In its recent report on road traffic law enforcement, the House of Commons’ Transport Committee has recommended that the Home Office commission research into how collisions and near misses are handled by the police. The committee sees this as a necessary part of the Government’s strategy to promote cycling, which it says must involve reducing the number of people who consider it too dangerous to cycle on the roads.
Describing the vulnerability of cyclists as “a particular road enforcement challenge,” the Transport Committee says that it is also because of that vulnerability that cyclists are more aware of careless or dangerous driving around them.
“A ‘near miss’ involving a cyclist can be close to a fatal accident, and ‘near miss’ reports involving cyclists should be considered in that light. It is clear that there is a problem with the actual and subjective safety of the roads for cyclists, as well as the perception of the likely result of reporting offences to the police. The level to which cyclists feel unsafe on the roads due to a perceived failure to enforce traffic law is at odds with the Government’s aim to promote cycling, and must be addressed.
“We recommend that the Government’s strategy should not only promote cycle use, but must do so whilst reducing the proportion of people who consider that it is too dangerous for them to cycle on the roads.”
The committee spoke to a number of cycling campaigners and cyclists and said there appeared to be “substantial feeling that collisions or near misses involving cyclists are sometimes not effectively handled.”
There was also found to be great variation between police forces with regard to how a road user can report a near miss. As well as suggesting that the development of best practice would be of benefit to all, the committee also recommended that the Home Office commission research into how collisions or near misses are handled, in particular “how this varies between each force area, and how this impacts the proportion of people who believe it is too dangerous to cycle on the roads.”
Making reference to cyclists being particularly vulnerable to collisions with HGVs, the report also says that the Department for Transport should assess the impact of Transport for London’s Safer Lorry Scheme with a view to applying pressure to make those requirements mandatory for HGVs across the EU.
The committee also recommended that the Department for Transport respond to calls from campaigners for an HGV ban on the streets of central London during certain hours. It suggested that the impact of a ban on vulnerable road users and road haulage operators be evaluated to see if measures can be devised which would balance the two groups’ needs.