Tuesday, November 21st 2017 at 9:53PM GMT
Transport minister Jesse Norman today told a walking and cycling conference that the recently announced Cycle Safety Review would be opened to public consultation, and therefore would be influenced by evidence rather than be a “knee jerk reaction”.
The minister was speaking to 150 delegates at the Department-for-Transport-sponsored Cycling + Walking Innovations 2017 conference. Organised by Landor Links, the full-day conference was held at the Oval in London.
Norman stressed he was a daily cyclist.
“The joys of walking and cycling have tangible benefits – air quality reduction, reduced congestion on our roads. Let me say that again – reduced congestion on our roads! That’s why supporting walking and cycling have become such a priority for this government.
“I had the joy of leaping on to my bicycle when I biked in this morning – it was an enormous amount of fun run in. It was quick! I knew almost to the minute when I was going to arrive. It was fantastic exercise. I got here with an endorphin high. I felt like I was one with nature and I went my own way.”
He highlighted e-bikes as important innovations and added that the spread of dockless bike share bikes will “make an enormous difference to urban cycling.”
He then described the thinking behind the recent – and surprise – announcement of the Cycle Safety Review.
“We very much believe cyclists have to feel safe,” said the minister. “There has to be harmonious interaction between all road users.
“We have to get over the perception that cycling is somehow unsafe around busy roads when the reality is that we have some of the very safest roads in the world.”[This widely-held-in-government view that British roads are some of the safest in the world was later disputed by a questioner.]
Transport minister @Jesse_Norman mentioned the Ministry of Silly Walks at today’s cycling & walking conference.
— Carlton Reid (@carltonreid)
Norman was clearly stung by criticism he received on social media and in The Guardian for his creation of the Cycle Safety Review: “When I announced we were going to have a Cycle Safety Review the heavens opened and I was dumped-on from a great height by an enormous amount of people with very distinct views on the matter who hadn’t read the release we put out.”
He added, with gusto: “There was a feeling of utter hypocrisy would be a light description of the view that was taken of government.”
He stressed he had been using a bike for transport since he was 7-years-old, and then went on to describe how the review would be carried out.
“This Cycle Safety Review has two parts – the first is to address a potential gap in the law to protect pedestrians and other road users against the possibility of bodily harm or death being inflicted while cycling.”
This is a reference to the campaign launched by Matthew Briggs following the death of his wife after she was hit by a cyclist.
“The second,” continued the minister, “will be launched with a consultation in the new year, and will be a wider and more embracing look at how safety can be improved for cyclists and other road users in relation to cycling. That could be infrastructure, education, signage and other things which could contribute to a successful and effective transition to a world in which walking and cycling are enormous.