Changing behaviour – a 4 point plan.

Numerous government reports say that part of the solution to achieving net zero carbon by whatever date will require a modal shift by people to make fewer journeys by car and more by walking and cycling.

In 2017 the government produced its “Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy” in which it says “It is our ambition that cycling and walking are the natural choices for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer journey.”

Recently the government has produced a report called “Decarbonising Transport” in that it says “Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities. We will use our cars less and be able to rely on a convenient, cost-effective and coherent public transport network.”

These are all fine words but what needs to actually happen for these objectives to be in anyway achieved in any reasonable time?.

I believe there are a few things that can be done quickly that will have a big effect and encourage more people to make more journeys by walking or cycling.

  1. Make 20mph the default speed limit in all urban areas.
  2. Change the road user priority from vehicle- cycle – walk to walk – cycle – vehicle. For example, why should a pedestrian walking along Park Lane (main road) give way to vehicles turning into or out of Kennet Drive (side road). Or why should cyclists pedalling along Barn Road (main road) give way to vehicles turning into or out of Tesco’s?.
  3. Allow the use of side street zebra crossings. These are common in Europe, simple Black and White zebra crossings on a minor road. They are cheap, approx. £300, maintenance virtually zero and effective.
  4. Change the law on presumed liability so that in the event of an accident with a pedestrian or cyclist the vehicle driver is assumed to be liable. Again this is common in Europe.

Unless and until we make the changes above we can have an ambition to encourage greater use of walking and cycling but I fear without much success.

I welcome any comments on my proposal.

5 thoughts on “Changing behaviour – a 4 point plan.

  1. You’re quite correct. 56 mph national speed limit too.
    Controversial, but more shared space, which requires eye to eye contact and consequently slower speeds. Car free centres.

    1. I am told that David Keane the PCC supports it. Not quick though because some councillors may raise an objection. Also needs a 26 week consultation period.

  2. Of the 4 points, I think only the speed restriction is within the power of the local authority. The others are for national government. Do correct me if wrong.

    I’d like to add another aim. Or is it aims? This is another for national government though. If all road users (including pedestrians) followed the Highway Code, all of us would be safer. If the Highway Code could be enforced more rigorously, that would also be beneficial.

    Of course, only motor vehicle users have to study the Highway Code, in order to pass their test, but these make up a large proportion of road users, and of course, many people who walk and pedal are also drivers or motorbike riders.

    So my suggestion is that the driving test has to be re-taken frequently (every 5 years?), as a refresher, and that eyesight test results and a GP report have to be submitted every 2 years. This could be self-financing, with drivers paying for their re-test, eye test and medical report. So many people of all ages are driving despite below par eyesight, or despite a medical condition or medication that makes driving risky. Filtering out those who are not physically fit to drive, along with re-tests, would help make the roads safer, along with an increase in traffic police to educate and enforce.

    1. The local authority can also change the priorities for example changing the phasing of traffic lights, adding pedestrian crossings, allocating more space to pedestrians and cyclists. The side street zebras and law on assumed responsibility is for the government.

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