Transport Minister to consider turning Highways Agency in to Cycling & Highways Agency, say campaigners

Minister says he will "consider" aamendments to infrastructure bill would force Highways Agency to provide for cycling

by Simon_MacMichael   June 12, 2014  

Big Ben © Simon MacMichael

The London-based direct action cycling campaign group, Stop Killing Cyclists, says it has secured a commitment from transport minister Robert Goodwill to consider amendments to the Infrastructure Bill, currently going through Parliament, which would see cycling included within the responsibilities of a restructured Highways Agency - and possibly renamed the National Cycling & Highways Agency.

Steven Routley and Donnachadh McCarthy, who founded the group last November when six cyclists lost their lives in London in the space of a fortnight, met with Mr Goodwill, whose portfolio includes responsibility for cycling, on Monday.

Afterwards, Mr McCarthy said: “We welcome the Minister’s commitment to considering such an amendment from MPs. It is crucial that a National Cycling & Highways Agency takes the lead for funding and overseeing the creation of a National Cycling Infrastructure.”

Mr Routley added: “Cycling must be included in the title and remit of the reformed Highways Agency.

“For too long cycling provision has been the invisible Cinderella of Britain’s transport investments despite its enormous potential to reduce epidemic levels of diabetes, lung and heart diseases from traffic pollution and obesity, improve economic competitiveness through congestion reduction, making our roads safer for pedestrians and other road users and reducing carbon emissions.”

Some though will point out that there is a world of difference between considering positive action on cycling provision and actually doing it. Cycle campaigners with long memories will remember plenty of previous examples of government plans to increase cycling that came to nothing.

Stop Killing Cyclists listed a number of items discussed with Mr Goodwill, including:

  • The creation of a national version of TfL’s Mini-Holland cycle funding scheme for councils across the country.
  • The introduction of improved national standards for truck safety equipment on existing trucks.
  • Raising the penalties for texting and speaking on a mobile phone whilst driving, to the same severity as drink driving.
  • Increasing UK cycling funding levels to modern Dutch levels.

Announced earlier this week, the Infrastructure Bill is aimed at improving how national infrastructure is planned, managed and maintained and addresses a number of diverse areas including projects of national importance, the energy sector, and the management of invasice non-native species of wildlife.

In terms of roads, the government says:

The bill would turn the Highways Agency into a government-owned company. It would also provide for stable, long term funding for national strategic road infrastructure projects, to create and repair the motorways and major A routes that support the economy. It would create units within Passenger Focus and the Office of Rail Regulation to represent the interests of road users and to monitor the company’s performance. The response to consultation on these measures was published in April 2014. We have conducted an impact assessment on these measures and considered the case for the creation of an arms-length body.

Fixing Elephant and Castle

Earlier this month, Stop Killing Cyclists released detailed proposals for short-term emergency measures at the Elephant & Castle roundabout in South London following the death of a cyclist there in a collision with a lorry last month.

The plans were drawn up in partnership with professional traffic engineers and were submitted to London’s cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, and Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at Transport for London, who has said he will study the group’s proposals, which you can read here.

The report’s author, Fred Smith, said: “Implementing the signs, lines and small number of separators we propose would be straightforward, very cheap and, we consider, could be achieved within a week.”

Mr McCarthy added: “Stop Killing Cyclists called for emergency by-passes at the junction in March, prior to last month’s tragic killing of cyclist Abdelkhalak Lahyani. Hundreds of cyclists lay down on the ground at our Direct Action Die-In Protest calling for urgent action at this junction.

“We are calling on TfL to implement these practical, low-cost, low-tech proposals as fast as humanly possible. Every day’s delay is another day with unprotected cyclists risking their lives as they pass through the junction.

“If successful, as we believe they will be, such low tech, low-cost, emergency measures should be rolled out urgently by Boris Johnson across all of London’s dangerous junctions wherever there is sufficient space for both cycling and pedestrian infrastructure,” he concluded.

23 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

One notes that he agrees to consider including the infrastucture not that he will.

posted by Wolfshade [135 posts]
12th June 2014 - 16:00

21 Likes

Elephant & Castle? How about this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwyV9o5ILF0

It will never, ever happen anywhere is this country but we can dream. Day Dreaming

posted by levermonkey [572 posts]
12th June 2014 - 16:14

31 Likes

more police, better enforcement, then a willingness for the CPS to go after drivers, Magistrates who punish drivers,

Then maybe we will start getting somewhere.

There is no point banning phones unless the law is enforced.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1800 posts]
12th June 2014 - 16:18

33 Likes

Well hang on a minute. The Highways agency is only responsible for Highways (motorways and major trunk routes) and not for the majority of roads that we cycle on which are the responsibility of the counties roads/highways departments.

And then there's the fact that putting cycling on the nameplate of a big agency is pretty easy but the facts of life are that the executive of that agency will be focused on the big stuff that will raise merry hell if it goes wrong or runs over budget. The cycle paths, might I suggest will be a sideshow.

Bad idea in two ways. One it's meaningless. Two, even if it weren't meaningless it would be a classic submerging of an issue by incorporating it into a bigger department's name where it will be ignored as the department has its focus elsewhere.

Once upon a time in a place called Sandhurst I learned an oft repeated phrase. It was to be remembered and brought to mind, I was told, whenever I saw before me large sweeping movements designed to catch my attention.

"Never mistake movement for action."

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [873 posts]
12th June 2014 - 16:47

26 Likes

mrmo wrote:
more police, better enforcement, then a willingness for the CPS to go after drivers, Magistrates who punish drivers,

Then maybe we will start getting somewhere.

There is no point banning phones unless the law is enforced.

Agreed! Please sign & share this:
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/65953

posted by Garrrrrr [7 posts]
12th June 2014 - 17:15

14 Likes

Also rather apt is the other one "bullshit baffles brains". (Directed at the officers to be fair!)

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3690 posts]
12th June 2014 - 17:16

18 Likes

Hold on - Isn't cycling somthing that happens on the highway?

Surely the Highways Agency is already responsible for cycle provision in this respect? Personally I don't like the new name. To me it implies that cycling and highways are similar but not the same i.e. cycling is not for the highway.

What I think some cycle campaigners forget is that most cycle infrastructure is designed primarily to keep us out of the way, aiding motor 'traffic flow'.

posted by Matt eaton [701 posts]
12th June 2014 - 17:44

19 Likes

levermonkey wrote:
Elephant & Castle? How about this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwyV9o5ILF0

It will never, ever happen anywhere is this country but we can dream. Day Dreaming

Given how much unspent money TfL are currently sitting on in their cycling budget, there's no reason why it couldn't happen. In fact I think they could afford quite a few of them.

bikebot's picture

posted by bikebot [1298 posts]
12th June 2014 - 18:10

18 Likes

Matt eaton wrote:
Hold on - Isn't cycling somthing that happens on the highway?

Surely the Highways Agency is already responsible for cycle provision in this respect? Personally I don't like the new name. To me it implies that cycling and highways are similar but not the same i.e. cycling is not for the highway.

Have a read of this
http://m.highways.gov.uk/AboutUs.aspx

What's interesting is that the agency is currently responsible for the 'strategic' road network, major roads and motorways mostly. I imagine that most roads that would benefit from better cycle infrastructure would be the minor and urban roads that are usually managed by local authorities.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1079 posts]
12th June 2014 - 20:19

13 Likes

Such an unfortunate name for a Government minister and a Transport Minister - Goodwill Rolling On The Floor

Airzound

posted by Airzound [866 posts]
12th June 2014 - 22:09

12 Likes

The Elephant (and Castle) in the room is collision avoidance technology. Until the vast majority of vehicles on the road have this there will continue to be excessively high numbers of deaths and debilitating injuries on the road.

posted by Initialised [255 posts]
12th June 2014 - 23:24

21 Likes

Initialised wrote:
The Elephant (and Castle) in the room is collision avoidance technology. Until the vast majority of vehicles on the road have this there will continue to be excessively high numbers of deaths and debilitating injuries on the road.

Collision avoidance already exists - it's a combination of empathy and respect for human life. It's selfish, entitled, distracted driving that causes accidents and kills cyclists and pedestrians.

Drivers shouldn't need technology in order to not drive like dicks.

JaseCD

posted by jasecd [246 posts]
13th June 2014 - 0:26

27 Likes

levermonkey wrote:
Elephant & Castle? How about this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwyV9o5ILF0

It will never, ever happen anywhere is this country but we can dream. Day Dreaming

Looking at the video, I see several reasons why they would not implement it:

1) When does the UK implement concept designs? Realistically, it is too expensive to build one of these at every major intersection that is considered dangerous.

2) Will commuters even use it? It looks like a long and complicated way to get through a junction when rushed commuters want to get somewhere quickly (specifically in London where the traffic-light-drag-race" syndrome is prevalent).

3) Shared use - there is one area like that near Canary Wharf and there are frequent near-misses with stupid cyclists yelling at pedestrians to get out of their way when in actuality the pedestrian is more vulnerable than the cyclist and is moving slower.

4) The Health & Safety brigade will say that there is a risk of people hitting the railings and falling over the edge. I can actually see this happening.

Extra bike? What extra bike dear?

goggy's picture

posted by goggy [152 posts]
13th June 2014 - 7:13

9 Likes

joemmo wrote:
Matt eaton wrote:
Hold on - Isn't cycling somthing that happens on the highway?

Surely the Highways Agency is already responsible for cycle provision in this respect? Personally I don't like the new name. To me it implies that cycling and highways are similar but not the same i.e. cycling is not for the highway.

Have a read of this
http://m.highways.gov.uk/AboutUs.aspx

What's interesting is that the agency is currently responsible for the 'strategic' road network, major roads and motorways mostly. I imagine that most roads that would benefit from better cycle infrastructure would be the minor and urban roads that are usually managed by local authorities.

It's true to a large extent that minor and urban roads should be the focus of cycle-friendly design however, from a purely practical point of view, the most direct route for a utilitarian cycle journey (such as a long commute) is often on major A roads as these tend to join up settlements via the most direct route. Add to this that minor roads are often poorly lit and surfaced and they become even less attractive to cyclists in the winter months.

I'd really like to see some more joined-up thinking on cycling rather that the current status quo of leaving it to local authorities to look after if they can be bothered/have the appetite and budget.

posted by Matt eaton [701 posts]
13th June 2014 - 8:53

15 Likes

whilst the Highways Agency doesn't have responsibility for most roads, they do provide guidance and advice to council highways departments- and the interaction points between council roads and HA roads are generally some of the worst places for cyclists (think how many otherwise lovely on-road routes are marred by one big roundabout crossing a single digit A road- especially an issue on the Cambs/Beds border along the A1!)

posted by Al__S [855 posts]
13th June 2014 - 9:14

16 Likes

The amazing thing about Elephant and castle is that there is so much available real-estate. Plenty of room for a proper kerb separated left turn bypass for bikes and lenty of room for a decent turn right option for bikes.

Changing to highways and cycling agency sounds like a good idea of the cycling was genuinely deeply written into its mission statement. Government owned private companies can work quite well (e.g. Eurostar, Directly Operated Railways). It would also reduce the risk to government popularity since the highways agency could trial implementation of decent cycle infrastructure with deniablity to the government if it goes wrong (which it shouldn't).

However most likely it would change nothing!

posted by P3t3 [158 posts]
13th June 2014 - 9:35

6 Likes

goggy wrote:
levermonkey wrote:
Elephant & Castle? How about this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwyV9o5ILF0

It will never, ever happen anywhere is this country but we can dream. Day Dreaming

Looking at the video, I see several reasons why they would not implement it:
1) When does the UK implement concept designs? Realistically, it is too expensive to build one of these at every major intersection that is considered dangerous.
2) Will commuters even use it? It looks like a long and complicated way to get through a junction when rushed commuters want to get somewhere quickly (specifically in London where the traffic-light-drag-race" syndrome is prevalent).
3) Shared use - there is one area like that near Canary Wharf and there are frequent near-misses with stupid cyclists yelling at pedestrians to get out of their way when in actuality the pedestrian is more vulnerable than the cyclist and is moving slower.
4) The Health & Safety brigade will say that there is a risk of people hitting the railings and falling over the edge. I can actually see this happening.

Ok! Lets look at your points one by one.
1) It is not a concept. It has been built, it exists and I'm not advocating it for every dangerous junction. I'm advocating this as a starting point for discussion in relation to this specific junction.

2)It is just as straight forward as the road network below. Up a slip road to a roundabout, round and back down. Simples! If the 'Road Warriors' want to use the main junction then that is their choice.

3) In the Netherlands this facility is used by cyclists, pedestrians and mopeds without incident. Education is the answer. Shared use = reduced speed & increased respect.

4) Before Health & Safety we had something called 'common sense'. You can't make something idiot proof, all nature does is evolve a better idiot.

So what is the answer? A Hovenring design gives you the best of all possible solutions. A safe, stress free, traffic free route through one of the busiest and most dangerous junction in London.

As Bikebot pointed out in his post we don't lack the money [We lack the political will] and as P3t3 pointed out in his post there is the space to implement it.

posted by levermonkey [572 posts]
13th June 2014 - 12:30

12 Likes

levermonkey wrote:
As Bikebot pointed out in his post we don't lack the money [We lack the political will] and as P3t3 pointed out in his post there is the space to implement it.

I'm not even sure we lack the political will, the mandate is there. The TfL cycling budget is still small, but it's been going up year by year. The amount they actually spend however has been going down.

To me that can only mean one of two things. Either the people charged with implementing the plan are incompetent, or they are ignoring the plan and following their own agenda. That's why I think the story is important, it's good to make a Gov't department clearly responsible, and then beat them over the head with it when they ignore that responsibility.

BTW, that junction cost about 20m euros, of which the mixed use bridge was about 6m. The TfL cycling underspend in just the last year was £38m, which roughly works out at about ten such bridges if you really wanted to spend it in such a way. Obviously, I wouldn't suggest that, but such bold thinking should be appropriate in some cases.

bikebot's picture

posted by bikebot [1298 posts]
13th June 2014 - 12:53

9 Likes

Road.cc itself reported on the TfL underspend earlier in the year, fairly shocking numbers for anyone interested - http://road.cc/content/news/108328-boris-johnson-guilty-massive-underspe...

bikebot's picture

posted by bikebot [1298 posts]
13th June 2014 - 12:55

7 Likes

Two things
1) We're already in the last legislative session of this parliament. This won't have a hope of even being discussed in it
2) There's an election coming up.

'nuff said.

posted by VeloPeo [246 posts]
13th June 2014 - 13:22

13 Likes

The thinking behind the 'Cycling and Highways Agency' is fundamentally flawed. Not only that but it could adversely affect cyclists if introduced as proposed (not that it is ever going to happen.

Firstly, as others have set out above, the HA is not responsible for the roads with the highest demand and potential for cycling, Local Authority highways departments are.

Secondly, if there is a finite pot of money, it would be better spent on roads where people cycle more (LA roads) than in builidng long and lonely routes along the strategic road network where it would see little use. If there were two towns 30km apart, much more benefit would arise from building 30km of cycleway in either town than in trying to build a route between them that would be used by a small minority.

There is however an issue with design standards for cycling provision (there is little in the way of national standards compared to roads in general), with the level of funding available for cycling varying markedly across LAs and of course in political will and support for cycling.

I am fortunate to live and work in Cambridgeshire where things are better than average. But then the average is so low....

posted by Nixster [212 posts]
13th June 2014 - 13:57

5 Likes

I tend to think that incompetence and outdated agendas are the problem with road planning. Cycling? Most councils still don't get it.

A local rat run for motorists was closed off with a raised pavement, bollards, and a planter. I see cyclists bumping up the kerb and making their way through to the quiet route all the time.

I rang the head of Highways and asked 'Could you not have put a bike path in?' The answer was ' we canvassed the residents of the street and they wanted a planter.' No consideration given to encouraging cyclists to carry on using the short cut. They're in the process of repeating the mistake with another local street and the council
refuses to look at the wider usage of the road and it's potential
as a quiet cycle route.

Expand this attitude to multi million £ schemes where local
Councils are relying on private developers to support the cost and it's easy to see why cycling is often not considered as part of the scheme and then dismissed after the scheme completion as something too costly to retro fit. It's the story of the past 50 years of town transport planning.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1161 posts]
13th June 2014 - 18:21

6 Likes

Really wish that " StopKillingCyclists " would become registered as a " Not for Profit " or a Charity ! They are doing a good job , but how much MORE could they do IF they had the funds available to provide the " Banners , Pamphlets , Sound Equipment , etc " required to get the MESSAGE across effectively ?

The Co Founders are working Night & Day , responding to the Media and attempting to do the work that other Org.s such as " Amy Gillett Foundation " have been doing for YEARS , with a substantial Budget ! There are issues raised recently , that i would gladly contribute from my pitiful savings , IF , they had the Banking Facilities , etc , that allowed others like myself to forward funding .

2nd May 2014 , i was given a slip of Paper by the policing Team that attended the Traffic Violence that was created by a 15+ton TFL Bus ! That item finally generated on the 11th June a form 966 and notification of the Case Worker's details . Ignored until now were my attempts to get the " Met. Police " to act on the " upto 14 days " mentioned .

NOW 6 weeks later , it would appear the TFL Bus Driver , may not have even been interviewed by the Met. police , let alone had a Breath Test , Eyesight Test or his " IBUS " equipment or Cell phone checked , NOR i guess would local CCTV & Bus CCTV have been checked , to see if they contributed to his bus "Hitting the rear of a Cycle travelling in a MARKED Cycle Lane on Wandsworth Road , shortly after midday on a clear day , in light/ non existent traffic . IS there CCTV in that roadway near Wyvill Rd SW8 , how long do they keep the records ?

IF the driver has not yet been charged , WHAT , needs to be done , for this to be done in a TIMELY Manner ?

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [406 posts]
13th June 2014 - 18:43

7 Likes