Cycling Safety - Transport Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

How safe is cycling?

1.  We share the Minister's view that one death on the roads is one too many, and wish to express our sympathies with the families and friends of all the cyclists killed on our roads. We accept that a focus solely on the number of casualties may not reflect a reduction in the proportion of cyclists killed or seriously injured, but believe that road safety measures should seek to reduce the overall number of casualties at the same time as increasing the number of cyclists on the road. Achieving both of these will require steps to increase not only the actual levels of safety for cyclists on the road, but also the perceived levels of safety. This can be achieved through measures that promote the safer sharing of the road between cyclists and drivers; increase understanding of safe cycling among cyclists and drivers, and reduce the risks from poorly-designed or maintained cycling infrastructure.(Paragraph 9)

20mph zones

2.  Local authorities should be encouraged to consider introducing 20 mph limits, accompanied by traffic calming measures, in high-risk areas to improve the safety of all road users. When a car collides with a cyclist, the outcome of the incident can differ significantly depending on the speed of the car. A lower speed limit in residential areas could not only improve safety, but could also contribute to creating town and city environments that people of all ages can enjoy as pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. We note, however, that lower speed limits will not be appropriate or necessary on all roads, and in all areas and consultation with local residents to ensure local support for lower speed limits will be critical to their success. It is also for local police forces to consider how much priority is placed at present on the enforcement of lower speed limits. (Paragraph 12)

3.  It is for local authorities to consider whether lower speed limits in residential areas, as part of a wider package of cycle safety measures, would be appropriate for their local environment. We ask the Government to consider what steps it could take to make it easier and cheaper for local authorities to introduce lower speed limits.(Paragraph 13)


4.  Training on cycle safety for both cyclists and drivers will not eliminate casualties on the road, but could contribute to a culture of mutual understanding and respect between different types of road users. The evidence suggests that the growth in confidence and knowledge of safer cycling positions and driver blind spots could help reduce collisions caused by driver and cyclist behaviour. Cyclists will also be able to make an informed choice about the measures they can take to contribute to a safer cycling culture.(Paragraph 18)

5.  Cycle training should be available to all cyclists: children of primary and secondary age, adults seeking to gain confidence, and those looking to refresh their road skills. Local authorities should work with local cycling organisations and retailers to fund and promote this training and ensure that it is best suited to the local environment. (Paragraph 19)

6.  We call on the Government to set out in its response to this Report how it will use the data available on road safety and cycle usage to monitor the effectiveness of cycle training on both the safety of cyclists on the road and cyclists' perception of their safety. (Paragraph 20)

7.  Drivers should be encouraged to share the road responsibly with bikes. We welcome the Government's statement that cycle safety is part of the driving test, with drivers assessed on their approach to sharing the road with cyclists—in the practical test if possible, and certainly through the theory test. The DVSA should place significant emphasis on a driver's approach to motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians: a driver should not receive a licence without demonstrating a level of respect and understanding for more vulnerable road users and pedestrians. (Paragraph 21)

8.  As part of its next revision of the Highway Code, the Government should consider amending the code to promote cycle safety and to ensure that it reflects the rights of cyclists to share the road with drivers.(Paragraph 22)

9.  The Government should reassess its approach to road safety awareness and set out, in its response to this report, the steps it will take to ensure a clear and consistent message of mutual respect between all road users and compliance with the law by cyclists and drivers. (Paragraph 23)

Cycle infrastructure

10.  We are grateful to all the cyclists who shared examples of cycle infrastructure. We were concerned to hear about the cycle lanes that have not only failed to increase safety for cyclists, but were in some cases more dangerous than cycling on the carriageway. In too many cases our cycling infrastructure not only fails to protect cyclists, but also treats cycling as an add-on to roads—an optional extra to be added if there was spare space, rather than a valid mode of transport, as entitled as motor vehicles to space on the road. (Paragraph 31)

11.  Safe cycling should be an integral part of the design of all new infrastructure projects. Local authorities should be able to demonstrate that the cycling has been considered and incorporated into the design of new roads at the earliest stage, and that local cyclists have been consulted as part of this process.(Paragraph 32)

12.  Cycle-proofing should not necessitate a blanket design and protocol for cycle lanes, which would inevitably fail to reflect local circumstances. Instead there should be an emphasis on sharing best practice. For example, to improve cycle lanes the Department for Transport should set out different options for local authorities to adopt, each designed with cyclists and meeting or going beyond minimum standards of safety. We ask the Department to report back on progress on the sharing of good practice between local authorities. (Paragraph 33)


13.  We are greatly concerned by the number of cyclists killed in collisions with HGVs. The disproportionate number of HGVs involved in collisions with cyclists demonstrates that the industry must improve its road safety record. We are particularly concerned by the number of construction vehicles, such as concrete and tipper lorries, involved in fatal collisions with cyclists, and the failure of some haulage companies to follow best practice around cycle safety. (Paragraph 42)

14.  We welcome the European Parliament's approval of changes to the design of HGV cabs to reduce drivers' blind spots. We call on the Government to ratify these changes which will improve safety for cyclists and other vulnerable road users. (Paragraph 43)

15.  We are not persuaded that a ban on HGVs in town centres would be workable in practice. Instead, we endorse the Minister's call for a culture of safety for all HGV drivers and support the education of HGV drivers and cyclists about road safety. (Paragraph 44)

16.  We call on the freight industry to create a culture of safety among HGVs. We recommend the establishment of a timetable for the development of an industry-wide code of conduct, and a clear programme of work to promote the enforcement of HGV safety regulations. The effectiveness of these measures must be monitored, and demonstrated by a reduction in the proportion of cyclists' collisions involving HGVs, and by the number of cyclists injured or killed in collisions with HGVs. If such a reduction is not forthcoming once safety measures are implemented, we expect the Department to consider set out the steps it will take to ensure the safety of cyclists on our roads.(Paragraph 45)

Volumetric mixers

17.  We note the Batched on Site Association's argument that there is no evidence that volumetric mixers had contributed to cycle accidents. We do not, however, accept their argument that such vehicles should not be regulated as goods vehicles. By the Batched on Site Association's own evidence, the vehicles spend close to a third of their time on the roads, and should be regulated in the same manner as goods vehicles.(Paragraph 49)

18.  We welcome the Minister's commitment to closing the loophole around volumetric mixers and ask that the Department provides an update on progress, as part of their response to this Report. (Paragraph 50)

The role of the Government

19.  As the Prime Minister has set out his ambition for a cycling revolution it must be for the Government to champion cycling and not outsource it to a powerless, and inevitably short-term, tsar or champion. It is right for a minister in the Department for Transport to take on this role, and be accountable to Parliament for his performance. We welcome the Minister's willingness to take on this role.(Paragraph 54)

20.  To achieve the Prime Minister's ambition of a cycling revolution, it is necessary but not sufficient for cycling to be championed by the Department for Transport. Government must work across its self-imposed departmental boundaries to fund and facilitate a culture change supporting cycling. We ask the Minister to set out in his response to this Report the specific steps he will take to coordinate cycling policy across the departments for Transport, Communities and Local Government, Health, and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. (Paragraph 55)


21.  The cycling budget is currently fragmented between different initiatives with no consistency or clarity over funding sources. There is no confirmed figure for the annual spending per capita, but witnesses estimated it was just £2 per head, and compared this figure to the higher levels of funding in other European countries.(Paragraph 60)

22.  We recommend that the Government publishes each year the total budget for cycling to enable strategic and long-term planning of cycle infrastructure, training and promotion. (Paragraph 61)

23.  We have set out the improvements required to cycling infrastructure and training, and view these measures as essential to keep cyclists safe on the roads. To achieve these safety benefits, we need to see a steady and planned increase in per-capita spend on cycling. We call on the Government to set out an ambition to reach £10 per head by 2020, with a timetable of how this will be achieved.(Paragraph 62)


24.  It is too soon to know whether the fall in cycling casualties in 2013 represents the start of a long-term reduction in the numbers of cyclists killed or seriously injured on our roads. We hope that this is the case, but do not think there is any cause for the Government to be complacent. As we stated in 2012, a cross-departmental effort is required to improve safety for cyclists. We remain concerned that, despite the warm words of the Prime Minister, this coordinated working has not yet materialised. (Paragraph 63)

25.  There is also limited evidence of a widespread culture that is supportive of cyclists as road users. Progress in developing this culture will inevitably vary across different areas of the country, reflecting local road use and support for cycling, but there remains a role of the Government in enabling this culture to flourish and making it easier for local authorities to introduce cycle safety measures. Above all, it is for the Government, and regional and local authorities, to use all the tools at their disposal to promote the sharing of the road between drivers and cyclists.(Paragraph 64)

26.  Making the roads safe for cyclists requires adherence to the rules of those roads, from both cyclists and drivers, and the development of a mutual respect between the two. Improving cycling infrastructure can help to improve this behaviour and culture; and we call on the Department to show leadership in this area, in particular through the development of consistent design standards for local areas and guidance on how local authorities can design roads safe for cyclists and pedestrians, while still reflecting local need and circumstance. It is the duty of Government ministers to ensure that all government policies reflect the fundamental understanding of cycling as a valid form of transport, and promotes the safety of all road users. (Paragraph 65)

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Prepared 18 July 2014