Walk or cycle, say MPs

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The Independent Online
The conventional approach to road safety of trying to dissuade vulnerable road-users is misguided and should be replaced by a strategy of encouraging cyclists and pedestrians back on to the streets, an all-party group of MPs said yesterday.

A report by the Commons Transport Committee cites the city of York, where a radical programme to reduce road speeds and promote cycling and walking has led to a 40 per cent drop in road casualties in the past 15 years, compared with a UK average drop of 1.5 per cent. Despite a large increase in the numbers of pedestrians and cyclists in the city, casualties in the two groups have fallen by 36 per cent and 30 per cent respectively, compared with national drops of 15 per cent and 12 per cent.

The committee wants the Department of Transport to formulate a national strategy for achieving road safety goals and to take into account the benefits of shifting from cars to walking and cycling when assessing road schemes.

Lynne Sloman of the Pedestrians Policy Group said: "Road safety officers treat walking as dangerous; they give kids Tufty Club badges, make them wear reflective clothing and tell parents not to let them walk to school alone".

Colin Graham of the Cyclists' Public Affairs Group said: "This report confirms that bad road safety policy has been putting the brake on bike use. The committee has asked itself, 'why is it that cycling is 12 times safer in Denmark than in the UK?' and has reached the conclusion that safety policies and road design must change."

5 House of Commons Transport Committee: Risk Reduction for Vulnerable Road Users, Paper 373, HMSO, pounds 14 10