Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Cyclists Touring Club (RTS 26)


  I am responding to the above consultation on behalf of the CTC. The CTC is the UK's national cycle users' organisation. More than 70,000 people support our work for cycling and use our services. The CTC welcomes the inquiry and its comprehensive scope.


Causing Crashes

  Speed is the biggest single contributory factor in road crashes: as speeds go up, the likelihood of crashes goes up, for any given set of road conditions. Inappropriate speed choice—driving too fast for the conditions—is the major factor in up to a half of road crashes and contributes to many more.

Increasing Severity

  The severity of crashes increases with speed. Where 20 mph zones have been introduced and enforced, all casualties have fallen by around 60 per cent. In residential areas where speeds have been reduced from 30 to 20 mph, child pedestrian casualties have fallen by 70 per cent. Speed amplifies all risks in any given traffic situation; it should be assumed to be a factor in all crashes.

Quality of Life in Urban Areas

  Roads intersect our community spaces and as well as having a transport function, are places where people live and work, and where children play. Reducing traffic speed and aggressive driving through engineering, education and enforcement is crucial to preserving the non-traffic function of roads.

Pedestrian and Cyclist Casualties

  Cyclist casualties should be considered along with pedestrian crashes. Transport Research Laboratory research (TRL 421) shows that it is the differential in speed between different users that is the main factor associated with crashes. 20 mph speed limits provide the greatest amount of equity between different road users.

Speed and Social Exclusion

  The negative impacts of traffic speed on the quality of life of socially excluded communities is greater than on other communities. The socially excluded are less able than others to escape these impacts. The impact of high speeds and crashes disproportionately effect children, especially from poorer families, the elderly and those without access to a car.

  Road crashes are the single biggest killer of school age children, accounting for two-thirds of premature child deaths. More than 200 children die each year on Britain's roads. Child Pedestrian Safety in the United Kingdom (DTp 1996) states that "children in the lowest Socio-Economic Groups are four times more likely to be killed as pedestrians than their higher Socio-Economic Group counterparts."

  Napier University produced similar findings for the Scottish Executive in 2000: in the 5-11 year old group, the least wealthy 15 per cent of the population were eight times more likely to be casualties of pedestrian accidents than the most affluent 15 per cent. [1] A higher proportion of these children live beside main roads with fast traffic. Young cyclists in particular are over-represented in casualty figures. Eight cyclists aged 8-11, per 100,000 of the population were killed or seriously injured in 2000. The figure for those aged 12-15 is 14. This compares to an average across all ages of 4.8. [2]

  Traffic speed brings noise and pollution. It restricts children's ability to play and disproportionately hinders cyclists, pedestrians, the disabled and the elderly.


  The UK has witnessed a shift to the car as a primary transport mode. Traffic management has emphasised flow rates, supported by cost benefit analysis which values time savings for motorists highly.

  In this policy environment the needs of motorised traffic have become paramount. The reasons for inappropriate speed are complex but include:

    —  Road design facilitating high speeds.

    —  Driver training stresses "making progress".

    —  Vehicles are designed for far higher speeds than permissible under law.

    —  Car advertising has stressed performance.

    —  Inappropriate speed limits.

    —  Speeding not seen as a real crime.


  A hostile traffic environment discourages cycling; cycling has subsequently decreased. Consequently road casualty statistics can mislead as the growth of motor traffic has not led to more safety but more danger.

  Increasing levels of cycling need not lead to more cyclist casualties as the experience in Edinburgh, York and in other European countries has shown. Examples are contained within the National Cycling Forum leaflet A Safety Framework for Cycling (April 1999).

  The relative risks of motorised transport and cycling, when measured over vehicle-kilometres travelled are distorted by the growth of motorway travel. Motorways have lower crash rates than built up areas—primarily because of junctions and speed differential between different users. Three quarters of cycling takes place in built up areas.

  Crash statistics should be measured on a per trip basis rather than per vehicle kilometre to more accurately reflect the fact that most trips and most transport is local. A trip is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. The benefit to the individual making a trip is in its end purpose, which can often be satisfied at a local destination, rather its distance.


  Speed management can improve cycling conditions, if it does not introduce new hazards. At lower speeds, cyclists can mix with motor vehicles in relative safety. Restraining motor vehicle speed is a major factor in establishing better conditions for cycle use.

  Tackling speed should not be limited to areas with an existing accident record. Local authorities should implement speed reduction measures based on wider criteria such as community demand, quality of life and regeneration indicators, sustainable transport objectives and crash probability and to encourage people to walk/cycle more.

  The effectiveness of speed reduction in reducing crashes and casualties was illustrated by the DTLR's Safety Camera Hypothecation Trials:

    —  On average there were 35 per cent fewer collisions at camera sites, more than expected.

    —  On average, 47 per cent fewer people were killed and seriously injured at the camera sites. [3]

  The focus of safety strategy should be to reduce danger at source through crash reduction, rather than a casualty. Speed should be managed through the following hierarchy:

    —  Changes to speed limits.

    —  Better enforcement.

    —  Road-user education.

    —  Engineering measures such as home zones and traffic calming.

Speed Limits

  There should be a national review of speed limits with a presumption that they should be decreased wherever practical. A 20mph speed limit should become the norm for built-up areas and rural settlements, with higher speeds permitted only where it is possible to reallocate road space to pedestrians and cyclists. The Dutch are achieving this through a systematic reclassification of their urban road network. The European Best Practice report ( shows that 30kph in Europe is a "key essential element" in best practice in the "balanced use of road space".

Speed Cameras

  The speed camera "hypothecation" trials have shown that speed cameras are effective in cutting speed:

    —  On average, the percentage of drivers exceeding the speed limit dropped from 55 per cent to 16 per cent.

    —  The percentage of drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 15mph at camera sites has reduced from an average of 5 per cent to 1 per cent.

    —  Average speed at the camera site has reduced on average by 5.6mph. [4]

  Speed cameras should be to encourage drivers to keep to the speed limit in all areas rather than at specific locations. Making cameras highly visible will only improve safety in the vicinity of the cameras.

Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA)

  The problem of speed should be controlled at source through vehicle design. The Government should start to develop policies which will both require and provide incentives for the introduction of driver-operated in-car speed limiters.

  CTC welcomes DTLR funded research into ISA speed limiters undertaken by the University of Leeds and MIRA. We are pleased this will extend to motorcycles and large trucks. Central and local government should prioritise the development of digital road-maps to facilitate this work.

  The development of ISA on a wider basis should be encouraged. Government and the motor industry should consider the voluntary adoption of ISA. [5]


Traffic Calming

  Traffic calming can improve road safety by reducing average speed of motor vehicles and speed differentials between motorised and non-motorised vehicles. It is most effective within a package of measures.

  Much traffic calming has had the unintended effect of creating hazards for cyclists. This is unnecessary, as a number of authorities in the UK have clearly demonstrated in their implementation of traffic calming.

    —  Traffic calming must be of a cycle-friendly design. Vertical deflection of cyclists should be avoided. Local Authorities should use sinusoidal profile humps which are more cycle-friendly.

    —  "Pinch points" increase danger for cyclists. Where possible cyclist bypasses should be provided. Where unavoidable, the Transport Research Laboratory has identified optimum widths for pinch points. [6]

    —  The Government must dispense with the requirement for a casualty history where local authorities intend to introduce traffic calming and instead consider community demand, quality of life, regeneration and sustainable transport objectives.

    —  The DTLR issues Traffic Advisory Leaflets to promote cycle-friendly traffic calming. Sadly, much of this advice is not actually implemented. Cycle Audit is used to examine new highway schemes for cycle-friendliness. Cycle Review is a similar methodology applied to existing infrastructure. [7] We recommend that the Government should make Cycle Audit and review mandatory.

  In the UK, traffic calming is seen as a functional engineering tool. However, there is increasing evidence from other European countries, along with a few recent UK examples, of the benefits of an Urban Design approach to speed reduction. Through the removal of road signs and markings and reducing the distinction between the road and the footway, replacing these with visual clues as to the function of an area, drivers respond by adjusting their behaviour. Such an approach involving a "self-explaining" village road design has been successfully trialled in Norfolk. The Government should promote such schemes by establishing a programme of demonstration projects to apply urban design principles to speed reduction.

Home Zones

  Recently some areas in the UK, have turned residential streets into Home Zones switching priority away from motor vehicles. Typically the streets do not carry large volumes of traffic and have support from the local community. Home Zones are particularly important in creating an environment in which children can learn to ride their bikes in safety. The Government should promote the rapid expansion of Home Zones.

Quiet Lanes

  Quiet Lanes could encourage countryside cycle tourism and contribute to speed management. There is scope for reclassifying urban and rural roads to enhance safety; narrow rural roads carrying the national speed limit are dangerous for cyclists. The Government should promote the rapid expansion of Quiet Lanes.

Safe Routes to School

  Safe Routes to School have had a great impact in enabling children to use sustainable modes, reducing traffic volumes and reducing the disproportionate impact of speed and crashes on children. The Government should promote the rapid expansion of Safe Routes to Schools.


  Motorists and cyclists share a responsibility to understand the needs of other road users.

Driver Training

  Driving instruction should emphasise the need to respect cyclists on the road. The Highway Code should include more emphasis on the duty of care which road users owe to each other. We would welcome the expansion of the Think! and the What-It? Driver awareness campaigns.

Cyclist Training

  Training schemes do exist but they are run on an ad hoc basis and there is no national standard. Advice and training for teenagers and adults should include positive messages about the potential of the bike as a transport mode.

  The Governments Road Safety Strategy (2000) stated that Ministers would work with the CTC on a national training scheme for adults and teenage cyclists. This is being progressed through the CTC/Cycle West training project, funded by the DTLR. It will create a high profile, national cycle training scheme, recognised as being of high quality and endorsed by cycling experts with the aim of:

    —  Reducing casualties among cyclists.

    —  Supporting those keen to cycle.

    —  Addressing negative aspects of some cyclists' behaviour.

    —  Preparing young people for safe road use.

  The Government should ensure that this training scheme is rolled out nationwide as soon as possible.


  Motorcyclists casualties are out of proportion to their use. Road Accidents Great Britain 2000 shows an 11 per cent increase in PTW casualties since 1999. In view of this, we are opposed to the use by PTWs of cycle lanes, bus lanes and advanced stop lines. Such measures increase the vulnerability of cyclists to speeding traffic.


  In 1999, the number of speed limit offences dealt with by police action increased by 4 per cent to over one million. [8] Despite a range of penalties, prosecution rarely results in disqualification or imprisonment.

    —  Enforcement practices should reflect impacts on vulnerable road users.

    —  There should be tough sentencing using driving bans, disqualification, re-testing and fines.

    —  Enforcement should be a core policing policy.

    —  Vulnerable road users should be protected by strict liability offences, removing the contributory negligence defence.

    —  Cyclists' best interests are served by modifying other road users' behaviour, but occasionally cyclists themselves might be targeted.

Home Office and Judiciary

  Drivers who cause death or injury through negligence, carelessness or recklessness receive comparatively lenient punishment to those who kill by other means. This despite an average 10 UK road deaths a day.

    —  The Home Office should designate traffic law enforcement a policing priority.

    —  The 1991 Road Traffic Act should be reformed to allow courts to treat traffic crime more seriously.

    —  Courts should assume a higher duty of care by those in control of motor vehicles.

    —  The Government should consider how the legal system might ensure that a conviction reflects the severity of traffic crime.

    —  Vulnerable road users should be protected by strict liability offences, removing the contributory negligence defence.

    —  The insurance industry should abandon insurance policies covering drivers disqualified for speeding.

    —  Insurance law should be amended so that motorists who injure children are automatically deemed 100 per cent liable for compensation.

  We commend the recommendation in Options for Civilising Road Traffic (1997).


  The CTC is strongly in favour of progressive Speed Management Strategies which should be required within the LTP process. The Government should encourage and support local authorities in the development and implementation of pilot initiatives. In particular, the proposal by Lancashire County Council to pilot a scheme based on that successfully developed for Victoria, Australia, has so far failed to obtain satisfactory funding. The Victoria scheme entails high profile enforcement with near zero tolerance, and resulted in a reduction of all casualties by a third over a two year period. We wish to see such initiatives fully supported and monitored by Government, so that the lessons learnt can be applied more widely.

  Existing speed strategies should be reviewed and a best practice guide published. This would offer guidance on achieving a more harmonious interaction with vulnerable road users.


  The CTC welcomes this inquiry. Illegal and Inappropriate traffic speed causes crashes and increases the impact and severity of crashes. It degrades the quality of life and threatens the non-traffic function of roads. The socially excluded are particularly vulnerable to speeding traffic whilst many pedestrians and cyclists are afraid to use the road network. Tackling Speed is crucial to improve conditions for cyclists through changes to speed. Engineering measures are also necessary but most be vastly improved to be effective. Better driver training and education is needed so that drivers understand the consequences of illegal and inappropriate speed. Much tougher enforcement of speeding needs to be introduced and reflected at all stages of the legal system.

  [1]  Road Accidents and Children Living in Disadvantaged Areas Stationary Office.

  [2]  Road Accidents Great Britain 2000.

  [3]  DTLR Cost Recovery System for Traffic Safety Cameras; First Year Report (Executive Summary) Aug 2001.

  [4]  DTLR News Release 359: 13 August 2001; DTLR Cost Recovery System for Traffic Safety Cameras; First Year Report (Executive Summary) Aug 2001.

  [5]  Intelligent Speed Adaptation, briefing paper, PACTS Dec 2001.

  [6]  Measures to Control Traffic for the Benefit of Residents, Pedestrians and Cyclists, (DETR) TAL 1/87.

  [7]  DETR Cycle Audit and Review. TAL 07/98.

  [8]  Home Office (Wilkins, Hayward & Johnson) Motoring Offences England and Wales 1998 and 1999 December 2000.

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