We need to change priority. Sorry Drivers (Wait, thats me too!)
As my last article – You’re Lazy – linked here, went into, we all know the benefits of getting out of our cars. Better health and wellbeing as well as the obvious benefit of improved air quality for all of us. You don’t need to be in Highway Consultancy to know that.
Dft reckon that although there has been an increase in walking over the past year, cycling isn’t really moving. Interestingly cycling also only shows a small rise in the numbers of women using bikes. Current studies show that men cycle 2.5 times as many trips and almost four times further than women.
(As a side note, I’d be very interested in thoughts on this, is it safety? The Opportunity to walk and cycle?)
The study is here if you’re into this sort of thing. click here!
Safety is clearly a concern in the conversations that I have with colleagues – or certainly the perception of risk. I think it’s a very valid one too.
As designers working with overseeing organisations and highway authorities though it’s not simple. Getting road users to shift out of their cars is proving a challenge for us as designers, officials and to be honest, the public.
We need to design Place and Movement where we look to flip traditional road classifications and set travel priorities for an area thats based on place and situation.
Spending a bit of time in Germany over the years, where pedestrians have the right of way at junctions – things like this are a possible way forward. You need to clearly show that you want to cross the street, but the system seems to work extremely well and helps in the attitude toward more vulnerable road users
But this needs a greater input / flexible approach from local authorities that will enable us private sector highway designers to build this sort of concept into our designs.
Hertfordshire have a great local transport plan that looks to flip the transport hierarchy – trying where possible to place walking and cycling at the top.
I know that we all recognise the benefits of active travel, but we’re still concerned with safety. That doesn’t just come from ‘hard’ measures and blanket 20mph zones but it does help. In fact……
Recent research has shown that while 20mph zones made only a small reduction to traffic speed in areas that already had some traffic calming, they had more of an impact on the perceptions of safety and led to a small increase in cycling and walking!
Now I drive – I actually love driving – so I’m not being militant here, but it’s a fact that there is aggressive behavior from some drivers, again though I think that the more people are out of cars then the more people will appreciate how vulnerable you can feel and that in itself will help with perception
E-bikes and E-scooters also need to be part of this conversation on mobility.
Whilst were reducing car use where its ‘arguably’ not needed, it is important that our urban road links and the networks that provide the main routes between areas are focusing on getting from point to point quickly and safety.
We need government and local authorities to support schemes and new ways of thinking to test out how we can support newer forms of active travel and reduce the reliance on cars for short and medium journeys.
Happy to chat.