12 Initiatives Happening This Year to Make Cycling Safer in the UK

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Bicycles in front of bike shop next to A road in West Sussex
Bicycles in front of bike shop next to A road in West Sussex
  • The CyclingUK organisation has developed cycle-friendly design guidance for all engineers, planners and transport designers. “We need one agreed standard to which all local authorities conform.” stated Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive, Cycling UK. (1)

  • Direct Vision Standard has been introduced this March in London which gives a 5 star rating to lorries with ‘wrap around’ windows, cameras covering blind spots linked to a video display, audible warnings when turning left, motion sensors covering the lorry at low speeds and prominent warnings on the back of the heavy goods vehicles. (2)

  • In June 2020 the government gave councils new powers to keep cyclists safe. Councils can use CCTV to issue penalty charge notices to drivers who park or load illegally in mandatory cycle lanes. (3)

  • Cycling Minister Chris Haton-Harris announced an investment of £225 million for local authorities in England to create pop-up cycle lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions and bus-only corridors as part of a £2 billion package for cycling and walking to create a greener transport network. (3)

  • The Department for Transport has major funding programmes including Bikeability, Cycling Ambition Cities, Highways England and the Access Fund will all receive between £50 million and £100 million between 2016 and 2021 to benefit cyclists. (4)

  • The Department for Transport local transport programmes will total more than £15 billion between 2016 and 2021 and are made up of the Local Growth Fund, Highways Maintenance Block and Integrated Transport Block. This funding includes money for improving the cycle networks across the country. (4)

  • Since 2016 Sport England has invested more than £250 million on projects to “directly benefit inactive people.” (4)

  • London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has introduced the largest car-free zone in any capitol city in the world. The area of “streets between London Bridge, Shoreditch, Waterloo, Old Street and Holborn will be limited to buses, while pavements have been widened across the city with pop-up cycle lanes also being introduced.” (5)

  • In Manchester a main road called Deansgate has been pedestrianised to include people on bikes. (5)

  • In Cardiff in Wales a traffic lane has been removed next to Cardiff Castle to enlarge the area for cyclists and pedestrians. (5)

  • In London, York, Cambridge and Bristol a new type of traffic signal is being trialled that “gives cyclists a 4 second head start to pull away in front of traffic”. The green bicycle symbol lights up at a junction and has been added to the bottom of the traditional traffic lights stalk. (6)

  • In Shepton Mallet in Somerset there are plans for a new cycling and walking link will be created by Mendip council to regenerate the dismantled old railway line that links up with Shepton mallet town centre and runs alongside the A361. (7)

Conclusion

A simple technique that everyone can do which can save lives is called the Dutch Reach. This means looking over your shoulder before opening a car door. It gives you “a better chance of seeing a cycling approaching” and restricting how far the door can be opened. (1)

We all know there is a lot more work to be done in our local areas to make cycling safe and accessible for everyone. The outlook is positive for improving cycling opportunities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as governments look for ways of improving the health of people of all ages and work towards more environmentally friendly transport provision nationwide.

(1) ‘Cycling safety: make it simple’ We Are Cycling UK organisation 5 May 2021, ‘Cycling safety: make it simple’ We Are Cycling UK

(2) ‘World-first for lorry safety’ as Transport for London’s Direct Vision Standard comes into effect’ Simon MacMichel, Road.cc, 1 March 2021 ‘World-first for lorry safety’ Transport for London

(3) ‘New powers for councils to keep cyclists safe’ Department for Transport, Gov.UK, 10 June 2020 ‘New powers for councils to keep cyclists safe’ Department for Transport

(4) ‘Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy’ Department for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, Andrew Jones MP Published 2016 and updated 2021 ‘Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy’ Department for Transport

(5) ‘What councils across the UK are doing to get more people on bikes during lockdown’ Alex Ballinger, 21 May 2020 What councils in the UK are doing..’ Cycling Weekly

(6) ‘Bristol traffic signals give cyclists head start’ BBC News, 13 April 2021 ‘Bristol traffic signals give cyclists head start’ BBC News

(7) ‘Shepton Mallet: Disused railway set for cycle path revamp’ BBC News 14 March 2021 ‘Shepton Mallet: Disused railway set for cycle path revamp’ BBC News