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
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.