In 2012 we have been the leading voice calling for making cycling safer in the countryside and have been pressing the case on the Department for Transport's new Cycle Safety Forum and to MPs.
Safer roads - fewer accidents
Almost half of all cycling fatalities occur on rural roads where the risks are far higher and the risk of cycling on rural A roads is now over ten times more dangerous per mile than cycling on urban roads. Other than the national cycle network, there has been little progress over the last decade to make cycling safer outside of cities. Many people do not feel safe enough to cycle on rural roads in the first place, so the lack of safety is effectively suppressed in statistics.
Lower speed limits
For minor roads, the focus should be on managing motor traffic flows and speeds. The Dutch have rolled out 60km/h zones across most of their rural minor roads, which has cut serious crashes even more effectively than the introduction of lower speed limits in their urban areas. We have been campaigning for 40mph - the equivalent speed limit - as the norm on minor rural roads since the 1990s and we are calling for this to be made national policy in new national speed limit guidance due out later this year. Lorry management zones, a national driver education campaign to encourage considerate sharing of rural roads and use of the 'quiet lane' designation should also play a role.
Routes for cyclists
People should not be expected to have to cycle with heavy traffic on busy main roads. A proportion of the national roads budget should be spent on improving - or in many areas actually creating – walking and cycling routes along and across such roads. These facilities are the exception in England as much as they are the rule in neighbouring continental countries. Little has been done since studies in 2002/3 and the Highways Agency has recently confirmed to CPRE that it no longer has any specific budget for cycling schemes and that it will not publish any programme of cycling measures.
More investment is needed in Rights of Way networks and greenways, such as disused railway lines. The priority should be to provide coherent networks of safe and convenient ways to cycle to stations, schools and employment sites as well as between villages and towns. English law covering rights of way and cycle tracks is unnecessarily complex and should be modernised: by contrast recent Scottish law gives people much broader rights to cycle in open countryside.
Find out more
Our news release:
Country roads could slow to 40 mph