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.
- Make 20mph the default speed limit in all urban areas.
- 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?.
- 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.
- 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.