Government's response to Select Committee branded 'feeble' by CTC
CTC’s President Jon Snow was one of the witnesses at the inquiry in April this year, along with Times editor James Harding, and CTC’s Vice-President Josie Dew. He used the occasion to make a strong call for leadership on cycling and cycle safety, stressing that “Leadership means joined up Government with all departments working together to further cycling.”
Snow’s calls for leadership and strong cross-departmental collaboration were strongly echoed by the Committee’s report, issued in the summer. It also called for annual progress reports to show whether road safety is improving in line with Government forecasts, and more information on how individual local authorities are performing. Specifically on cycle safety, the Committee urged the Government to address the 8 points of the Times’s “Cities fit for cycling” manifesto, and specifically urged the Government consider the wider adoption of sensors on heavy goods vehicles.
The Government’s response does promise to make more data available which can be used to assess local authorities’ performance, a development CTC strongly welcomes. However, on the Committee’s other cycling-related recommendations the Government has merely restated its existing activities, e.g. the availability of guidance on 'Cycling Infrastructure Design' and the 'Manual for Streets', and the announcements earlier this year of £30m for cycle safety improvements at junctions (£15m for London, £15m for the rest of England).
The Government needs to act to make 20 mph speed limits the norm for most urban streets, act on lorry safety, act on the design of major roads and junctions, act on promoting safe and responsible use of the roads, and act to strengthen traffic law to ensure that those who use the roads irresponsibly face the consequences. It has to snap out of the habit of expecting councils, police forces and others to do all the work on improving cycle safety while their funding is being cut. Recent increases in cyclists' injuries show clearly that this approach just isn’t working."
CTC Campaigns and Policy Director
“The Government’s actions so far on cycle safety are pretty feeble compared with the drastic action needed if we are even to begin catching up with our continental neighbours on making cycling a safe and normal option for day-to-day travel. ‘Leadership’ means a lot more than providing councils with a bit of guidance, a heap of statistics and the occasional mini-spurt of cash for safety improvements at a few junctions, welcome as these may be. What the Government really needs to do is to say it will place cycling and cycle safety at the heart of its forthcoming transport strategy. Nothing less will do”.
Government figures published earlier this year showed a 16% increase in serious injuries to cyclists in 2011 compared with 2010, even though there was little difference in cycle use. 2011 was the 7th successive annual increase in cyclists killed or seriously injured (KSI). The Government claimed, entirely reasonably, that this was at least partly due to warmer weather in the winter months of 2011 compared with 2010 – a factor which also adversely affected the 2011 casualty figures for other road user groups, including pedestrians. However, CTC suspects that previous ministerial rhetoric about “ending the war on the motorist” has also played a part. The numbers of traffic police officers have fallen 29% in the last ten years, whilst overall policing figures have remained constant.