The House of Commons Transport Select Committee asked for views on how to increase the amount of walking and cycling -active travel.
This is our response.
Ely Cycling Campaign (ECC) wants better cycle facilities in and around Ely, Cambridgeshire and promotes cycling in the area. Cycling in Ely languishes whilst we see it doing much better 10 miles to the south, in Cambridge. We briefly describe below two of our experiences of what goes wrong then draw on these to make our conclusion.
East Cambridgeshire District Council is very proud of the cycling facilities from the centre of town to the new Leisure Village. The details in the planning permission and in the promotional material looked good but when it came to delivering, the cycle facility stopped short of the cycle parking. The area that we thought would provide that link is planted with trees, a commercial sign and a utilities box. Cyclists are expected to dismount and mix with pedestrians for the last 200 yards of their trip. This, according to the Council is adequate.
The Ely Southern Bypass budget included a large sum for walking and cycling across this busy road (A142), as part of a plan, included in the Proposed Submission Local Plan, for walking and cycling between an outlying village, Stuntney, and town. No walking/cycling crossing has been built. In addition, despite this new replacement road, motor vehicle access at the old site will be retained, which encourages short motor trips rather than using active travel.
We conclude that the root cause of these errors is local politicians’ lack of understanding of active travel, their undue bias to motor vehicle transport and inadequate consultation. The engineers are the same as those who build better cycling infrastructure to be found in Cambridge.
You can find more details on the above points and similar issues at our website: https://elycycle.org.uk/
Please find below an extract from the ECC draft response to the Department for Transport (DfT) request for views on the introduction of new cycling offences. The points made in this extract are relevant to your enquiry.
We acknowledge that when asked about barriers to cycling, non-cyclists usually put perceived lack of safety at the top of the list. Safety is an important consideration and can be partly addressed by improved cycling infrastructure, in particular provision of an integrated transport network. However, motoring short distances needs to be engineered out of the transport options. Given the nature of local politics, central government needs to lay down strict standards for new transport infrastructure builds, ones that provide a feeling of safety to cyclists and dissuade short motor trips, and ensure that they are adhered to.
Extract from the Ely Cycling Campaign draft response to the DfT Consultation on Cycling Offences
We note (from police STATS19 data) that in Cambridgeshire, pedestrians killed or seriously injured (KSI) have remained unchanged since 2004. However, cyclist KSI have increased over the years, being greater than pedestrian KSI ever since 2009. In the Ely District, we have had 2 cyclist deaths and 56 seriously injured between 2005 and 2016. In the same period, there were over 200 STAT19 pedestrian injuries (all severities) but none involved a cyclist.
Motor vehicle occupants have KSI statistics threefold greater than either pedestrians or cyclists and of course, drivers of motor vehicles are responsible for the vast majority of KSI in other travellers. We also note a recent increase in motor vehicle occupants KSI.
ECC is concerned by the limited scope of the DfT consultation. We have no objection to introducing new cycling offences but any change that does not include motor vehicle offences and penalties is a distraction from the clear needs as illustrated by the above statistics.
Four years ago, DfT recognised that our road traffic laws were not working and promised to do something about it. We ask the DfT to broaden the remit of the current review to include all traffic law. This could both promote road safety and help ensure that appropriate sanctions are imposed when people are endangered by the behaviour of other road users.