20mph on roads debate

by bristol cyclist recentley knocked off her bike
on Monday 12 Nov 2012

type: Opinion/Analysis
topic: Transport
region: Bristol

With more than 3,000 accidents a year and over 100 deaths, an urgent rethinking of transport policy regarding cycling safety is long overdue. That requires not only a change in attitudes towards the priority given to cars in our cities but also a shift in the thinking of a minority of cyclists, too. Yet little, if anything, is being put forward by Bristol's canidates for mayor.

Cities such as Minneapolis in the US and countries such as Holland and Denmark have long realised that one of the key principles to making cycling safer is proper separation where it is possible, providing exclusive lanes of cyclists and modifying junctions and crossings to make them less hazardous.

Low-cost solutions include better provision of light-controlled cycle crossings, not least on the junctions and roundabouts where a disproportionate number of serious accidents take place. Separating heavy vehicles from cyclists and insisting on mirrors or warning devices that cover their blind spots would also be welcome.

Another initiative would be to insist that on the "safe" designated cycling routes along quieter roads, a 20 mile an hour speed limit should be imposed. Evidence suggests that the difference of 10mph in a collision is often the difference between injury and death. Some cities, including Plymouth and Bristol, are already experimenting with these measures, an initiative, this paper believes, that should be taken up nationally.