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Commons Transport Select Committee hears testimony from the UK's national cyclists' organisation

CTC gives evidence to Road Safety Inquiry

Earlier this week, CTC campaigns and policy director Roger Geffen called on the Commons Transport Select Committee to close the gap between the safety of cyclists and other road users at a Road Safety Inquiry.

The CTC said there were many areas where the Government is neglecting cycle safety.

“While the Government is proud of its good overall record on road safety, Britain is a relatively poor performer on the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and children," Geffen told the committee.

"Cycle safety improved significantly over the past decade – cycle casualties dropped by 17 per cent while cycle use grew by 20 per cent, hence the risk per mile cycled has dropped by 31 per cent. Yet this improvement is less than for other road user groups, so the gap between the safety of cyclists and other road users has been widening.”

Geffen condemned the ten year ‘trial’ of longer lorries on Britain’s roads, urging the committee to quiz Road Safety Minister Mike Penning MP on why he decided to expose road users to additional danger from longer lorries. He said he would provide the Committee with details of what he believed were two misleading statements made by Mike Penning to the Commons before giving the go-ahead for the trial, via a process which bypassed parliamentary scrutiny.

The CTC said 1,800 of the larger lorries could be on the road in the first year of the trial. Penning has, so far, rebutted efforts to ensure that lorries taking part in the trial are fitted with sensors and cameras, or to require cycle awareness training for their drivers. CTC campaigned against the proposed trial, with more than 1,300 CTC members writing to their MPs to object. Thanks to CTC’s campaign No Longer Lorries the initial trial has been reduced from the original plan.

Geffen added: “CTC is pleased that the Government’s road safety framework intends to use a ‘rate-based’ measure of cycle safety – so that, increases in cycle casualties do not create alarmist headlines when cycle use is increasing more steeply. More and safer cycling can and should go hand in hand, as CTC’s ‘Safety in Numbers’ report has demonstrated. However, if the Government is to meet its stated aim to increase cycle use, it has to address both actual and perceived cycle safety.”

The CTC is calling for an action plan to deliver the Government’s aims for more and safer cycling, but warned it will require joined up work between Ministers: Some issues fall within the responsibility of Local Transport Minister Norman Baker MP. For instance, the Government’s road safety strategy already includes funding commitments for child cycle training, however adult cycle training is also needed to support adults wishing to take up or rediscover cycling later in life. Norman Baker’s responsibilities also need to include ensuring that local authorities follow the Government’s own design guidance on cycle-friendly road and junction design, the CTC added.

Other issues fall in the remit of Road Safety Minister Mike Penning MP. During the evidence session Roger Geffen also pointed to the importance of strengthening roads policing, improving the design of major roads and junctions, and tackling the threat from lorries. The CTC said these are all sources of actual and perceived danger, which deter people from cycling. "They all need to be addressed if the Government is to achieve its aims for more and safer cycling, with all the associated benefits for our health and that of our streets, communities, the environment and our wallets."

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