Cycling UK has set out six key areas of change it believes could be easily implemented and would encourage more cycling and improve road safety for everyone.
Launching its ‘Cycling safety: make it simple’ campaign, the charity is asking the Government “why wouldn’t you,” make these changes an immediate priority as part of its cycling and walking safety review.
Cycling UK’s campaign is backed by Darrell Martin, brother of cyclist Lee Martin, who was killed after being hit by a driver who was texting at the time.
Martin was cycling on the A31 near Bentley, Hampshire in August 2015 when he was hit and killed by a van driven by Christopher Gard. Gard was texting a friend at the time of the incident and had been stopped eight times previously for using a phone while driving and been in court six times for the offence – but never banned.
“Drivers who are clearly putting people’s lives at risk should be taken off the roads before they’re given the chance to kill,” said Darrell Martin, Lee’s brother. “We shouldn’t be waiting for a tragedy to happen, and certainly drivers who have seven or eight convictions shouldn’t be given more chances to get back behind the wheel. The justice system needs to take this much more seriously. If they had, my brother would still be alive.”
Among the steps suggested by Cycling UK to make the roads safer include making amendments to the Highway Code, such as the introduction of the ‘Dutch Reach.’
The Dutch Reach, so called because it is a standard practice in the Netherlands, involves opening a car door with the hand opposite to the door itself eg using your left hand to open a door on the right. Not only does this mean you have a better chance of seeing an approaching cyclist or motorcyclist, but also the car door cannot open as far, reducing the risk of hitting another road user.
Supporting amendments to the Highway Code is Jeff Boulton. In July 2016, Boulton’s son, Leicester school teacher Sam Boulton, was killed on his 26th birthday in a tragic car dooring incident outside Leicester train station.
“By introducing something as simple as the Dutch Reach into the Highway Code, teaching drivers to look over their shoulder before opening their door, we could make the journeys of hundreds of cyclists safer every year,” said Mr Boulton. “It’s easy to teach and costs nothing, so why wouldn’t you?”
Cycling UK is also calling for greater resources to be given to roads policing, a national roll out of Transport for London’s restriction of unsafe lorries, the creation and adoption of national design standards for cycling infrastructure and an adequate level of funding to encourage more cycling while making it safer.
Cycling UK CEO Paul Tuohy commented: “Air pollution, obesity, congestion, increasing danger on our roads – these are all major problems the Government faces. With ‘Cycle safety: make it simple’, Cycling UK has done the hard work and provided a range of easy and cost-effective solutions to all of these problems.
“This isn’t just about cycling, because more and safer walking and cycling can and should go hand-in-hand. Implementing Cycling UK’s proposals would make our streets safer and more attractive for everyone.”