An “us and them” culture must be avoided

The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) has responded to May's Public Account Committee report – titled Improving road safety for pedestrians and cyclists in Great Britain - by saying that more ‘real world’ training for returning cyclists and greater mutual respect are the key to enticing more people out of their cars.

The IMA supported the reports calls for joined up government and better accident recording, but it added that safety campaigns need to be aimed at drivers and avoid cultivating the ‘us and them’ culture.

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research, said: “IAM research shows that campaigns should be targeted at drivers rather than creating an ‘us and them’ approach on our roads. Motorists who also cycle appear to understand the needs of other road users so increasing their numbers is the key to future success.

“Many drivers already own a bike but don’t use it very often. To improve road safety we need to raise rider confidence and awareness in heavy traffic, using cycle training and defensive riding techniques. Many cyclists do break the rules and a clarification would be useful, but a heavy handed approach is likely to put people off cycling.”

The report says that speed is an overwhelming factor in injuries to pedestrians and cyclists, whose chances of survival diminish rapidly at speeds over 20 miles per hour. It suggests that local highway authorities should adopt the use of speed cameras, 20 miles per hour zones and road humps, to influence the attitudes of all road users.

Mr Greig said: “The IAM does not support the blanket imposition of 20mph speed limits. Instead good environmental design and high quality traffic calming ‘build in’ road safety. More cycle lanes on high speed roads should also be provided.”

The report also suggests that fewer people would be killed and seriously
injured on the roads if the clocks are put forward by one hour throughout the year.

And Greig added: “The evidence on the road safety benefits of putting the clocks forward by one hour is based on a 1970s experiment. This issue is an emotive one that goes well beyond road safety and now includes the impact on tourism and business when dealing with Europe. The experiment should be repeated in order to see whether changing the clocks would improve road safety.”

You can view te Public Account Committee report at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmpubacc/665/665.pdf.

In August this year a study by IAM showed that motorists who cycle hold the key to less congestion, and it identified the enormous potential for many more motorists to take up cycling either for leisure or to replace car journeys. The study revealed that around half of all motorists own a bike; two in five of them cycle regularly, and half ride their bikes very occasionally.

Nearly all motorists who cycle cited exercise, fun, as well as environmental and money-saving benefits as top reasons for switching to pedal power. What deters them are inconsiderate drivers, heavy traffic, lorries, the poor state of some roads and risk of an accident, as well as bad weather, time pressures and darkness. More cycle lanes, better weather, safer roads and less traffic were the wish list of cycling motorists.