Articles Tagged ‘ Sustainability - Brake the road safety charity’

Advice for cyclists


Cycling is a great way to get around. It’s fun, healthy, good for the planet and cheaper than driving. But unfortunately it can be risky. In 2017, 101 cyclists were killed and 3,698 seriously injured in Britain. This is part of the reason why the UK lags behind many other countries for cycling levels: just 2% of journeys and 1% of miles in Britain are travelled by bike.

Brake campaigns for safer streets and routes for active and sustainable travel, including traffic free cycle routes and 20mph limits in communities through our Pace for People campaign to encourage uptake and protect people on bikes. Until we achieve this, the ultimate responsibility for protecting cyclists and pedestrians on our roads lies with drivers, who are operating a fastmoving machine that can cause a lot of damage. But there are steps cyclists can take to help reduce the risks they face. Read our advice for cyclists on taking the safest approach to getting about by bike.

- Why cycle?

- Getting started

- Travelling by bike

- Cycling on the road

- Cycling with children

Why cycle?

It’s healthy

Cycling is an excellent form of exercise. Incorporating physical exercise, such as cycling, into everyday life can be as effective for weight loss as a supervised exercise programme. Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease and obesity, and increases life expectancy. High blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes and depression are also less frequent among people who exercise regularly, and cyclists in busy cities report better lung health than most other road users as they may experience pollution levels five times lower than drivers. Cycling to work, school or the shops is a great way to stay fit and in shape and feel good.

Modern bikes are lightweight and affordable (especially compared to running a car). Estimates suggest cycling costs riders around £396 per year, compared with the £3,727 annual cost of driving. They can also be fitted with panniers and baskets that can carry a surprising amount.

While the British weather can sometimes be intimidating to first-time cyclists, what looks like a drizzly and cold day from within a car can be refreshing on two wheels. You don’t have to get hot and sweaty, just ride at your own pace.

It’s environmentally friendly

Our society’s over-reliance on cars has major consequences for the environment and our health. More than a quarter of UK carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions come from road transport. It’s estimated that up to 29,000 deaths each year are a result of inhaling particulates, while nitrogen dioxide emissions are thought to contribute to around 24,000. Noise and fumes from traffic also impact on our ability to enjoy our local communities and countryside, and unless we act now, the amount of traffic on our roads is set to increase. By 2035, the amount of traffic travelling in congested conditions is predicted to double. Replacing some of our car journeys with cycling would make a big difference to this.

It’s cheap

You can get hold of a durable, road-worthy bicycle relatively cheaply. Maintaining a bike is of course much cheaper than running a car. It’s estimated that the average family could save £642 a year by swapping a car-based school run for walking or cycling. Commuters who drive or pay for a season pass for public transport could make significant savings by swapping to a cycle commute.

Meanwhile, driving is becoming increasingly expensive. More than a million car-owning households spend around a quarter of their disposable income on a motor vehicle, while the charity Sustrans estimates nearly half of households in England struggle with the cost of car ownership.

Getting started

Cycle training

If you aren’t a confident cyclist, or don’t have much experience on a bike, it’s a good idea to consider cycle training. There are cycle trainers across the UK offering training for children and adults – see Cycling UK’s . Some schools run cycle training courses for children, funded by the local authority, through schemes such as Bikeability. If you have children who want to cycle, speak to their school to see if it offers training. If it doesn’t, you could contact the local authority and ask it to support schools to provide training.

Wear a helmet

Brake strongly advises cyclists of all ages and levels of experience to wear a helmet. A helmet won’t offer you complete protection, and sadly helmets don’t prevent crashes happening in the first place – hence Brake campaigns for safer streets and safer driving. However, wearing a good quality, well-fitted cycle helmet does help to protect your brain in some types of crashes or if you fall off your bike and hit your head. Research shows that wearing one reduces your chances of suffering fatal or serious brain injuries in a crash. If you wear a helmet, always make sure you fit it according to the instructions and ensure it isn’t damaged.

Prepare your bike

It’s worthwhile learning the basics of bicycle maintenance if you want to begin cycling. This basic maintenance guide from the BBC is a good starting point. Whether your bike is new, second hand, or it’s been sat in your garage gathering dust, give it a thorough check before you start using it. Familiarising yourself with the mechanics will come in handy if you run into a problem while out cycling. For more in depth information on keeping your bike in good shape, see Bicycling’s maintenance guide.

Remember, it is illegal to cycle at night without lights, so if you are making a bicycle journey in the dark, or there is any chance you might be caught out as the sun goes down, test your lights before setting off. You must have a white light at the front, a red light at the back, red reflectors at the back and amber reflectors on the pedals.

Travelling by bike

Commuting by bike and cycling for work


Cycling to work is good for your health, the environment, and for your pocket, and it’s a great way to get the blood moving and wake the body up first thing in the morning. We recommend you use safe, off-road or segregated cycle paths for as much of your journey as you can, however we know this isn’t always possible. Cycling UK offers a guide to cycle routes that can help you to find safer places to cycle. If your commute is too far to cycle the whole way, you could take the train and cycle the journey to and from the station. See National Rail Enquiries’ information on taking bicycles on the rail network.

You could also check if your employer is signed up for the government’s cycle to work initiative, which allows you to purchase a new bike tax-free and pay monthly straight from your salary. If your employer hasn’t signed up, direct the relevant member of staff to details of benefits to employers of the initiative, and encourage them to sign up.

Using bicycles at work is becoming increasingly common in some professions. Couriers, police and paramedics are among workers who may cycle for work. If you are required to cycle as part of your job, ensure your employer has a robust safe cycling policy, covering: training; clothing; lighting; risk assessment of routes; pre-ride inspections; punctures; storage; theft; and insurance. If they don’t have a policy, talk to your manager.

Cycling to school

Brake advises that children younger than 10 should cycle on safe cycle paths, away from motorised traffic, and should always ride with a grown up. With the right guidance, and safe conditions, most secondary school children will be capable of cycling independently. However, heavy or fast moving traffic, lack of cycling facilities or unsuitable terrain for cycling often makes cycling to school unsafe or impractical.

Many UK schools will draw up a travel plan in partnership with their local authority to enable and encourage active, sustainable and safe travel to school. This includes identifying and working to address any barriers to children walking or cycling safely, including lack of cycling facilities. If you have concerns about your child (or you) being able to cycle safely to school, it’s a good idea to raise these with the school and local authority, and ask if this is to be addressed as part of the school travel plan.

Schools may also offer free cycle training to students through schemes such as Bikeability. Contact the school to see if they offer training, and to enrol your child if it is offered.

Cycling in your area

Do you automatically reach for the car keys when you need to go to the shops? How about when visiting friends or going to the cinema or gym? If destinations like this are within a couple of miles of where you live, consider hopping on a bike instead. Commuting or doing the school run by bike may not be practical for everybody, but most of us will have other opportunities to cycle. Cycling around your local area is a fun and easy way to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and enjoy your community or countryside. 35% of UK journeys of less than two miles are made by car. Many of these could be made by bicycle in less than 20 minutes, helping to reduce traffic volumes, pollution and danger, while allowing you to get fit and save money on petrol and parking.

If your local area doesn’t have suitable cycling facilities, use our community campaign guide to call for improved active and sustainable travel infrastructure in your area.

Take action: support the Place for people campaign.

Cycling on the road

We advise sticking to safe, off-road or segregated cycle paths as much as possible. However there may be times, especially on longer routes, where you will have to cycle on roads with other vehicles. If you are cycling on the road, be sure to stick to the following advice:

  • Choose the safest routes: where you do have to cycle on roads, quieter roads with less traffic, lower (preferably 20mph) speed limits and fewer parked cars and other hazards, are likely to be far safer. You should also consider junctions that are likely to be risky, like busy roundabouts, and either avoid these entirely or walk your bike across them on pavements, crossings or underpasses.
  • Stay vigilant: Look out for any potential hazards or obstructions ahead, such as bumps, pot holes and parked vehicles, and give yourself plenty of time to manoeuvre around them safely. Regularly look behind and to the sides so you are aware of what is happening on the road around you. When cycling past parked cars, leave extra space and watch out for doors being opened.
  • Road position: You should allow at least a metre between you and the kerb. Position yourself even further out from the kerb when on a road where it’s unsafe for a driver to pass you. Giving yourself plenty of distance from the kerb will also help you avoid cycling over drains, debris and other hazards found in or near the gutter.
  • Never pass on the inside: Never attempt to undertake a lorry or bus on the inside, especially at a junction, even if there is a cycle lane. Because of blind spots on large vehicles, the driver may not be able to see you if you pass on their left. It’s better to hold back and wait behind the vehicle. If you must overtake, do it on the right and allow plenty of space to pass safely, and beware of oncoming traffic.
  • Signal clearly: When changing lanes, turning, or any other similar manoeuvre, signal your intent clearly and well in advance so other road users know what you are going to do.
  • Use your lights: If you’re cycling in the dark or in poor visibility conditions you are required to have front and rear lights by law. We recommend you carry small spare lights in case the main lights stop working.

Cycling with children

Cycling with your kids is a great way to stay fit and enjoy some quality time together, while teaching them important road safety lessons. Brake recommends that children under 10 don’t cycle on roads. Many roads are unsafe for children, particularly fast and bendy rural roads and busy town roads without separate space for cyclists.

cycle4life 8

Some communities now have great cycling facilities, including separate paths for cyclists, which can be a great way for children to start enjoying the benefits of cycling while safe from traffic. Safe places to cycle (and have stress-free fun as a family) include off-road cycle trails, parks and many forests and country parks with specially created mountain biking areas and paths. In cities, velodromes often have indoor and outdoor facilities that are open to children of a certain age. Check your local council website for details of facilities in your area, or Cycling UK’s guide to cycle routes to find safe, off-road cycle paths.

You can also help your child gain experience through cycle training arranged through their school or the local authority. Even if it's not safe for them to cycle on local roads, this is helpful for them starting to gain experience, and great if you are planning a cycling holiday.

If your child cycles on roads, help them plan the safest possible routes making use of traffic-free paths and quiet, slow roads, and teach them the importance of following the advice above. Tell them to get off and walk their bike on the pavement if they have to negotiate any busy junctions.

Carrying pre-schoolers

There is a huge range of products on the market designed to transport children by bike, from front- and rear-mounted child seats, to trailers, tag-alongs and tow bars. The best option for you may depend on several factors:

  • your own experience and fitness;
  • number of children;
  • the size and age of the children;
  • the type of route and surface;
  • traffic levels and danger; and
  • the distance you are planning to ride.

If you can, try before you buy. Most cycle shops stock a variety of bikes and child-seat accessories that you can test out with your children.

Be aware that child carriers increase the size of your bike, alter the balance, and can make manoeuvring more challenging. Child seats on bikes aren’t safety seats with crash protection, and uncovered seats offer no protection from the elements either – a child who is not pedalling can get very cold or sunburnt so ensure they are well wrapped up or are wearing suncream, depending on the weather.

Trailers place your child at the level of vehicles’ wheels and exhaust fumes, and therefore Brake does not recommend they are used on roads, although they can be great on off-road, well-surfaced cycle trails.


Page updated October 2018


Brake comments on petrol and diesel car ban being brought forward

News from Brake
Tuesday 4 February 2020
The Government has today announced a ban on selling petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars in the UK will be brought forward from 2040 to 2035.
The move comes as the Government aims to reach its net zero carbon emission target by 2050. Once the ban is in place, people will only be able to buy electric or hydrogen powered vehicles.
Road safety charity Brake has welcomed the move as a step in the right direction to creating safe and healthy streets.
Commenting, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake said: “People should be free to move in a safe and healthy way on every journey and this includes ensuring the air they breathe isn’t polluted. Banning petrol and diesel cars will go a long way to tackling poor air quality but we also need to encourage more people to leave their car at home and walk, cycle or use other means of active travel to get around.
“Less car use and more people travelling actively can have hugely positive health benefits, alongside lowering emissions and reducing the danger people face from cars. Yet people are often deterred from walking or cycling by the danger on our roads and the risk of exposure to excessive pollution. Alongside removing the roads biggest polluters we must take the opportunity to redesign our cities so that people can live and travel in a safe and healthy environment, free from harm from traffic and pollution.”

Brake responds to consultation on Clean Air Zone implementation in England

Brake, the road safety charity's response to DEFRA's consultation on Clean Air Zone implementation, submitted 9th December 2016

1. Are the right measures set out in section 2?

Section two of the Clean Air Zone Framework is a comprehensive and detailed policy document, suggesting positive steps towards reducing vehicle emissions and taking a safe, sustainable and healthy approach to transport within major urban centres. The measures drafted to provide the five cities designated Clean Air Zones (CAZ) with practical initiatives designed to improve air quality are effective and appropriate for reducing vehicle emissions within the CAZ. While there are some policy-gaps within the document particularly in terms of resources, Brake would support the implementation of these measures.

The measures in section two are described as being ‘evidence-based’, designed to engage and inform the wider public and set down clear regulatory measures and establish definitive emission standards based on best practice. They provide policy-makers with the flexibility to adapt these measures to their local environment and ambitions, encouraging economic growth and regional co-operation but not at the expense of the sustainability agenda.

The measures within this section cover a wide policy spectrum, proposing initiatives that will improve public health, road safety, economic development and local agendas. The document clearly states that it aims to encourage “immediate action with air quality and wider approaches” in mind. Although Brake would support immediate action in order to stem the ever-increasing levels of vehicle emissions in the UK, we would not support this at the expense of effective policies. We cannot afford to sacrifice practical interventions and best practice approaches to increase the speed of implementation. The government and local authorities must work towards implementing these measures in a quick but also comprehensive manner or risk reducing their impact in the long-run.

Traditionally, air pollution is understood as being thick clouds of smog and dust, but carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxides (NOx) and particulate matter are largely invisible to the eye and as a result, many do not see it as a significant threat. By physically outlining the risks within the CAZ, local authorities have the chance to draw public attention to a wider problem that they might not otherwise consider during their day-to-day activities.  

Brake would agree with the document’s assessment of land-use as a critical element of any strategy to reduce vehicle emissions: infrastructure development and traffic management interventions can both be used as a means of reducing or increasing vehicle emissions on the road network, depending on their design. Officials responsible for the design and implementation of road management schemes must keep this in mind and ensure that their plans are clear, coherent and easily navigable by the wider public.

Measures promoting joined-up working between government departments and local authorities will be vital to the development and progression of the CAZ. If current funding trends continue, it is important that these groups find common ground to pool their resources and achieve their overarching goals of improving the living and working conditions in towns and cities. However, Brake would emphasise that responsibility cannot solely be placed on local authorities or on single government departments. This is an international and nationwide problem that requires central leadership and support in terms of policies, funding and research. Without the support of Westminster the CAZ are unlikely to receive the consideration and enforcement they require to be fruitful. Evidence has shown at political will is a critical element of any sustainability policy and, with the government’s recent history of failing to meet expectations in air quality policy, it is all the more important that they are seen to be supporting the CAZ at the national level.

The measures aimed at promoting healthy and active travel are a key area to promote joined up working, as the outcome will affect a range of government departments, including DfT, DEFRA, Public Health England and local authorities across the UK. The broad scope of active travel and its potential benefits requires a cross-departmental response to react appropriately and comprehensively to the issue, and an approach that the government has yet to fully provide.

Brake strongly supports government and local authority sponsorship of innovation and adaption as a means of supporting the CAZ, particularly the incentives encouraging the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles. The range and availability of this technology has escalated in recent years, matched by an increased demand for alternative-fuel vehicles as people seek to take advantage of the environmental and cost-incentive benefits, particularly in the wake of the ‘Diesel-gate’ scandal. However, these vehicles are not a catch-all solution and must be supported by infrastructure developments, including the installation of charge points within the CAZ, properly regulated and maintained road environments, speed restrictions and other environmentally-friendly policies.   

2. Are there additional measures that should be highlighted under each theme?

Brake would suggest that while the measures are a comprehensive representation of the action that needs to be taken to promote sustainable policies and secure the effectiveness of the Clean Air Zones within selected cities, the more detailed elements of these measures must be carefully planned and enacted. Central government and local authorities must work holistically towards the development of a safe, sustainable, healthy and fair environment within our cities or risk the failure of the scheme in its entirety.  

3. In addition to the draft framework, are there other positive measures that a) local and b) central government could introduce to encourage and support clean air in our cities?

Local authorities could also engage with international examples of best practice for promoting clean air and healthier lives within towns and cities. Taking advice from the technological and political trailblazers in the development of eco-friendly cities could provide ideas for affordable, effective and established policy ideas that could further the sustainability agenda in future.

Although local authorities are central to the Clean Air Zones, adapting the measures and regulations to suit their environment and provide the optimum advantages for that region, central government’s role cannot be forgotten and cannot be allowed to fade into the background. It is vital that central government provides overarching leadership and support if the Clean Air Zones are not only to survive but thrive. While the framework is a step in the right direction, Westminster must continue to play a fundamental role providing political will and resources to safeguard the improvement of air quality and potentially expand the scheme beyond its initial boundaries.  

4.  Are the operational standards and requirements set out in Section 3 and Annex A of the framework acceptable?

The standards and requirements set out in section three are detailed and strategic, combining more technical requirements, such as vehicle types, emission levels and geographical boundaries, with more socio-economic preparation that encourages community engagement and effective investment. Brake would support this approach, as it takes the wants and needs of the population into account while basing its regulatory measures on international best practice, such as the EU vehicle emission standards.

The separation of vehicle ‘classes’ based on their pollutant levels is an important element of vehicle standards. The Low-emission zone in London has established the effectiveness of this approach, chiefly regarding HGVs, as local authorities work towards the ambitious aims set out in the Clean Air Zones Framework.    

Although the document provides an outline of exemptions from the CAZ, we would recommend that local authorities and central government ensure that this only applies to those with particularly difficult circumstances and doesn’t provide a loophole for illegal road users with little consideration for the environment and health of their community. Brake would also urge central government to further incentivise the uptake of hybrid vehicles and ultra-low emission vehicles for ‘community vehicles’. As, though they are exempt from the CAZ restrictions as necessarily resources within their communities, they can be made more environmentally-friendly and still operate effectively within their local area. 

5. Do you agree with the requirements set out in Clean Air Zones for taxis and private hire vehicles should be equivalent?

Although Brake supports vehicles being charged equally to discourage their used within the CAZ, we would question who would be held responsible for the infraction in the case of the private hire vehicle: the individual hiring the car or the company responsible for hiring it out.

The individual responsible or hiring the vehicle would be aware that they were driving through a Clean Air Zone, so they should be required to pay. However, there is the unfortunate possibility that they could have been misinformed of the vehicles’ operational standards and emissions when they hired the vehicle. Therefore, Brake would argue that the government should make it a legal requirement for the disclosure of vehicle emission details upon the acquisition of the vehicle in question, to avoid such a situation arising.

Similarly, even though a private hire organisation should be aware if their vehicles’ operational standards and emissions, they would be unaware of the route that their customer plans to take. In order to prevent confusion in situations such as these, Brake would recommend stronger regulation of hired vehicles and once again recommend a clear requirement for the disclosure of a hired vehicle’s emission standards upon rental.

6. Do you agree that the standards should be updated periodically?

The standards set down within the framework should be updated periodically. Vehicle technology and environmental; policy are both developing rapidly, often in a symbiotic manner, as a technological innovation encourages legislation or alterations to environmental policy, or vice versa.

It is, therefore, crucial that a rolling system of review is enacted, to ensure that solutions to future dangers, which may not even be considered at this early stage, are accounted for within the UK’s legislative framework. Innovations in terms of fuel emissions and vehicle standards would also have to be accounted for and adapted to within the Clean Air Zones and a periodical system of updates would prevent central government and local authorities from being left behind in terms of international policy or air quality standards.

Brake advocates speed and proficiency in the government’s response to this technological rapid development, fuelled by international interest and capital. In order to reap the cross-departmental benefits to health, road safety and the environment, the UK must have up-to-date and effective standards and restrictions in place; an objective that can only be met through frequently schedules regulatory reviews.

7. If yes, do you agree that the minimum vehicle standards set out in the framework should remain in place until at least 2025?

Brake does not support the minimum standards remaining in place until at least 2025 as we believe that updates should be on a more frequent basis to encourage improvement and avoid stagnation. Air quality standards in the UK have unfortunately been beset by problems due to overreliance on the Euro V vehicle emission standards that underestimated the extent of damage that NOx emissions can cause to public health. Although this error has been recognised and the government is working to lessen the problem, this occurred due to the infrequency of regulatory updates within the UK and the EU.

In order to ensure that our standards and restrictions, even those at the lowest level of requirement, remain up-to-date and effective the government must shorten the time that these standards are required to remain in place. Policy-makers must also provide incentives to make sure that when they limit for minimum standards run out we do not backslide in terms of requirements and instead move forwards to a clean, safe, healthy future.  

8. Do you agree with the approach to blue badge holders?


9. Is the approach set out suitable to ensure charges are set at an appropriate level?

The decision to allow local authorities to set the level of charge for vehicles entering a zone is one that Brake would overall be supportive of, especially as the government has provides upper and lower bands that the charge must be set within. This will, in theory, prevent local councils lacking in support for the clean air agenda from rolling back on vehicle charges and regulations within the CAZ. The inclusion of penalty charges for non-payment is an important aspect of the charges as it provides local authority charges for the CAZs with a greater level of gravitas and the support of punitive enforcement measures.

However, Brake would argue that the ability of local authorities to ‘provide discounts’ on charges for early or prompt payment is not conducive to presenting the clean air agenda as a vital and decisive measure. As it provides a loophole for drivers that break the law that must be carefully regulated in the long-run.

10. Do you have any comments on the secondary legislation as drafted?

The secondary legislation that has been drafted in relation to the Clean Air Zones is a clearly defined and thorough piece of legislation. Brake supports the inclusion of the clause allowing the secretary of state to issue notice allowing additional local authorities to become a charging authority if they are able to provide a plan sufficiently targeted to reduce air pollution within their regions. We also strongly approve of the encouragement for local authorities to “co-operate with each other in the discharge of their obligations” as a charging authority. Encouraging involvement and innovation on a wider level will allow the government to support additional Clean Air Zones in the future and provide the local authorities involved with the encouragement needed to interact and cooperate towards the overarching sustainability agenda.

However, Brake is wary of the statement that the charging authorities will have “less onus on regulatory provision”. Although the current government prefers a less regulated policy-approach, without effective management of a strategy of this magnitude there remains a risk that it will not be enacted to its fullest extent.

11. Do you agree with the approach undertaken in the impact assessment? If no, please provide supportive evidence


12. Do you agree with the approach undertaken in the impact assessment? If no, please provide supporting evidence


13. Are you aware of any additional data that could inform the impact assessment? If yes, please give details.


Cycle for life - what's it all about?

Winn Solicitors is pleased to support Brake. Visit our site>

cycle4life_2There are many websites that promote cycling, that tell you to get on your bike and get pedalling. There are many websites like that for a good reason - it’s important that we get out of cars and stop polluting the planet. It’s also important that we use our bodies and get fitter - obesity is a major cause of early death.

This website, however, is slightly different. Our objective is to encourage people in the UK to cycle in safety and to raise awareness among drivers of the vulnerability of cyclists. UK cyclists face many risks and have, in many instances, limited facilities - fewer than in more cycle-friendly nations such as the Netherlands. We aim to help you consider the benefits and risks of cycling in a range of situations and, if you decide to cycle, to prepare for it and do it with safety in mind first and foremost.

We believe that:

  • In some instances, it just isn’t safe enough to cycle. You need to make your own mind up - it’s your choice. We want to help you make your decisions with the risks as well as the benefits in mind.
  • A civilised society concerned about the environmental impact of cars should have comprehensive networks of cycle paths, cycle training for all, and low speed limits and speed enforcement in built up areas and on bendy rural roads in particular to protect cyclists and pedestrians. These measures are beginning to be implemented in the UK, but not fast enough.
  • People should be given the knowledge to enable them to campaign for such measures in their communities.

We hope you enjoy the site, that it gives you some useful knowledge, and that it encourages you to get on your bike - in safety.

Brake is a charity entirely reliant on donations. Cycle for life has been made possible by one amazing woman and her supporters - thanks to their fundraising. Read Lynne Beale’s story here…



This page is kindly supported by:

Winns Logo for web


Cycle for life campaign

Bolt Burdon Kemp sponsor the Cycle for Life campaign. Visit their website site here> 

Cycling has grown in popularity in recent years, and deservedly so: it’s a healthy, cheap, green, socially responsible way to get about. But sadly, as cycling levels have risen, so have cyclist deaths, most notably in the capital, and the UK lags behind other EU countries in protecting cyclists. It’s vital we make our roads safer for cyclists, to protect those already cycling, and enable more people to do so.

What needs to be done?

The government has committed to encouraging people to cycle to improve health and reduce CO2. But Brake is concerned it is not doing enough to improve cyclist safety: it has a responsibility to ensure cyclists are not subject to unacceptably high risks. We need investment in engineering measures to protect cyclists: more traffic-free and segregated cycle paths on commuter routes and connecting homes with local facilities, and widespread 20mph limits in communities.

The government should provide greater funding and direction to local authorities on implementing these measures. We also need greater awareness among drivers, who should look out, slow down and give a wide berth for cyclists, especially at junctions, on busy commuter routes, and on bends on rural roads. Commercial vehicle operators should ensure drivers are well trained in this, and have the latest devices fitted to vehicles to reduce blindspots.

Brake also urges cyclists to do everything they can to reduce risks, including choosing the safest routes possible.

What you can do:

Click like above to spread the word on Facebook
Whether you're a driver, cyclist or both, make Brake’s Pledge
Write to your MP calling for action on safer cycling, including the steps outlined above
Sign up in support of The Times' campaign for cities fit for cycling
Sign up to our fortnightly e-bulletin, for updates on our campaigns and how you can help
Campaign for 20mph limits and safer cycling routes in your community with Brake’s help
Employers: back the campaignand get guidance on promoting safe cycling

Campaign news:

Charity calls for safer streets for cycling as Tour de France kicks off, 28.06.13
Make streets safer for cycling to deliver Olympic legacy, say national campaigners, 28.03.13
Brake welcomes 'crossrail for cyclists' as London leads the way on safe cycling 08.03.13
Dennis the Menace backs safe cycling for kids through free resources, 21.02.13
Commuters call for safer streets for cycling, to enable more to get on their bikes, 02.05.12
Fleets share best practice on cyclist safety at Fleet Safety Forum annual conference
, 29.02.12
Brake and Metropolitan Police join forces to tackle truck blindspot casualties
, 3.02.12
The Times launches campaign to make 'cities fit for cycling'
, 3.02.12
MP wins road safety award for child cycle helmet campaign, 31.08.11
Brake backs James Cracknell’s campaign on cycle helmets, 18.08.11
Safer routes are the key to getting one in five of us cycling, according to Brake and Direct Line, 27.05.11
Bereaved family’s campaign to cut ‘blind spot’ cyclist casualties backed by Team GB members, 14.02.11
Cambridge MP Julian Huppert wins Brake award for safer cycling campaign, 11.02.11

Campaign sponsored by:


Cycling for the environment

cycle4life_3About half our CO2 emissions in the UK are from vehicles. Getting out of our cars and on to our bikes saves the environment for future generations. It also makes communities more pleasant for everyone right now, with cleaner air, less congestion and quieter roads.

You are also choosing a socially responsible option for safety. On a bike, you are on a lightweight object that stands little chance of harming anyone compared with a car.

The British government increased its cycling budget from £10m in 2007 to £60m in 2009/10 and 2010/11. Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Transport explained why: “Cycling has a major role to play in any sustainable transport strategy. It helps tackle congestion and local air pollution, as well as the emissions that cause climate change. 23% of car trips are less than two miles, a distance easily cycled in less than 15 minutes.”

Useful links:
A Sustainable Future for Cycling, the Government’s action plan on cycling and sustainable transport, shows central Government’s commitment to cycling and is a useful document if you need to talk to your Local Authority about the need for more services for cyclists such as cycle paths.
Smarter Choices is the Government’s campaign to encourage people to use bicycles and walk rather than drive.
Act on CO2 is the Government’s campaign on reducing carbon emissions through individuals’ actions.

Engineering for cyclists >>

<< Cycling for health

<< To bike or not to bike? home page

<< Cycle4life home page


Cycling routes and cyclist safety


Key facts

  • In Great Britain only 2% of journeys and 1% of miles travelled are by bike [1];
  • In 2015, there were 100 cycling fatalities and 3,239 cyclist serious injuries on the roads in Great Britain [2];
  • Transport accounts for a fifth (21%) of UK greenhouse gas emissions [3];
  • Physical inactivity accounts for one in six deaths in the UK [4];
  • Deaths due to physical inactivity are believed to cost the wider economy £7.4 billion; [5]
  • Almost three quarters of collisions with cyclists occur at a junction [6].


Cycling is one of the healthiest, cheapest, most environmentally-friendly forms of transport available. Unfortunately, the UK lags behind many other countries when it comes to cycling levels. A study by the European Commission in 2010 found that just 2% of people aged 15 and over in the UK use a bicycle as their main form of transport – the seventh lowest level in Europe [7]. In Great Britain only 2% of journeys and 1% of miles travelled are by bike. A survey of UK teenagers by Brake and insurer RSA Group found that one in four (23%) never cycle, and only 9% cycle weekly or more [8].

A lack of safe cycling routes may be a key reason for the lack of cycling in the UK. A survey of UK drivers by Brake and Direct Line indicated that almost four in 10 (39%) non-cyclists could be persuaded to cycle if there were more cycle routes and trails connecting their home to local facilities [9]. Sadly, cycling on roads continues to involve risk: in 2014, 100 cyclists were killed and 3,237 seriously injured in Great Britain [10].

The benefits of safer cycling

Making cycling safer can encourage more people to get about by bike, which benefits the environment and communities, by reducing the number of cars and harmful vehicle emissions. Transport accounts for a fifth (21%) of UK greenhouse gas emissions, with road transport making up the most significant proportion of this [11].

Increased cycling can also significantly improve people’s health. Currently, physical inactivity accounts for one in six deaths in the UK, with half of women and a third of men damaging their health due to lack of physical activity. Public Health England advises that over a week, people should carry out at least 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate intensity activity, separated into periods of over ten minutes each [12]. Regular cycling is suggested by the NHS as a means to lose weight, reduce stress, reduce the likelihood of depression and improve fitness: an 80kg (12st 9lb) person will burn more than 650 calories with an hour’s riding [13]. Improved health from cycling would also benefit the economy; deaths due to physical inactivity are believed to cost the wider economy £7.4 billion [14].

Encouraging more people to cycle could also improve safety further due to fewer motor vehicles. Almost all road deaths and serious injuries are caused at least in part by the actions of drivers [15], so if individuals drive less or not at all it means they pose less danger to others. There is also some international evidence for the “safety in numbers” theory that more cyclists on the roads creates a safer environment for cyclists. For example, cycling in London increased 91% between 2000 and 2009, and cycle casualties fell 33% in the same period [16]. European data shows that countries with high levels of cycling, such as Norway and the Netherlands, have lower cyclist death rates [17]. This is thought to be down to factors including: drivers become more used to sharing the road with cyclists, so are more careful around them; drivers are more likely to be cyclists themselves, so understand cyclist behaviour; more people substitute cycling for driving, meaning fewer cars on the roads; and more people cycling means more political pressure to improve road conditions for cyclists.

Preventing cyclist deaths and serious injuries means preventing needless and acute human suffering and carries a significant economic benefit: every road death is estimated to cost the British economy £1.8 million, due to the burden on health and emergency services, criminal justice costs, insurance pay-outs, and human costs [18]. This means that in 2014, cyclist deaths alone cost Britain £180 million, alongside thousands of families having to face the horror and trauma of a bereavement or serious injury.

Take action: Make the Brake Pledge to minimise the amount you drive, or not drive at all, and get about by walking, cycling or public transport as much as possible.The Pledge also asks drivers to stay well within speed limits and go 20 or below around homes, schools and shops, to protect people on foot and bike.

Protecting cyclists

Evidence shows that taking a concerted approach to encouraging cycling does make a difference: the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany have far higher rates of cycling compared to the UK, across all sectors of society [19]. A developed cycling infrastructure makes cyclists safer; as one of the most important factors affecting cycling levels is people’s perceptions of cyclist safety [20], improving the infrastructure increases the number of cyclists.

Safe routes

Improving cycling infrastructure is a key way of making it safer to cycle. These routes should form networks that are useful, joining places where people live and work, as well as giving access to public transport.

The safest routes for cyclists are where cyclists are physically separated from motor traffic. A Canadian study found that cyclists on these routes have one ninth the risk of injury compared to a busy road with parked cars [21]. The impact of a well-designed cycle route can be dramatic, and benefit all road users: building a cycling route along Prospect Park West in New York City reduced crashes resulting in injury by 68%, plus far fewer cyclists rode on the pavement inconveniencing pedestrians, and travel times for drivers did not increase [22]. Shared-use paths are shared between pedestrians and cyclists. If properly designed, and wide enough for both to use comfortably, these can also be a safe option [23].  

On-road cycle lanes, where there is no physical separation between cyclists and fast-moving traffic, can be of limited benefit, especially if used in isolation without other steps to reduce risks and hazards for cyclists, such as junction improvements. These can be considered a quick and cheap option, yet in fact need to be designed as carefully as any piece of infrastructure. Transitioning from a cycle path and entering traffic can be dangerous, and any design has to take this into account.

With three-quarters of collisions with cyclists happening at junctions [24], any cycling infrastructure must be designed with junctions particularly in mind. Care and attention must be given by councils and traffic authorities for designing infrastructure that is properly designed and effective in preventing casualties.

Speed limits

Lowering traffic speeds is one of the key ways our communities and country roads can be made safer for people walking and cycling (read our fact pages on speed in the community and speed on country roads to learn more). This is crucial alongside having traffic-free routes, especially so people feel able to cycle around their own neighbourhoods. In 2015, 80% of cycling collisions occurred on a 30mph road [25], this is why Brake campaigns for the national default urban speed limit to be reduced to 20mph and for lower speeds on country roads.

Take action: Campaign in your community for 20mph limits by downloading our GO 20 toolkit and using our community campaign guide.

Vehicle design

Cyclists are particularly vulnerable at junctions: three quarters of collisions involving cyclists are at or near a junction [26].

While all drivers must take care to protect vulnerable road users, larger vehicles pose a particular risk when turning and manoeuvring as a result of their larger blind-spots. There are technologies that can reduce blind spots on these vehicles, including sensors, and CCTV systems. In London, the CLOCS scheme has set standards for construction vehicles in the capital for protecting cyclists.

Read more: Advice for protecting vulnerable road users for employers with staff who drive for work is available for members of Global Fleet Champions.

End notes

[1] National Travel Survey 2015, Department for Transport, 2016

[2] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2015, table RAS20006

[3] 2012 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2014

[4] Working together to promote active travel: a briefing for local authorities, Public Health England, 2016

[5] Working together to promote active travel: a briefing for local authorities, Public Health England, 2016

[6] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016, table RAS20006

[7] Future of Transport: analytical report, European Commission, 2011

[8] Make streets safer for cycling to build on Tour de France fever, Brake and RSA, 2014

[9] Brake and Direct Line Report on Safe Driving: A Risky Business, Brake, 2011

[10] Reported road casualties in Great Britain: main results 2013, Department for Transport, 2014

[11] 2012 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2014

[12] Working together to promote active travel: a briefing for local authorities, Public Health England, 2016

[13] Benefits of cycling,NHS Choices, 2014

[14] Working together to promote active travel: a briefing for local authorities, Public Health England, 2016

[15] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016

[16] Safety in numbers in England, CTC, 2009

[17] Pedalling towards safety, European Transport Safety Council, 2012

[18] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016, table RAS60001

[19] Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from The  Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, Rutgers University, 2008

[20] The Dutch Reference Study: Cases of interventions in bicycle infrastructure reviewed in the framework of Bikeability, Delft Institute of Technology, 2011

[21] Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists: A Case-Crossover Study, University of British Columbia, 2012

[22] Prospect Park West Bicycle Path and Traffic Calming, New York City

[23] Guidance on shared-use paths, 

[24] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016, table RAS20006

[25] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016

[26] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016, table RAS20006

Updated August 2016

Cycling to main facilities

cycle4life_9Do you automatically reach for the car keys every time you need to pop to the shops? Do you always drive to the swimming pool or sports centre? How about visiting friends, going to the pub or cinema or evening classes? If these destinations are within a couple of miles of your home, then leave the car keys behind and hop on your bike, or walk if it isn’t safe to cycle.

Over one fifth of all car journeys today are less than 2 miles. Many of us could cover this distance in less than 15 minutes on a bike, and help reduce traffic volumes and pollution while getting fitter and saving on car park fees.[i] Here are our three top tips to help you overcome barriers to cycling that you might feel are a problem for you, such as the need to carry shopping or children:

  1. Adapt your bike - There are all sorts of add-ons for bikes to enable you to carry stuff and kids. Panniers, trailers, tag-alongs, baskets, racks.
  2. Plan your route - Car drivers choose the fastest, most direct routes to reach their destination. On a bike, there might be a safer route that you don’t know about: if in doubt, talk to your local authority’s road safety unit or cycling officer.
  3. Think through your trip - What are you going to buy and do you have the space to carry it on your bike? Where are you going to park your bike and will it be secure?

Useful links:
London Cycling Campaign tips on carrying loads and cycling with children and preventing theft of your bike.
Cycle4Life page listing route planners
Cycle4Life page on campaigning for safer facilities for cyclists

Travelling by bike and public transport >>

<< Cycling around your community

<< Back to every day cycling

<< Cycle for life home page


[i] Department for Transport: A Sustainable Future for Cycling (pdf)

Driver advice: sustainable

Sustainablethumb Everyone can Pledge to – minimise the amount they drive, or not drive at all, and get about by walking, cycling or public transport as much as possible, for road safety, the environment and their health.

Why go eco?

By choosing sustainable travel, we can all help to reduce the road safety, public health, environmental and economic costs to society of our over-reliance on cars. Fewer cars on the road mean fewer road deaths and injuries, less congestion, less emissions and more pleasant, sociable communities.

Whether it’s doing the school run on foot or bike, walking to the local shop instead of driving to the supermarket, or taking public transport to work instead of driving, incorporating active and sustainable travel into your routine can be really simple, and it’s a great way to stay active, save money, and do your bit for the environment.

Use our carbon footprint calculator to see the environmental impact of your driving.
Share our interactive resource to spread the 'Drive less, live more' message. 

Do you need to drive?


Two-thirds (64%) of all UK journeys and 40% of journeys less than two miles are made by car, many of which could be made on foot or bike, or by public transport. While each trip may not seem like much, it all adds up to a lot of unnecessary car use.

For each journey you make by car, ask yourself if there’s a more sustainable and healthy option. If it’s a short journey, could you walk or cycle? You can use Sustrans’ website to explore walking and cycling routes in your area and work out the safest, most pleasant way to get to your destination on foot or bike. Get into the habit of leaving the car at home for these shorter journeys and you’ll spend less money on petrol and feel healthier for the exercise – plus you’ll be helping to make your area a nicer, less polluted place.

For longer journeys could you take a bus, train or coach instead? If you book in advance, the cost of tickets can often work out cheaper than what you’d spend on petrol and you can sit back and relax without the stress of driving. You can look up public transport options by region at


If you drive to and from work, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to switch to a sustainable commute, which may be quicker, cheaper, healthier and less stressful. Research shows that people who commute by walking and cycling better able to concentrate and are less stressed. Look online at your local travel information to see what sustainable transport options you have, including bus routes, train services and safe cycle paths.

If you want to cycle to work but don’t own a bike, find out if your employer participates in the government’s Cycle to Work initiative, which allows you to purchase a new bike (and related equipment like cycle paths) tax-free, and pay monthly straight from your salary. If they aren’t signed up to the scheme, direct a relevant member of staff to details of the benefits to employers and encourage them to sign up. Read Brake’s advice on cycling.

Safe cycling


Cycling is healthy, low-cost and environmentally friendly way to travel. Go to Brake’s cycling advice pages for further information on how to keep safe while cycling.

If you have to drive

If there are journeys that you have to make by car, there are some simple steps you can take to minimise the negative impacts of this on you and the people around you:

  • Make the Brake Pledge, a simple six point pledge to help keep you and others safe on the road and prevent needless tragedies.
  • Keep to a lower speed and avoid harsh braking and acceleration to produce fewer emissions and improve fuel efficiency. In particular, slow down to 20mph or below in built up areas, even where the speed limit is 30. It’s unlikely to affect your journey time significantly, but it will mean your car is less polluting because there is less speeding up and slowing down, and  it will mean you’re helping to make roads safer for people on foot and bike. See our advice on speed.
  • The same principle applies on faster roads. For each 5mph you drive over 60mph, you use 7% more fuel. Slower is not only safer, but it’s better for the environment and will save you money on petrol
  • Plan your journeys more efficiently. If you have a number of errands to do or journeys to make, can they be combined into the same trip? Make sure you still allow plenty of time for driving at safe, slow speeds, possible hold-ups, and breaks every two hours.
  • Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained. A well maintained vehicle produces fewer emissions and is more fuel efficient. Simple things like keeping your tyres well inflated, cleaning or replacing dirty air and fuel filters, and regularly changing your oil can improve fuel efficiency. Read our advice on vehicle maintenance.

 Page updated June 2015

Driverless vehicle trials could be a step towards ending road deaths, says charity

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Brake, the road safety charity 

Brake, the road safety charity, has hailed today’s launch (11 February) of three driverless vehicle trials as an exciting step towards a safer, more sustainable future for UK road travel, and a long-term goal of ending needless road deaths.

The trials are being launched in Greenwich – location of the GATEway trial – by transport minister Claire Perry and business secretary Vince Cable, alongside publication of a Department for Transport report setting out the pathway for the widespread introduction of the technology.

The trials, being led by three consortia and supported by government funding, are taking place in Greenwich, Bristol, and a combined project split between Milton Keynes and Coventry. They will last from 18 to 36 months, and will assess how driverless vehicles function in everyday life on public roads and their scope for making road travel safer and more sustainable. The trials will look at how the technology can be used to improve public and private transport in busy and complex road environments.

Predicted benefits of the technology include [1]:

  • cutting the 94% of road deaths and injuries that involve human error;
  • saving the six working weeks the average driver in England would otherwise spend driving;
  • providing better access to sustainable and low-cost transport for everyone, including the 14% of men, 31% of women and 46% of 17-30 year olds who don’t hold a full driving licence.

Brake’s deputy chief executive, Julie Townsend, will be serving on the advisory group for the Greenwich trial. This trial is known as theGATEway project and is led by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake said: “We’re hugely excited to see these trials get underway and to be advising on the GATEway project in Greenwich, where road safety and sustainable travel are clearly at the forefront. We believe driverless technology could hold the key to ending the needless suffering caused every day by road deaths and serious injuries. We witness the aftermath of road casualties, and the terrible and lasting impact on families and communities, through our support services for crash victims. We know from research that the vast majority of these tragedies are caused by human error and risk-taking, so this technology could be a critical move towards stopping them. Driverless vehicles could transform the way we use roads, helping to ensure everyone can get around through safe, sustainable and affordable means, and making our communities more pleasant and sociable places.”

Notes to editors


Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education,services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes

[1] The pathway to driverless cars: summary report and action plan, Department of Transport, 2015

GO 20 campaign calls for a 2012 legacy of safe walking and cycling

Fleets urged to raise awareness among at-work drivers during Road Safety Week

19 November 2012

Brake, the road safety charity
19 november 2012 

A national campaign launched today (19 November) is appealing to drivers to GO 20, to bring about a 2012 legacy of safe walking and cycling for everyone. Brake, the road safety charity is appealing to drivers to slow down to 20mph around homes, schools and shops, and calling for 20mph limits in built-up areas, so children and adults can walk and cycle for their health and enjoyment, and for cheap and sustainable travel, without being endangered.

Fleet operators and suppliers nationwide are helping to promote the life saving slow down message by getting involved in Road Safety Week (19-25 November 2012), coordinated by Brake, and mobilising staff and communities in awareness-raising activities.

Thousands of organisations, schools and community groups around the UK are taking part in the Week to get the message across about how we can make roads safer and prevent needless tragedies.

Brake is encouraging companies, particularly fleet operators, to take advantage of the event to promote safe driving to staff and show their commitment to road safety in the wider community. Companies can still register on the Road Safety Week website to receive a pack of free electronic resources, including a guidance sheet by Brake's Fleet Safety Forum on managing driver speed.

As the GO 20 campaign is launched in Road Safety Week through street parties and events across the UK (see below), a survey of more than 8,000 children [1] age 7-11 by Brake, Brain Injury Group and Specsavers reveals how children are affected by danger from fast traffic:

  • Seven in 10 (70%) say they would be able to walk and cycle more if roads in their neighbourhood were less dangerous
  • More than three-quarters (77%) say drivers need to slow down around their home and school
  • Four in 10 (43%) say they have been hit or nearly hit while walking or cycling, and more than half (54%) worry about being hurt by traffic when out and about.

The GO 20 campaign is highlighting that slower speeds in towns, cities and villages can help deliver a post-2012 legacy of active communities, and prevent devastating pedestrian and cyclist casualties, which increased in 2011 (see below). Many authorities are already recognising the benefits of 20mph by implementing town and city-wide 20 limits. GO 20 calls for: more authorities to do this; the government to work towards 20mph being the norm in communities; and drivers to pledge to GO 20 around homes, schools and shops, even where 30 limits remain.

Why GO 20:

  • Fewer casualties: at 20, drivers have much more time to react, to help them stop in time if they need to, like if a child runs out. Studies show that when 20 limits replace 30, it means fewer casualties among pedestrians and cyclists [2].
  • More walking and cycling: danger from traffic is a major barrier in enabling more people to walk and cycle. Town and city-wide 20 limits have resulted in more people walking and cycling [3].
  • Healthier, happier people: More walking and cycling means healthier people, and more enjoyable outdoors activity for kids and adults. It helps communities interact and be communities.
  • Less pollution: GOing 20 means lower emissions from vehicle journeys [4]. Plus if more people can switch their commute or school run to foot or bike, it means less polluting traffic.
  • Lower costs: Poor health from inactivity costs society dearly [5]. Road casualties cost even more, due to the suffering and burden on health and emergency services [6]. Preventing casualties and improving health means GOing 20 pays for itself many times over [7]. It also helps people save money by choosing the cheapest ways to get about: foot and bike.

Read more about the case for GO 20 here.

Companies getting involved in Road Safety Week:

Below are some examples of how fleets and fleet suppliers are getting involved in Road Safety Week.

Balfour Beatty Fleet Services are visiting three high schools in the Derby area, West Park School, Derby College and Friesland School to deliver interactive presentations which will encourage Year 11 and 12 students to drive safely.

Cardinus Risk Management are holding a cine racing event with a buffet, disco, charity auction and raffle, with all proceeds being donated to Brake to support their work preventing road crashes and supporting the victims.

Colas Limited are engaging their staff on the importance of slowing down to 20mph around homes, schools and shops by running a Bright Day on 23rd November 2012 at their head office in Crawley and across the UK, where everyone will wear fluorescent clothing to work. This is particularly important message during the winter months as darker nights and worsening weather conditions reduce visibility and make it harder to see children and pedestrians.

Eddie Stobart employees will be working with pupils at West Haddon Primary School in Northamptonshire to deliver road safety messages to children around the importance of Be Bright Be Seen and the Green Cross Code.

Many of the organisations taking part are Brake partners and subscribers to Brake's Fleet Safety Forum, which provides advice, information and resources based around a programme of events for fleet professionals, sharing and promoting best practice and latest research. 2013 topics include Using in-vehicle technology to improve safety, Creating sustainable travel plans, and Blind spots & manoeuvring: preventing crashes with pedestrians and cyclists. Fleet operators can find out how they can benefit from this essential service at

A free copy of the Forum's guidance report for fleet managers on Managing driver speed is included in the e-action pack available by registering at

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, says: "GO 20 is all about enabling people to walk and cycle without fear or threat. If we are to bring about a 2012 legacy of more active communities, we need to make our streets and communities safer places. Fleet operators can play an essential role in bringing this about, by ensuring their drivers always put protecting people first, and understand the vital importance of slowing down. Our main message in Road Safety Week is appealing to drivers to stay well within limits, and slow down to 20 around homes, schools and shops. It makes roads safer for walking and cycling, and makes little difference to journey times. It's great so many fleet operators are getting involved and helping to communicate this and other life-saving messages this year. We urge other employers to register on the Road Safety Week website to get our free guidance on managing driver speed."

Anyone can pledge their support for GO 20 at

Campaign launch events

GO 20 is being launched at a walking and cycling street party in Islington, London's first 20mph borough:
AT: 10.30am, Monday 19 November 2012
WHERE: Sable Street, Islington N1 2AF (at the back of William Tyndale Primary School)
FILMING/PHOTOS: children from William Tyndale Primary School will be hearing from Paralympian Danny Crates how great it is to be healthy and active, taking part in a safe cycling demo with Islington Council, carrying out speed checks with Met Police, and celebrating 20mph with their own banners and placards
INTERVIEWS: Brake deputy CEO Julie Townsend; Paralympian Danny Crates; bereaved parents Sue and Dave Britt; injured campaigner Tom Kearney; Chief Inspector Ian Vincent, Metropolitan Police; Cllr James Murray, Islington Council's executive member for housing and development; vox pops with kids

Other events are happening across the UK, in partnership with local authorities, emergency services and schools. Find out more from / 01484 559909.

Pedestrian and cyclist casualties

Every day in the UK, 19 adults and seven children are mowed down and killed or seriously hurt when on foot or bike.

In 2011 pedestrian deaths and serious injuries went up significantly, and for the first time in 17 years. Pedestrian deaths increased by 12%, while serious injuries increased by 5%. 466 people were killed on foot in 2011 and 5,654 were seriously injured. Of these victims, 31% (1,901) were children: 50 child pedestrians were killed in 2011 and 1,851 suffered serious injuries.

While cyclist deaths decreased by 2% in 2011, serious injuries increased by 16%. 109 cyclists were killed in 2011 and 3,132 suffered serious injuries. Of these victims, 16% (511) were children: 10 child cyclists were killed and 501 suffered serious injuries. [8]

More survey results

8,061 children age 7-11 gave their views through hands-up surveys in schools across the UK. As well as the results above:

  • 72% said they would like to walk and cycle more than they do at present
  • 75% would like more traffic-free cycle paths in their area, while 61% would like more footpaths, pavements and crossings, which they could use to get to school, the park, shops or to see friends
  • 38% said they are not allowed to walk unaccompanied and 47% said they are not allowed to cycle unaccompanied.

Compare results from different UK regions on this restricted-access web page.

Case studies

Aaron Britt, 16, from Mansfield, was knocked down and killed by a speeding driver outside his college on 3 October 2011. Aaron suffered severe head injuries and died the following day. His mum Sue Britt is supporting Road Safety Week and the GO 20 campaign. Read more.

Sue Britt says: "Aaron was our only son and we feel empty without him. He was an exceptional young lad; he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life and had set about making it happen. I urge drivers to slow down to 20mph or less where people are so you have time to stop if someone steps out. Simply making a commitment to slow down will mean you're helping to make roads safer, and it could prevent more people losing their lives needlessly, and other families going through the pain and heartache we have. Aaron was kind and thoughtful and did not deserve to die for making a mistake."

Tom Kearney, 47, of Hampstead, was struck by a bus as he was about to cross Oxford Street at a pedestrian crossing on the busiest shopping day of the year. He suffered severe injuries to his brain and lungs, and was in a deep near-death coma for two weeks. It took Tom two years to recover. Read more.

Tom said: "It took me about two years to rebuild my life because of being hit by a bus. I'm lucky to still be here at all; other people are not so lucky. Drivers can make a big difference in helping to prevent injuries, deaths and suffering by being more aware about the harm they can cause, and taking responsibility for the speed of their vehicles. Drivers should slow right down on shopping streets, in residential neighbourhoods and around schools. Vehicles have the right to be on roads, but so do pedestrians and other non-vehicle road users. If you are behind the wheel of a vehicle, you also have the responsibility to drive with lives outside your vehicle in mind."

Sponsor quotes

Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers, says: "We are proud to be backing Road Safety Week and joining Brake in calling for action to protect people on foot and bicycle and make our roads safer for everyone. At Specsavers we think protecting children, families and people of all ages when they walk and cycle is absolutely vital. Allowing more people to walk or cycle safely is good for health, the economy and the environment. Everyone can play a part in making this happen, but drivers in particular can take some simple steps, like committing to slowing down to 20mph where people live, and making sure they have crystal clear 20-20 vision too. If we all get behind this campaign, we can make a huge difference in preventing casualties and making our communities safer places."

Sally Dunscombe, operations director at Brain Injury Group says: "We are delighted to support Road Safety Week and to play our part in making roads safer for people to walk and cycle. We know from our work that motor vehicle crashes account for half of all traumatic brain injuries, causing terrible suffering and turns people's lives upside down. Slowing down to 20mph makes an enormous difference in preventing road casualties as it gives you a better chance of stopping in time in an emergency, such as if a child runs out. As well as preventing devastating casualties, if drivers slow down to 20mph it makes our communities more enjoyable places, where people – particularly children – can get out and about without being endangered. We all have a role to play in making this happen, and Brain Injury Group is committed to playing its part by getting behind this important campaign."

Notes for editors

GO 20 is a partnership campaign being launched by Brake at the start of Road Safety Week 2012 (19-25 November). Find out more at

Brakeis an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 66 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (19-25 November 2012), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support divisioncares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road Safety Week is the UK's flagship event to promote safer road use, coordinated annually by the charity Brake and involving thousands of schools, communities and organisations across the country. Road Safety Week 2012 takes place 19-25 November, with support from headline sponsors Brain Injury Group and Specsavers, plus regional sponsors Woop young driver insurance, Bubblebum UK Ltd, Fleet Support Group and Leigh Day & Co Solicitors.

The Brain Injury Group is the UK's first national network of dedicated brain and head injury lawyers and expert specialists that provides a complete package of support for brain injured people and their families. If you have been affected by brain injury, you can find a local, specialist, skilled brain injury lawyer and other associated support services to help you at 

Good eyesight is imperative to road safety, which is why Specsavers has made a longstanding commitment to promoting the importance of clear vision behind the wheel, working alongside the national road safety charity Brake. The Specsavers Drive Safe road show tours events and town centres across the country with its specially designed trailer. Visitors to the trailer are invited to receive free vision and hearing screening, with experts on hand to answer any questions.

Islington Councilis the first local authority in the country to introduce 20mph limits across its roads: main roads as well as side roads. All Islington's side streets became 20mph in 2010, and a year later the council agreed to introduce the same limit on main roads, to improve safety in the inner London borough. Work to install new signs and road markings is due to start later this year, to be completed by spring 2013. A small number of major roads in Islington, managed by Transport for London, will remain at 30mph.

Road crashes are not accidents; the use of the term 'accident' undermines work to reduce road risk and causes insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by drivers taking risks on roads.

End notes:

[1] 8,061 children gave their views through 'hands-up' surveys in schools across the UK, Brake, 2012

[2] For example, 20mph speed reduction initiative, Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2001; 20mph Speed Limit Pilots Evaluation Report, Warrington Borough Council, 2010

[3] Where widespread 20 limits have been introduced levels of walking and cycling increased by 20% Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012

[4] Environmental effects of 30 km/h in urban areas – with regard to exhaust emissions and noise, The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, 1999

[5] The annual costs of physical inactivity in England are estimated at £8.2 billion. At least five a week - evidence on the impact of physical activity and its relationship to health - a report from the Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, 2004

[6] Road casualties in Britain cost an estimated £34.8billion in 2011, due to the burden on health and emergency services, criminal justice costs, insurance payouts, and human costs. Reported road casualties Great Britain annual reports 2011, Department for Transport, 2012

[7] In Bristol, 20mph resulted in a massive return on investment because of cost savings to the health service through increased physical activity. They used the World Health Organisation's Health Economic Assessment Tool to estimate the changes in costs. They found for every £1 spent they saw a return of £24.72 through increased walking and £7.47 through increased in cycling. Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012. Reducing speeds in urban environments reduces casualties. For each 1mph speed reduction, casualties decrease by 5%, The effects of drivers' speed on the frequency of road accidents, Transport Research Laboratory, 2000, fewer crashes reduces the burden on the NHS, emergency services and local economy. Each death on roads costs £1.7 million and each serious injury costs £190,000, Reported road casualties Great Britain 2011, Department for Transport, 2012

[8] These figures are from Reported road casualties Great Britain 2011, Department for Transport, 2011, and Police recorded injury road traffic collisions and casualties Northern Ireland annual report 2011, Police Service of Northern Ireland, 2012. Figures for children were requested from the Department for Transport and Police Service for Northern Ireland and are for children aged 0 – 17.

Make the Brake Pledge

Brake's vision is a world where people can get around in ways that are safe, green, healthy and fair. 

To help us get there, everyone can sign our Pledge, whether you are a driver or not. The Pledge calls for people to do everything they can to protect themselves and the people around them. Scroll down to read the Pledge and make the Pledge at the bottom of this page.



Drivers – I'll stay under limits, and slow down to 20mph where people live, work and play. I'll slow down on rural roads to protect people on foot, bicycles, motorcycles and horses as well as in other vehicles. I will avoid overtaking and take care to look twice at junctions. I will drive even more slowly in bad weather.
Everyone – I'll speak out for slowing down and help drivers understand that the slower they drive, the more chance they have of avoiding a crash and saving a life.


Drivers – I'll never drive after drinking any alcohol or drugs – not a drop, not a drag.
Everyone - I'll plan ahead to make sure I, and anyone I'm with, can get home safely and I'll never get a lift with drink/drug drivers. I'll speak out if someone's about to drive on drink or drugs.


Drivers – I'll make sure everyone in my vehicle is belted up on every journey, and kids smaller than 150cm are in a proper child restraint. I'll choose the safest vehicle I can and ensure it's maintained.
Everyone – I'll belt up on every journey, and make sure friends and family do too.


Drivers – I'll never take or make calls, read or type when driving. I'll put communication devices out of reach, and stay focused.
Everyone – I'll never chat on the phone to someone else who's driving.


Drivers – I'll stay focussed on safe driving. I'll take regular breaks and never drive if I'm tired, stressed or on medication that affects driving. I'll get my eyes tested every two years and wear glasses or lenses at the wheel if I need them.
Everyone – I'll look out for friends and loved ones by ensuring they only drive if they're fit for it, and rest if they're tired.


Everyone – I'll minimise the amount I drive, or not drive at all. I'll get about by walking, cycling or public transport as much as I can, for road safety, the environment and my health.

Make your pledge

Fill out my online form.


Tweet your selfies to #RoadSafetyWeek or #brakepledge so we can admire your photos!









Get others to make the Pledge by printing off or emailing a Pledge form.
Read Brake’s advice for drivers and factsheets on road safety
If you drive for work, find out how company drivers can work with Brake

Our vision, values and aims

We believe that safe and healthy mobility is everyone’s human right wherever we are; in cities, towns, villages or moving between places. We should all be able to move in a safe and healthy way, as part of our normal day. This means:

  • on short journeys, it is normal, safe and healthy to travel in active ways, such as walking and cycling.

  • on longer journeys, it is normal, safe and healthy to use transport we share with others and get to this transport actively, by walking or cycling.  

  • our vehiclesserve our needs and don’t get in our way or poison the air we breathe. A death or serious injury on roads is a rare and unusual event.

Read our full vision and campaign agenda for safe and healthy mobility here.

Vision Zero

 Our values

  • Do the right thing We champion proven solutions that: enable people to be safe and healthy; and that enable care for road crash victims.

  • Reach high We demand and expect ambitious change in light of the gravity of the atrocities.

  • Work together We can all be part of the solution and we will work with everyone who shares our vision and values.

 Our strategic aims (2020-2023)


We will call for people in charge to implement evidence-based policies and investments that progress us towards safe and healthy mobility and that help road crash victims.


We will help people to be champions for our cause, taking evidence-based actions: personally; within their communities and organisations; and at a national level too.


We will support people bereaved and seriously injured by road crashes on their journey to recovery; through evidence-based, quality services.



Place for People

Campaigning to give people space to move in ways that are safe, green, healthy and fair

Roads were first paved for people walking and cycling, not for vehicles. Since the invention of the car, space has been increasingly robbed for motorised vehicles, meaning people have often been forced to the sidelines, facing danger, becoming casualties and breathing polluted air when trying to move around their communities and between places.

Around the world, the Liveable Cities movement (which calls for cities for people) and Vision Zero movement (which calls for an end to road casualties) are gaining momentum. The United Nations New Urban Agenda (signed in November 2016) included powerful declarations in support of these movements. Cities are starting to change, including here in the UK, but the speed of change needs to increase.    

What are we calling for?

  • city and town planners to transform where we live into "liveable" space, prioritising and enabling the needs of people on foot and bicycles through segregated and prioritised space, and ensuring traffic speeds are reduced and public transport made accessible. 
  • restrictions on the types of large vehicles we allow in our towns and cities. Trucks and buses must have good direct vision (driver is able to see more around their vehicle to enable them to see people on foot, bicycles and motorcycles) and indirect vision (mirrors and cameras). High-polluting vehicles must be banned as part of ultra-low emission zones. 
  • our towns, cities and road networks to be fitted with accessible refuelling points for ultra-low emission vehicles. 
  • a comprehensive network of segregated routes for cyclists between places, as part of the modernisation of our Strategic Road Network (A roads and motorways). Cycling is a fast mode of transport but carries high risks on rural roads, particularly ones with high speeds.
  • the needs of motorcyclists to be considered centrally by planners; they are also vulnerable road users and often hit at junctions in towns and cities and on high speed rural roads. A significant number of casualties on our roads are motorcyclists. 
  • development of automated vehicles with the needs of people on foot and bicycles prioritised. Automation must not result in reduction of space for walking or cycling, loss of public transport, increase in pollution or increased risk for people. 


Campaign news

Pledge to do six simple things to save lives this Road Safety Week

News from Brake


Five people are killed every single day by something we already know how to cure. If people change their driving behaviour, we can prevent the 470 deaths and serious injuries that happen on our roads every week.

This is why Road Safety Week 2016, which is coordinated by Brake, the road safety charity, supported by Specsavers, will focus on the six elements of the Brake Pledge: Slow, Sober, Secure, Silent, Sharp and Sustainable.

The date for Road Safety Week will be 21-27 November and we will be asking everyone to show their commitment to saving lives and road safety by making and sharing Brake's Pledge online. Non-drivers can also take the Pledge to make sure the driver of any car in which they are a passenger sticks to the six Pledge points.

Brake believes that good road safety is made up of these core strands, and a safe driver will adopt each one as part of his or her daily driving routine. The consequences of not driving safely can be catastrophic.

Road safety is more than one part of what a driver does on the road; it is every action that can change the outcome of a journey and the future of individuals, communities and our planet.

Slow: Trying to make up time when running late could be the difference between a safe journey and one that ends in a fatality. Breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for the conditions is recorded by police at crash scenes as a contributory factor in more than one in four (27%) fatal crashes in Great Britain [1].

Sober: That one drink a driver has before getting behind the wheel could affect their ability to make a split-second decision, a decision that might prevent them from killing either themselves or another road user. In 2013 one in 10 (11%) of drivers/motorcycle riders killed had alcohol present in their body even though they weren’t over the limit [2]. One in seven road deaths are at the hands of someone who got behind the wheel over the limit [3].

Secure: Despite their huge impact on road safety, seat belts are still seen as an inconvenience by a minority of drivers, yet using a three-point belt reduces the chance of dying in a crash by 50% [4]. 21% of car occupants killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt [5].

Silent: That phone call a driver thinks simply cannot wait could cost them or another road user their life. Drivers who perform a complex secondary task at the wheel, like using a mobile, are three times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers [6].

Sharp: Booking in for a regular eye test should be at the top of any driver’s to-do list, as a skipped test may cost someone their life. Road crashes caused by poor driver vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million in the UK per year [7].

Sustainable: By minimising the amount we drive, or not driving at all, and walking, cycling or using public transport instead we are removing the potential for many crashes to happen in the first place and doing the best we can for the environment and our individual health. Air pollution is a major killer: there are an estimated 29,000 deaths from particulate matter pollution in the UK [8], 5,000 of which are attributable to road transport [9].

This year’s Road Safety Week theme partly builds on the successful 2015 theme, which saw us call on people to ‘drive less, live more’ as Brake focused on the ‘Sustainable’ element of road safety. The Road Safety Week 2015 Evaluation Report found that Road Safety Week reached more people than ever before, thanks to traditional media coverage throughout the Week and an improved social media presence overall.

Gary Rae, Director of Communications and Campaigns for Brake, said: “We’ve designed this year’s theme to be action orientated. Anyone can make and share the Pledge – individuals, businesses and community organisations. It’s practical, and if every driver vowed to slow down, never drink or take drugs when driving or use their mobiles, always wear a seat belt and make sure children are safely restrained, get their eyesight regularly tested, and minimise the amount they drive, then our roads would be safer places for everyone.” 


[1] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2014, Department for Transport, 2015, table RAS50001

[2] Statistical data set: Reported drinking and driving (RAS51), Department for Transport, 2014, table RAS51007

[3] Provisional estimate for 2014, from Reported road casualties Great Britain: Estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2014 (second provisional), Department for Transport, February 2016

[4] The impact of driver inattention on near-crash/crash risk, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2006

[5] Oral evidence: Road traffic law enforcement, HC 518, Transport Select Committee, 7 December 2015

[6] The Impact of Driver Inattention On Near-Crash/Crash Risk: An Analysis Using the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study Data, US Department of Transportation, 2006

[7] Fit to Drive: a cost benefit analysis of more frequent eyesight testing for UK drivers, RSA Insurance Group plc, 2012

[8] Estimating Local Mortality Burdens associated with Particulate Air Pollution, Public Health England, 2014

[9] Steve H. L. Yim and Steven R. H. Barrett, “Public Health Impacts of Combustion Emissions in the United Kingdom”, Environmental Science & Technology 2012 46 (8), 4291-4296

Public transport safety

sustainablethumbtextPublic transport is one of the safest and most sustainable ways to travel. Bus or coach travel in Britain resulted in 0.2 deaths per billion km over the last decade, and rail travel effectively zero (as deaths from rail travel are so rare they do not show up in this measurement). By comparison, car travel kills 1.3 passengers, and 2.3 drivers, per billion km [1].

However, it is still important to look out for your own safety when using public transport. This is particularly important for bus and coach passengers – buses and coaches may be safer than other vehicles, but they are still operating in an unpredictable environment, on public roads. This page looks at some of the risks involved in public transport use and how these can be reduced.

Learn more:Read our fact page on sustainable and active travel, and the benefits of increasing this.

Seat belts

Seat belts keep you in your seat if you are involved in a crash, and massively reduce the chance of serious injury and death. In a crash, you are twice as likely to die if you are not wearing a seat belt [2]. If the vehicle you are in has seat belts fitted, you are required by law to use them [3]. Three-point seat belts offer far greater protection than lap belts, particularly for children [4].

In the UK, all coaches and minibuses registered on or after 1 October 2001 must have forward-facing or rearward-facing seat belts fitted. Older coaches and minibuses that are transporting three or more children must have a forward-facing seat belt, either three-point or a lap belt, fitted for each child [5].

In the UK, passengers aged 14 and over are personally responsible for belting up. The driver is legally responsible for ensuring that younger children are using seat belts or appropriate child restraints. However, as the driver needs to concentrate on the road, Brake advises that a second adult travels in coaches carrying children and takes responsibility for supervising seat belt use, so the driver is not distracted.

Learn more: Read our fact page on seat belts and crash protection.
Take action:Make the Brake Pledge to belt up on every journey, and make sure everyone else in the vehicle does too.

Buses without seat belts

Buses designed for urban use with standing passengers are not required to have seat belts [6]. It is therefore vital that passengers take care on these vehicles. Always sit if a seat is available; if no seats are available, make sure you can reach a hand rail to hold on to. If standing, keep a safe distance from the doors and the driver, and do not stand on the top deck or stairs on double-deckers. Never lean on the doors or emergency exits as this could cause them to open while the vehicle is moving. When reaching your stop, stay seated until the bus has come to a halt.

Hiring minibuses and coaches

Some coaches and minibuses are only fitted with lap belts, which are not as safe. If hiring a coach or minibus, insist on one with three point belts.

If carrying children under 150cm tall, also insist on a vehicle that has seats that are appropriate to use with child seats fitted. Parents should be advised to bring their child’s child seat and ‘fit and sit’ their child in the seat before the journey. Children are only safe in vehicles if they are in a child restraint for their size and weight, appropriately fitted using the seat belt.

Learn more: Read our advice for schools on safe school trips.
Learn more: Read our fact page on child restraints.

School bus safety

If children are travelling to school on public buses, they should be taught to keep themselves safe by queuing sensibly for the bus, well back on the pavement, and staying in their seats or well back from doors and stairs if they have to stand. They should be taught to respect the driver and other passengers by behaving sensibly, keeping conversations quiet and calm, and not horsing around or otherwise distracting the driver.

If your child’s school has or hires minibuses or coaches to transport pupils to and from school or on school trips, ask to see their specifications for hiring or purchasing vehicles. Insist that the school uses modern vehicles with three-point seat belts fitted, and that they have adequate checks in place for maintaining and repairing these vehicles. See our advice for schools on safe school trips and transport.

Take action:Read our guide for schools on teaching and promoting road safety.

[1] Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2013, Department for Transport, 2014, tables RAS53001 and RAS30013

[2] Seatbelts: the facts, THINK!, undated

[3] Seat belts: the law,, 2014

[4] Crash protection for child passengers: a review of best practice, University of Michigan Transport Research Institute, 2000

[5] Seat belt law: minibuses and coaches, RoSPA, 2005

[6] The law: Other Vehicles (Buses, Coaches and Minibuses),, 2014

Page last updated: September 2014

Road safety charity supports launch of global road safety manifesto

News from Brake

8 May 2017

At the start of the global UN Road Safety Week, Brake, the road safety charity, is giving its wholehearted support to the launch of the global Manifesto #4roadsafety by the Global Network for Road Safety Legislators in London today, which calls for proven and urgent measures to tackle the 3,500 deaths on roads each day globally.

Brake agrees with the Network’s prediction that it is unlikely that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal target to halve road deaths by 2020 will be reached, and agrees this is “a tragic missed opportunity to apply known and effective policies to make roads safe”.

Brake supports the calls in the manifesto for governments around the world to:

  • Set casualty reduction targets
  • Adopt the World Health Organisation’s Save LIVES technical package (which recommends laws to tackle speeding, drink driving, lack of seat belt and motorcycle helmet wearing, etc.)
  • Apply the UN’s road safety-related transport conventions and agreements, including minimum vehicle safety standards
  • Have regulatory standards for workplace road safety
  • Apply good governance principles to national road injury prevention programmes and donor-funded road safety projects
  • Prioritise non-motorised transport for road safety and sustainability reasons.

The charity also backs calls in the manifesto for increased funding for road safety that will benefit particularly low- and middle-income countries through:

  • Safety being a central part of road projects funded by multilateral development banks
  • A UN Road Safety Trust Fund.

Brake also supports the manifesto’s call for, at the end of the current UN Decade of Action, the adoption of a new Sustainable Development Goal target – to halve road deaths and serious injuries by 2030 using 2020 as a baseline.

Brake works with schools, communities and organisations worldwide by providing knowledge and tools enabling them to take individual actions to raise awareness and advocate for change at government level. Its Global Fleet Champions service helps organisations operating fleets of vehicles to implement measures to minimise their occupational road risk and reduce emissions. The charity is also a leading provider of road crash victim support services in the UK, including an accredited national helpline for victims, and has campaigned for more than two decades for road safety legislation and investment.

Brake chief executive Mary Williams OBE said: “Every hour, 146 people are killed on the world’s roads. Road crashes are the biggest killer of young people. If a plane fell out of the sky every hour killing that many people, then all planes would be grounded immediately. The solutions to tackle carnage on our roads are with us today and the time for action is now. They require governments to pass life-saving laws, and invest comparatively small amounts of money compared with the enormous cost of loss of life. Change has to happen at the top, and it has to happen urgently; the United Nations must lead the way, and governments must take action.”


About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education,services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, orThe Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Speed limits in communities

Key facts

  • In 2016, 69 children under 15 were killed and 2,033 were seriously injured on British roads: that’s more than five children seriously hurt or killed every day; [i]
  • The likelihood of a cyclist being killed per distance travelled in the UK is approximately two times that of the Netherlands, Denmark or Norway; [ii]
  • In 2016, including short walks, people walked an average of 198 miles, or around 4 miles per week, and a quarter (25%) of journeys and just 3% of miles travelled in Britain are now on foot;[iv]
  • Just 2% of journeys and 1% of miles travelled were made by bicycle in 2015;[v]
  • 69% of respondents to the British Social Attitude Survey (2016) were favour of 20mph in residential areas and 50% in favour of enforcing this limit and slowing traffic through the installation of speed bumps on key local routes;[vi]
  • One in six deaths in the UK can be attributed to medical conditions attributable to inactivity, such as cardiovascular disease;[vii]
  • Four in 10 drivers admit they sometimes break 30mph speed limits by at least 10mph. A quarter (24%) admitted to doing this regularly, at least once a month.[viii]


Towns, villages and cities should be places where people are free to travel in ways that are safe, sustainable, healthy and fair. Unfortunately, in many places in the UK inappropriate speed limits where people live, work and play make movement dangerous, particularly for cyclists and pedestrians, including children and the elderly.[ix]

Faster speeds not only make a community more dangerous, it also affects people’s perceptions of danger, and can be a determining factor in people deciding not to walk or cycle. Speed affects a driver’s ability to ‘accurately and reliably process information in the traffic environment’; an ability that is vital for safe driver performance, particularly in communities where vulnerable road users are prevalent.[x]

Unfortunately, many drivers break speed limits in built-up areas. A Brake and Direct Line survey revealed four in 10 drivers sometimes break 30mph speed limits by at least 10mph. A quarter (24%) admitted to doing this at least once a month.[xi]

It is widely understood that 20mph is the most appropriate maximum speed limit for built up areas where people live, work and play.  

Take action: Support Brake’s GO 20 campaign to make 20mph the default speed limit in towns, cities and villages to make walking and cycling safer.


Effective speed management, including through low limits in communities, is considered central to a ‘safe system’ approach to road safety, crucial to reducing casualties and enabling walking and cycling. The safe system principle acknowledges that people can make mistakes behind the wheel and that there are known limits to ‘the capacity of the human body to absorb kinetic energy before harm occurs’. Within a safe system, effective speed management works holistically with vehicle design, road infrastructure and road user behaviour, to produce an overall safety effect greater than the sum of its parts.[xii]

Speed limits give road users information about the type of road and likely hazards on it, such as the presence of people on foot and bicycles in communities.[xiii]

The World Health Organisation has emphasised the need for 20mph limits, stating that in areas where ‘motorised traffic mixes with pedestrians, cyclists, and moped riders, the speed limit must be under 30 km/h (20mph)’ due the vulnerability of these road users.[xiv]

Slower speeds mean stopping in time for a child

In 2016, 69 children under 15 were killed and 2,033 were seriously injured on British roads: more than five children seriously hurt or killed every day.[xv]

20mph limits are important for protecting children, who often make mistakes when using roads. Research has found children cannot judge the speed of approaching vehicles travelling faster than 20mph, so may believe it is safe to cross when it is not.[xvi]

A limit of 20mph gives drivers a much improved chance to stop in time for a child. If a child runs into the road three car lengths ahead of a vehicle travelling at 30mph (48km/h), the driver will still be travelling at 28mph (45km/h) when they hit the child. A driver travelling at the more appropriate speed of 20mph or slower gives the driver just the necessary time to avoid hitting the child, providing they are paying attention, have well-maintained brakes, and are driving in dry conditions.[xvii]

20mph limits reduce traffic speed

Analysis of traffic casualties in London from 1986-2006 showed 20mph zones, introduced with traffic calming measures (such as speed humps and chicanes) reduced deaths and serious injuries by 42%.[xviii]

However, with traffic calming measures, such as speed humps, carrying a considerable expense to install, signs-only limits can be considered a “cheap option” by local authorities and central government. While certainly cheaper than the introduction of physical measures, there are still considerable costs involved with implementing 20mph limits. Many of these costs, however, could be eliminated through a change in regulations, without the need for additional primary legislation. Often the largest cost of the implementation of 20mph limits is signage.

A study by the TRL in 1998 found that the impact of different measures were as follows for moving from 30 to 20mph speed limits[xix]:

  • Physical traffic calming measures reduce both mean and 85th percentile speeds by around 10mph;
  • Speed cameras reduce mean 85th percentile speeds by 5mph;
  • Flashing, vehicle-activated signs reduce mean and 85th percentile speeds by 4mph;
  • Signs-only measures in general have a mean reduction of 2mph, but for 20mph limits this is 1mph;
  • In areas with signs-only limits, public awareness and enforcement campaigns can have a further reduction of around 3mph.

Public acceptance of 20mph limits

Increasingly, people understand the value of 2omph limits. In one recent survey, three quarters of people (69%) were in favour of 20mph in residential areas and 50% in favour of enforcing this limit and slowing traffic through the installation of speed bumps on key local routes.[xx]


Each year in the UK, around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution, with more linked also to exposure to indoor pollutants.[xxi] According to the World Health Organization’s database, 88% of urban dwellers live in cities which do not comply with the Air Quality Guidelines.[xxii] Vehicles on the road have contributed significantly to levels of emissions in urban areas, with current estimates suggesting that in the UK alone, cars are producing 13% of our CO2 emissions.[xxiii]

Driving at more than 20mph in towns and villages also means more speeding up and slowing down, increasing carbon emissions.[xxiv] Slowing down traffic to a top speed of 20mph enables smoother driving, decreasing emissions, and also encouraging and enabling people to swap from driving to cycling.[xxv] This can have a big impact on a community's air quality as well as contributing to reduced carbon emissions.

In 2016, the British Social Attitude Survey asked recipients if they agreed with the statement that ‘the road is too dangerous to cycle on’, 59% of respondents agreed.[xxvi]


In the UK it is currently estimated that one in six deaths can be attributed to inactivity[xxvii], and Minister for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, described childhood obesity within England as a ‘national emergency’. Daily physical activity is hugely important for maintaining health and research has shown that half an hour of brisk walking, daily, can cut heart disease, improve muscle strength[xxviii], and combat depression and other mental illnesses[xxix].

Active travel, most obviously walking and cycling within and between communities, provides a key opportunity for this physical exercise. Unfortunately, many people, especially those with children, are put off walking and cycling due to traffic speeds. A Brake and Churchill survey found almost six in ten UK parents (59%) had witnessed drivers speeding close to their child’s school or nursery.[xxx]

In 2016, including short walks, people walked an average of 198 miles, or around 4 miles per week, and a quarter (25%) of journeys and just 3% of miles travelled in Britain are now on foot.[xxxi]

Similarly, cycling still only accounts for a very small proportion of journeys in Britain, and road safety is a major factor in putting many people off. Just 2% of journeys and 1% of miles travelled are made by bike.[xxxii]

Women, non-cyclists and older age groups showed higher levels of concern over roads being too dangerous to cycle on.[xxxiii]

Introduction of 20mph limits helps people to undertake active travel; walking and cycling levels rose in most areas of in Bristol after a pilot 20mph limit was introduced.[xxxiv]


Streets are an important aspect of local communities, people rely on them on a daily basis for travel, shopping, social interaction and work. Unfortunately, the volume and speed of motorised traffic within an area can negatively impact on local communities, reducing social interaction within neighbourhoods and encouraging an increasing sense of isolation in residents in higher speed areas.[xxxv] A 2016 study in Malmo, Sweden, stressed that urban spaces could be crucial to the social development of a community and the building of social bonds between residents.[xxxvi]

A case study in Bristol found people living on a street experiencing a heavy volume of high speed traffic had fewer friends than those who lived in the quieter residential area surveyed.[xxxvii] Results which are largely similar to previous studies on the subject, stretching back over the years.[xxxviii]

When traffic is slowed to 20mph in communities, research shows people are friendlier with their neighbours, feel safer in their area, and take part in more community activities.[xxxix] Research has also found 20mph limits boost the economic sustainability in the area, as safer areas for walking and cycling are seen as more desirable areas to live, boosting local businesses[xl] and increasing the value of homes in these areas.[xli]


The default speed limit for roads in built up areas is 30mph in the UK, a limit set down in law by the Road Traffic Regulation Act (1984).[xlii] Therefore, 30mph is automatically in place on roads within communities, known as ‘restricted roads’, unless another speed limit is in force and signs clearly displayed.

Local speed limits can be set by local traffic authorities where ‘local needs and conditions suggest a speed limit which is different from the respective national speed limit’. Therefore, local councils have the authority to implement 20mph speed limits within communities where they believe it will make a difference to safety, the environment or other aspects of the community.[xliii]

The Department for Transport’s guidelines for Setting local speed limits (2013) clearly state that the implementation of a 20mph limit should be ‘evidence-led and self-explaining’, aimed at encouraging self-compliance and kept under constant assessment by the local authority. The guidelines recommend that before altering the default speed limit to, for example, 20mph, local authorities should carry out a study of types of crashes and their severity within the area selected for the change. This approach is aimed at ensuring that the speed limit assigned is appropriate for the area in which it is implemented. A speed limit is designed to reflect the environment that the road is located in, and any report produced should show clear benefits in implementing a change (to 20mph) before it is enacted by a local authority.[xliv]

When implementing 20mph in a region, local councils must decide between implementing a 20mph zone or a 20mph limit. The difference between the two is[xlv]:

  • A 20mph zone: An area of road with repeater signs and physical traffic calming measures, including speed humps and road narrowing. These are the more expensive out of the two options to implement and, where present, usually cover smaller areas.
  • A 20mph limit: An area marked by 20mph repeater signs, with no physical traffic calming measures in place. This option is seen as cheaper than 20mph zones, however, the cost of multiple repeater signs is not insignificant.

More information

End notes

[i] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2016, Department for Transport, 2017, tables RAS30059 & RAS30062

[ii] Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of Britain’s road safety performance, TRL, 2016

[iii] Urban speed,Brake and Direct Line, 2016

[iv] National Travel Survey 2016, Department for Transport, 2017, tables NTS0301 & NTS0302 

[v] Ibid

[vi] British Social Attitudes survey 2016: Public attitudes to transport, Department for Transport, 2017

[vii] Working together to promote active travel: a briefing for local authorities, Public Health England, 2016

[viii] Urban speed, Brake and Direct Line, 2016

[ix] Zero Road Deaths and Serious Injuries: leading a paradigm shift to a safe system, International Transport Forum, 2016

[x] Ibid

[xi] Urban speed, Brake and Direct Line, 2016

[xii] Zero Road Deaths and Serious Injuries: leading a paradigm shift to a safe system, International Transport Forum, 2016

[xiii] Update of the speed limit review, Transport Scotland, 2015

[xiv] Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015, WHO, 2015

[xv] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2016, Department for Transport, 2017, tables RAS30059 & RAS30062

[xvi]Traffic at 30mph is too fast for children’s visual capabilities, University of Royal Holloway London, 2010

[xvii] Inappropriate vehicle speed, RoSPA, 2016

[xviii] Effect of 20 mph traffic speed zones on road injuries in London 1986-2006, British Medical Journal, 2009

[xix] Mackie, A., Urban Speed Management Method, TRL, 1998

[xx] British Social Attitudes survey 2016: Public attitudes to transport, Department for Transport, 2017

[xxi]Every breathe we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution, Royal College of Physicians, 2016

[xxii]Every breathe we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution, Royal College of Physicians, 2016

[xxiii] Overview of UK Transport Greenhouse Gas Emissions 4, Department for Transport, 2012

[xxiv] Car pollution, Environment Protection UK, 2013

[xxv] Updated speed limit review, Transport Scotland, 2015

[xxvi]  British Social Attitudes survey 2016: Public attitudes to transport, Department for Transport, 2017

[xxvii] Working together to promote active travel: a briefing for local authorities, Public Health England, 2016

[xxviii]  Lee I-M, et al (2012) Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. The Lancet 380: 219–29, quoted in Public Health England (2014) Everybody active, every day - an evidence-based approach to physical activity. London: PHE.

[xxix] Feel better outside, feel better inside, Mind, 2013

[xxx] Beep Beep! campaign urges drivers to slow down to save little lives, Brake and Curchill survey, 2015

[xxxi]National Travel Survey 2016, Department for Transport, 2017, tables NTS0301 & NTS0302 

[xxxii]National Travel Survey 2016, Department for Transport, 2017, tables NTS0301 & NTS0302 

[xxxiii]  British Social Attitudes survey 2016: Public attitudes to transport, Department for Transport, 2017

[xxxiv] 20mph speed limit pilot areas: monitoring report, Bristol City Council, 2012

[xxxv]Working together to promote active travel: a briefing for local authorities, Public Health England, 2016

[xxxvii] Hart, J & Parkhurst, G, Driven to excess: Impacts of motor vehicles on the quality of life of residents of three streets in Bristol UK, 2011, World Transport Policy & Practice

[xxxviii] Appleyard D, Liveable Streets, 1981

[xxxix] Working together to promote active travel: a briefing for local authorities, Public Health England, 2016

[xl]The pedestrian pound, Living Streets, 2014

The facts: road safety and sustainable transport

Browse our fact sheets on key road safety and sustainable transport topics. A good place to start is our fact sheet on a safe system approach to road safety, which explains the United Nations-backed approach to tackling deaths and injuries on roads. Brake supports this approach to achieve our vision of a world of transport that is safe, green, healthy and fair. 

For information on our campaigning work on these topics, see our campaigns pages. You can also visit our road safety advice pages, driver survey reports and road safety library. If you’re a fleet professional, see for resources and guidance relating to occupational road risk.

Casualties and safe systems

Safer speeds

Safer infrastructure and travel choices

Safer vehicles

Cleaner vehicles

Safer drivers

Safer fleets 

Enforcement and justice