UK Department for Transport announces plans to protect vulnerable road users

Proposals include an awareness course, increased funding and a specialist police unit

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) is setting out a two-year plan proposing 50 new measures to protect vulnerable road users including cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, as reported by the BBC.

This follows the recent announcement that the UK would be implementing the ‘Dutch Reach’ into the Highway Code. Last year alone, 100 cyclists and 470 pedestrians were killed on UK roads, and footage of near misses are uploaded to social media almost daily.

To help introduce the new measures, the government would appoint walking and cycling ‘champions’ to ensure they meet road users’ needs.

Not all proposed policies have been shared with the public just yet, but here’s what we know is being suggested so far:

Department for Transport vulnerable road users proposals

Cyclist awareness courses

One idea put forward is to offer motorists cheaper car insurance in return for completing a cyclist awareness course. It’s a promising idea, since it provides a good incentive for many drivers. It also makes sense, since drivers who are willing to receive further training may be likely to drive more safely as a result.

Specialist police unit

The DfT has said it wants to create a new police unit — a ‘back office unit’ — to analyse video and photo evidence of dangerous driving captured on devices such as helmet cameras and dash cams.

In 2016, North Wales Police trialled a similar operation, which led to 129 cases being dealt with over the course of 10 months, thanks to footage submitted by road users.

Empowering local authorities

Other proposals set out by the DfT include giving local councils more power to tackle parking in bike lanes, though it hasn’t explained exactly how this will happen.

The DfT has said it also wants to encourage councils to spend 15 percent of their local transport infrastructure funding on walking and cycling.

While these efforts to increase road safety have been welcomed by some, Cycling UK, The Ramblers, British Cycling, Living Streets and Sustrans have banded together to express their frustration that the strategy doesn’t tackle speeding.

“While the DfT’s proposals for amendments to the Highway Code will help save lives,” says Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Cycling UK, “ignoring the threat and dangers of speeding is disappointing."

Jesse Norman, Cycling and Walking Minister, appears to be optimistic, however, stating that the new measures are designed to deliver “more support for cycling and walking."

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