‘Prom wars’ and bylaws banning cycling on the pavement and through public parks could soon become a thing of the past in some towns and cities throughout Britain under new rules being proposed by local government minister Grant Shapps. The move is designed to encourage people fearful of cycling on the road to turn to bikes for commuting, and comes just days after a report from the road safety charity Brake suggested that greater provision of traffic-free routes would encourage more people to cycle.
The new measures being proposed by the Department for Communities and Local Government seek to do away with the current requirement for local authorities to obtain permission from Whitehall before amending local legislation, in an effort to create more “bike friendly” towns and encourage greater numbers of people to commute by bike, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Mr Shapps said: “I want to make sure they can cycle in safety and where appropriate use the local parks, promenades and public spaces but all too often unnecessary, unwanted and outdated bylaws instead force them onto nearby busy roads.
“We hope this will lead to a lot more cycle paths,” he continued. “Amazingly at the moment it needs a minister to sign off scrapping a bylaw, I think we can trust the locals.”
Conflict between pedestrians and cyclists has come under increased scrutiny from some elements of the press recently, and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, while welcoming the move, highlighted the need for cyclists to keep a look out for those on foot.
“We want to see more people cycling,” a spokesperson told the Telegraph, “”but where there is shared space they have to make sure there is enough room for pedestrians.”
Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, commented: “What we want to achieve is more people cycling more safely. Fear of traffic is one factor that prevents reluctant cyclists from starting in the first place.
“What is also important is to encourage shared use and shared understanding. For cyclists and pedestrians to share space successfully, there need to be common expectations and mutual courtesy.”
Last week, Brake published the results of a survey that it said showed that the provision of more traffic-free cycle routes would encourage up to one in five people not currently cycling to use bikes to undertake journeys between their homes and local facilities.
The charity’s campaigns director, Julie Townsend, said: “Cycling is an enjoyable, sustainable and healthy way of getting around and Brake wants to encourage more people to get on their bikes.
“However, it is vital that the Government is committed to making cycling as safe as possible and reduce the unacceptable number of cyclist deaths and serious injuries that occur each year.
“This research shows that if we want more people to cycle, we need to invest in safe cycle routes and schemes that protect cyclists,” she added.
Ms Townsend concluded: “The message is clear: let´s encourage cycling by providing more traffic-free routes and other measures such as 20mph limits to enable people to get on their bikes in much greater safety.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.