Government reports

This article was published in 2008, in Newsletter 81.

You wait for ages for a government report on cycling and then three come along at once.
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Reports that can have a profound influence on cycling don’t come along very often, but just like buses, you wait for ages and then three come along at once. So what is it that has turned up?

First came the Department for Transport (DfT) Local Transport Note (LTN) 01/08 ‘Traffic Management and Streetscape’. It is ‘to help all those involved in the design of traffic management schemes to prepare schemes that consider and care for the streetscape’.

Then came the House of Commons Transport Committee report: ‘Ending the Scandal of Complacency: Road Safety beyond 2010’. Including the submitted evidence and transcripts of oral evidence, it runs to more that 400 pages, but the report itself is a mere 44 pages. The introduction says:

“Even the meaning of road safety is disputed. For some, as implied by the Government’s casualty reduction target, safety is the absence of death and injury. By this count the UK does relatively well, with ‘only’ 5.4 deaths per 100,000. Yet for others, road safety implies freedom from the dangers associated with motor vehicles. These dangers may not always lead to accidents but the threat can impose restrictions on people’s daily lives, particularly for children, older people and those wishing to walk or travel on two wheels.

Some of our witnesses emphasised the need to reduce dangers at source and not to unduly restrict the freedoms of vulnerable road users, which may have other, undesirable consequences.” (Para. 5)

And finally, after a gestation period that outranks even that of an African elephant (a mere 660 days), the original draft LTNs on cycling having come out in 2004, comes another DfT LTN 2/08 ‘Cycling Infrastructure Design’. The introduction states:

“Planning and designing high quality infrastructure involves developing individual site specific solutions, but there are some common requirements that need to be satisfied. The underpinning principle is that measures for pedestrians and cyclists should offer positive provision that reduces delay or diversion and improves safety.”

On the second page is that vital (but so often ignored) ‘hierarchy of provision’:

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Traffic volume reduction

Traffic speed reduction

Junction treatment, hazard site treatment, traffic management

Reallocation of carriageway space

Cycle tracks away from roads

Conversion of footways/footpaths to shared use for pedestrians and cyclists


Will these reports influence our local councillors and policy-makers?

There are over 500 pages of reading, and even I haven’t read it all; in fact, I ran out of steam before I completed a full read of the last one, so it would be unreasonable to expect councillors and policy-makers, who may have many other areas of interest, to digest them all. To help them, and our members, I here regurgitate a few salient points and make some suggestions. I’ll endeavour to do a proper review of the most important points of LTN 2/08 in the next issue.

LTN 01/08: Traffic Management and Streetscape

“Clutter may result from designers being unaware of that flexibility or perhaps having insufficient experience to take advantage of it. Some may be unaware of the status and intended role of guidance documents and regulations, treating all as mandatory instruction. Local authorities have considerable discretion in developing local policies and standards and should apply appropriate professional judgement to bear in their application.” (Page 8)

“Highway authorities may apply substantial discretion in developing and applying local policies and standards.” (Page 14)

Does that remind anyone of the Gonville Place problems?

After its redesign in 2006, the Gonville Place crossing was cluttered with several unnecessary poles and bollards (above). Pressure from the Campaign led to their removal in 2007, along with the correction of several other design faults.
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“Good design need not cost more, and may save money through fewer traffic signs, road markings and related equipment and street furniture.” (Page 16)

Pictures say a thousand words in this document, so I’ll say no more except ‘have a look’.

Ending the Scandal of Complacency: Road Safety beyond 2010

I could fill several newsletters with quotes, so I’m restricting myself to a small selection from paragraphs in bold type from the Select Committee report:

“The Government has not sought to reduce casualties by discouraging vulnerable road users from taking to the streets; but some trends, such as increased traffic, have had this effect. We recommend that in the forthcoming White Paper on sustainable transport, road safety objectives should be integrated with these wider objectives.” (Para. 15)

“There is a significant body of evidence to suggest that the current methods for recording road-traffic injuries are flawed.” (Para. 34)

“The systems approach to road safety, now adopted by the Netherlands, Sweden and elsewhere is different to that pursued by the UK. We believe that it is time for the UK to move towards this more fundamental approach…” (Para. 51)

The casualty rate for vulnerable road users in those countries is half that in the UK.

“Ways must be found to satisfy the desires of local communities for safer streets. We recommend that local authorities be given the powers and resources to introduce 20-mph limits much more widely. Flexibility is required to avoid the prohibitive costs associated with some approaches.” (Para. 60)

“We recommend that cycle training should be offered as an alternative to fines for offending cyclists, just as driver retraining courses are now commonly offered to motorists who commit minor traffic offences.” (Para. 96)

And finally:

“A new vision is needed for road safety in Britain beyond 2010. This should be underpinned by a strategy that explains how casualty reduction, danger reduction and the various other important policy objectives, such as a sustainable transport system, economic efficiency, climate change, social inclusion and physical health are integrated.” (Para.136).

Jim Chisholm


Traffic Management and Streetscape

Ending the Scandal of Complacency: Road Safety beyond 2010

Cycling Infrastructure Design