Call for safer streets for cycling and walking as Tour de France begins

June 28th, 2013 by Brake

Go20 launch (click image to expand - image courtesy of Brake)

Go20 launch (click image to expand – image courtesy of Brake)

Road safety charity Brake has renewed calls for drivers and authorities across the British Isles to GO 20 as the Tour de France begins, to enable more people to enjoy cycling without fear or threat to their safety.

Brake, alongside a GO 20 campaign coalition, is calling for 20 mph limits to become the norm across built-up areas, so people can cycle and walk for their health and enjoyment, and for cheap and sustainable travel, without being or feeling endangered.

The campaign appeals to drivers to GO 20 or below around homes, schools and shops to protect cyclists and pedestrians.

UK Government Department of Transport statistics released on 27 June 2013 show that 118 cyclists were killed, and 3,222 were seriously injured in 2012, marking the third year in a row when cyclist deaths and serious injuries have risen.

While this is at least partly down to a rise cycling, Brake is calling for action to enable more people to cycle without risking injury.

As world-class cyclists compete for the yellow jersey, Brake is highlighting that slower traffic speeds, alongside more segregated and traffic-free paths, would help more communities to get active – by helping to overcome a major barrier that prevents many adults and children following the example of the Tour de France riders and getting on their bikes.

It is increasingly recognised that town/city/borough and parish-wide 20 mph limits are effective in reducing casualties and encouraging more walking and cycling.

In April 2013 the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group recommended the UK government work towards 20 mph limits being the norm in towns, alongside more segregated cycle paths, with the aim of 10% of journeys being by bike by 2025 (currently its 2% in the UK).

Since the GO 20 campaign was launched in November 2012, Westminster and the Welsh Assembly have moved to encourage more 20 mph limits, while Transport for London is implementing a raft of safe cycling measures including more 20 mph limits.

More local authorities have announced they are switching to 20 mph, including Manchester, Bath and North East Somerset and Sefton in Merseyside.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, said “as excitement builds around the Tour de France, no doubt it will inspire more people to take to their bikes to commute, exercise, or enjoy the countryside.”

“But it remains that fast traffic and inadequate safe routes have a major impact on people’s ability to choose and enjoy cycling,” she said.

“While good progress is being made in some areas, we have a long way to go before British streets and communities are cyclist-friendly.”

Julie Townsend, Deputy Chief Executive of Brake (click image to expand - image courtesy of Brake)

Julie Townsend, Deputy Chief Executive of Brake (click image to expand – image courtesy of Brake)

“We believe everyone should be able to cycle or walk in their community or to get to work or school without fear or threat.”

“Anyone who drives can help bring this about: pledge to GO 20 around homes, schools and shops, and take great care to look out for cyclists and pedestrians this summer and year-round.”

“We’re also renewing our calls for the government, and more authorities, to bring in more safe cycling facilities and work towards 20 mph being the norm across built up areas,” she said.

GO 20 is a coalition campaign supported by 11 charities, calling for:

  • more authorities to make the switch from 30 to 20 mph across towns, villages and cities;
  • the government to work towards 20 mph limits being the norm in communities;
  • and drivers to pledge to GO 20 around homes, schools and shops.

This is on the basis that 20 mph means:

  • Fewer casualties: at 20 mph, drivers have more time to react and stop in time if they need to. Studies show when 20 mph limits replace 30, it means fewer casualties among pedestrians and cyclists.
  • More walking and cycling: danger from traffic is a major barrier in enabling more people to walk and cycle. Town and city-wide 20 mph limits have resulted in more people walking and cycling.
  • Healthier, happier people: More walking and cycling means healthier people, and more enjoyable outdoors activity for kids and adults. It helps communities interact and be communities.
  • Less pollution: GOing 20 means lower emissions from vehicle journeys. Plus if more people can switch their commute or school run to foot or bike, it means less polluting traffic.
  • Lower costs: Poor health from inactivity costs society dearly. Road casualties cost even more, due to the suffering and burden on health and emergency services, criminal justice costs, insurance costs, and human costs. For each 1 mph speed reduction, casualties decrease by 5% according to the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory. In the UK, each death on roads is calculated to cost £1.7 million and each serious injury costs £190,000 according to the report “Reported road casualties Great Britain 2011, UK Department for Transport, 2012.”
  • Preventing casualties and improving health means GOing 20 mph pays for itself many times over. In Bristol, the 20 mph speed limit led to cost savings to the health service through increased physical activity. Using the World Health Organisation’s Health Economic Assessment Tool to estimate the changes in costs. They found for every £1 spent they saw a return of £24.72 through increased walking and £7.47 through increased in cycling.
  • Helping people save money by choosing the cheapest ways to get about – on foot and by bike.
(Please click logo to go to GO20 website)

(Please click logo to go to GO20 website)


1 Response to “Call for safer streets for cycling and walking as Tour de France begins”

  1. rosie dorey

    Excellent article and so timely for us here in Guernsey where the Transport Strategy is under review. Let’s hope those in a position to make Guernsey’s roads more bike and pedestrian friendly take this opportunity to do just that. It is so obvious that whenever a journey is made by bike or foot, the benefits are wide spread to the whole community.

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