Embassy board member Katja Leyendecker gives evidence at Transport Select Committee

The Transport Select Committee has been holding hearings on how to improve cycling safety. Our board member (and chair of New Cycling) Katja Leyendecker gave evidence last week.

Her message - and ours - is quite simple. Instead of relying upon education and awareness, we should be changing the way our roads are designed, to remove conflict, to minimise the consequences of mistakes, and to make them feel safer. The Dutch policy of Sustainable Safety creates forgiving street environments, where people cycling are either separated from the movements of motor vehicles, or ensures that, where interaction occurs, danger is minimised. 

If we genuinely want to see a cycling revolution in Britain, we need to stop focusing on misdemeanours, and start creating safe and pleasant conditions where anyone - and that really means anyone - would be happy to ride.

While it is possible to argue that, statistically, cycling in Britain is not especially dangerous, this approach misses the essential issue of subjective safety. In survey after survey, the biggest documented obstacle to the uptake of cycling here is the perception of danger. Our roads do not look or feel safe for cycling - an issue explored in detail in the Understanding Walking and Cycling Report. We cannot expect people to cycle while the places we expect them to cycle in are unpleasant. 

It is encouraging that this message seems to be being taken on board by the members of the Select Committee, who have now extended the deadline for submissions until 17th January 2014. The Embassy will be submitting evidence.