Safe Cycling Needs Creative Solutions

The extra £338m announced by the DfT to boost safe cycling and walking was great news for everyone interested in sustainable transport. This, together with proposed changes to the Highway Code, will help make cycling a more appealing option for many people.

When it comes to boosting the numbers of people cycling, the biggest challenges and opportunities are in urban areas. This is where we’ll see massive wins in terms of air quality and health. It’s also where it’s most difficult to establish continuous cycle routes segregated from traffic.

Safety, Comfort, Continuity and Speed

If we’re looking at the factors that will make a real and lasting difference to the uptake of cycling, these are well documented. Above all, people want to feel safe. Even a small number of accidents in one location can make a significant impact on the choice of transport mode (Reitveld & Daniel, 2004).

People also want to cycle on good surfaces with a continuous and reasonably direct route to their destination. Routes that suddenly stop or merge with traffic are a powerful deterrent.

Safer Cycling

Dedicated cycle tracks and segregated cycle routes have significantly lower accident rates than bike lanes on normal highways.

This isn’t surprising. One study looking at police records in California found that 85% of cycling accidents involved vehicles. These mostly happened at junctions (74%) followed by people opening car doors and vehicles overtaking. Wherever cars and bikes mix there’s an added safety risk – even if the cars are parked.

Finding solutions that help more people choose cycling as their preferred mode of transport will call for creativity. Junction design in many places will need a major rethink. Would we be willing, for example, to consider the model of roundabouts in The Netherlands where cars have to give way to bikes on entry and exit?

Route continuity is the other big challenge. This will call for innovative and cost effective ways to route cycle traffic over, under or around busy streets and junctions, and sometimes over other infrastructure such as rail lines. Osborne Infrastructure’s integrated infrastructure team has a good track record of finding safe cycling solutions to this type of problem, including installing five safe cycling routes from design to delivery within three months.

To learn more about Osborne Infrastructure’s integrated approach to safe cycling infrastructure visit our transport infrastructure resource centre or contact Mike Todd (mike.todd@osborne.co.uk).