The Commons Transport Committee has said that improving the safety of cyclists on our roads not only requires considerably greater investment, but their aim of reducing accidents while increasing the number of cyclists on the roads, will require a deep and radical change. There is some debate whether dedicated cycle routes, or changes to the existing road network, would be the best approach to help achieve better safety results. An improved road network looks to be the favourite solution of the Committee.
Cyclist safety is a major concern. Any road accident can lead to fatalities, but car drivers have the added protection of the vehicle itself, while the slower speed and smaller size of bicycles means that riders are put at greater risk. The increasing number of cars on the road, as well as the increase in the number of commercial vehicles on the highways, means that the potential for fatal and serious accidents is high.
The Transport Committee published a report that highlighted the current obstacles to better safety, as well as highlighting timelines and some ideas on how best to proceed. At the heart of the improvements, the report said, would need to be a change in the way that cyclist safety is addressed. Every department would need to get involved in order to ensure the best possible results.
The report also said that by the year 2020, the current investment of £2 per head to bicycle safety would need to be increased fivefold to £10 per head. Notably, the report said that the aim should not simply be to reduce casualties, but to do so while ensuring that the number of cyclists on the road increases rather than decreases. Cycling is healthier than driving, it reduces pollution, and it is less expensive; all positive reasons to want a greater number of cyclists on the road.
The report questions whether more dedicated cycle routes, or an improvement to the existing road network would be the best approach. It concludes that the country already has one of the best road networks and highway networks in the world, and that money would be better spent ensuring improvements to roads and the road network than spending on new cycle routes.