Making cycling the natural choice for journeys - part four

Making cycling the natural choice for journeys - part four

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In the fourth of a five-part series looking at the government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy consultation, Martin Key, British Cycling campaigns manager, looks at what performance indicators are needed to deliver the strategy.

The basis of the campaign to establish a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) was to gain parity with the Roads Investment Strategy (RIS).

A coalition of organisations, including British Cycling, argued that if the government was establishing a long-term investment plan for motor traffic, there was an urgent need for an equivalent for cycling and walking. It’s on this basis that the format of the CWIS should mirror the RIS as far as possible.

Published in 2015, the RIS contained a series of key performance indicators (KPIs) as means by which the government would be held to account. These included:

  • 40% reduction in casualties on the network
  • 90% user satisfaction rate
  • 97% network availability at all times

As it currently stands the CWIS does not contain any KPIs.

There is a target to double the number of cycle journeys by 2025 and to reduce the rate of casualties, however, KPIs are needed if the government is to stand a chance of achieving these.

As explained in the previous blogs, to meet these targets the government needs to commit to a rapid programme of creating dedicated bicycle infrastructure supported by appropriate policies, powers and promotion.

Making cycling the natural choice for journeys

One useful indicator would be the total length of cycle tracks and routes which meet a certain minimum standard. This could be achieved by adopting new national design standards such as London Cycle Design Standards and monitoring the development of new schemes. Another KPI should be the shift towards cycle friendly policies in areas like planning, transport and development at both a national and local level.

One developing area which could be used as part of the ‘user satisfaction’ indicator could be the Near Miss Project. The Project counts all those incidents on the roads which are irritating, annoying and scary enough to persuade people that cycling isn’t worth it. Counting these near misses could be a means of comparing performance from area to area.

Near misses are important because it relates to people’s perception of safety on road. This is as important if not more important than the real safety because it is the factor that spreads nervousness amongst family and friends. We all know people who say “You cycle? Oh, I wouldn’t, it’s far too dangerous” even though they never cycle.  This perception or myth spreads and makes even seasoned cyclists think twice.

At the moment the government is taking a rigorous approach to roads investment but this is missing for cycling investment. Until the two approaches are genuinely comparable we will have to continue calling on politicians to fully integrate cycling into transport strategy.