, the road safety charity, May 2015
Brake’s position on cycling and walking investment
Brake welcomes this consultation and its acknowledgement that further investment in cycling and walking is essential. Currently a quarter of car journeys (23%) are less than two miles[i], a distance which can easily be covered on foot or by bike.
Brake believes road safety isn’t solely about driving safely and within the law. It’s also about making our streets safe and pleasant for everyone to use freely, and doing everything we can to protect ourselves and people around us, especially vulnerable road users. A big part of that is providing infrastructure that not only encourages active travel but also protects those who walk and cycle from the dangers on our roads.
Brake has more than 20 years’ experience in the road safety and sustainable transport field and can point to policies that can be deployed to try to increase the numbers walking and cycling address the issue of inactivity and.
On the basis of Brake’s experience in road safety, Brake recommends
• Reducing the urban speed limit 20mph, instead of 30mph. This is in line with evidence that shows reducing speed limits lowers casualty numbers amongst those who cycle and walk.
• Implementing more segregated cycle ways. This is in line with evidence that shows that the injury risk to cyclists reduces significantly.
• Create and invest in improved infrastructure that benefits cycling and walking both in the long term and the short term.
• Create new routes that encourage cycling and walking.
Some key evidence supporting these recommendations includes:
• The implementation of bike lanes has been shown to cut injury risk to cyclists by 50%, dedicated bike lanes cut injury risk to cyclists significantly more, by 90%[ii].
• A trial of 20mph limits in Warrington, Cheshire, found pedestrian and cyclist casualties dropped 36%[iii] and analysis of 75 20mph limit sites in Scotland found casualties dropped 42%[iv].
• Walking and cycling levels rose by up to 12% in Bristol after a 20mph limit was introduced[v].
• 20mph limits boost the economic sustainability of local areas. Safer areas for walking and cycling are seen as more desirable areas to live, boosting local businesses and increasing the value of homes in these areas[vi].
• Fear of traffic can also discourage people from walking or cycling. A Brake survey found one in three non-cyclists (35%) would cycle their commute if routes were safer[vii].
• A YouGov poll commissioned by British Cycling revealed that 71% of people support building cycle tracks on main roads[viii].
Question One: The Government would be interested to hear views on the approach and actions set out in section 8 of this strategy
The three themes mentioned in section 8 which will deliver the ambition of the government, could be improved significantly. On Better Safety, there needs to be more done to ensure policing of speed limits are enforces by the police – this is proving to be more difficult as numbers of traffic offices have decreased significantly since 2008, by nearly 12% in the United Kingdom[ix]. With better policed roads and lower limits – cyclists and pedestrians would feel safer and more inclined to choose forms of active travel than using their cars.
On Better Mobility, more needs to be done to integrate all forms of transport to promote active travel. Not only does the Government have to do more to promote cycling and walking – more needs to be done to integrate public transport with active travel with all public transport stations requiring more cycle spaces and the right environments that makes active travel more appealing.
Finally, with Better Streets, there needs to be serious thought given to town and street planning, to create an environment for all road users and not just cars as there has been in the past.
The most important point to take from the strategies outlined in section 8 is that what has been outlined requires appropriate funding nationwide. The United Kingdom has one of the lowest usages of cycles in Europe as the main mode of transport, only six nations in Europe rank lower[x]. Without appropriate funding, more than the £316million[xi] promised over the next five years, then it is likely that the targets outlines will be missed and the United Kingdom will continue to lag behind the more forward thinking European nations.
Question Three: The Government would be interested to hear suggestions and evidence of innovative projects and programmes which could be developed to deliver the objectives outlined in Section 4.
For the objectives set out in section four to be achieved, the focus must be on consulting local residents and those who cycle and walk on their own needs. There certainly is an appetite for cycling and walking, especially on shorter journeys. In recent surveys conducted by Brake we found that three in four parents (74%) say their family would walk more if the safety of nearby roads was improved[xii] and three in four school children (76%) would like to walk and cycle more, but more than half (56%) worry they might be run over when walking or cycling on roads[xiii].
A recent survey by Churchill Insurance indicated 35% of parents felt road safety at their local school had worsened in the past five years. To improve safety on roads around schools, through cycle lanes, 20mph speed limits and improved crossings would ensure that more school children would use active travel in their daily routine to get to school.
Furthermore, Britain ranked 23rd for progress in tackling cycling deaths over the period between 2003 and 2013, seeing a fall of less than 3%[xiv]. Without appropriate funding, planning and strategy the desire to double cycling activity by 2025 will falter. Whilst the appetite is there for an increase in participation in active travel, the funding is not and perhaps more of the funding that has been ring-fenced for road projects needs to be redistributed to ensure a safer environment to encourage walking and cycling.
Question Four: The Government would be interested to hear your views on how to increase cycling and walking in typically under-represented groups (for example women, older people, or those from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds
Brake believes that participation in walking and cycling by under-represented groups would be increased by making urban speed limits 20mph. As evidence mentioned earlier shows, roads are safer for cyclists and pedestrians with the lower limit and more people are inclined to walk or cycle more as they feel safer. This is especially the case among the most vulnerable in our society such as older people, children and parents with young children.
As for targeting those from different ethnic backgrounds the impetus should be on getting underrepresented groups into cycling and walking when they are young; educating them on the benefits and in the case of cycling – teaching them in schools. The Bikeability scheme, which has seen nearly two million people trained, would be the ideal resource to use as it could be rolled out to schools with a diverse ethnic background.
One further way that under-represented groups could be encouraged into cycling is through Bike Libraries. The scheme that was launched in Yorkshire as part of the legacy of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014 has seen 31 bike libraries created across the county, providing a place where people can give away their old and unused bikes to be loaned out to those who need them. This would be ideal in deprived areas and in areas from differing background who may not get an opportunity to own, use or learn to ride a bike.
[i] National Travel Survey 2014, Department for Transport, 2015
[ii] American Journal of Public Health, 2012.
[iii] 20mph Speed Limit Pilots Evaluation Report, Warrington Borough Council, 2010
[iv] 20mph speed reduction initiative, Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2001
[v] Greater Bristol Cycling City, Bristol City Council, 2011
[vi] Motor Vehicle Speeds: Recommendations for Urban Sustainability, Transportation Research Board, 2012
[vii] Commuters call for safer streets for cycling, to enable more to get on their bikes, Brake 2015
[viii] New poll reveals overwhelming public support for new cycling infrastructure, British Cycling 2016
[ix] Research briefing: levels of traffic police 2008-2012 in GB, Brake, 2013
[x] UK ranked Europe's 10th Most Cycle Friendly Nation, Road.cc, 2013
[xi] Time for action on clean air, Sustrans, 2016
[xii] Bereaved family back Beep Beep! initiative for safer roads for kids as survey reveals parents’ fears from fast traffic, Brake and Churchill, 2012
[xiii] Kids want to get active: thousands march for safer streets, Brake and webuyanycar.com, 2014
[xiv] Making Walking and Cycling on Europe’s roads safer, European Transport Safety Council, 2015.