Tag Archives: Road Danger Reduction

BBC: Why are so few motorists who injure cyclists ever prosecuted?

UPDATE: The programme is available on BBC iPlayer until mid March 2018.


BBC’s “Inside Out West” programme on Monday evening will be addressing the question of why so few motorists who kill or seriously injure cyclists are ever prosecuted. This reflects a chronic failure of the British justice system which Bristol Cycling and national cycling groups (such as Cycling UK, British Cycling, RoadPeace and Cyclenation) have been campaigning against for many years.

Only last week, Bristol Road Justice wrote to Avon & Somerset Police to challenge recent statistics which reveal A&SP’s reluctance to prosecute motorists who police officers’ reports suggest were at fault in injuring cyclists. For a sample of 12 incidents on the Gloucester Road, for example, A&SP took no further action in 8 cases.

Members of Bristol Cycling and RoadPeace have provided research and evidence to BBC journalists working on the creation of this programme, which is broadcast on Monday 12th. Feb 2018 at 7:30pm on BBC1 (typically channel 001) (but not on BBC1 HD channel 101). The report is also expected to be discussed on BBC TV’s “Points West” local news programme and on various radio shows.

Cycling Casualties and Police Enforcement Action

Bristol Road Justice has been in contact with Avon and Somerset Police as to the action they are taking with regard to enforcement action against dangerous drivers.

Headline facts

In 2016 police recorded that 285 cyclists were injured in road traffic collisions (ten year average 262). In 26 cases the injuries were recorded as “serious”. (Warning: many incidents go unrecorded and the level of injury is often miscategorised as less serious.)

In the same period hospitals in Bristol admitted 47 seriously injured cyclists (ten year average 39).

  • of 68 pedestrians admitted due to traffic collisions, 62 had been hit by a motor vehicle, 6 had been in collisions with cyclists.

Although figures for cycling casualties were up on the previous year, the figures do not show a long-term upward trend. Nor, given the increase in the number of cyclists over the last ten years, do they show that cycling is a dangerous form of transport. That is not to say that the level of death, injury and intimidation on Bristol’s roads is in anyway acceptable.

Police response

We asked the police what action they had taken in relation to a sample of cases where their reports suggested the driver was at fault:

  • For incidents recorded as resulting in “serious” injury, we looked at a sample of 14 cases, in 6 of which the police decided to take no further action.
  • For a sample of 12 incidents on the Gloucester Road, the police took no further action in 8 cases.
  • The n.f.a. cases exclude those where the cyclist was recorded as not wishing to pursue matters.
  • Most concerning was the Force’s lack of action with regard to car doorings where only 1 case out of 15 was prosecuted.

The impression given is that Avon and Somerset Police will not even consider enforcement action unless very serious and obvious injury is caused and this partly explains why the majority of Gloucester Road and car dooring cases were not pursued.

That someone knocked off their bike by a carelessly opened vehicle door is injured is entirely predictable, far less predictable is the extent of their injuries. In fact such incidents can result in fatalities as the recent case of Sam Boulton in Leicester has shown.

We have written to Avon and Somerset Police’s Head of Road Safety and asked for details of their charging policy in such cases.

Cycling hospital admissions in 2016

Bristol Cycling regularly requests data from local hospitals on the number of admissions by transport mode. Below is an infographic breaking down the collisions that resulted in cyclists being admitted to hospital in 2016.

Take away messages might be:

  1. Take care to avoid leaves, curbs, potholes and, especially, ice
  2. Avoid cars (Space for Cycling anyone?)

Read more ...

250 hours community service for killing a cyclist – A Fair Tariff?

The ridiculously lenient sentence handed down to a driver for killing cyclist Peter Brown, at the Aust roundabout, again raises questions about how the law deals with such cases.

  • Given that the cyclist was clearly visible to the driver’s passenger and the driver of the car behind, why was Philip Bridges, the killer driver, not charged with dangerous driving, which would have attracted a marginally higher sentence?
  • Why, especially in the light of his previous drink driving conviction, was Bridges not given a lengthier driving ban than 15 months?
  • How can anyone suggest that 250 hours community service is any sort of punishment or deterrent for killing an innocent person?

Our sympathies go out to the widow and family of Peter Brown. They said “He has left a huge gap in our lives that will never be filled. He was a very active man who cycled 150 to 200 miles a week and had years ahead of him.”

Induced Traffic and Traffic Evaporation

The recent debate on the proposed Callington “Relief” Road has brought the concept of “induced traffic” back into the limelight. And also the the related and much neglected evidence for “reduced traffic“, or the delightful concept of “traffic evaporation”. So what do these terms mean?

Induced Traffic

As car ownership and use have increased over the past 30 years the reaction to the pressure created by additional traffic demand has often been to increase the level of supply, in other words, provide additional road space. There is a growing body of evidence indicating that the benefits of creating additional road capacity are not as significant as was previously believed. In many cases, the provision of new road links simply increases congestion problems. This occurs through a process that is known as traffic ‘induction’. In 1994, the UK Government-commissioned Sactra report provided evidence on the impact of new road building on traffic levels in the area of the scheme. The report revealed that when new road capacity is provided, overall traffic levels in the vicinity of the scheme actually increase. The evidence does not offer a reliable means of predicting the extent of this traffic increase but case studies suggest that it is typically around 10 % in the short term, and 20 % in the longer term. In our cities, such as Bristol, there is an additional reason as to why the provision of additional road capacity is problematic for city planners — there is simply a lack of available space in which to expand.

Two recent reports from the Campaign to Protect Rural England on “the Impact of Road Projects in England” and “The End of the Road, Challenging the Road Building Consensus” discuss the latest evidence on the failure of road building projects to do anything more than attract more cars, increasing noise, air pollution and accidents. There is also is sound research evidence to back the benefits and impacts of pedestrian improvements and road closures as set out in the new website from the UWE Centre for Transport and Society.

Traffic Evaporation

So if building or widening roads causes more traffic, what happens when capacity is restricted or redirected? Chaos, surely? Well the evidence points to something else, something that unexpected, a phenomenon that has been called traffic evaporation, disappearing traffic, traffic suppression, or, more generally, reduced demand. The fact is that some traffic is displaced to other modes, and some simply vanishes, with no seeming inconvenience or disruption.

Case Study – Wolverhampton Town Centre

This case study examines a response to intense traffic congestion, worsening environmental conditions and declining economic activity in Wolverhampton in the face of competition from other shopping centres in the city of Telford to the west, and the Merry Hill complex to the south-east, and additional planned retail centres. In 1986, the local authority commissioned ‘The Black Country Integrated Transport study’ which concluded that building more roads would not solve the growing transport problems.

A more effective strategy would be to give greater priority to public transport and to put greater emphasis on improving the urban environment by creating an attractive physical space that would meet the public’s expectations. The response was a four-stage strategy, central to which was the removal of approximately 8 000 through-traffic cars per day from the city centre. The predicted traffic congestion did not occur. A significant percentage of traffic appears to have disappeared from the city centre, a result which could not be solely explained by displacement to other routes.

Below we’ve put together a short storyboard showing how the theories of induced traffic and traffic evaporation play out in reality.

The concept of “Induced Traffic” and “Traffic Evaporation”

Download our handout from the Callington Road meeting: 

Induced traffic and evaporation



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