DfT & the Highways Agency commit to update design standards & regs needed to 'cycle-proof' UK’s roads, says British Cycling.

Road design standards to be updated to benefit cyclists

Following a meeting with Transport Secretary Patrick McLouglin with officials from British Cycling, the Department for Transport and the Highways Agency have committed to updating the design standards and regulations needed to ‘cycle-proof’ Britain’s roads.

"This commitment from government marks a major step forward to make the roads safer for all cyclists," said a statement from British Cycling.

‘Cycle-proofing’ is British Cycling’s term for the practice of ensuring that cycling is designed into all new roads, junctions and developments. 

Reacting to the government’s commitments, British Cycling’s policy adviser, Chris Boardman, said:

“I’m pleased that we’re now seeing the government begin to implement the commitments made by the Prime Minister on 12 August. The scale of the task to make cycle proofing happen is significant however, that does not excuse the need to move fast on pushing through change. We cannot be waiting more than six months for these regulations to appear. The time to transform cycling in this country is – as the government has said – now.

"I still feel very strongly that if the government’s pledge to ‘make Britain a cycling nation to rival any of its European neighbours’ is to be realised, then there absolutely must be tangible targets to measure progress against and an on-going financial commitment, nothing less than is required in sport or business to ensure success. These measures would not only show a real and permanent commitment to a wonderful mode of transport that answers so many of our countries problems, it would give local authorities the confidence to truly back the bicycle at a local level and put long term provision in place."

The Secretary of State has confirmed that the Highways Agency is committed to ‘cycle-proofing’ the roads network and that it will be updating its design standards and training for engineers. The Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) is aimed at trunk roads but many developers and local highways authorities use it when designing local roads – so it has much wider influence. The guidance on non-motorised user audits will be strengthened to give specific examples of design standards in particular situations.

The road profiles element of the guidance should also be updated to show examples of roads with segregated lanes and separated cycle-tracks. This is required because new roads are often not built wide enough to accommodate cycling, meaning that when designers come to develop road schemes it is already too late. This is why cycle lanes all too often narrow, positioned on the pavement or are impeded by other street furniture making them unattractive to people travelling by bike.

The Secretary of State also confirmed that the Department for Transport will be as helpful as it can to allow the successful ‘Cycling Cities’ to build cycle infrastructure which is joined up, coherent and desirable. Many cycle infrastructure designs used overseas are not currently allowed under Britain’s existing Traffic Sign Regulations and design standards, meaning that the £94 million of public money for the Cycling Cities could be wasted without these updates. The ‘Cycling Cities,’ including Manchester, have asked British Cycling to press for changes to allow better side-road crossings, to run continuous cycle lanes up to zebra crossings, and to allow more methods for designing shared crossing points.

The Prime Minister committed to cycle proofing Britain’s road on 12 August alongside announcing a £94 million Cycle City ambition grants which will benefit eight UK cities and four National Parks over the next two years. David Cameron also called for a “cycling revolution” but without urgent measures from the government to modernise guidance and traffic signs, many of these cities will fail to successfully transform into cycling hubs if they follow existing regulations. 

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