Cycle safety debate

AA briefing to MPs

23 February 2012

The AA has always had an interest in cycling and safety

The AA has always had an interest in cycling and safety

The first AA patrols rode cycles from 1905 – some 40 years before patrol vans – and they were a regular sight on the nation's roads until the outbreak of the Second World War.

The AA has always had an interest in cycling and safety. Many of our staff, including AA President Edmund King, are enthusiastic cyclists and we we always get a good turn out (from our CEO down) at London-Brighton and other cycling charity events.

The AA would like to see more cycle training across the UK as AA/Populus figures show that less than one quarter of AA members who cycle have ever taken any cycle training.

We hope that AA cycle safety initiatives will help cyclists and motorists, who are often the same people, coexist in harmony on our roads.

Eighteen per cent of AA members (approx 1.5 million) cycle on a regular basis but we expect to see this number increase as fuel prices continue to escalate.

Policy summary

  • AA members walk, cycle, drive
  • AA supports more widespread cycle proficiency training
  • AA supports more cycle safety elements in the Driving Test
  • AA broadly supports The Times Cycle Safe campaign
  • AA supports targeted 20mph zones
  • AA wants more truck/cycle awareness campaigns and training
  • AA issues cycle advice for drivers
  • AA wants more cycle routes/lanes where alternative quieter streets not suitable
  • AA wants all road users to follow Highway Code
  • AA doesn’t support licensing of cycles
  • AA doesn’t support compulsory helmets
  • AA doesn’t support strict liability where driver is presumed guilty

AA Charitable Trust Cycle Helmet Initiative

Last year the AA Charitable Trust ran a cycle safety initiative giving away 5,000 free helmets and high visibility vests to London cyclists.

The response from Londoners was overwhelmingly positive. We had nurses, plumbers, police, lawyers, parking attendants, students all queuing for their helmets. In fact the give-away ended early as we ran out of stock.

AA Policy on Cycling

Views and attitudes of potential drivers can be formed at a very early age and are often already entrenched before a teenager gets behind the wheel of a car.

Cycle safety should be embraced within a broader road safety strategy.

We believe that:

  • The national school curriculum should cover attitudes and all aspects of road safety for pedestrians, cyclists, riders and drivers.
  • Driving lessons and the test should address more of the broader issues around the safety of all road users including more emphasis on cycling and motorcycling.
  • There needs to be an extension of the Bikeability proficiency training
  • There needs to be greater awareness of the tragedy of the high number of cases of trucks killing cyclists when turning left.
  • Traffic needs to slow down, particularly in urban and residential areas. 75% of AA members accept the use of speed cameras and more than 80% support speed awareness courses. We support the introduction of targeted 20mph limits.
  • There needs to be better design of cycle routes - a cycle lane that runs for just 15 meters will lull the cyclist and driver into a false sense of security.
  • The yellow AA helmets (with flashing led lights) and high visibility vests enhance safety as cyclists are more likely to be seen. We do not believe helmet wearing should be mandatory.
  • Our general safety campaigns on issues such as drink or drug driving help to improve the lot of all road users.

In addition

Strict Liability

In road traffic personal injury cases in the UK, the burden of proof is on the victim to prove the other party is negligent. Under strict liability, the burden of proof is reversed. Vulnerable victims, not drivers, are the ones assumed innocent with regard to causing their injuries. It is up to the driver to prove the pedestrian or cyclists were negligent. Strict liability only applies to civil compensation and does not affect criminal prosecution.

We agree with Norman Baker Mp, Transport Minister, who stated:” So the Department has focused on those approaches to behaviour change rather than insurance or liability.

Any change in the law is likely to be very contentious and it would be important to have strong evidence of a benefit to justify a change in the law."

The AA does not believe the liability law should be changed.

(24 February 2012)


Cities fit for cycling

The AA broadly supports The Times Cities fit for cycling campaign.

Cities fit for cycling

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