Philip Pank Transport Correspondent
Last updated at 12:01AM, September 20 2012
Source: The TimesDrivers and cyclists must treat each other with mutual respect to help to reverse a rise in casualties, the first official campaign encompassing both bicycles and cars will urge from today.
Announcing the Government’s first cycle safety campaign aimed at adults, Stephen Hammond, who is today confirmed as the new Road Safety Minister, says that the success of Team GB cyclists at the Olympics has encouraged thousands of novice riders to take to the roads.
A national advertising campaign is being launched to keep them safe and to address a deteriorating safety record, which has led to casualties among cyclists rising in 10 out of the past 13 quarters. The number of cyclists killed or seriously injured last year rose by 15 per cent, to 3,192.
Road-safety professionals welcomed the £80,000 publicity campaign but cautioned that it would be effective only if it were part of a wider strategy to improve road design and law enforcement — all themes that are endorsed by The Times’s Cities fit for cycling campaign. Some voiced concern that separating the road-safety portfolio from the cycling brief held by the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker could mean ministers pulling in opposite directions.
The “Think Cyclist” advertisements will try to break the tribal hostility between road users by highlighting the fact that 80 per cent of cyclists hold a driving licence and 20 per cent of drivers cycle at least once a month. “It’s about a culture of mutual respect and understanding the road from each other’s point of view,” Mr Hammond said in his first comments as Road Safety Minister.
The campaign will urge drivers and cyclists to pay more attention to each other when turning. A set of guidelines for drivers says that they should make eye contact with cyclists, use their indicators, give at least half a car’s width of space between their vehicle and a bike rider and check for cyclists whenever they open a car door.
Cyclists, in turn, are advised to ride decisively and well clear of the kerb, to avoid passing buses and lorries on the near-side, to use lights, helmets and highvisibility clothing and to obey stop and give-way signs. As the Times campaign has highlighted, junctions pose a particular danger to cyclists, as 63 per cent of all cyclists killed or seriously injured are hit at junctions.
Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said: “It is a step in the right direction. If this is part of a bigger package to improve road safety, then I would support it. If it is only a one-off campaign to be seen to be doing something, then it will only have a limited effect.” He added: “My hunch is that we are still not seeing entirely joined-up policy across the department [for Transport] let alone across Government.”
Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “Everyone on the road has to take equal responsibility and can make a difference. A campaign on its own won’t change the world — it has to be part of an ongoing change in attitudes and that comes down to highways engineers when they are designing junctions. It is broader than a few slogans, but slogans can help to reinforce the message.”