British Cycling attended Tuesday’s meeting of the London Assembly, much of which was devoted to the Transport Committee’s ongoing investigation into cycling in London.
The Committee questioned a panel of expert guests from Copenhagen and Amsterdam about ways to achieve higher cycling rates and improve cycling safety – and what London can learn from other cities. The panel consisted of Dr Rachel Aldred, Director, Sustainable Mobilities Research Group, University of East London (UEL), Karen Dee, Director of Policy, Freight Transport Association (FTA), Ben Plowden, Director of Planning, Surface Transport, TfL, Steffen Rasmussen, Head of Traffic Design, Municipality of Copenhagen and Roelof Wittink, Director, Dutch Cycling Embassy.
These experts emphasised the importance of putting cycling at the heart of transport policy and how policymakers must create the space and the time for people on bikes, a stance closely aligned to British Cycling’s views on cycling in the city.
Steffen Rasmussen said "city-wide we have an aim, one third public transport, one third bike, one third car. Engineering solutions are extremely important, junctions in particular. We see reductions in 50, 60 per cent in casualty incidents after we redesign junctions." Rasmussen also made the point that in Copenhagen that they used public tendering to make sure that the HGVs used in the city have lower cabs which have been proven to be safer as the driver has a clearer line of sight to pedestrians and cyclists.
Roelof Wittink made the following points: "We had great increases in the 70s and 80s in cycling and reductions in casualties, due to, one, people getting used to seeing more people on bikes, two, our policies like separate space and 30kph limits and, three, junction design. I had a look at some of your roundabouts and they allow the cars to go at 40mph, that would be impossible in the Netherlands."
He added, "Right now the road designers are only trained for car traffic!"
British Cycling has said that London “needs to make the choice that it wants people to cycle” in a written submission to the London Assembly for their investigation into cycling in the capital.
After the meeting, British Cycling's Martin Gibbs said:
"Alongside other cycling organisations like the London Cycling Campaign we are calling for effective political leadership on cycling. Cross-departmental co-ordination at both a central and local government level is necessary if we are to make any real progress and become comparable to successful cycling nations like Holland and Denmark.
"The consideration of cycling needs to be a compulsory part of transport planning and we have written to the Secretary of State for Transport to call for a mandatory risk assessment and consultation question added to every DfT policy review that affects road users.
"This simple change would make a tangible difference to transport policy and demonstrate that the Government considers cyclists to be key users of the road network with the right to expect a safe environment."