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New roads should prioritise cyclists and pedestrians says NICE

Health watchdog recommends reallocating road space and charging motorists

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says cyclists and pedestrians should get priority when new roads are built or when old ones are upgraded. In draft guidelines for planners and local authorities, it suggests reallocating road space, restricting motor vehicle access and introducing road-user charging and traffic-calming schemes.

The Department for Transport told the BBC that it supported such policies, adding that its own guidance "is crystal clear that street design should explicitly consider pedestrians and cyclists first".

NICE says that transport systems and the wider built environment can be improved to encourage greater physical activity.

“Getting people to be more physically active by increasing the amount they walk or cycle has the potential to benefit both the individual and the health system,” said Prof Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE.

“As a society we are facing a looming type 2 diabetes crisis, which is in part caused by people not exercising enough. We need more people to change their lifestyle and to take more exercise.

“People can feel less safe when they walk or cycle compared with when they drive. We’ve got to change this. So asking planners to prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and those who use public transport when roads are built or upgraded can ensure they are safe, attractive and designed to encourage people to get out from behind their wheel.”

NICE makes a number of recommendations as to how active travel can be prioritised.

It suggests:

  • Re-allocating road space by widening footways and introducing cycle lanes
  • Restricting motor vehicle access by closing or narrowing roads to reduce capacity
  • Introducing road-user charging schemes
  • Introducing traffic-calming schemes to restrict vehicle speeds

It also specifically recommends improving active travel routes to schools and colleges and installing secure cycle parking facilities in public places, on public transport and at public transport stops.

At this point you’re no doubt wondering how they’ve covered this news in the Mail.

Well, the somewhat wordy headline is “Pedestrians, cyclists and bus passengers should get priority when new roads are built to help tackle the obesity crisis – not the motorists who paid for them, health watchdog says.”

The newspaper also sees fit to quote Howard Cox of road haulage lobby group FairFuelUK. He managed to deploy the term ‘Lycra army’ in reference to recommendations that mostly focus on pedestrians and bus passengers.

“Yet another stupid out of touch edict,” he frothed. “What planet are these so called experts on? The whole economy depends on road transport. A three-piece suite can't be delivered on a bicycle. Of course roads should be designed to cater for all users, but not by stifling the highest-taxed drivers of cars, vans and trucks in the world, for the sake of the Lycra army.”

Joe Irvin, CEO of Living Streets, said: “For decades our towns and cities have been built to prioritise motor vehicles; resulting in unhealthy air, congested roads and a decline in people walking everyday journeys.

“It’s time that towns and cities were built for everyone – first and foremost for those on foot. Placing key services like schools, GP surgeries and bus stops within walking distance is vital. More people getting out and walking everyday journeys, such as to work or school, will make us a healthier country.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “It is a courageous move by NICE to challenge sectors outside of healthcare, but one that recognises the need for a society-wide approach to encouraging people to take steps to be more active.”

A public consultation on the draft guidelines will run until February 1.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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17 comments

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HarrogateSpa | 5 years ago
1 like

The comment from the DfT is mendacious.

The hierarchy or road users requires that pedestrians be considered first in the design stage, then cyclists, then motor vehicles. It is the order in which the designer must do their thinking.

That is not the same thing as actually giving people on foot or on two wheels priority or decent provision. And we don't get priority or decent provision.

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danhopgood | 5 years ago
2 likes

Design standards for the UK consist largely of the "Design Manual for Roads and Bridges" - which is mainly aimed at motorways and trunk roads and has liitle of substance for vulnerable road users.  Then there's the "Manual for Streets" - aimed largely at new build housing developments and is pretty wishy-washy about hard and fast rules for design.

So yes, there's guidance, but in my view it's not good enough - as evidenced by lots of new development with very poor design and woefully inadequate space allocation for vulnerable users. 

You can bet your boots there are good design standards in places like the netherlands - but the culture  of the population there accepts space is needed for vulnerable users.  That point of principle hasn't been established in this country.  Hence folks on radio 4 get away with saying "separate the cyclists from the road network" which of course in reality means having no proper provision for cyclists.

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burtthebike replied to danhopgood | 5 years ago
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danhopgood wrote:

Design standards for the UK consist largely of the "Design Manual for Roads and Bridges" - which is mainly aimed at motorways and trunk roads and has liitle of substance for vulnerable road users.  Then there's the "Manual for Streets" - aimed largely at new build housing developments and is pretty wishy-washy about hard and fast rules for design.

So yes, there's guidance, but in my view it's not good enough - as evidenced by lots of new development with very poor design and woefully inadequate space allocation for vulnerable users. 

You're right, and the local authorities have their own standards, and there are other various standards, but not one single authoritatiave source, and they are all to some extent, different, and none of them are, as the DfT claims "crystal clear."  So what happens is that the local authority designs some change to the road, ignores cyclists, and when you point out that they aren't following their own guidance, they find a bit of DMfRB which supports what they say.   It is fifteen volumes, so a bit like the bible; you can always find something that supports what you want.

The DfT are just liars, as are almost all highways engineers if they claim they've considered cyclists.

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brooksby | 5 years ago
1 like

I thought that road designers, etc, *already* had some guidance - a hierarchy, I think its called - which puts pedestrians, cyclists, public transport users at the top and private motorists at the bottom.  So, is NICE just asking everyone (nicely ) to follow existing guidance rather than begging for some magical new developments...?

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burtthebike replied to brooksby | 5 years ago
1 like
brooksby wrote:

I thought that road designers, etc, *already* had some guidance - a hierarchy, I think its called - which puts pedestrians, cyclists, public transport users at the top and private motorists at the bottom.  So, is NICE just asking everyone (nicely ) to follow existing guidance rather than begging for some magical new developments...?

Yes, but in the world of transport planning, guidance and implementation are not on the same planet.  Not even the same solar system.  Or the same galaxy.

Most local authorities and Highways England and the DfT all have the same hierachical list, but it is purely decorative and if you challenge them about it, they'll mutter about balance and demand while all the time telling you how much they support cycling.  Total f*****g hypocrites.

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alansmurphy | 5 years ago
2 likes

 

"A three-piece suite can't be delivered on a bicycle".

 

Well they can, but he's correct, not the most efficient way. But the world has been convinced that rather than have a local tradesman, upholsterer etc. that could build something to last, repair and recover it etc. and deliver the short distance that it's much more efficient to park at a multinational companies (no tax required) expensive showroom, be shown something at an over-inflated price then a bullshit discount added, for the order to be made by hand in a foreign factory (millions of the same stockpiled crap), for that to be moved by lorry, ship, lorry to a point in the UK and then a lorry journey from there. Much better!

 

"Of course roads should be designed to cater for all users, but not by stifling the highest-taxed drivers of cars, vans and trucks in the world, for the sake of the Lycra army.”

 

At least he's not spitting his dummy out. Can i just check, our army hasn't got the best uniform, mode of transport and weaponry has it? 

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Griff500 | 5 years ago
1 like

 “Pedestrians, cyclists and bus passengers should get priority when new roads are built to help tackle the obesity crisis – not the motorists who paid for them, health watchdog says.”

Correct me if I am wrong, but I understood that roads in the UK were paid for by general taxation?

Contacts in the medical/pharma industries have told me over the years that NICE are little more than annoyance even in their own area.  I think it likely that their views will be lost among other "more important" considerations such as planning requirements, budgets, motoring safety, motoring convenience, etc.

 

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Hirsute replied to Griff500 | 5 years ago
1 like
Griff500 wrote:

Correct me if I am wrong, but I understood that roads in the UK were paid for by general taxation?

Ah but VED raises 6.2 Bn plus all the vat and fuel duty

Goes away to find out how much is spent on motorways and trunk roads a year.

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EddyBerckx replied to Hirsute | 5 years ago
1 like
hirsute wrote:
Griff500 wrote:

Correct me if I am wrong, but I understood that roads in the UK were paid for by general taxation?

Ah but VED raises 6.2 Bn plus all the vat and fuel duty Goes away to find out how much is spent on motorways and trunk roads a year.

 

I read the other day that the total 'tax' paid for by motorists including VED, fuel etc came to something like 48 billion a year...but the goverment agency responsible for the roads has stated it costs 9 billion more than that to maintain.

 

That DOESN'T INCLUDE THE GARGANTUAN COST OF ACCIDENTS AND FATALITIES ON THE ROADS OR THE COST OF NEW ROADS.

 

So they are massively subsidised in other words. Strange how this is not mentioned in the mail etc?

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Simon E replied to Hirsute | 5 years ago
5 likes
hirsute wrote:
Griff500 wrote:

Correct me if I am wrong, but I understood that roads in the UK were paid for by general taxation?

Ah but VED raises 6.2 Bn plus all the vat and fuel duty

Goes away to find out how much is spent on motorways and trunk roads a year.

Fuel duty would raise a lot more revenue that could be spent on cash-starved public services if it hadn't been frozen for 9 consecutive years!

VED is paid by everyone who has a car and keeps it 'on the road'. That includes many of us pesky cyclists as well as pedestrians and bus/train passengers who may choose to use other forms of transport at times. I don't get a discount for choosing to commute using clean or less polluting methods while my fossil fuel-burning, pothole-creating, pollution-spewing menace to society sits on the driveway.

And do you think that people who didn't spend £x amount on VED and fuel would just hide it under the mattress? Of course not. It would still end up in the economy, just in different pockets.

In June the Independent published a piece showing research that each car in London costs £8,000 due to air pollution.

"Air pollution from cars and vans racks up health bills of nearly £6bn every year in the UK, according to a new report by researchers at the universities of Oxford and Bath."

Irrelevant whataboutery like "A three-piece suite can't be delivered on a bicycle" shouldn't even make it to the fucking airwaves. Disgraceful. And exactly how many people take a sofa to work? FFS.

Why is it always the pacifier being taken from the baby, oh I can't have my comforts? Why can't they talk about the benefits? Why can't people see that clean air, safer, quieter streets are good for EVERYONE? On Tuesday January Chris Boardman tweeted

"By governments own (very conservative) numbers investment in cycling infrastructure pays back at 5:1 making it the most cost effective transport investment of all modes."

StoopidUserName wrote:

So they are massively subsidised in other words. Strange how this is not mentioned in the mail etc?

It never is, it would undermine the complete myth that drivers pay their way and subsidise everything else.

https://rdrf.org.uk/2012/12/31/the-true-costs-of-automobility-external-c...

The Bristol Post reported in February that 20mph speed limits have saved 4-5 lives a year and saved the taxpayer £15 million. And West Midlands traffic police said in September 2017 that their close pass scheme had already reduced KSIs by a fifth and saved millions of pounds of public money.

How much does your commute cost (or save) society: infographic

https://twitter.com/GlenBikes/status/981195104953147392

When you look at the way big road schemes are funded and justified you realise it's a bit of a con. Look at what Lee Waters has to say about the ridiculous project on the Gwent Levels:

"this figure just does not make sense, and it’s done over 30 years. They are retrospectively concocting an economic formula to justify the conclusion they came to in the first place. "

https://www.cyclingnorthwales.uk/cycling-advocacy/lee-waters-ex-sustrans...

In Shrewsbury the council have poured millions into a 'relief road' (a second bypass around the north of the town) which will supposedly cost £120 million. They fail to acknowledge that won't actually solve anything at all, it will simply move the pressure points to different places (and, due to Induced Demand, increase total traffic levels). I find it hard to imagine a less cycle-friendly and active travel-friendly organisation, but it's run by a bunch of corrupt, self-important arseholes who don't give a shit. surprise

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growingvegtables replied to Simon E | 5 years ago
4 likes
Simon E wrote:

Irrelevant whataboutery like "A three-piece suite can't be delivered on a bicycle" shouldn't even make it to the fucking airwaves. Disgraceful. And exactly how many people take a sofa to work? FFS.

Actually, most of them?

What's a car, if not a three-piece suite, home entertainment system, and mobile phone cradle?  

And then they want extraordinary amounts of space to park their three-piece suites on wheels - what is it?  Eight parking places for every car in our cities?

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TedBarnes | 5 years ago
2 likes

While the benefits of a more active population are obvious, I suspect this has as much chance of successfully changing actual transport infrastructure as when the CDC in America try to address gun violence as a public health issue. 

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Shades replied to TedBarnes | 5 years ago
2 likes
TedBarnes wrote:

While the benefits of a more active population are obvious, I suspect this has as much chance of successfully changing actual transport infrastructure as when the CDC in America try to address gun violence as a public health issue. 

I just see this at yet another piece of evidence to say that cycling to work, and generally being more active, is good for you.  Despite these hard facts, there isn't a massive uptake in cycling because people and the infrastructure are 'wedded' to the motor car.  Isn't the risk of developing cancer 50%, and cycling to work will reduce that risk by half [previous scientific study]; what more encouragement do people need?  Chuck in the fact that the cost of motoring in real terms is going down, this report will just end up as shelfware.  If I think back 30ish years to Technical College, in an intake of 60 students there were 2 car owners.  Bet that would be 100% car ownership now.

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burtthebike | 5 years ago
7 likes

"The Department for Transport told the BBC that it supported such policies, adding that its own guidance "is crystal clear that street design should explicitly consider pedestrians and cyclists first"."

Total and utter bolox. The DfT and local authorities ignore cyclists and pedestrians until everything else is decided and then shoe-horn something in but only if it doesn't impact motor vehicle capacity.  If the guidance is crystal clear, why the f**k aren't they  following it.

Still, this was featured by the BBC today, so it's nice that the BBC have finally, only thirty years late, finally acknowledged that cyclists and pedestrians exist.  The item I heard on R4 news this morning, was the usual damning with faint praise, with the interviewer, John Humphries, blatantly biased and ignoring all the benefits a modal shift would bring, but hey, at least they've finally mentioned cycling.  They're scheduling the programme about the benefits for 2045.  That's the year, not the time.

 

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Sniffer replied to burtthebike | 5 years ago
11 likes
burtthebike wrote:

"The Department for Transport told the BBC that it supported such policies, adding that its own guidance "is crystal clear that street design should explicitly consider pedestrians and cyclists first"."

Total and utter bolox. The DfT and local authorities ignore cyclists and pedestrians until everything else is decided and then shoe-horn something in but only if it doesn't impact motor vehicle capacity.  If the guidance is crystal clear, why the f**k aren't they  following it.

Still, this was featured by the BBC today, so it's nice that the BBC have finally, only thirty years late, finally acknowledged that cyclists and pedestrians exist.  The item I heard on R4 news this morning, was the usual damning with faint praise, with the interviewer, John Humphries, blatantly biased and ignoring all the benefits a modal shift would bring, but hey, at least they've finally mentioned cycling.  They're scheduling the programme about the benefits for 2045.  That's the year, not the time.

 

I listened to the R4 piece this morning. John Humphries is very poorly informed and didn't make a very good job of getting the story out. The piece was set up to be 'balanced' with Quentin Wilson talking for cars. The problem with these 'balanced' pieces is one side have facts and science and the other side can make assertions. Wilson got away with an opening line about cars not being a cause of obesity or diabetes. Now the link may be less direct than smoking and cancer, but the idea that replacing short car journeys with walking or cycling and it wouldn't improve health is easily discredited. Unfortunately R4 just let it pass.

It is the same 'balance' that allows climate change deniers like Nigel Lawson the oxygen of publicity.

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burtthebike replied to Sniffer | 5 years ago
1 like
Sniffer wrote:
burtthebike wrote:

Still, this was featured by the BBC today, so it's nice that the BBC have finally, only thirty years late, finally acknowledged that cyclists and pedestrians exist.  The item I heard on R4 news this morning, was the usual damning with faint praise, with the interviewer, John Humphries, blatantly biased and ignoring all the benefits a modal shift would bring, but hey, at least they've finally mentioned cycling.  They're scheduling the programme about the benefits for 2045.  That's the year, not the time.

 

I listened to the R4 piece this morning. John Humphries is very poorly informed and didn't make a very good job of getting the story out. The piece was set up to be 'balanced' with Quentin Wilson talking for cars. The problem with these 'balanced' pieces is one side have facts and science and the other side can make assertions. Wilson got away with an opening line about cars not being a cause of obesity or diabetes. Now the link may be less direct than smoking and cancer, but the idea that replacing short car journeys with walking or cycling and it wouldn't improve health is easily discredited. Unfortunately R4 just let it pass. It is the same 'balance' that allows climate change deniers like Nigel Lawson the oxygen of publicity.

Listened to R4 news, Today, this morning, and there was a very long segment about NHS plans to reduce illness by better diagnosis and earlier detection, but not a single mention of the NICE report from a couple of days ago about preventing illness by Active Travel.  Just bunged the following off to the Today R4 news prog.

"Your coverage of two items, the very recent NICE report and the NHS plan, both concerned with illness prevention, could not have been more different, with the first being dismissed with a short report and damning with faint praise, while the second gets a very long segment and serious interviewing.  Utterly incredible that the NICE report wasn't referred to in the NHS article this morning, it was only a couple of days ago.

If the NHS and the government is serious about reducing illness, then there is no better way than that proposed by NICE, Active Travel, but you seem to ignoring it in favour of better treatment, but as we all know, prevention is better than cure, so why aren't you covering it?"

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Simon E replied to burtthebike | 5 years ago
1 like
burtthebike wrote:

Listened to R4 news, Today, this morning, and there was a very long segment about NHS plans to reduce illness by better diagnosis and earlier detection, but not a single mention of the NICE report from a couple of days ago about preventing illness by Active Travel.

Well done for writing to them.

BBC seems to be fairly anti-cyclist and run by 'old white men', programmes like Today are part of the problem, not the solution. It is not balanced. It gives more airtime to reactionary right wing attention-seekers, climate change deniers and other bastions of the privileged elite than is fair or honest while muck-raking or blanking anyone that challenges the status quo.

How can they expect the NHS to reduce illness without proper funding? Better diagnosis requires more staff and more facilities, and that on its own is not a magic wand. Prevention in terms of healthier lifestyles would be seen as 'nanny state' and interfering with people's desire to abuse themselves as they see fit and expect taxpayers to continue to pay and support them in continuing to do so, putting additional strain on the health service.

I'm trying very hard not to get too pious and mean-spirited about it but when you see how much of the NHS's budget is being spent on obesity-related treatments it makes me cross that no-one wants to actually do anything about it. Lots of hand-wringing and hot air but no meaningful action. "Thoughts and prayers" all round. Yeah, well fuck the politicians, they only care about votes and their cushy lifestyles, expenses, fat pensions and the well-paid consultancies they are given. The media only care about themselves and pleasing advertisers. Everyone should just keep pissing your money away and all will be fine.

Big businesses are, unsurprisingly, the worst. The BRC are fighting the bottle deposit scheme, which I can only assume means that those deeply selfish c*nts in suits prefer to see mountains of litter accumulate on the roadside, in the countryside and on our beaches than an extra few pence be added to the cost of bottles, cans etc in an attempt to improve recycling rates and help clean up their mess. I guess it's possible that they might sell slightly less booze, energy drinks and other poisons if it costs another 5p or 10p and that simply won't do!

Yet no-one died after the plastic bag tax was introduced but the growing problem of litter everywhere is far worse than that, never mind the explosion in health issues from people eating & drinking the stuff. This whole thing makes my fucking blood boil.

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