As a result of suggestions from the public and a panel of experts the Department for Transport is proposing to scrap, merge, simplify, amend or improve 142 transport-related regulations, including regulations pertinent to the cycle trade and to cyclists.
The stipulation that all new bicycles must be fitted with bells at the point of sale will be scrapped. When the regulation was introduced – to appease tabloid newspaper ranters – bicycle suppliers had to bag bells with their bikes, even two grand downhill behemoths. The bells could be binned by customers as soon as the bikes left the shop: there was no regulation to force cyclists to fit or use bells on bicycles.
In May, when the DfT’s Red Tape Challenge was announced, BikeBiz.com revealed that the expert panel appointed to advise on which regulations to scrap had representatives from public transport and motoring bodies but there were no representatives from cycling groups or the bicycle trade. Ian Austin MP, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Club, took up the BikeBiz story and raised the matter in Parliament.
In a parliamentary question he asked why "no organisation representing cyclists was included among the experts championing the Red Tape Challenge on Road Transport; and if he will nominate such an expert as soon as possible."
Roads minister Mike Penning later agreed that representatives of British Cycling, CTC and the Bicycle Association of Great Britain could also sit on the expert panel.
Yesterday, the results of the Red Tape Challenge were released.
Two of the six cycling regulations will be scrapped, and four others will be simplified, including the Cycle Racing on the Highways Regulations 1960. At present, cycle racing and time trials on public highways are permitted only when authorised in accordance with these safety regulations. Events must be authorised by police forces and the regulations cover maximum numbers of competitors, times of day and routes for events.
British Cycling and the police are now discussing ways in which the regulations can be simplified. The DfT said: "We will implement changes in the light of their recommendations."
Pedal Bicycles (Safety) Regulations 2010 and Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983 will also be modified. DfT said: "We will review how best to consolidate and simplify these regulations and we expect, for example, to remove the requirement to supply bicycle bells."
The regulation which caps the speed of e-bikes is also likely to be modified. Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle Regulations 1983 will be simplified and may be consolidated into a new set of cycle regulations. The DfT said it is also considering "widening the definition to include slightly more highly powered vehicles, up to 0.25kW rather than 0.2kW."
The DfT is also expected to bring the regs in line with proposed new EU regulations on e-bike type approval.
And local authorities may soon be able to more easily convert footpaths into cycle tracks. Cycle Tracks Regulations 1984 will be scrapped "to allow for more local flexibility to introduce cycle paths, whilst ensuring there is a consistent approach taken to protect individuals’ rights."
The DfT added: "We plan to co-ordinate this change with changes to other regulations related to public rights of way or highways orders procedures."
The CTC said: "This makes it possible to create high quality off-road routes for cyclists. These regulations are little used and need to be greatly simplified to make them effective."
Creating more shared-use paths will do little to endear cyclists to pedestrians. The Government – the greenest ever, it claims – has no plans to reduce space on the roads for motorised vehicles and increase the space for pedestrians and cyclists. In fact, last week the Government revealed it would release a further £800m to fund road building schemes despite its own figures revealing that car use is falling.
As car use is falling – Google Peak Car – bicycle use is rising. However, spending on cyclists – who, for example, make up the majority of users on some roads in London during peak hours – remains woefully low.
The CTC has issued a long and detailed response to the announcement of the Red Tape Challenge results.