Transport Committee Contents

3Vulnerable road users

Pedal cyclists

51.In 2014, a previous Transport Committee published a report on cycling safety.81 It recommended that steps be taken to “increase not only the actual levels of safety for cyclists on the road, but also the perceived levels of safety.”82 This perception is an outcome indicator in the previous Government’s Strategic Framework for Road Safety. This indicator showed that in the latest available year (2013) 48% of cyclists said it was too dangerous for them to cycle on the roads.83 This indicator has only been collected since 2011, so caution must be taken in suggesting any overall trend. However, given that the previous two years put this indicator at 45% (2011) and 48% (2012), it appears that there is no sign of improvement in the perceived danger to cyclists on the roads.

52.The Department’s figures on casualties show a worrying trend in injuries to pedal cyclists. The Department’s statistical analysis says that “With the exception of 2012 to 2013, the number of seriously injured pedal cyclists has increased every year since the low of 2,174 in 2004. This long term rise indicates that there is an ever increasing problem with pedal cyclist casualties.”84 Whereas some of this can be attributed to a greater number of cyclists on the road, the increase in serious casualties among pedal cyclists rose by 8.2% in 2014. This outstrips the increase in pedal cycle traffic, which was 3.8% last year. It is important to note, however, that the fatality rate for pedal cyclists lies at 35 fatalities per billion vehicle miles for 2014, a 26% fall from the 2005–09 average of 47 fatalities per billion vehicle miles.85

53.Local campaigns and individual cyclists submitted evidence that claimed police were unwilling or unable to pursue accusations of unlawful driving where a cyclist was involved. The following is representative of these views:

“The police frequently decline to take action in instances of deliberate, dangerous, aggressive behaviour towards cyclists by drivers of motor vehicles.”86

“Road users, particularly those on foot or cycling, are intimidated and feel threatened (in the case of cycling, to the extent of being deterred from using a benign from of transport).”87

“People know they will not be caught. There is no effective policing. Even when camera footage evidence is submitted to them, in my experience, the police are more likely to present excuses for the offending driver than to take the matter further”88

“Lack of resources is used as an excuse for inaction. In no other area of criminal law would a lack of resources be mentioned as an excuse.”89

54.Because cyclists are vulnerable road users, and an accident involving a cyclist is more likely to lead to an injury than one only involving cars or goods vehicles, cyclists will be more aware of careless or dangerous driving around them. A cyclist is, therefore, more likely to report such a case to the police. Evidence given by CTC’s Paul Keasey indicated that there was a “corroboration issue” when dealing with such reports, even with video evidence being present, adding that this is “just like it would be for one person driving a car against someone driving another car.”90 Garry Forsyth said that the police will consider evidence “in terms of putting a case forward to the Crown Prosecution Service”, who will “consider the quality and continuity of the evidence”.91 The matter of the CPS was also referred to by Martin Porter QC, who referred to three cases that were reported to police forces but, relevant files not passed to the CPS.

55.The vulnerability of cyclists provides a particular road enforcement challenge. A “near miss” involving a cyclist can be close to a fatal accident, and “near miss” reports involving cyclists should be considered in that light. It is clear that there is a problem with the actual and subjective safety of the roads for cyclists, as well as the perception of the likely result of reporting offences to the police. The level to which cyclists feel unsafe on the roads due to a perceived failure to enforce traffic law is at odds with the Government’s aim to promote cycling, and must be addressed.

56.We recommend that the Government’s strategy should not only promote cycle use, but must do so whilst reducing the proportion of people who consider that it is too dangerous for them to cycle on the roads.

57.There appears to be substantial feeling that collisions or near misses involving cyclists are sometimes not effectively handled. More generally, there is great variation between police forces in how a road user is able to report near misses, and the development of best practice would be of benefit to all road users. We recommend that the Home Office commission research on how collisions or near misses are handled by the police, particularly how this varies between each force area, and how this impacts the proportion of people who believe it is too dangerous to cycle on the roads.

58.Cyclists are also particularly vulnerable to collisions with HGVs. A 2009 study by the Transport Research Laboratory showed that when a cyclist was involved in a collision with a large goods vehicle, they were more likely to be killed, and the main cause for the collision was the HGV driver making a left turn while the cyclist was going ahead. This study noted that “HGVs present particular challenges for cyclists and are over-represented in cyclist fatalities”, accounting for 18% (20) of fatal cycle accidents in 2008, the year studied. Since that time, the level of pedal cyclist traffic has rapidly increased.

59.London’s Safer Lorry Scheme was introduced in September 2015 in an effort to make HGVs driving in the capital safer for pedestrians and cyclists. It is enforced by the Metropolitan Police, City of London Police and the DVSA. Under the scheme, vehicles over 3.5 tonnes are required to:

60.Exemptions are given where retrofitting mirrors is not practical. The Freight Transport Association expressed concerns about what they called London’s “unilateral approach to regulation of the commercial road transport industry”, which they claimed disadvantaged small operators in particular.93

61.We recommend that the Department for Transport assess the impact of Transport for London’s Safer Lorry Scheme and, if it is found to have reduced cyclist and pedestrian casualties in London the Government should press the issue in the European Union to make the requirements mandatory for HGVs across the EU.

62.There have been calls from campaign groups to restrict the hours during which HGVs can use the streets in central London, in order to reduce congestion and the risk that these vehicles pose, especially to vulnerable road users. We recommend the Department for Transport evaluate the effect of such policies on the safety of vulnerable road users and on road haulage operators to see if a package of measures can be devised to balance the needs of these two groups.

81 House of Commons Transport Committee, Cycling Safety, Third Report of Session 2014–15, 18 July 2014, HC 286

82 House of Commons Transport Committee, Cycling Safety, Third Report of Session 2014–15, 18 July 2014, HC 286, paragraph 9

83 Department for Transport, Key Outcome Indicators—Strategic Framework for Road Safety: Great Britain, September 2015, table RAS41001

84 Department for Transport, Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: Main Results 2014, September 2015, Main results: 2014

85 Department for Transport, Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: Main Results 2014, September 2015, Main results: 2014

86 Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign (RTL0046)

87 Road Danger Reduction Forum (RTL0019)

88 Mary Manning (RTL0045)

89 Martin Porter (RTL0006)

90 Q40 [Paul Keasey]

91 Q229 [Garry Forsyth]

92 Transport for London, Safer Lorry Scheme,

93 Freight Transport Association (RTL0052)

© Parliamentary copyright 2015

Prepared 11 March 2016