Building infrastructure for a growth in cycling without providing adequate training for riders could result in a potential public health crisis, a leading academic has stressed.
The significance of active travel as lockdown restrictions are eased has been well documented, with modelling by TfL suggesting there could be a 10-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking.
To accommodate this growth, the Streetspace for London programme was launched in May – and has since helped boroughs create 47 strategic cycle routes, among a host of other schemes.
However, the Government funding for the Streetspace programme has solely been provided for infrastructure projects – and cannot be used for training.
Professor Nicola Christie, president of the London Road Safety Council (LRSC), warns it is ‘irresponsible’ to pursue a growth in cycling without providing adequate training for riders.
In June, the LRSC wrote to TfL’s new transport commissioner Andy Byford, pointing out that less than a handful of local authorities are able to implement training – and that the responsibility lies with TfL to enable it to restart in a way that meets social distancing and protects health.
The letter calls on funding to be given to boroughs ‘without further debate’ in order to provide inexperienced cyclists with advice, support and guidance – which will inevitably save lives.
The letter was sent as part of the recently-published ‘President’s Challenge Statement’, which identifies key areas of work that councils, TfL and other agencies need to address in order to reduce casualty figures in the Capital.
The Statement covers a number of issues, such as the rise of the gig-economy, the link between deprivation and road collisions – and public spending cuts which have seen road safety teams across London weakened, and in some cases disbanded.
Professor Christie says the statement is particularly relevant in light of the changes in mobility due to the challenges post-lockdown, as well as the demographic changes and population growth expected in Greater London.
22 July 2020