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Call for action on MPs’ rural road safety blind spot

Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:05

Committee of MPs fail to address the two-thirds of road deaths that occur on rural roads.

A new road safety report by the House of Commons Transport Committee [1] has failed to recognise that over two-thirds of road deaths now occur on rural roads and, in particular, that the risk of being killed cycling on rural A roads is now 15 times higher than on urban roads [2].

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has responded by calling for a dedicated fund for safe walking and cycling routes along rural main roads.

Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner for CPRE, says: “It is obscene that we don’t already have a plan or dedicated funding [3] to create safe routes along main roads. We had hoped the committee might have addressed this. Although its focus on cycle safety in urban areas is welcome, this should not come at the cost of action in rural areas.”

The Transport Committee report criticises the Government for a lack of leadership and, specifically, proposals for engineering measures but fails to identify the problem of rural roads let alone any action in relation to them.

Following CPRE’s high profile campaign to reduce speed limits on minor rural roads [4], the charity is taking action to ensure the needs of people wishing to walk, cycle or rider along or across the nation’s main roads are not forgotten either. The Department for Transport is due to publish the first national roads strategy by the end of 2012 but so far its focus has been on motorists [5].

Ralph Smyth continues: “Travelling without a car in the English countryside can literally mean taking your life in your hands, since very few of our main roads have safe paths for walking and cycling along. It is time we go beyond the idea that driving should be the only option in the rural areas. We are years behind continental countries - a dedicated fund for new paths is the only way to go.”

End

Notes to Editors

[1] The report will be published on Wednesday at www.parliament.uk/transcom. Before then media representatives can obtain a copy fromHannah Pearce: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 020 7219 8430. CPRE’s written evidence to the inquiry, which calls at paragraph 29 for safe routes, is available here: www.cpre.org.uk/resources/transport/roads/item/2610-governments-strategic-framework-for-road-safety

[2] According to the DfT, in 2010 68% of fatalities occurred on rural roads. In particular the risk of death per billion km travelled for cyclists is 21 on urban roads and 313 on rural roads. www.dft.gov.uk/statistics/releases/road-accidents-and-safety-annual-report-2010

[3] While the Highways Agency has a specific fund to tackle pinch points, it has refused requests by CPRE to publish any plan to provide safe routes or identify any funding. The DfT’s flagship £560 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund is focusing on promotion, cycle parking and is not likely to lead to more than a dozen or so miles of segregated along rural main roads. Finally the £15 million in June 2012 announced for cycling safety in June 2012 is for junctions outside London: www.dft.gov.uk/news/statements/baker-20120626a though in rural areas crashes are just as likely to be away from junctions as at them.

[4] CPRE’s campaign on rural speed limits received significant national and local media coverage on 14 July: www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/latest-news-releases/item/2976-country-roads-could-slow-to-40-mph

[5] More details about the planned reform of the strategic road network is available here: www.dft.gov.uk/publications/roads-reform/

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