Cycling Embassy response to Transport Committee Inquiry into road traffic law enforcement

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain was founded in 2011 with the aim of disseminating best practice in well-designed and properly-implemented dedicated cycling infrastructure, to enable everyone to cycle. It is run by volunteers and funded entirely by donations. The Embassy has over 1,000 ‘ambassadors’ and is affiliated to a number of major national cycling campaigns.

The objective of the Transport Committee's inquiry is to scrutinise how effectively the Government's policies to improve road safety - by tackling dangerous or careless driving - are being enforced.

In our response, we would like to draw the Committee's attention to preventive strategies to tackle dangerous or careless driving. In particular, we would like to emphasise how road design can both reduce the chances of dangerous driving or careless driving from occurring in the first place, and also limit the seriousness of the consequences of dangerous or careless driving.

The Netherlands has an established and successful road safety system – Duurzaam Veilig, or 'Sustainable Safety'. Further information can be found here –

This system recognises the fallibility of human beings, and attempts to ensure that desired behaviour flows naturally from the designed environment, as well as minimising the risk of death or serious injury should mistakes (or deliberately bad driving) occur.

Human beings will continue to commit offences, either deliberately, or by mistake. Reactive policing and enforcement will only scratch the surface of this problem. We need a physical environment that builds in safety, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Sustainable Safety has a number of key principles.

1) Road design should be predictable, and instantly recognisable. Streets and roads should be designed consistently so that road users immediately understand what they can expect, and what is expected of them on a certain type of road. An important part of this principle is that speed limits and the nature of the road should be closely aligned, meaning that the desired speed is effectively enforced by the road design itself.

2) Road design should be forgiving. When mistakes (or deliberate bad driving) occurs, the consequences should be minimised through safe design. Where the design speed is higher, for instance, pedestrians and people cycling should have a greater degree of separation and/or protection from the road.

3) Homogeneity of speed, mass and direction should be built into the road network. Heavy vehicles should not share space with pedestrians or people cycling; likewise vehicles travelling at higher speeds should not share space with people travelling slowly on cycles. This principle limits the chances of serious harm occurring when human beings make mistakes, or drive badly.

4) Finally roads should have a single function. In particular, roads that have a 'flow' function should be categorised separately from those that have an 'access' function. Residential areas, and areas for people (for instance, shopping, working, sport or entertainment) should not be mixed with designated space used for the flow of traffic. Again, this system minimises the potential for harm, by concentrating the flow of motor traffic on roads that are designed to safely accommodate it, away from the streets where people are carrying out day-to-day activities.

Successfully applied to Britain's road network, this system would greatly reduce the educative and legislative burden faced (in particular) by our police forces, who in large part are dealing with the consequences of a road system that does not encourage or foster the behaviour we should want and expect from road users.