At a time when the Green administration is having a big push on cycling, an unlikely ally has emerged in The Times newspaper which launched a major campaign called Cities Fit For Cycling. What are they recommending?
The campaign caught the public imagination and Parliament even held a debate on the subject in February and the Transport Select Committee has also announced that it is to hold an inquiry into cycle safety shortly.
The campaign promotes an 8-point manifesto:
- fit sensors, audible turning alarms, extra mirrors and safety bars on lorries
- identify the 500 most dangerous road junctions and fit them with priority traffic lights for cyclists and Trixi mirrors [see below and photo] mounted on the light column.
- conduct a national audit of cycling to find out how many people cycle in Britain and how cyclists are killed or injured
- allocate £100 million annually [2%] of the Highways Agency budget for high standard cycle routes
- improve cyclist and driver training and make cycle safety a core part of the driving test
- introduce 20mph as the default speed limit in residential areas where there are no cycle lanes
- invite businesses to sponsor cycleways
- appoint a cycling commissioner in every town to make sure these reforms happen.
All the recommendations are very sensible especially the suggestion that special Trixi mirrors should be fitted to traffic lights to allow lorry drivers to see cyclists waiting on their nearside, and also that driver training should include an element of cycle safety. Five London boroughs now fund cycle awareness training for lorry drivers in the city which includes lorry drivers going on bikes to help them understand the perspective of a cyclist and how they can drive better to avoid them.
Despite transport minister Norman Baker arguing recently that cycling is core government policy which council leaders and chief executives have to realise is “not a bolt on” to wider transport plans, provision for cycling in the UK is lackluster at best.
In England 2% of all trips are made by bike; in Denmark it is 19% and 55% of schoolchildren cycle to school. In Holland, where high quality segregated cycleways are common, 27% of all trips are made by bike.
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