Government Backs Bike Lanes and Pedestrians/Cyclists on British Roads
Last week Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a £338 million package that will be used to better secure the safety of both pedestrians and cyclists on British roads. A very encouraging development, which also comes as a 30% increase on what was announced in last year’s milestone spending review, the package will also look to encourage the public to choose more sustainable travel options and make urban areas greener and cleaner.
With the number of miles cycled in the UK up by 45.7% in the last year alone, reaching 5 billion miles, this proposal further indicates that the Government is serious about promoting alternative travel and carbon neutral living in its post-Covid plan. As Shapps suggests, “millions of us have found over the past year how cycling and walking are great ways to stay fit [and] ease congestion,” and this package will hopefully “keep that trend going by making active travel easier and safer for everyone.”
Included in the proposals is a revision of the Highway Code, which will put pedestrians at the top of a new “road user hierarchy” and place greater responsibility on larger vehicles for others’ safety, as well as plans for the construction of hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes.
These measures will hopefully spur a greater uptake of cycling amongst British commuters. As mentioned in a previous blog post, the greatest hinderance recognised by the bike industry to its expansion in the UK is the lack of safety that cyclists and would-be cyclists currently experience on British roads, which makes them forgo the bike for “safer” methods of transport like cars.
Dedicated cycle lanes, therefore, are one of the best ways of encouraging cycling. The example of the Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods and temporary cycle lanes, which were rolled out last year during the period of reduced car use during the pandemic, shows that cycling levels spike in areas where it is made easier/safer.
They especially benefit women, for who city planners have traditionally not catered – with the creation of brand-new bike lanes in the outer city and more diversity on inner city routes, this has notably bolstered cycling amongst women over the past year. They also have the added effect of, as Xavier Brice of the walking and cycling charity, Sustrans, states, better linking “communities together” while also “enhancing valued and well-used cycling and walking routes.”
We hope that some of this budget will also go toward storage - better-lit, more secure, and better access to bicycle parking, whether it be sheds, lockers, cages or full enclosures, would go a long way toward encouraging cycling as well as curtailing bike theft.
Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction, and the news of an increased budget is especially encouraging following the report earlier this year that the initially promised money fell far short of what is needed to meet the government’s targets of doubling cycling and walking by 2025. Indeed, while there have been misfires over the past year, we hope that Government continues on this path, and if their recent intervention against local governments tearing up bike lanes is any indicator, then there are grounds to be optimistic.