The UK government has announced a number of ground-breaking initiatives as part of a two-year action plan to improve traffic safety, with a particular emphasis put on protecting the most vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders.
The 50 proposed new measures are part of the government’s plan to combat road rage, encourage greater mutual respect between all road users, and ensure the safety of the most vulnerable. The action plan builds upon the feedback of more than 14,000 people, including organizations such as Brake, Living Streets, Cycling UK, and the British Horse Society, who responded to the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy Safety Review call for evidence.
The government is aiming to make cycling and walking the natural choices for shorter journeys or as part of a longer journey by 2040. Since the strategy was published, councils and metropolitan mayors have allocated an additional £700m (US$892.5m) to active travel initiatives, with almost £2bn (US$2.5bn) being invested in this area over the course of the current Parliament.
Among the proposed measure in the action plan are:
• A review of guidance in the Highway Code on how road users should behave in relation to cyclists and pedestrians, as well as other vulnerable road users, including equestrians, which will be conducted in consultation with all key stakeholders;
• A bespoke new back office unit will be set up so that police can analyze video and photographic evidence from phones and dash cams submitted by the public, building on the success of Operation Snap, a program first piloted by North Wales Police in 2016;
• Councils will be given powers to tackle dangerous parking in mandatory cycle lanes;
• The Department for Transport (DfT) will appoint a new Cycling and Walking Champion, to ensure new policies meet the needs of active road users across the UK;
• Authorities will be encouraged to spend around 15% of their local transport infrastructure funding on walking and cycling;
• Hosting a new 2019 Bikeability Summit encouraging businesses to promote cycling and walking schemes to their employees.
The action plan will also assess whether insurance companies could offer discounts to drivers and motorcyclists who have passed Bikeability training. The DfT will work closely with courier companies to explore incentives for drivers who undergo training in driving safely alongside cyclists, pedestrians and horse-riders.
“Greater road safety, and especially the protection of vulnerable road users such as cyclists, pedestrians and horse-riders, is essential,” said UK Cycling and Walking Minister Jesse Norman, announcing the initiative.
“We want to improve air quality, encourage healthy exercise, reduce obesity and boost our high streets and economic productivity. That means more support for cycling and walking, and that’s what these new measures are designed to deliver.”
Joe Irvin, chief executive of Living Streets, commented, “Looking to improve the Highway Code for walking and cycling can help make our streets safer for everyone. Lower speed limits in urban areas, more time to cross at light-controlled crossings, better street maintenance, and constraints on pavement parking, can all help encourage people to choose these cleaner and healthier ways to travel.”