Cycling Policy Statements - February 2001

Highway Engineering Solutions for Cycling

RoSPA supports the provision of suitably designed and appropriately located cycling facilities, including fully and partially segregated cycle lanes, special cycle crossings, advisory routes, shared routes, exemptions from turning bans, advanced stop lines with feeder reservoirs; and cycle facilities (where they traverse minor side-road junctions) given priority, wherever this can be achieved safely. These will be most effective if they are incorporated into a network of cycle routes, each of which should have been subject to cycle user audits and road safety audits in accordance with appropriate guidelines.

Shared Use Cycle Paths/Tracks

Footways are for pedestrians. The conversion of a footway into a shared use cycle/pedestrians path should be a last resort. Highway Authorities should consider all other possible measures (e.g. traffic management, speed reduction or dedicated on-road cycling facilities) before converting a footway into a shared use facility.

However, where there is no reasonable alternative and where footways are of sufficient width, and engineering measures are introduced, RoSPA supports the use of the Cycle Tracks Act 1984 to convert footways to shared use paths. Government procedures should be revised to simplify the implementation of these measures.

Education and Training

Cycling training and education should be available to every child, as far as possible reflecting local needs and environment, but in accordance with a nationally agreed ‘Code of Good Practice’. Ideally, cycling education and training should be available throughout every child’s school life (using the model of a spiral curriculum) incorporating separate stages of cycling education appropriate to their ages and stages of development. All practical training schemes involving children over nine years of age should incorporate training on public roads.

Cyclist Helmets

RoSPA recommends that all cyclists wear a cycle helmet that meets a recognised safety standard. Cycle helmets, when correctly worn, are effective in reducing the risk of receiving major head or brain injuries in an accident.

It is recognised that helmets do not guarantee protection for the wearer, nor prevent accidents from happening in the first place. The most effective ways of reducing cyclist accidents and casualties are to improve the behaviour of drivers, improve the behaviour of cyclists and to provide safer cycling environments. However, wearing a cycle helmet is a simple, low cost and effective way that individual cyclists can protect themselves.

Surveys in 2000, showed that only 22% of cyclists on major built-up roads wear helmets. Education and publicity measures to promote the use of cycle helmets should continue.

RoSPA does not believe that it is practical to make the use of cycle helmets mandatory because voluntary wearing rates are too low. Should compulsory cycle helmet legislation be considered in the future, it should be based on evidence that cycle helmets are effective in reducing cyclist casualties, and on evidence that voluntary use is sufficiently high for enforcement of the law to be practical. There may be stronger arguments for limiting mandatory cycle helmet use to child (rather than all) cyclists. As cycling provides health and environmental benefits, the likely effect of such legislation on cycle use should also be assessed .

Cycle Helmets and VAT

Helmets designed and marketed for children under 14 years of age have been zero rated for VAT since 1993. From 1 April 2001, this exemption was extended to include cycle helmets for adults as well, so that all cycle helmets are now exempt from VAT. RoSPA welcomes this development because the cost of cycle helmets deterred some people from obtaining and wearing them while cycling. It is essential that the cost savings are passed on to the public in order to increase cycle helmet use.

Use of Cycle Lights at Night

Cyclists riding in the dark without adequate lights and reflectors are at greater risk of being involved in a road accident. Therefore, when riding in the dark, all cyclists should use front and rear lights (and have a rear reflector fitted) as required by law. They should also have front, pedal and wheel reflectors fitted to the bicycle and wear something fluorescent and reflective.

Accident data indicates that more cyclists are likely to be involved in an accident during daylight hours. Therefore, daytime conspicuity is just as, if not more, important than the issue of cycle lights. Cyclists should wear bright, preferably fluorescent and reflective, clothing and accessories.

There is no evidence to indicate that mandatory fitment of lights to bicycles at the point of sale would increase the usage of cycle lights in the dark. Accident data does not suggest that such legislation is justified.

Cycling on Footways

Footways are for the use of pedestrians. It is illegal to cycle on the footway, unless signed otherwise. Cycling on the footway poses danger, concern and fear to pedestrians, particularly to elderly or disabled ones.

However, RoSPA would support a change in the law to permit young children who have not received appropriate training, and/or who are judged by their parents* not to be capable of riding on the road safely, to ride on the footway. In this case, it should be the parent’s* responsibility to ensure that their children behave responsibly and always give way to pedestrians.

*The term parent includes anyone with parental responsibility for the child.

Cycling on Footpaths, Bridleways and Byways

Cycling is permitted on footpaths (as opposed to footways or pavements) provided that the Highway Authority has designated all or part of the footpath as a cycle track under the terms of the Cycle Tracks Act 1984. Cycling is permitted on bridleways under the Countryside Act 1968. Cyclists should only ride on footpaths and bridleways where there is sufficient space for the safe use of the path by all users, and should give way to pedestrians and horse riders. If the route is intended as a commuter route it should conform to high standards of safety and design, particularly regarding sight-lines, appropriate stiles / gates, pavement obstructions, lighting and maintenance. All routes will be most effective if they are incorporated into a network of cycle facilities, each of which should have been subject to cycle user audits and road safety audits in accordance with appropriate guidelines.

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