RAC warns government to consider “needs of all road users” following push to walk and cycle

The RAC have warned government that the “needs of all road users must be carefully considered” following yesterday’s announcement to urge the public to walk and cycle more.

The government are hoping far more people will be cycling and walking thanks to a £2billion investment launched by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, to boost greener and more active transport.

The investment will provide pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors in England within a matter of weeks.

However, the RAC, a motoring organisation with more than 8 million members, suggested that whilst uptake on the cycle and walking is currently high during lockdown measures, it is “inevitable” that people will return to the comfort and convenience of their vehicles once allowed to again.

There were also concerns that by reducing road space in certain areas, local authorities “could end up creating problems if traffic demand outweighs those opting to use a bike”.

Responding to yesterday’s announcement, RAC Head of Roads Policy Nicholas Lyes said: “We welcome the Government’s approach to increasing safe cycling and active travel for people to get about, particularly as concerns about the safety of using public transport are likely to persist for some time.

“The success of new walking and cycling schemes will depend on how attitudes to using cars for short journeys have changed over recent weeks, and if those attitudes translate into people permanently switching to active forms of personal transport.

“It’s very likely that while traffic volumes are currently down, people will inevitably return to the comfort and convenience of their vehicles for some journeys when lockdown restrictions are eased, especially where they need to cover longer distances or have a longer commute.

“The needs of all road users must therefore be carefully considered. For example, authorities will need to be careful about reducing road space in certain areas as they could end up creating problems if traffic demand outweighs those opting to use a bike.

“The additional funding allocated for electric vehicle charging infrastructure is much needed. While the proportion of drivers looking at purchasing an electric vehicle as their next car choice remains relatively low, interest is increasing. Charging infrastructure in the UK has improved significantly, though drivers still say this remains a barrier to them choosing an electric vehicle, alongside range and comparable cost to a similarly sized conventional vehicle.

“While drivers are lukewarm about the idea of having e-scooters on roads, they also often tell us they would like to have cheap, reliable alternative forms of transport so the Government is right to look at different ways for us to get around in congested cities.

“E-scooters could provide that alternative for short trips, though their safe use must always be the number-one priority. For example, it makes sense that these devices have safety features like reflectors and speed limiters fitted, and that options such as insurance and training are carefully looked at to see if they can bring additional safety benefits. The Department for Transport might also need to look at changes to the Highway Code to accommodate new forms of road transport.

“The Transport Secretary said the car will continue to play a vital role and we also await further detail on his pledge to look at investing in wider road infrastructure, including using this period of lower traffic volumes to fix potholes on our local roads.”

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