Written evidence from CTC, the national
cyclists' organisation (ETM 43)|
1. CTC, the national cyclists' organisation,
was founded in 1878. CTC has 70,000 members and supporters, provides
a range of information and legal services to cyclists, organises
cycling events, and represents the interests of cyclists and cycling
on issues of public policy.
2. CTC believes that cycling is a powerful, but
currently greatly underused alternative to private car use for
a wide range of journeys, particularly in urban areas. In part
cycling is little used because current road and traffic management
policies have been ineffective, allowing private car use to grow
unimpeded for decades. This has created powerful disincentives
to cycle, in particular due to fear of injury when using the road
The prevalence and impact of traffic congestion
and likely future trends
3. Journey time reliability is now the preferred
means of measuring a successful transport system and congestion
is the main means by which journey time reliability declines.
However, for cyclists, even in heavily congested inner London,
Transport for London has found that journey time reliability is
extremely good, with exceptionally consistent journey times recorded
over a range of journeys.
4. Cycling can also contribute significantly
to reduced congestion. It is the most efficient way to use a
single carriageway lane - 14,000 cycles per hour can pass compared
with just 2,000 cars.
Use of cycles is also a much more efficient use of other public
spaces - eight cycles can be parked in the space required for
The extent to which the government and local authorities
should intervene to alleviate congestion and the best means of
5. Congestion is not the only economic cost that
results from the failure of transport policy over the past 50
years. The Department for Transport/Cabinet Office concluded in
2009 that in urban areas (where virtually all congestion occurs)
the economic cost due to congestion represents just 22-29% of
the total, with the damage to public health from crashes, poor
air quality and physical inactivity likely to be around three
times greater than the economic damage from congestion alone.
6. With that in mind, CTC suggests that the biggest
priority should not be the alleviation of congestion, but the
improvement of public health. To achieve that requires not the
reduction of congestion, but the reduction of motor traffic volume
and speed, the combination of which has created the polluted and
unsafe environment in our cities contributing to a physically
inactive, unhealthy and injured population. The reduction in motor
traffic volume and speed will of course have the ancillary benefit
of reducing congestion - but this should not be the sole objective.
7. Traffic volume reduction can be achieved by
measures to reduce demand for travel, such as travel planning,
congestion charging and workplace parking levies, whilst at the
same time reducing the supply of infrastructure to support car
use, through designing out car parking and reallocating road space
away from private motor transport to public transport, walking
and cycling. Examples of the latter include bus lanes, vehicle
restricted areas, cycle lanes and advanced stop lines whilst systematically
reducing on and off street parking.
The extent to which road user culture and behaviour
undermines effective traffic management, including the relevance
to today's road users of the Highway Code
8. CTC is currently gathering evidence of poor
road user behaviour through our "Stop Smidsy" campaign
(SMIDSY standing for "sorry, mate, I didn't see you"
- the perennial excuse of inattentive drivers). We are aware of
a very high level of abuse of cyclists by motor vehicle users,
ranging from inappropriate speeds and overtaking distance up to
verbal and physical assault, usually carried out by passengers
in cars. 74% agree with the statement that "the idea of cycling
on busy roads frightens me".
9. The antipathy of a certain minority of drivers
towards cyclists is, we believe, one of the reasons why confidence
in cycling has declined amongst the general population.
10. Despite many attempts by local authorities
and other organisations to persuade people to take up cycling,
participation rates have only increased very slightly, with 42%
of the population saying they cycle, up from 39% ten years ago,
while trip numbers per person have remained constant. Over the
last eight years the proportion of those cyclists "mainly
using the road" has fallen from 46% to 37%, while those reporting
that they mainly ride on off-road routes has increased from 39%
This represents a failure of government policy towards sustainable
travel due to increasingly hostile cycling conditions on our roads.
11. Accommodating cyclists in general traffic
lanes requires specific measures to ensure safety and cooperation
between road user types. For instance, the use of traffic detecting
signals requires equipment to be sensitive enough to detect cycles,
while phasing of lights must allow safe passage of slower moving
cycles through a junction. If traffic management techniques fail
to provide cyclists with a safe and adequate road environment,
some cyclists may be tempted to disregard the regulations.
12. 20 mph speed limits and zones create conditions
more favourable to equitable sharing of the road. Their use on
residential and community streets is recommended in recent Government
guidance and supported by 75% of all respondents to one survey.
A growing body of local authorities appear to accept the need
to shift to lower speeds, however many remain unconvinced that
20 mph speeds will be achieved without extensive physical traffic
calming, the expense and unpopularity of which blocks this initiative.
The supine nature of traffic law enforcement, coupled with a wilful
abuse of speed limits has created a situation whereby half of
all cars are still recorded as breaking the 30 mph speed limit
- thereby creating a hostile and lawless feeling for vulnerable
users of British roads.
The effectiveness of legislative provisions for
road management under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991
and the Traffic Management Act 2004
13. The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 and
subsequent initiatives have been motivated by a desire to reopen
roads as fast as possible. Whilst laudable, this should not be
pursued at the expense of ensuring that roads are neglected or
reinstated below standard. Hasty, botched repairs of road hazards
that rapidly reappear are commonplace and pose a particular problem
for cyclists - around one in ten of the legal claims settled by
CTC for its members occur as a result of road defects.
14. The failure of the Department for Transport
to implement various aspects of the Traffic Management Act 2004
has meant that an opportunity to increase cyclists' safety and
the comfort and benefits of cycling has been lost. Whereas the
sections of the Act to decriminalise most moving traffic offences
have been brought into force, those concerning driving and - even
more seriously parking - in cycle lanes have not been. This means
that police are still required to enforce mandatory cycle lanes,
a duty they are reluctant to perform attentively in the many areas
where they have no parking responsibilities.
15. Road maintenance doesn't just concern the
disruption to the road network - road works badly damage the road
surface leading to faster deterioration, of often requiring remedial
repair. According to the Asphalt Industry Alliance's ALARM road
condition survey: "20% of reinstatements [were] found to
be [of] unacceptable quality. Remedying inadequate work consumes
on average 13% of the road maintenance budget."
The impact of bus lanes and other aspects of road
16. Bus lanes have proved a highly significant
factor in reducing capacity for motor traffic, thereby locking
in the benefits of other measures to restrain traffic demand.
In order to provide a good quality facility for cycles, bus lanes
must be at least 4.2 metres in width, to minimise conflict between
buses and cyclists.
17. Cycle-specific facilities can offer an improved
experience, however, where used they must be of sufficiently high
quality design (and maintenance) to ensure that the level of service
to cyclists in terms of journey time is equal to or better than
on-road alternatives. In any case, many cyclists will continue
to use the road and adequate provision must always be made to
allow cycle use of the road can be maintained.
18. Cycle lanes are generally less effective
at reducing capacity for motor traffic than bus lanes. Indeed,
part of CTC's reluctance to fully embrace the use of cycle lanes
exists because lanes are seldom accompanied with policies to restrict
parking and minimise traffic volumes. Where used, cycle lanes
are often implemented as an afterthought, fitted in without regard
to maximising comfort and safety for cyclists. Although guidance
recommends a width of 1.5 metres, preferably two metres, only
a tiny fraction of cycle lanes reach this standard, with many
falling far below.
19. Many cycle facilities, be they off or on
road, suffer problems at junctions. Facilities such as off-road
paths or advanced stop lines may lead cyclists into a position
which is both objectively and subjectively unsafe, especially
at junctions. Often these circumstances are accompanied with unrealistic
expectations that cyclists will yield to traffic, for instance
where cycle paths intersect with minor side roads. It is this
presumption of priority given to motorised traffic which CTC feels
presents the greatest barrier to providing high quality facilities
for cyclists. An statement in guidance and law that cyclists (as
with pedestrians) be given priority at cycle track crossings of
side roads would greatly decrease latent opposition to these facilities.
20. Build-outs and pedestrian refuges in the
carriageway can also create pinch-points, narrowing the available
carriageway width to a point at which drivers and cyclists cannot
safely interact. The use of such facilities can create conflict
between road users and contributes to the feelings of hostility
which acts as a barrier to cycling for so much of the population.
21. CTC is aware of several excellent examples
of local traffic management that has successfully reduced motor
traffic use - an objective we believe highway authorities should
be aiming to achieve.
22. By far and away the most successful traffic
management scheme in recent years has been London's Congestion
Charge, the implementation which has been accompanied by huge
changes in traffic, including massive increase in both public
transport and cycle use, with the numbers of people cycling into
central London in the morning peak more than doubling since 2003,
with an annual average increase of 15%. Over the same time 15,000
fewer people have driven into central London and 15,000 more have
23. Despite huge developments on the city outskirts
and intense pressure on space, Cambridge has successfully restricted
motor traffic growth in the city centre, allowing a very high
level of cycling to be maintained. Cambridge meets and even exceeds
levels of commuter cycling common to much of the rest of northern
Europe, with 26% of residents cycling to work at the time of the
2001 Census. Individual areas in Cambridge see a third of their
employees or students cycling to work or employment.
24. This achievement has been achieved principally
adopted has been to restrict access and deter motor traffic as
much as possible, whilst maintaining access for cyclists and buses.
In some cases this has been achieved with point closures, rising
bollards, turning restrictions and contraflow cycle routes. All
of these traffic management techniques are effective if they exempt
25. Cambridge has only quite recently allowed
cycles back into the previously fully pedestrianised town centre.
This has further improved network accessibility for cyclists,
enabling a traffic free and direct alternative.
26. Restricting private motor vehicle access
and giving priority to buses, cycles and pedestrians increases
the attractiveness of these modes. One of the means to achieving
this is by town centre vehicle restrictions such as those mentioned
above. Another step is the design of residential streets to provide
pedestrian and cycle access but restrict through movement of vehicles.
These streets are then subjected to less noise and perceived risk,
but if well designed can remain busy through levels of cycling.
27. The London Borough of Hackney has pursued
the latter approach, gradually creating a residential road network
which is fully permeable to cyclists but restricts motor vehicle
use. This has involved opening up previously closed streets with
short sections of cycle track.
28. In Copenhagen, on one of the major cycling
routes leading north from the city centre - famously with peak
flows of over 35,000 cyclists per day - private car access is
now restricted for a section of the route, with cycle and bus
access maintained. In addition, the street features a "Green
Wave", allowing cyclists travelling at around 12 mph to ride
all the way along the street without ever meeting a red signal.
Cycle traffic increased by 15%, car traffic fell by up to 80%
and bus journey times improved.
29. Ensuring permeability for cyclists can also
be achieved by permitting contraflow access to one-way streets,
particularly on quiet back streets. Elsewhere in Europe it is
very simple to modify existing "no entry" signs to permit
contraflow cycling with a minimum of changes to road layout. It
is considered entirely safe. In this country, however, the use
of a cycle exemption with a "no entry" sign is not permitted.
Alternative solutions which allow cycle contraflow access either
require expensive engineering or confusing sign changes. As a
result many one-way streets persist where contraflow cycle access
could be made with little difficulty or problem.
71 Transport for London Road Network Performance &
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