Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witnesses (Questions 400 - 419)



  400.  What are your targets—that is, the number of trips which could be made by cyclists but which are made by other means? Do you have a strategic plan?
  (Mr Turner)  I have not been set quantifiable objectives in terms of trying to increase the amount of cycling, though I have been asked to support the Government's policy to double the number of cyclists by 2002 and then double them again by 2012.

  401.  Are you confident that you have the means to do that?
  (Mr Turner)  I think it is quite a cultural change that we are trying to make in terms of cycling. We are well down compared to other European cities. What we need to do is to provide what the cyclists want, so we work very closely with the local cycling community. We have just won this year the prize of the London Cycling Campaign for one of our crossings, where the cycle network was actually severed by a main road and the cyclists were not using the cycle network because they could not get across the main road[

  402.  Are you working with, and looking closely at, what other European cities have done? I have in mind Amsterdam who have managed to achieve large numbers—some 28 per cent, I think—of trips by bicycles and at the same time reduce accidents to cyclists, so you have the two things there which seem to be supporting one another. Are you working alongside those kinds of city authorities to have a look at how we might perhaps implement schemes here in our capital city?
  (Mr Turner)  We work very closely with European cities, but we actually are so far down that there is really a cultural change that we are needing to make, and that is outside my direct remit to try to encourage people, in a really fundamental way, to adopt environmentally friendly modes of transport. Technically, what the Dutch do is not significantly different from what we are doing ourselves. For instance, we are now adopting a policy of providing cycle stands at stations, to encourage cyclists to make a multi-modal journey, which is quite important in London because it must be recognised that London is half the size of the whole of the Netherlands in population terms. So we are talking about scales of magnitude as well. We will never be able to make all the trips that we would like to do ideally in terms of cycling, just because the distances involved in London are so much greater.

Mr Bennett

  403.  You talk about doubling the number of trips by cycles. How many trips are there now?
  (Mr Turner)  Offhand, I do not know.

  404.  Do you know how they break down between leisure and work?
  (Mr Turner)  The majority of trips are still leisure trips in cycling terms. Overall in London 3 per cent of the approximately 3.8 million journeys to work trips are made by bicycle, and that decreases in Central London to 2 per cent.

  405.  What do you think is the main reason why people do not cycle to work?
  (Mr Turner)  I think it is fundamentally fear—fear of the traffic conditions. That is why I think it is important that we actually produce complementary measures to get the cycle network to link up and go where cyclists want to go. This is the real problem—that people will not adopt these routes, because they are not going where they want to go.

  406.  What about the fact that if you cycle to work you arrive at work hot, sweaty, often wet, and you really need to have a shower and to be able to change? If you are coming into the House of Commons, all that is possible. How many of the London boroughs actually make those sorts of provisions available to their staff?
  (Mr Turner)  I would not know offhand. I know we make those facilities available for my own staff.
  (Mr Lester)  Increasingly the London boroughs in their offices make that provision. In my office we have provision for people to shower and change and to park their bicycles. I think the issue will be to try to expand that provision not only within the public sector but also within the private sector as well.

  407.  Is anything being done to encourage them to do that?
  (Mr Lester)  There is a lot of encouragement. Certainly the cycling organisations and people like Central London Partnership have tried to encourage it through their members. I am not aware that there is anything other than encouragement at the present time.
  (Mr Turner)  That is right.

  408.  What is the result of that encouragement?
  (Mr Turner)  We are actually seeing an increase in the number of people cycling. We are finding that the number of people cycling to work is increasing. In my own organisation I have doubled the capacity for cycle parking, lockers etc because of the number of people who now are adopting cycling as a mode of travel.

  409.  But you are talking about 3 per cent of the use of bicycles to go to work?
  (Mr Turner)  Yes.

  410.  So it is pretty easy to double it, is it not?
  (Mr Turner)  Yes, that is right, even if we double it and double it again, we still will not be reaching the Dutch numbers. That is why I said it is a cultural issue which needs to be adopted here, and I think the fear factor, particularly in cycling in London, is a real issue.

Mr Brake

  411.  Specifically on that point, the fear factor, Mr Turner, do you believe that the introduction of red routes which are about increasing traffic flow and traffic speeds has increased or decreased cyclists' fear of cycling?
  (Mr Turner)  I think actually, whatever the fear factor is, that the actual number of cyclists we see on the red routes is increasing, so one assumes that they are not so frightened. The evidence, the accident evidence, although it is early days because it is three years before and three years after that we need to look at and we have only got two years' worth of data for even the earliest routes and we are actually on red routes in London producing safer conditions for cyclists and there are 10 per cent fewer cycle accidents occurring on red routes than on other roads in London. That tends to suggest that we are actually reducing the fear factor on red routes.

Chairman:  Well, we have made that point, so I think we will move on.

Mr Whitehead

  412.  I believe you carried out a pilot project in north London looking at the use of enforcement camera systems on bus lanes to deter motorists from using those lanes and parking in them or whatever. Could you tell me what indicators you used to measure the success of that experiment?
  (Mr Turner)  Well, the indicators are limited to the extent that what I would like to be able to say to you is that we got nobody actually travelling down the bus lane because that is where I make the big distinction between enforcement and compliance. What I am about and what the Government asked me to do was to develop a system which would improve compliance. Now, I am afraid to say that we find it difficult to recognise this improvement in compliance. We are getting some improvements in compliance, but it is early days yet. What we are being able to do is actually carry out high levels of enforcement using technology which does not involve large numbers of police resources.

  413.  What is it from your experience, do you think, which actually deters the motorist from using the bus lane illegally? Is it the fine? Previously has it been the feeling that they will not get caught, so it does not matter?
  (Mr Turner)  Well, what we have done, in trying to scope the roll-out of this technology London-wide, is done some attitudinal research and it tends to suggest, as I pointed out in my written submission, that if we double the fine, we will get a 10 per cent improvement in compliance.

  414.  Is that a guess or is that evidence?
  (Mr Turner)  No, that is evidence from attitudinal survey work that we carried out and I think it is quite important to recognise that a £20 fine is quite derisory really, particularly as currently there is very little chance of being caught driving in a bus lane and this is where the technology should actually help us and, by mounting the cameras on the buses, we do increase significantly the chance of being caught. We are dealing with hundreds of offences a month now because we now have more than the pilot scheme.
  (Mr Lester)  If I could add one bit of information to that, the evidence from parking enforcement is that both the level of the penalty and the chance of getting caught are critical to the level of compliance. The Home Office has produced research over the years which suggests that, if anything, there is a balance more to increasing the chances of getting caught as opposed to the precise level of penalty, but both are important in this area, and that is why the camera work which both the Traffic Director and the London boroughs are proceeding with is critical to increasing the chances of people getting apprehended.


  415.  Is it being used as evidence and is it acceptable as evidence?
  (Mr Turner)  The camera evidence that my cameras are producing, the buses and the roadside cameras, is now accepted as primary evidence for prosecutions in magistrates' courts.
  (Mr Lester)  And certainly for the borough scheme, when the Home Office produces the regulations, which is expected shortly, that will also, because it is a decriminalised enforcement regime, be directly acceptable evidence.

Mr Whitehead

  416.  Do you have evidence again which relates to the relative effectiveness in terms of the impact on the motorist of fixed cameras as opposed to bus cameras?
  (Mr Turner)  That is what I am working at at the moment. We put the fixed cameras where there are hot-spots, if you like, right at the end of particularly difficult bus lanes and we do record large numbers of infringements. What I am trying to do actually, as we prepare for this roll-out, is to try and get this balance between the fixed cameras and mobile cameras. The advantage of mobile cameras is that they cover the whole of the network and obviously we do not have the problems that we currently hear about of speed and red-light cameras where people know where they are because you do not appreciate whether or not the bus which is behind you has got a camera on it or not, so the mobility of the system has distinct advantages in terms of deterrence.

Mr Donohoe

  417.  The Traffic Director has responsibility, I am told, to try to achieve consistent levels of enforcement on parking. Is that in being because it seems to me that there are quite severe inconsistencies in terms of people parking and being caught? For instance, in Westminster where they have got these people with their blue uniform, I had an incident just yesterday where somebody had parked for 40 minutes, walked to their car two minutes after that time to have a ticket. Now, it does seem that that is inconsistent with what would be the case if you were parking in Camden, for instance, and this was just across the road here.
  (Mr Turner)  I think both of us need to respond to this. I have responsibilities for the introduction and the operation of the red route system and the enforcement of those regulations is the responsibility of the police because they are still criminal offences. What I have and what I mentioned in my submission is that I have established a service-level agreement with the Metropolitan Police to try and understand their problems and to set performance targets which we are monitoring them against, and we believe that the police are performing reasonably well, certainly in terms of the enforcement of the red lines. The conditions that you describe are better addressed by Mr Lester because he is more aware of the decriminalised system which is the non-police system.


  418.  Before you go away from that, I think we need to know how effective this service-level agreement is.
  (Mr Turner)  Well, at the moment in terms of the enforcement of the red lines, the current targets are being met.

Mr Bennett

  419.  What are the targets?
  (Mr Turner)  I think I give them in my submission. What we did is we split the network up into a series of priorities——

1  Note by Witness: A205 Brownhill Road/Minard Road junction. Back

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