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“Motoring fanatics won’t give an inch for a better society”

20 April, 2014 - 20:59

In response to my letter in Local Tansport Today 643 , LTT published a letter (issue 644) from a particularly extreme motoring advocate. I politely responded as follows: “I am not sure that there is any possibility of meaningful, reasoned, debate with the more extreme car fanatics such as Mr Peat (Road Danger Reduction Forum can’t accept car-based reality, LTT 4 April), but he does question me and I was brought up to be courteous, so here’s a try.

Nothing operates without the private car now”. Oh dear. To take an example, London has about two thirds of its journeys not by private car. It is quite possible to have a functioning society with far more use of the non-car modes. In fact, the history of post-war transport in many European conurbations is often one of resisting the temptation to rip out traditional city centres and insert new roads and facilities for car use, going for walking, cycling and public transport instead. All this happens in fairly conventional capitalist, consumerist 20th and now 21st century societies on the same continent as us.

This does not mean that there should be no cars about anywhere; it just means we are aware of the problems associated with mass car use that I referred to in my letter, and try to address them. It is an interesting feature of car fanaticism that the slightest questioning of motorist privilege leads to a panic stricken assumption that nobody will ever be allowed to drive a car ever again. The fanatics really do need to stop equating their basic identity with the “right” to drive wherever and however they may want – while identifying themselves as an oppressed minority deserving of special treatment, subsidy and exemption from the law.

Similarly: “ can roads carrying large, essential, fast-moving machinery ever be safe places to be?”. Oh dear, again. Never mind the “essential” – exactly who decides what is “essential”, and to whom? – again there are plenty of possibilities for increasing safety shown both here and abroad. It may surprise the extremists, but plenty of normal motorists are actually prepared to obey speed limits and – wait for it – as in large areas of Europe, actually have lower ones. Watching out for other road users and accepting your responsibilities towards them is often accepted by many motorists as a basic duty for them, although you may have to go other countries to see this manifested to a reasonable extent.

The issue is reducing danger (there will always be some) and making those responsible for it – whether individual drivers, or highway or vehicle engineers – accountable. To many of us that seems to be natural justice and a requirement of a civilised society, quite apart from addressing issues of noxious and greenhouse gas emissions, local environmental damage, loss of local community, the health disbenefits of driving etc.


Dr Robert Davis, Chair, Road Danger Reduction Forum

(NOTE: Writers of letters don’t choose the bylines they are given: although in this case it seems to be appropriate: RD)

Categories: Views

The scandal of Osborne’s £22.5 billion giveaway to motorists

16 April, 2014 - 18:31

We have discussed this giveaway before, but it appears that we underestimated the extent of this additional subsidy to motoring. What makes it worse is the justification for this policy given by the Treasury (and HMRC) this week: Analysis of the dynamic effects of fuel duty reductions

This policy has been appalling for the prospects of sustainable transport in Britain. I list problems with  the report below:

 1. The justification is politically motivated, ideological, drivel.

I urge you to read Simon Jenkins (despite him being something of a petrolhead he does make some useful comments from time to time) in full, and present the main comments here:
On Monday, Osborne issued a revelatory document. It purported to show the success of his 2010 freeze on the fuel tax escalator, a device to raise the tax on petrol each year by inflation plus 1p per litre. The aim was to avoid the political unpopularity of raising it in each budget. Osborne reversed this objective and courted popularity by abolishing the escalator altogether. The cost over five years has been a staggering £22bn. He likewise began to reduce corporation tax from 28% to 21%. From an austere chancellor such giveaways to drivers and corporations were reckless.
Osborne now tries to rebut the charge by claiming his Treasury witches have stirred eye of newt and toe of frog – “behavioural economics and detailed modelling” – in the pot to prove the giveaways so boosted private spending that they earned enough in VAT and income tax to make up half the lost revenue. That gets back £11bn. This would give the economy a boost of up to 0.5% of GDP. These figures do not add up. They suggest that cutting petrol duty was indeed a big giveaway.”
Of course, “ Analysis of the dynamic effects of fuel duty reductions” states that “The model has been peer-reviewed by leading academics in the relevant field, who found that ‘The basic design of the HMRC model for the UK economy meets at large the key requirements for state-of-the-art applied tax policy analysis’. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? There is a central question raised that this kind of modelling, whether on fuel duty or corporation tax: is it not ideological and unscientific, produced by a political view on who should pay taxes and receive subsidy?

So let’s get detailed:


2. The language

The Government will have eased the burden (my emphasis) on motorists by £22.5 billion over this Parliament to 2015-16. “. We have commented before on the language used to portray motorists as victims . In fact, the costs of motoring have often declined over the last couple of decades (depending on which time scale is being looked at),. Certainly, in comparison to other costs recently – such as in more important areas like housing – motorists have had it easy

3. It is a hand-out from Government, not money back to it.

As Jenkins argues above, for all the waffle about (alleged) GDP increases due to “easing the burden on motorists”, this move is a hand-out, because there is a net loss to the Exchequer.


4. It impedes the prospects for more fuel-efficient motoring.

For all the discussion about elasticity, the report fails to consider how long-term increases in the cost of fuel could lead to more careful and more fuel-efficient driving techniques. More importantly, it misses out entirely on the question of the new generation (either already on the market or in prototype) of cars which are two or more times as fuel efficient as typical cars now. In fact, fuel prices would have to double in order to maintain current levels of revenue to the Exchequer and not make motoring even cheaper, were such cars to become the norm.


5. The “externalities” question.

When considering Cost-Benefit analysis, there is as serious moral concern about putting monetary values on the adverse effects of motorisation. How do you put a price on the loss of children’s independent mobility, disappearance of a much loved local environment, or any of the other myriad forms of damage caused by mass car use?

But since economists like doing this kind of thing, let’s look at what they call “externalities”.


6. When you do cost external costs.

In November 2009, the four relevant Government Departments (Health, Transport, Environment, Communities and Local Government) and the Cabinet Office published “ The wider costs of transport in English urban areas in 2009” The graph below indicates the supposed external costs of motring in urban areas.

All this indicates that motorists were already being subsidised – even before the Osborne “burden easing” . And that is assuming these costs can easily be monetised. Fore xample, if climate change threatens thew rold economy, the imperative is for a Government to make a genuine commitment to reducing emissions which will be convincing in the international processes required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If you sabotage the prospects of presenting a genuine commitment by proceeding in the opposite direction on motor transport emissions, then the costs are likely to be a lot more than “£1.2 – 3.7 billion per year”.


7. The Treasury model and externalities.

“Analysis of the dynamic effects of fuel duty reductions” says:
Goods which when consumed impose costs on others (“negative externalities”) are over-consumed because households and firms fail to take these effects fully into account, since these costs are not reflected in the market price. Congestion and air pollution as a result of vehicle use are both examples of negative externalities. Taxes can be used to correct for these externalities by increasing the market price to reflect the cost of the damage caused by them. “

And also:
Fuel duty plays an important role in supporting sustainable public finances and internalising the externalities associated with road transport, in particular greenhouse gas emissions. “

But: “ There are studies that consider the effect of fuel duties on externalities. The CGE modelling presented below is not intended to capture the impact of a reduction in fuel duty through externalities

So apart from a reference to congestion, which is not expected to be affected by the giveaway, forget the external costs.
So much for “Analysis of the dynamic effects of fuel duty reductions” The policy it underpins is a disaster for the possibilities of sustainable transport. Public transport suffers by comparison, and despite the nominal commitment towards cycling, the necessary type of amount of money required (a good £600 million to kick off with) – trivial by comparison to.

It is therefore fascinating how nobody is saying much about it. While small bodies like Sustrans and the Campaign for Better Transport make objections, the supposed Parliamentary opposition is silent. (Of course, I may have missed some objections, but then they must have been pretty quiet ones). the £4.5 billion annually in the giveaway, let alone other subsidy – is absent.

(Thanks to Richard Hebditch for reminder of the 2009 report)





Categories: Views

“Road danger reduction and road safety are not the same”

6 April, 2014 - 23:29

Photo from Local Transport Today 644 (4th April 2014)

Below is the text of a letter published in Local Transport Today  644 in response to a long letter from Professor Oliver Carsten in the previous issue  showing how the UK’s “road safety record” is presented in an undeservedly “sunny” light. I state that the way he points this out is welcome, but needs to go a lot further…Oliver Carsten’s demolition of “our” “road safety performance” (Letters, LTT 643) is a welcome first step by a senior academic to catch up with what the Road Danger Reduction (RDR) movement has been saying for decades. But stating the very obvious should be just that only – a first step.


Carsten makes the obvious point that some people (the “vulnerable road users”, so called because – like most travelers on the planet – they happen to be outside motor vehicles) are more prone to being hurt when collisions occur. He could have included elderly people and then children, but let’s go one small step at a time.



So let’s suggest some further steps for Professor Carsten and others who may be interested in a civilised approach to the subject to consider in a civilised assessment of safety on the road.
The basic strategy is to get the language right: do try and speak English and not “roadsafetyese”. A good way of introducing the English language into the discussion is with this word “danger”. Generally “road safety” (RS) professionals use this word intransitively – with regard to danger being done to somebody. So an elderly pedestrian is doing something “dangerous” whereas the Volvo driver threatening him and others on the road is “safe”. The RDR movement thinks we need to invert this, and concentrate on seeing those with more lethal potential – essentially the motorised of various types – as being the “DRUs” (dangerous road users).



To take another language example from the letter, it is not “our” road safety record. Some people have chosen modes of transport more potentially lethal than others. Some people are more careful than others. Some people reduce the chances of their children being hurt by not allowing them to walk or cycle (while having a far higher chance of premature death because, as Carsten says, of the morbidity and mortality associated with non-active travel), etc. I don’t think that “we” should all be lumped in it together in terms of responsibility for “our” record.



Here’s another one: sometimes there are few pedestrian or cyclist casualties at a location – such as a rural road with high speed motor traffic or a busy gyratory system – precisely because there is high amount of danger from motor traffic. These locations (or to be more precise, since we are talking about the importance of language, those responsible for the motor vehicles involved) are more dangerous, not less.



Try some thought exercises: Professor Carsten says that “travel on foot or by bicycle is far more dangerous than travel in a car”. As explained above, if we take a more civilised approach which concentrates on responsibility towards others, we should base our approach on the fact that walking and cycling pose far less of a threat than using a car does. Working out how to use the words properly can help turn road safety into road danger reduction, moving from accepting danger on the road with its attendant victim blaming into a more civilised approach to safety on the road. Luckily, for most professionals this can be easy as it will often be a case of simply inverting previous thought.



The last misuse of a word I will look at now is “road safety performance”. As he suggests, the official way of assessing this is deeply flawed. I described similar points, restricted to cycling and walking but more extensively, in my LTT 635 (15th November 2013) Comment piece on how to measure safety on the road.



Now it becomes a bit harder. Everyone knows that adaptive behaviour to perceptions of risk (risk compensation) is a fact of life. This will be hard for RS practitioners unwilling to accept that increased crashworthiness of vehicles and more forgiving highway environments has reduced care taken by drivers. Ultimately the move towards RDR from RS means having to accept the evidence and that your profession has had – at the very least – a flawed approach.



Finally, there is of course a sense in which looking at aggregated road traffic fatalities over time does make a lot of sense. This is the work done by John Adams in interpreting Reuben Smeed’s descriptions of deaths in different countries related to levels of car ownership: it shows changes which occur irrespective of road safety interventions occurring.



In other words, RS professionals have to consider that apparently positive changes may actually conceal (enforced) reduction in more benign mode use – and they also have to consider that what positive changes that have happened may well have happened anyway. Insofar as official interventions have a responsibility for change, improvement could have occurred by following the central aim of the RDR movement. This is reducing danger at source – from the ways in which motor traffic is used – for the benefit of all road users and as part of a sustainable transport policy. This will be emotionally hard for traditional practitioners in this area. Are they up to it?

Robert Davis
Road Danger Reduction Forum

Categories: Views

“Politicians can’t break free from our car culture”

22 March, 2014 - 14:52


The following letter on the conflict over increasing road building – between academics and transport professionals on the one hand, and the Government on the other – was published in Local Transport Today:

Politicians can’t break free from our car culture

Your editorial “Road critics go unheard” (LTT 07 March) asks why, when so many professional bodies and academics question renewed interest in increasing inter-urban road capacity, “…if their arguments are so sound, why do ministers not seem to be listening?”.

During my career as a transport professional (and I guess of just about everybody reading LTT) there have been many well-argued reasons put forward for reducing dependence on car use and associated modes such as road freight.

The shorter list of motor traffic exacerbated problems includes congestion, emissions (whether noxious, noise, or greenhouse gas varieties), destruction of rural and urban environments through road building, dependence on the vagaries of oil production, danger to other road users, loss of local community, reduction of children’s independent mobility, health disbenefits for those not engaged in ‘active travel’, the massive costs of road building and subsidy to the motor manufacturing industry etc, etc. There is a long list of criticisms of contemporary car culture and the institutions that back it up.

Yet successive governments have resolutely persisted with ‘predict-and-provide’ and business as usual whatever the warnings of all manner of concerned professionals and academics.

To give just one example of the fanatic commitment towards increased motorisation: the last decade or so has seen median earners priced out of property ownership in the South East, and massive increase in costs for those renting. There are also all sorts of other well publicised costs of living have risen. Yet, despite there being little chance of these costs significantly declining, and the cost of motoring lower than it was a when New Labour last came to power, the last Opposition transport spokesperson voiced a commitment towards even cheaper motoring!

We are in the grip of a car culture which not only assumes increased car dependency as given, but excludes any significant attempts to have a real alternative. This not just due to the power of the motor manufacturers, or even the oil companies (are they likely to support a world with less fuel burned?) but a deeper cultural issue. Essentially, unless the sense of entitlement assumed by motorists is properly questioned, no real progress on road building or anything else can be expected.

Transport professionals are kidding themselves if they base their arguments on belief systems like cost-benefit analysis which underpin the system we now have. And they are kidding themselves if indeed they think that any form of argument will work which sidesteps fundamental features of car culture. Until they become car culture sceptics, it will be business as usual.

Robert Davis


Road Danger Reduction Forum



Categories: Views

The silence over Osborne’s hand-out to motoring

22 March, 2014 - 14:31

Something didn’t happen in the wake of the Budget. There was practically no media response to the Chancellor’s continued refusal, yet again, to increase fuel tax duty. Below we put this in the context of continued discrimination against sustainable transport modes and support for a more car-based transport system, as well as showing how the costs of motoring stand in stark contrast to other expenditure.

How much has he given to drivers…?

Cancelling the fuel tax accelerator means not taking some 3p per litre. A very rough calculation means that this represents a loss to the Exchequer of some half a billion pounds annually from car drivers, on top of the amount given in the previous budgets by the Coalition.  Adding on the amount from freight this comes to more like a billion pounds per annum.

My calculation – again very rough – is that this is the equivalent expenditure for the average car driver of some 40 miles of driving. It is the amount that could be easily saved by slightly more fuel efficient driving or cutting out about half a percent of the mileage driven. In other words, were the accelerator to have been kept in place there would be minimal effect on the average motorist, but we still have an additional handout of some £1.5 billion to car drivers since this Government came in.

…as compared to other modes…?

By contrast there is plenty to complain about with regard to public transport. And then we have the spectre of increased spending on road building. And of course, we have the refusal of the Conservatives to specify a budget for cycling, with the Labour party unwilling to give a figure.of how much it might spend to support the recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling enquiry. I think it interesting that the cycling lobby fails to make a connection between the amount recommended (initially about £10 per head of the population rising to £20, to come close to Dutch levels of expenditure) which is some £600 million p.a. – or about the amount the Chancellor has just given to car drivers again.


…and how much should drivers pay?

While the Campaign for Better Transport correctly lambast the petrolheads and lorry operators who want even cheaper petrol, they don’t make a case for more expensive petrol. I believe these arguments should be made. Here are some:


1.    A. Motoring has got cheaper while other costs have increased.

While fuel prices may have gone up, as the costs of cars has gone down, the cost of motoring as a whole over the last couple of decades has either declined or stayed the same (depending on when the precise benchmark is made). By contrast, real earnings have declined and disposable income has declined:

Average real earnings growth 1979-2013

In contrast, more important areas of expenditure such as housing have significantly increased. So, even if it is judged that the economic priority is to give members of the public a financial boost to increase their spending ability, there are far more worthy areas for state allocation of funds.


B.  Conventional economics states that motoring costs far more than the revenue gained from motoring taxation.  Note that this view – that the “external costs” of motoring are far higher than taxation gained from motoring – is based on a conventional view about monetizing the adverse effects of motorisation. There are arguments to suggest that taxation – or rather motorists paying an amount to reflect the damage they cause – could be a lot higher. C. The price of petrol should rise with the use of more fuel-efficient cars. It is common to see modern cars advertised with increasingly high mileage per gallon. Naturally, although reducing car use and replacing it with the more sustainable and healthy modes is desirable and necessary for sustainable transport policy, but since cars will still be used a priority will be for them to be far more fuel-efficient. Raising the costs of petrol will be necessary to encourage this. In addition, if there is to be a take up of more fuel efficient motoring, unless the costs of petrol rise, there will be a decline in revenue raised for the Exchequer.  D. An equitable transport policy requires a rise in petrol prices. Cyclists are used to hearing the myth that motorists have “paid for the road” by paying a “road tax”. Perhaps a necessary way of confronting this myth is to point out that – compared to cyclists – motorists have not paid their way. Compared to cycling and walking, and some forms of public transport, motoring is unfairly cheap.  Yet none of these arguments have made it into discussion in the media. My suggestion is that this means that the prospects of a less car-dependent future are diminished.
Categories: Views

The AA’s “Think Bikes” campaign: What it tells us about “road safety”

11 March, 2014 - 21:03

              One million wing-mirror stickers are being sent out by the AA to remind drivers to watch out for two-wheelers on the road. The campaign is based on a poll for the AA showing that nine out of ten motorists admit that when driving, “it is sometimes hard to see cyclists”, with 55 percent of motorists claiming that they are often “surprised when a cyclist appears from nowhere.” It’s nice to see AA president Edmund King say that: “The AA Think Bikes campaign is definitely needed when half of drivers are often surprised when a cyclist or motorcyclist ‘appears from nowhere’. Those on two wheels never appear from nowhere (our emphasis) so as drivers we need to be more alert to other road users and this is where our stickers act as a daily reminder”.

So is this an unequivocal step forward? The main feature of this, as with so many other similar campaigns, is what it tells us about the beliefs underlying what passes for “road safety” – beliefs which we have to challenge.

So let’s take a look at the campaign and what underlies it in some detail:


What should be happening with wing mirrors?

Let me quote one of the commenters on this post :

If, on your driving test, you failed to check your left door mirror, before turning left you would not pass your test and couldn’t drive unaccompanied (by an experienced licence holding driver) on the road. How come once you pass you never need check a mirror again? (Unless you have a stupid sticker to remind you). If you need that then you shouldn’t be driving on the road as you are dangerous to other road users.

 Now, that may seem a bit perfectionist. But it is what is required in terms of drivers’ obligations to the safety of cyclists and motorcyclists. It is stated clearly in the Highway Code in Rules 159,161,163, 169, 179, 180, 182, 184, and 202. It is simply what should be happening. As the Institute of Advanced Motorists spokesman said

 ”The IAM welcomes any campaign which raises awareness of how vulnerable cyclists can be around motor vehicles. Reminders can be useful but the best drivers should already be looking out for cyclists at all times.(my emphasis)” And why just “the best”?

Would we accept this with other types of safety regime?

Let us pause briefly and think of what we would expect from other types of safety regime. Consider Health and Safety at Work regimes operating in workplaces. Or safety under maritime safety regulations. Or with aviation safety regulations. Or safety on the railways.

Let’s say that third parties have their lives regularly put at risk by operators of machinery in the workplace (or airplanes, ships or trains) because they fail to engage in an operation as simple as using their mirrors, in a manner which they have been required to do (and tested on) when they start their careers (in the workplace or on airplanes etc.). We think the issue has to be the extent to which this unsafe behaviour happens irrespective of the numbers of cyclists and motorcyclists hurt or killed by this malpractice. But the fact remains that it is substantial. For example, in the TfL Cycle Safety Action Plan (2010) we see that  a large part of the biggest type of conflict (close proximity conflict)  leading to cyclist Killed and Seriously injured casualties is the following:

o Cycle and other vehicle travelling alongside each other (12%)

o Other vehicle turns left across the path of cycle (9%)

o Other vehicle changes lane to the left across the path of cycle (3%)

o Cycle and other vehicle collide when both turning left (2%)

 (percentages are of all cyclist KSIs).

Plainly non-use of nearside wing mirrors has some relevance here in these cases.

So, if such unwillingness or inability to follow the regulations, with such actual or potential consequences for the safety of others, were to occur under these other regimes, would we be satisfied with a campaign like this? One which is essentially just a polite reminder to the operators of dangerous equipment or practices by a sticker placed on the equipment which was not being used?

 My suggestion is: No, we wouldn’t.


What might the effects of this campaign actually be?

The reason for my scepticism is not simply one of principle, but one based on a concern about its likely lack of effect. Some, like Chris Boardman, appear to think that “This campaign will undoubtedly contribute to promoting safer driving habits on the road.” Undoubtedly?

What we have is some 4% of the UK driving public being presented with stickers. There is no evidence that placing the stickers will actually lead to previous non-users becoming users of wing mirrors. Then, as always with road user safety, those most likely to change habits will be those most willing to do so in the first place. Is the behavioural change actually likely to be anything more than minimal at best?

One of the reasons why it is unlikely to be more than minimal – if that – is the background set of beliefs underlying it.

All in it together? The mythology of “One Tribe”.

The key theme expressed by the AA and British Cycling is the idea that lots of cyclists also drive cars, and vice versa, and that recognising this will lead to reduced casualties. My view is that this is a dangerously misleading approach to safety on the road.

It conceals the fact that when people are using different modes of transport, they have markedly different potential to endanger, hurt or kill others. The fact that they use more than one form of transport is at best irrelevant. Indeed, the fact that the same people are both far more likely to endanger, hurt or kill when they are driving than when they are cycling is part of the problem. Cyclists are more unlikely to see themselves as part of the problem when they drive precisely because they are also cyclists.

One way of looking at this is to consider pedestrians instead. Most motorists know that they also walk, as indeed they do. Has this led to no danger being presented to pedestrians by motorists?

The central theme of Road Danger Reduction is that there is a fundamental difference between use of those modes which have a significant potential to endanger, hurt or kill (essentially the motorised ones) than those (essentially cycling or walking) which have a far lower potential to endanger, hurt or kill. The “Evens Stevens” approach is based on denying this.

Underlying this “Evens Stevens” approach is a fundamentally patronising attitude. According to the AA’s chief executive, Chris Jansen,cyclists have to “recognise when they have been well looked after on Britain’s roads by motorists” – as if drivers are doing them a big favour by not threatening their lives by rule or law breaking behaviour. A duty of care becomes “looking after”.(This is the “New Deal” on safety which the AA offer cyclists)

 What could work?

There is a definite need for drivers to use their wing mirrors as part of their driving activity. It is a timely reminder with TfL’s encouragement of doing exactly the opposite here with its “Cyclists stay back” stickers It is also good to see the AA oppose a SMIDSY excuse by stating that “Those on two wheels never appear from nowhere”.  And as Chris Boardman says: “Looking left and giving way to cyclists is a crucial part of improving safety on the roads. This is what happens on the continent and it should become part of our culture too. Of course, this rule is already written into the Highway Code – we just need to ensure that people are following it.”

 But the crucial issue is whether this actually changes driver behaviour or not, fitting into a programme of genuine accountability of those responsible for actually and potentially endangering, hurting or killing others. Such “road safety” initiatives will fail if they are simply polite requests to a minority of drivers who may or may not choose to follow them, particularly if they are embedded in a culture which is based on the “Evens Stevens” school of obscuring the differences in potential lethality between different road user groups. While the AA are being less arrogant than in previous initiatives, they still have a historywhich makes them dubious supporters of real road safety.

 As Roger Geffen of the CTC puts it:CTC absolutely agrees that this is the right approach, but this doesn’t mean cyclists should be doffing their caps to drivers when drivers behave responsibly – responsible behaviour should be the norm.” And the CTC point out: “…experience shows that awareness campaigns work best when supported by related enforcement activity. (Successful) campaigns…strengthen public support for enforcement activity, while the related enforcement activity re-enforces the impact of the campaign by punishing irresponsible drivers who ignore the message”.


Categories: Views

Reject a road building rampage!

26 February, 2014 - 21:21
Photo: Daily Telegraph

We borrow the phrase from the CPRE campaign and its opposition to the National Networks National Policy Statement  which is out to consultation. CPRE have a helpful page for those of you (like , regrettably, us) who have let this one slip by. Essentially the NNNP statement  is based on Department for Transport thinking which we commented on last year. Below is what we sent in – do try and send in a reply by the end of 26th February 2014.


Dear Department for Transport,

 I am writing to you because the Road Danger Reduction Forum opposes the draft National Networks National Policy Statement you are consulting on. You are:

 • Making official forecasts of traffic increasing by 46% by 2040 unchallengeable, even though traffic has stabilised at 2003 levels. More importantly, the urgent need is to REDUCE motor vehicle traffic rather than assume it will increase.

 • Your return to what CPRE and others call “Roman-style road building with roads that plough straight through Green Belts, nationally treasured landscapes, ancient woodland and wildlife sites” etc. will generate more motor vehicular traffic and exacerbate any attempts to control problems of mass motor vehicular use such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, noxious emissions, danger, community severance, visual intrusion, loss of local community, children’s independent mobility, healthy travel etc.

 While this proposal is a terrible threat to public health, local and global environments etc., this document, the first national road and rail policy, is a fantastic opportunity to plan transport better. Instead we would like the policy to:

 • Commit to extending the rural rail network and improve its resilience.

 • Require better facilities on the main road network to get new bus and coach services moving and, for shorter distances, to make cycling and walking safer and easier.

 • Roll out nationally the measures used so successfully at the 2012 Olympics to prevent congestion by reducing the need to travel and demand for road space. These would be particularly effective to manage growth of van traffic.

 * Commit to increasing costs of motor vehicular use and levels of road traffic law enforcement which, while valuable and necessary in their own right, would reduce the amount of motor vehicular traffic and the supposed need for more road building.

 Yours sincerely,

Dr. Robert Davis, Chair, Road Danger Reduction Forum

Categories: Views

Action on “Cyclists stay back” stickers

19 February, 2014 - 17:39

Following the initial concerns raised on our website before Xmas 2013, the Road Danger Reduction Forum has come together with other organisations to explain our concerns to, and ask for action from, Transport for London.  Along with the RDRF they are the London Cycling Campaign;  CTC: the national cycling charity; RoadPeace: the national charity for road crash victims; and TABS: the Association of Bikeability Schemes:

The organisations that have signed this document have agreed the following statements about stickers aimed at cyclists on the rear of commercial vehicles in London.

 (1) The ‘cyclists stay back’ wording is not acceptable for use on any vehicle, because of its implication that cyclists are second-class road users who should defer to motor vehicle users. It also undermines the responsibility of drivers of such vehicles to use their nearside mirrors as required by the Highway Code in Rules 159,161,163, 169, 179, 180, 182, 184, and 202. Non-use of nearside mirrors is associated with a significant proportion of incidents where cyclists are hit by motor vehicles.

 (2) It is not appropriate to have stickers aimed at cyclists on the back of any vehicle smaller than a heavy goods vehicle.

 (3) Stickers are appropriate on the rear of high-cab lorries, because of these vehicles’ blind areas, and the resultant danger to other road users.

 (4) Stickers on lorries should be worded as warnings rather than commands, with appropriate graphics. A suitable graphic is attached 



 Possible wording is:                                                         

 Accordingly, we ask for the following to be done immediately:

 (1) FORS to instruct their members to remove ‘cyclists stay back’ stickers from all vehicles except high-cab heavy goods vehicles, by the end of March.

 (2) London Buses to instruct operators to remove ‘cyclists stay back’ stickers from all buses, until such time as a more appropriate design and wording is agreed with cycling organisations, by the end of March.

 (3) TfL to inform all other vehicle operators, such as Hackney carriages (LTDA etc.) that TfL do not want such stickers to be used on their vehicles, by the end of March.

 (4) TfL to develop and produce a more appropriate sticker for heavy goods vehicles, similar to the one attached to this statement, and agree the design and wording with cycling organisations, by the end of May.

 (5) TfL to supply the new sticker to freight operators, with instructions only to use it on high-cab lorries. This should be in widespread use by the end of August, with no ‘cyclists stay back’ stickers remaining after this date.

 (6) TfL to invest in designing and promoting use of lorries that do not have blind spots around the cab. Stickers are, literally, a sticking-plaster solution. The long-term solution includes designing out the source of the danger by engineering lorries to reduce or eliminate the possibility of cyclists and pedestrians being crushed in collisions with them, engineering the highway to reduce potential conflict, eliminating lorry driver “blind spots”, and by training drivers to check their mirrors properly when turning or changing lane.


for CTC, Roger Geffen for LCC, Charlie Lloyd for RDRF, Dr Robert Davis for Roadpeace, Amy Aeron-Thomas for TABS  (The Association of Bikeability Schemes) David Dansky
Categories: Views

What’s wrong with Halfords’ “Cycling Top Tips”?

12 February, 2014 - 22:35

From Halfords cycle2work leaflet

 Halfords, as well as being a large car parts and servicing business, is a major cycle retail business and operates a “Cycle to Work” government approved initiative to enable employees to use a bike and accessories to cycle to work. We think the extract from their “cycle2work” leaflet sends out the wrong message about cycling. Here’s why:

·        Wear a comfortable, well-fitting helmet.Cycling, even in contemporary conditions is low risk – comparable to walking, and even more so car journeys over longer distances, for which helmets are never recommended.  Cycle helmets are – and can only be – designed to withstand low impact forces, equivalent to falling of a bike from a stationary riding position. They are not designed for impacts with motor vehicles, especially not heavy vehicles or those moving at speed. This means that they can’t be relied on to give any protection in life-threatening impacts. The injuries they can reduce are generally minor and easily survivable. Factor in the adaptive behaviour of other road users to helmeted cyclists -  and the adaptive behaviour of helmeted cyclists themselves – and you see why there is no evidence of any safety benefit over a population over time for their effect.

·        Be seen – wear bright clothes and something reflective. Again, an absence of evidence, and a victim-blaming slant which takes attention away from the responsibilities of motorists. “Being seen” means pressuring drivers to look where they are going: “Never drive in such a way that you cannot stop within visible distance”. Are Halfords well known for effective attempts at promoting this? And is the cyclist in the photo – not in the kind of position recommended by “Bikeability” National Standards cycle training – positioning himself so that he is more likely to “be seen”?

·        “Stop at junctions and look, look and look again. If you’re not sure, wait”. Hardly a description of a confident and assertive cyclist, is it? Where do you look and what are you waiting for? None of the “Top Tips” includes developing cycling confidence through Bikeability training. Of course, on the other side of the leaflet they do refer to cycle training delivered by the Institute of Advanced Motorists. Will this be empowering, and provide knowledge of cyclists’ rights as well as responsibilities?

·        “Carry emergency contact details with you”. You’re probably going to die! At this point we have to draw breath and remind people of the paradox of road safety.  Cycling is not inherently hazardous. Even in current conditions casualty rates are low. You are probably NOT going to die. This DOES NOT mean that what many motorists (the source of road danger) are up to is in any way at all acceptable. It shouldn’t be difficult to see that this is an apparent contradiction (or paradox) and not an actual one. The point is to understand the level of risk and to deal with danger at source – for all road users.

·        “If going on a long bike ride let someone know when you expect to return and the route you’ll take.” Infantilising and “dangerising” cycling. This is exactly the right way to put people off cycling. It feeds in to the “fear of cycling”

·        “Keep tyres inflated: it makes for a smoother ride, means less effort to pedal and makes the bike easier to handle.” Something which actually makes sense. A big problem in the UK is that since the loss of cycling as a normal form of everyday transport since the 1950s, basic knowledge of what is actually needed to cycle has been lost. Are Halfords actually helping to create a cycle culture?

·        “If you are riding at dusk or in the dark make sure your bike has lights”. A legal requirement, but how important is it on the scale of things you might need to know about cycling? And how much will your safety be improved? 

·        “Use hand signals to show where you are going. Help drivers to help you.” Hand signals are taught as part of Bikeability training – but look at the wording here. It betrays an interestingly patronising attitude: Is rule and law obeying motoring something which is about “helping” your potential victims? Isn’t it about doing what you are required to do by law and your basic obligations to the well-being of others to whom you have a duty of care?


Unlike some commentators, we don’t believe that achieving significant modal shift to cycling is simply a question of mimicking some features of countries where there are better cycling modal shares. But we do think that moving towards a larger share of journeys by bicycle means: Seeing cycling as a normal, everyday form of transport carried out by normal people in normal, everyday clothes. Whatever the reason given for a larger share of journeys by bicycle by other societies, present or past, it is always based on this idea of cycling being done by normal people in normal clothes just getting about and not engaged in a danger sport, and with society reacting to cycling accordingly.

Look at the people below:


Groningen, Netherlands. (All photos are from urban areas with far higher levels of cycling than the UK, Captions below photos.) Somewhere in the Netherlands


Street scenes in Denmark Amsterdam


                  Munster, Germany                                                 Ferrara, Italy                         Ghent, Belgium                                        Seville, Spain


           La Rochelle, France                                                    Berlin

Halfords may think these people are doing something wrong and asking for trouble. We would disagree.

Categories: Views

What is the Advertising Standards Authority for?

9 February, 2014 - 20:53

Health warnings on car ads?

First, the good news. The idiotic ruling of the ASA described here has been withdrawn following a veritable storm of protest. It is good to see that a diverse (and normally often disunited) community of cyclists and others concerned about a civilised approach to cycling and safety on the road can swiftly summon up good quality arguments and have an effect.

But this is just the start. This matter is far from being resolved, and it may well be that the outcome is a quite unsatisfactory judgement about the portrayal of cycling. We need to examine the issues regarding ASA judgements on matters of safety on the road in more detail.

 Where we are now:

The ASA has in effect admitted that it was wrong to object to Cycling Scotland’s video presentation of the position of the woman cyclist. Since this is the position recommended by National Standards cycle training they could do nothing else. However, on the matter of a helmet and the normal clothing of the cyclist (without “safety aids”) we do not yet know what decision the so far unspecified “independent review” to be set up by the ASA on this matter will make.

Supposedly, decisions by the ASA on matters such as these are based on the Highway Code.  On that basis, the CTC has raised the issue of advertisements which show pedestrians not wearing hi-visibility clothing in the dark: after all, the Highway Code requires that, so why shouldn’t the ASA censure such advertisements? It’s an interesting issue to raise as it suggests some absurdity about the ASA’s methods.


The politics of it all

But we need to go rather further than this.  To start off with, let’s look at the rules in the Highway Code. In our opinion there is no adequate evidence base for either the cycle helmets or the pedestrian hi-viz recommendations.

What this suggests is that the problem lies with some of the recommendations in the Highway Code. That is certainly the case, but it also raises the issues of Highway Code rules (and the law) as they relate to the behaviour of motorists. That is where it gets interesting.  You might wish to consult a copy of the Highway Code as it relates to driving.

 What becomes apparent is that the rules – including the more important laws, on matters such as speed – are broken as a matter of course. Typical driving involves infringing the recommendations of the Highway Code. Otherwise you would not have some four million motor insurance claims annually. Car occupants would not want to wear seat belts (and that’s even without going into the effects of the use of these “safety aids”) .

Now, I am not one to exaggerate the dangers posed by motoring in a way which might put people off cycling and walking. I am just saying that rule and law breaking by drivers is so commonplace and is regarded as such by the powers that be to such an extent that motorists feel the need to be protected from it.

So, take  4.1 and 4.4 of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code ), namely that “Advertisements must contain nothing that could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons under the age of 18” (rule 4.1) and “Advertisements must not include material that is likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudices health or safety” (rule 4.4). 

Now, there is an argument for “Health Warnings” such as these on car advertisements 

Or the one at the top of this post. But I am not referring to the environmental issues about car use: at present it is legal to pollute, congest, and cause widespread environmental destruction, poor health etc. by regular use of the cars that are advertised or shown in advertisements. The point is that even without such “behaviour that prejudices health or safety”, just in terms of the recommendations of the Highway Code, typical driving which we know will be done in cars shown in advertisements will indeed be “behaviour that prejudices health or safety”.

  What is the ASA for?

My view is that the ASA is basically a self-regulating body set up by the advertising industry. A large part of the advertising is, of course, for motor vehicles. These vehicles will inevitably be used on UK roads in ways which damage people’s health and safety through breaking of the rules and laws pertaining to legal motoring. Is there any real possibility that the ASA will take any effective measures to prevent the advertising of these vehicles? In that sense, the blogger who says  “The Advertising Standards Authority – not fit for purpose is wrong. The problem is exactly that the ASA is fit for the purpose of facilitating car advertising.

That doesn’t mean that advertising of cars should be stopped, although the idea of health warnings may be an interesting way of raising consciousness  Also, it may seem a little unfair for the ASA to have to mediate in matters of safety on the road. As the fortnightly transport professionals’ magazine Local Transport Today (7/20 Feb 2014) suggests “When asked to think of influential organisations in the transport debate, the Advertising Standards Authority wouldn’t be at the front of most people’s minds”. Ultimately we need to be looking at the recommendations in the Highway Code as the source of the problem. But the ASA is in it now, and as LTT say “…the ASA should be prepared for criticism…”.


In the meantime…

There is a lot at stake here for cycling and sustainable transport. If every organisation (including commercial advertisers) is effectively forced to ensure that all cyclists in adverts (other than ‘fantastical’ adverts) are wearing helmets, this would really undermine the ability of advertisers to use smart-looking cyclists to epitomise free-thinking, healthy, independent-minded individuality. A source of positive promotion for the image of cycling would be denied to us.  We really need to take this very seriously indeed.

It could be worthwhile getting the cycle industry to understand the potentially negative long term effects of portraying cyclists in the way the forthcoming London Bike Show  does:

Of course, the ASA codes do not refer to online and print advertising, but the principle is important.

Categories: Views

An idiotic judgement by the Advertising Standards Authority

29 January, 2014 - 15:52

 You are not supposed to see this picture

A piece of idiocy by the ASA has caused justified anger among cycling groups and others concerned with a civilised approach to danger on the road.


You can read about it here here; and here  and the CTC’s comments are here:

 The RDRF objects to the ASA’s decision on the basis that:


1. It does not understand that the positioning of the cyclist is absolutely correct in terms of the advice given by Bikeability (National Standards) cycle training. RDRF committee member Ken Spence points out:

As an author of most of the Bikeability curriculum I can say that the cyclist in question is not cycling in the “middle” of the lane. She’s actually exactly where I would tell her to be in the circumstances. The road itself is an extremely wide single carriageway and the fact that the car can overtake her at a wide berth without crossing the central markings proves my point about her position. To be pedantic the middle of the lane in question would be considerably further out. She’s actually more in a secondary position given that there is a half metre drainage strip at the edge of the carriageway moving the effective running carriageway edge a half metre out. The ASA are quite wrong  in their adjudication. A minimum of 0.5 metre does not mean exactly 0.5 metres.

 Also, take a look at this elaboration of the photo by Singletrack:


2. Although the Highway Code at present recommends helmet wearing, there is a lack of evidence that this can reduce cyclist casualty (even cyclist head injury) rates. See the evidence on


3. If the ASA is going to oppose representation of anybody who is not apparently obeying all the recommendations of the Highway Code, it would have to ban advertisements featuring such behaviours as pedestrians walking about at night without hi-viz clothing.


4. Of course, the ASA could take note of the fact that typical driving tends to involve not just infringing Highway Code recommendations but the law, for example on breaking speed limits. The fact that this behaviour may not be explicit or even visible (as with driving when fatigued) does not excuse condoning such behaviour.


Taking this seriously would involve not just restricting a large proportion of all car advertisements, but representations of typical motor traffic in any advertising. Take a look at (and contribute to) the CTC’s site here.


We are not suggesting that most advertisements featuring examples of typical driver behaviour which may, or are likely, to be infringing the rules and recommendations of the Highway Code should be banned -  too many would have to be restricted. But that would be more fruitful than focussing on supposedly rule or recommendation breaking behaviour by those much less likely to endanger others – even if the recommendation was based on sound evidence, which helmet wearing is not.




Organisations such as the CTC are writing to the ASA, you may wish to sign this petition  on    as well as contacting the ASA directly trough their complaints arbiter Sir Hayden Phillips whose receiving e-mail is .



Categories: Views

House of Commons Transport Select Committee Session on Cyclist Safety

18 January, 2014 - 20:17

Along with others such as the CTC we made a submission in January 2013. Here it is:

INTRODUCTION:The Road Danger Reduction Forum was formed in 1993 to promote the idea that the civilised approach to safety on the road is to reduce danger on the road at source, namely from inappropriate use of motor vehicles, as part of the promotion of a sustainable transport policy. Support for RDRF is from local authorities that have signed the Road Danger Reduction Charter and bodies representing cyclists, pedestrians and proponents of road danger reduction. Supporting cycling safety has been a key plank of the programme of the RDRF.

Dr. Robert Davis, Chair RDRF 13th January 2014 CONTACT:



·        Cycling is in an inherently safe mode of transport with a low casualty rate. However, there is significant danger from use of motor vehicles towards cyclists – and other road users – which should be properly addressed as a basic requirement of a civilised society.

·        There is a need for a fundamental cultural change towards seeing inappropriate use of motor vehicles towards others as the key problem for cyclists and all other road users – one which has never been properly addressed. Emphasising the relative lack of danger from cyclists towards others – the real “cyclist safety” issue – is key towards doing this.

·        Cycling as a form of basic, inherently safe transport (with a  low casualty rate) engaged in by normal citizens wearing everyday clothing should be supported by whatever means are necessary, including provision of appropriate highway and off-road infrastructure, home cycle parking and accessible accessories etc.

·        Existing road traffic law relating to danger from drivers of all kinds should be massively increased for the good of all road users’ safety. Law and rule infractions should be assessed in terms of their association with the potential to harm others and prioritised accordingly.

·        Law enforcement will require appropriately deterrent sentencing, based primarily of licence endorsement and loss.

·        Highways and off-road environments can be re-engineered to reduce danger towards cyclists. This should be vigorously pursued at locations such as large gyratory systems. However, it should be understood that drivers must expect to be in the vicinity of cyclists on the vast majority of roads and streets, and for their potential danger to be regulated and controlled accordingly.

·        A variety of methods to reduce danger from HGVs can and should be employed, whether engineering the vehicle or its environment. As with everything else, the central issue is a cultural change towards focussing on problems arising from the danger from (inappropriate) motor vehicle use/ Technological changes are of secondary importance to this, and cannot anyway be introduced properly unless this is understood.



2.   Is cycling safe, particularly in towns and cities?


2.1.          The safety question – a paradox: We believe there is an apparent, but not actual, contradiction at work here.

2.2.          On the one hand, cyclists are at risk from a wide variety of law- and rule-breaking behaviour by motorised road users. Much of this has been exacerbated by accommodating these behaviours in traditional forms of highway design and also motor vehicle design. This kind of danger should be seen as simply intolerable and unacceptable. This should be based not just on the fact that people are dissuaded from cycling by danger – although this does occur – but because it is simply wrong: the behaviours concerned are often illegal and frequently endanger other road users as well.

2.3.          On the other hand, it is important to stress that cyclists in the UK, and particularly in urban areas, have very low chances of being seriously injured, and even lower ones of being killed. Overemphasising the chances of being hurt distorts the picture of cycling, not least in inhibiting people who wish to cycle from doing so – denying them health benefits due to fear of danger. A feature of an anti-cycling culture is the persistent tendency to see cycling as “the problem”. Part of this is the “dangerising” of cycling, seeing it as an activity which is inherently hazardous, particularly if there are any motor vehicles anywhere nearby.

2.4.           It is absolutely central to any successful strategy that this state of affairs is seen as the paradox it is. Cycling, particularly in the areas where there is a lot of cycling already, should be seen as the low-risk activity it is. This should not, however, detract from promoting a step change in reducing danger to cyclists from motor vehicular traffic, by whatever means – law enforcement and sentencing, training, highway and infrastructure engineering – are necessary.

2.5.           The safety question – Safety in Numbers (SiN): We think that the experience of London, with a dramatic reduction in cyclist KSIs per journey in the last decade, shows that change has been achieved through SiN. For example, approximately the same number of cyclists is killed in collisions with lorries, with at least a doubling of the amount of cycling in the areas where most deaths occur, and an increase in lorry use. Denying this mechanism denies an important positive step forward, and unnecessarily dissuades people from cycling: stopping them from cycling can have a deleterious effect not just on their health but on the safety of other cyclists. However:

(a)   This does not mean that SiN on its own will deliver enough of a  decline in danger

(b)   SiN is particularly unlikely to be effective on roads with very few cyclists and high speed limits, as well as with particularly incompetent drivers or drivers unwilling to drive properly.

(c)   Those responsible for danger – whether highway authorities, individual motorists, motor manufacturers or others – should still be held accountable. Danger should be seen as unacceptable whether or not a collision occurs.

2.6.           The safety question – measuring danger: An aggregate measure of cyclist casualties or casualties per head of the population is at best useless, and at worst misleading. The measures to be used are:

A.    Cyclist KSIs per journey or distance travelled – this is the minimum acceptable measure.

B.    Ideally this measure should be refined to consider the proportion of cases where a third party is at fault – there is a qualitative difference between cases where this happens (e.g.  the result of careless driving) and where a cyclist is clearly at fault (e.g. being intoxicated and falling off a bicycle)

C.    Objective measures of danger. Some locations, such as multi-lane junctions with high-speed motor traffic, have obvious high levels of hazard. These locations can be assessed by measures such as the Cycle Skills Network Audit, where locations are assessed in terms of the level of Bikeability skills required to cycle there.

2.7.          Finally, there is an ambiguity in the use of the words “safe” and “dangerous”. We believe that attention should be directed towards dealing with danger at its source – from the inappropriate use of motor vehicles. It should be emphasised that although there is some degree of danger from cycling towards pedestrians and other cyclists, ti is minimal compared to that from motor vehicular traffic.  Cycling, in that sense, is a very safe mode of transport.


3.   What can central and local Government do to improve cycling safety? 


3.1.          Traffic law and enforcement:

3.1.1.     This is the key element missing from cycle safety strategies such as The Times campaign.

3.1.2.      There should be a massive increase in the amount of law enforcement, focusing on behaviours that lead to predominant causes of cyclist KSIs: Overly close overtaking; careless opening of car doors, not watching out for cyclists in general and at junctions in particular, and generally poor standards of driving. Most collisions involve typical motorists, rather than the minority of extremely bad drivers, although enforcement should also be applied here, backed up by deterrent sentencing.

3.1.3.      While misbehaviour by cyclists, such as failing to obey traffic signals, should be addressed, enforcement should focus on behaviours most likely to endanger others – namely from rule- and law-breaking motoring – which will be of general benefit to the safety of all road users.

3.1.4.      Although we do not have the space to describe the moral and legal basis for this here, it will be necessary to consider stricter liability for motorists involved in collisions with cyclists and with pedestrians, to back up law enforcement.



3.2.          Highways and off-road infrastructure.

3.2.1.      It is likely that most cycling will continue to be in proximity to motorists on the public highway, who should expect cyclists to be sharing the road with them.

3.2.2.     However, some features such as one-way gyratory systems and roundabouts and inherently inimical to cycling safety.  The aim should be to remove such features of the highway environment, or at least to provide safe and convenient alternatives for cyclists in those areas. Reduction of motor vehicular capacity of the network in such situations is fully justified, if it is the only way to reduce danger to cyclists and support cycling.



3.3.        Cycle Training

3.3.1.      RDRF supporter Councils in York, LBs Lambeth and Ealing have been foremost in the “new wave” of cycle training starting in the late 1990s and designed to build cyclist confidence in real world conditions. The right kind of empowering cycle training can, we believe, increase amounts of cycling and reduce cyclist casualty rates through a Safety in Numbers effect. However, we are concerned that much supposed training does not conform to the spirit of National Standards (now “Bikeability”) cycle training and does not create confidence and an awareness of cyclists’ rights as well as responsibilities.

3.3.2.        Due to a continuation of the kind of beliefs prevalent under old style “cycle proficiency”, trainees may be presented with dubious ideas about supposed inherent dangers of cycling and incorrect advice about equipment such as hi-viz and cycle helmets. We believe it is essential to show that campaigns to promote cycle helmet and hi-viz use evade and confuse the issues which should be concentrated, as well as having a dubious or absent evidence base.


3.4.        Motorist training and cultural change.

3.4.1.   We believe that cyclist safety is just one part of the issues stemming from inappropriate motor vehicle use. The problem is just one part of the problem of road danger. As such, changing motorist behaviour is of benefit not just to cyclists but to all other road users.

3.4.2.   Motorist training has to change from being a confidence booster building unjustified feeling of pride, to one of awareness of responsibilities towards to other road users.

3.4.3.     Compulsory re-testing of drivers every five to ten years should be a requirement for general road danger reduction. An absolutely fundamental requirement is to achieve a cultural change where motorists realise their obligation towards cyclists as human beings with as much – if not more – right to use the road. Rarely regarded as of significance by transport professionals, we believe it is worthwhile examining prejudice and bigotry about, and displayed to, actual or potential cyclists. Negative attitudes among motorists can exacerbate the potential to endanger cyclists or other road users, as well as putting off potential cyclists from cycling.

3.4.4.      Negative attitudes and abuse towards cyclists should be countered. These can include those with regard to “paying road tax”, or the supposed superiority of driving as a transport mode due to motorists having passed a driving test. As with other elements in this programme, there is a need to address more general transport policy issues than just those immediately relating to cycling.


3.5.        Other support for cycling.

3.5.1.   Because of the low casualty rate, massive health benefits towards cyclists and others, reduction in environmental and other problems, cycling as a form of everyday transport should be properly supported.

3.5.2.   In addition, as explained in 2 above, increasing the amount of cycling is part of dealing with the issue of danger towards cyclists.

3.5.3.   This should include not just provision of attractive highway and off-road environments, but also the realisation that inappropriate behaviour towards cyclists will become less socially tolerable.

3.5.4.   It should also include:

3.5.5.   Programmes to address other issues limiting take up of cycling, such as inadequate secure and convenient home cycle parking,

3.5.6.   Difficulty in accessing affordable bicycles and cycle accessories.

3.5.7.   This has been partly addressed by programmes associated with cycle training, such as London Borough of Ealing’s Direct Support for Cycling programme.



4.   Goods vehicles and professional drivers.

4.1.          In London a combination of cyclist Safety in Numbers and pressure on a group of motorists (HGV drivers) has resulted in significant  reduction of the chances of cyclists being hurt or killed.

4.2.          However, this process needs to be accelerated by

·        Retro-fitting design features on lorries which reduce the chances of cyclists and pedestrians going between the lorry body and tarmac. Such devices have not yet been properly considered.

·        Installing infra-red or other sensors as the best form of technology to allow drivers to be aware of cyclists. Such devices should be linked to black box devices to be used in criminal and civil proceedings after collisions.

·        Installing cyclist-activated braking systems to sensors to provide real safety.

4.3.          Extension of existing provisions to limit use of HGVs in urban areas during rush hours should be considered ,although this is of minor significance compared to other measures referred to.

4.4.           In the absence of such features it will be necessary to massively increase law enforcement and raise sentences for HGV drivers who break the law.

4.5.          Ultimately the freight issue, although 50% of cyclist deaths in London (and a large proportion outside) involve lorries, is still a small part of the overall danger to cyclists. The problems ultimately come back to the behaviour of the person in charge of the vehicle posing more of a threat to others, whether a lorry driver, or in most cases the driver of another motor vehicle. Changing their behaviour has proved to be the most effective way of increasing cyclist safety.




Categories: Views