It’s Time to Get Down to Detail With Our New Safe Cycling Infrastructure
There’s a real danger that the momentum that was building behind a growth of cycle use in the UK could be lost. With it might go a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the nation’s health and air quality. We have the budget (all £2bn of it), we have the broad policy objectives, and we have the good intentions. What we need now are the details of how safe cycling will work and be sustainable in real towns and cities across the country.
In some cases, pop-up cycle lanes are already popping back down again as residents and traders complain about traffic congestion. There are also enduring safety concerns with temporary cycle lanes set up when roads were quiet and without fully addressing common hazards such as junctions and turnings. Evidence from Berlin shows a spike in cycle accidents and fatalities as traffic levels returned to normal.
What Will Get People Out of Their Cars and Onto Their Bikes?
It’s essential and urgent to get down to the details of the infrastructure we need to build to make widespread active travel a reality. Pop-up solutions were a welcome measure but we need to look longer-term. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that they are principally an alternative to socially-distanced public transport. We need bolder and more comprehensive solutions to entice people out of their cars and to carry on cycling once public transport returns to normal.
The reality is that however many cycling courses, fix your bike vouchers or assisted bike purchase schemes you have, more people will cycle only when it feels completely safe. And that needs a different kind of infrastructure. Finding solutions won’t always be easy. It will call for ingenuity, creativity and specialist experience from planners, civil engineers and contractors.
The sooner we get together and start designing the physical infrastructure to promote safe cycling the better. As a contractor, Osborne is ready to bring to the table experience of delivering safe cycle routes, knowledge of how to work safely in live road and rail environments and expertise in installing bridges and overpasses with minimum disruption. All of these will be essential as we move from temporary to permanent solutions to boost active travel.