Statistics contained in the Transport Committee Report on Road Safety indicate that road fatalities increased in 2011 for the first time since 2003, with a total of 1901 people losing their lives due to incidents that occurred on public roadways, as stated by Louise Ellman, the Chairwoman of the Transport Committee. In addition, motorcyclists, in particular, face a significant danger of being injured when riding on London’s roadways. A daily total of around 200,000 travels are made by motorcyclists in London; nevertheless, this barely accounts for one percent of all journeys. On the other hand, motorbike accidents were responsible for 19 percent of deaths, 21 percent of severe wounded, and 15 percent of mild injuries that occurred on the roads in the Capital in 2011. This recent spike in the number of deaths that have occurred on the roads has ramifications for the possibility of adjustments being made to rules that pertain to vulnerable road users like motorcyclists and cyclists in order to optimise road safety.

Poorly Marked Footways and Cycle Tracks

According to the decision in Taylor v. Goodwin, bicycles are considered “carriages,” and as a consequence, they are not permitted to ride on pavements. They are only permitted to be used on the roadway, sometimes known as the “carriageway,” and not on the pedestrian walkway. On footways, cycling is not permitted (pavement that is not a carriageway). The fee is thirty pounds. One of the issues that might develop is the fact that many municipal governments provide bicycle access to areas that seem like footways but are not in fact footways. Due to the lack of clarity provided by the signage, pedestrians might also find themselves in a state of bewilderment. It can be difficult to determine where a cycling track begins and where it concludes. Anyone found guilty of riding on a footway after the 1st of August, 1999, might be issued a fixed penalty notice under the new law that came into effect on that day. According to the Home Office, the new law should only be used in cases when a cyclist is riding in a way that has the potential to endanger the safety of others. In his letter, the Minister for the Home Office, Paul Boateng, emphasised that the goal of the fixed penalty is not to discourage cyclists who may use the pavement out of fear of hazardous traffic conditions and who show concern to other pavement users when they do so. It is important for the police to have discretion while dealing with numerous bikers, especially youngsters and young people who are nervous about riding their bikes on the road. It is important to properly define bike routes so that riders do not put themselves, as well as maybe other cyclists and pedestrians, in danger. This will help reduce the number of people who are injured as a result of riding.

Leadsom’s Private Member’s Bill

Andrea Leadsom wants all users of the road to be held equally responsible for their behaviours and to have equal access to the protections that are available to them. She plans to accomplish this objective by introducing a new private member’s bill that will establish a new traffic safety offence for causing someone’s death while riding in an unsafe manner. The conduct of a small number of bicycles that murder people (on average 0-3 a year, 0 in 2009, and 1 in 2008) would be able to be examined by the police, and those riders might potentially face prosecution and conviction as a result of this new offence. In 2009, 500 pedestrians were murdered by automobiles, whereas in 2008, 572 pedestrians were killed. The measure that was proposed by Ms. Leadsom was supposed to have its second reading in the House of Commons in January of 2012, but it was scrapped because the discussion in the Commons on the Daylight Savings Bill was time-consuming and given precedence. The sole accusation that may be brought at this time is for wanton or angry driving, which is covered under section 35 of the Offenses Against the Person Act of 1861. This clause was originally intended to cover “wanton or furious” driving of a horse-drawn carriage. Because Mike Penning, the Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Transport, has stated that the department is investigating the situation to determine whether there is any need for new legislation, it is highly unlikely that the bill will be passed. This is one of the reasons why it is unlikely that the bill will be passed. The new offence that would be created as a result of this bill’s passage into law has the ability to hold cyclists to a higher degree of responsibility and bring attention to the fact that one of the primary goals of the legislature is to reduce the risk posed by hazardous riding. By making it a crime in its own right for cyclists to cause the death of another person through reckless cycling, society may be able to persuade cyclists to ride with greater caution, thereby reducing the risk of collisions between cyclists and the other motorists and pedestrians they may encounter.

Controversial Helmet Laws

At this time, there are no rules in place in the United Kingdom that require cyclists to wear helmets while they are on the road. A measure submitted by private members to the British parliament in 1998–1999 and another one submitted by private members in 2003–2004, both of which attempted to make it mandatory for children under the age of 16 to wear helmets, respectively, were both unsuccessful. Diverse interest groups argue back and forth over whether or not cyclists need to be protected by regulations requiring them to wear helmets.

Hooper and Spicer contend that regulations that require people to wear helmets infringe on their individual liberty and advise that, as an alternative to legislation, governments educate cyclists with public health information about the probable advantages of wearing helmets. They agree with the report from the British Medical Association (BMA) that children should wear helmets because there is evidence to suggest that helmets are more beneficial in protecting children than protecting adults and because children may not have the necessary maturity to exercise individual autonomy. In addition, there is some speculation that wearing helmets does not even improve the safety of riders. According to research conducted in Australia, eighty percent of cyclists who were killed or wounded while riding a bicycle wore helmets, as did eighty percent of those who were injured. Furthermore, the total danger that bikers face is rather low, regardless of whether or not they choose to wear helmets while riding their bikes. There were in 2008 a total of

17, 604 reported cycling casualties in the United Kingdom, but there were only 104 deaths and 2606 serious injuries. According to the BMA report, helmets were more effective in situations where the cyclist fell from the cycle as opposed to accidents between vehicles.

In addition, the Transport and Health Study Group, an independent British society of public health and transport practitioners and researchers, published the report Health on the Move 2 containing Cycle Helmet Evidence demonstrating reasons for the opposition of helmet laws. Their research distinguishes betweencase-control studies that report up to 88 percent helmet protection from brain injury and population-level studies accounting for secular trends that show no noticeable prevention of serious head injuries, either in traffic collisions or falls on the highway. In case control studies, people with a specific outcome (i.e. head injury when cycling, the ‘cases’) are compared with ‘controls’ (i.e., non-head injuries when cycling). Some issues are that the later population level studies have been left out by official reviews. For example, the 2002 UK government review, the Cochrane Review and a recent review by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) all leave out information regarding population-level studies. Furthermore, there are issues with case-control studies because they do not take into consideration that social class has a strong influence on helmet use by children.

All in all, mandatory helmet laws in the United Kingdom may not be necessary for the protection of cyclists. Cooper and Spicer’s proposition regardingpublic health information about the possible benefits of wearing helmets as an alternative to legislation is beneficial in preserving individual autonomy by allowing people to make their own informed decisions and raising awareness can reduce serious cycling injuries and fatalities.

Government Budget Cuts

Government Budget Cuts to “End the War on Motorists”. Several road safety professionals claim thatthe government’s cuts to police, road safety budgets and speed cameras result in more deaths and injuries in road accidents for vulnerable road users. According to Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, dangerous cycling is becoming an issue, particularly for 18-59 year olds as the increase in traffic is lower than the overall increase in cycling casualties.Chris Peck, policy co-coordinator for CTC, the cyclists’ organisation, also states that the increased numbers of cycling casualties over the last few yearsis most likely partially due to less traffic policing because road safety is not a priority for the government and that cyclists and pedestrians are suffering as a result. Also,Mick Giannasi, the chief constable of Gwent who speaks on the topic of roads on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers, told ministers the £38m cut in the 2010 road safety budget will lead to a rise in fatal road accidents if councils decide they cannot afford to operate the cameras and potentially remove 4 out of 5 cameras within five years.One example is Oxfordshire County Council that announced that it would turn the cameras off after the funding cut.Giannasi said the cost-effective community speed schemes were meant as an “addition to and not a substitute for” existing road safety measures, such as volunteers trained to use mobile speed guns and report offenders to police. These schemes have resulted in motorists receiving warning letters rather than automatic prosecution. These budget cuts are ultimately problematic and more money should be reallocated to these areas to potentially protect cyclists and other road users with more traffic policing. Furthermore, keeping cameras can also protect pedestrians and other road users by regulating motorcyclists’speed on roads and highways.

Proposals for Future Cyclist Safety

Developing a London-wide Road Safety Action Plan is one of the proposals in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS). The Greater London Authority Act 1999 allows Transport for London (TfL) to put together a program of measures to promote safety on London’s roads and to add to measures taken by other authorities. The consultation document proposes seventy actions intended to decrease the number of road casualties and to improve perceptions of road safety in London. For example, the Cycle Safety Action Plan (CSAP) was created by TfL and its partners in March 2010 to prevent cycling casualties on London’s roads. It is based on a review of evidence that identified the people who are at the greatest risk, and where and when the conflicts are most likely to occur. There are nine areas that need to be improved on including the need for safer infrastructure, training and information, communication, enforcement, regulation, technology, commercial driving and working practices, research and monitoring, and partnership. In engineering, TfL also performed a test using roadside mirrors at traffic signal-controlled junctions on London’s BCS to give HGV drivers improved visibility of cyclists. Also, permanent provisions have been made to permit motorcycles in bus lanes after trials to allow motorcycles in Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) bus lanes. A road safety campaign focusing on the need for road users to watch out for motorcycles in bus lanes will continue. There will also be increased enforcement of motorcycle speeds. Lastly, the Department for Transport publicized the Think! Campaign ‘Named Riders’ to focus on motorcycle safety as well as the cycle safety stakeholder forum to decide how to deal with the problem of distinguishing between the real and perceived dangers of cycling. These proposals and provisions that have been made will work to further improve existing road safety conditions, as well as campaigns that raise awareness and involve the public in making roads safer for vulnerable road users.