How can we continue to encourage cycling whilst keeping cyclists safer on our roads?

In what ways can we continue to encourage cycling whilst keeping cyclists safer on our UK roads? | Blog post | CCTV | Traffic Enforcement

Between 2011-2016 an average of 2 cyclists fatally lost their lives, and 62 cyclists were seriously injured every week on our UK roads (Department of Transport).

At a time in which we should be encouraging active modes of transport, safety statistics are a large deterrent for members of public that cannot trust they will be safe on our UK roads.

As many of you may know, Videalert supports cycling, both for its health and environmental benefits.

Five years ago, Tim Daniels, our Sales Director, nearly lost his life whilst cycling. He was recently part of a team of cyclists that helped to raise over £40,000 by undertaking a charity cycle ride from Caen to Cannes in France.

Cycling team raise over 40,000 for charity
Keeping our roads safe for cyclists and encouraging the use of bicycles as a mode of transport is extremely important to us.

What benefit does cycling have for air quality in UK cities?

Very simply, by encouraging members of the public to cycle, it removes vehicles from the road and reduces emissions. The more people that cycle or walk, the fewer vehicles that will be on the road.

Sustrans, a walking and cycling charity, aims to measure the exact impact of walking and cycling on air quality. You can read more here.

A study by researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) looked at the cycling infrastructure, and the number of journeys made by bike across 167 European cities. They found that over 10,000 premature deaths per year could be saved if the percentage of daily commuters that were cycling to work was over 24.7%.

The number of commuters in England that cycle to work sits at just 4% (2011), however, it should be noted that this percentage is much higher in some UK cities. For example, 29% of commuters cycle to work in Cambridge and 17% in Oxford. (Cycling UK: Cycling statistics).

It is clear if cycling could be encouraged further, our air quality will improve.

Commuters cycling to work in London | More cyclists results in less vehicles on the road

How much investment is being made to encourage cycling?

Currently, investment into active modes of transport sits at around £4.30 per person. Just recently, health and public bodies have been calling for the Government to put together a new Clean Air Act. As part of this new Clean Air Act, The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC) has suggested this investment needs to be increased to around £10 per person.

With the introduction of Clean Air Zones in some of our worst polluting cities, it has been suggested that some of the revenue generated should be re-invested in encouraging active transport.

Sustrans, a walking and cycling charity, states that clean air zones ‘will not solve air pollution on its own’ and that a behavioural shift away from vehicles is needed.

Why aren’t more of the public cycling?

At the beginning of this article we noted just how many cyclists were being killed and injured on our roads. To encourage cycling, potential barriers must be noted and safety is one of the most significant reasons.

It was recently reported in the media (Evening Standard and the BBC) that motorists are parking illegally on cycle lanes forcing cyclists to enter the main carriageway.

Some 15% of cyclist causalities are caused by them joining the road from a pavement (Dept of Transport) and this is often due an obstruction of the pavement/cycle lane.

How can illegal parking be stopped?

In Waltham Forest, parking wardens have had their patrol times extended to catch offending motorists, but this is not a long term solution. My Loakes, the council’s deputy leader, has also suggested that cyclists take photos of the offending vehicles but how often this will result in a PCN, we are not sure.

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns for Cycling UK, believes changes need to be made to save lives on the roads.

“Although it’s already an offence to park in a mandatory cycle lane, the reality is that the decline in police traffic numbers means this has been widely ignored and rarely enforced.

Giving local authorities the power to enforce this offence with CCTV cameras is one of the simple solutions Cycling UK proposed in our response to the government’s cycling and walking safety review.”

How can CCTV cameras be used to enforce & manage the misuse of cycle lanes?

The most cost-effective way of enforcing the misuse of cycle lanes is the use of CCTV cameras either fixed on a column close to the cycle lane or deployed on a mobile vehicle or scooter/bike. The Videalert digital video platform uniquely supports multiple traffic management and enforcement activities simultaneously often with the same camera asset.

What does this mean? It means that the cameras already placed outside schools and other on-street locations could be used to enforce illegal parking on cycle lanes in these areas. Similarly the Videalert Mobile enforcement vehicles used to automatically capture illegally parked vehicles as they drive past a School Keep Clear, Bus Stop, Bus Lane or Red Route can be easily extended to capture vehicles parked in cycle lanes. This might be especially relevant in residential areas where there is limited CCTV deployed.

Mobile Enforcement Vehicle | Mobile CCTV Enforcement

The cameras can also be used to prevent crime and provide proof should there be an accident. Currently, as reported by the BBC, the onus is on the cyclist to ‘prove’ the motorist is at fault. Providing means of proof, could deter reckless driving making the roads safer for cyclists.

This highly flexible mobile system integrates with all back office PCN processing systems and police BOF systems to ensure timely enforcement.

In summary

It is clear that improving air quality across the UK requires a variety of approaches including the introduction of clean air zones and encouraging more active modes of transport such as cycling.

Whilst the investments being made to encourage cycling are a great step forward, significant change will only happen when roads are safer for cyclists. In addition, managing and enforcing contraventions that reduce the need for cyclists to ‘enter the road’ are necessary. Now, more than ever.

If you would like to find out more about the Videalert solutions, please get in touch.

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