CTC explains cycle safety to high-level transport commission
Appearing before the Transport Safety Commission, Roger explained that cycling is essentially a safe and healthy activity, but that Britain needs to work much harder to match the better record of our European neighbours, both in terms of cycle safety and levels of cycle use.
He stressed that 'more' and 'safer' cycling can and should go hand-in-hand and that the best way of achieving this is to tackle not only the actual risks, but the perceived risks that deter so many people from cycling - bad driving and lorries, to name but two.
Leadership, responsibility and co-ordination
One of the fields that the Commission particularly wants to explore is 'leadership, responsibility and co-ordination'. CTC believes that all three of these factors are lacking in a number of areas, but is especially concerned about the justice system's response to road crashes involving cyclists and pedestrians, and the distress this causes victims.
Government, the police and the justice system need to take the lead and work together to stop perpetuating society's complacent attitude to road safety.
CTC's Campaigns and Policy Director
Roger therefore homed in on some of the most glaring deficiencies, from the poor police investigations that fail to gather sufficient evidence for a feasible prosecution, to how and why prosecutors and courts keep dismissing 'dangerous' driving as merely 'careless', meaning that penalties are often far too lenient, as CTC's Road Justice campaign constantly finds.
He also highlighted another serious deficiency - the fact that police road crash data isn't linked up to justice system data. As a result, we don’t know whether drivers are treated more harshly or more leniently than cyclists when they are involved in fatal or serious injuries to pedestrians, or whether drivers are treated more harshly or leniently when they injure or kill cyclists compared with other road users.
CTC feels that it is important not just to point out the problems, but to suggest solutions. We have therefore made a range of recommendations to the Commission, including the need for:
- The police, prosecution services and courts to be adequately resourced and better trained to deliver justice to a high standard;
- The DfT, Home Office and Ministry of Justice (and the relevant bodies in Scotland) to set up a national road crash investigation agency, similar to those used for rail and aviation. The bodies should all collaborate to develop systems to link, collect, monitor and disseminate local / national level data on the justice system’s responses to driving offences;
- Courts to be more willing to impose long driving bans on offenders to protect the public and act as a disincentive to bad driving.
On lorry safety, CTC highlighted the lack of co-ordinated action to tackle the disproportionate risk that these vehicles pose to both cyclists and pedestrians, so urged the Government to step into this role. We also stressed the need for clear accountability for safety management at tramlines and level crossings, where cyclists' falls can easily be fatal.
CTC told the Commission that there needs to be better co-ordination of road safety activity between local authorities and the police, e.g. to link up the design and enforcement of 20mph schemes; or to work together on joint driver awareness and enforcement campaigns. CTC also called for curriculum time for 'Bikeability' cycle training at all schools; and 'rate-based' measures for improvements in cycle safety, rather than simple casualty reduction targets.
Roger gave oral evidence today alongside Kevin Golding-Williams from Living Streets; Craig Carey-Clinch from MCI (Motorcycle Industry Association); and Neil Greig from IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists).
To read CTC's written submission, click on the link below.
About the Transport Safety Commission:
The Commission's role is to inquire into transport safety matters to assist with the development of policies that will reduce risk and bring about continued reduction in transport-related casualties. The Commission is an independent body with 16 members drawn from the UK Parliament and from the air, rail and road safety professions and related sectors. PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) provides the secretariat.