31 July 1998

Mike Sharpe, Regional Director, Transportation Planning (International) Ltd

That Mr John Prescott is being advised to rethink road safety plans and back-pedal on encouraging cycling and walking is worrying.

Apart from the lives which would be saved through the regular exercise, Mr Prescott will have been told by his European counterparts that encouraging cycling and walking need not generate more accidents.

There is 15 times more cycling in Holland than in the UK, and the accident rate among cyclists is just one seventh of ours. Denmark, with nine times more cycling, has an eighth of our cycling accident rate.

Higher priority should be given to cyclists and pedestrians (cycle lanes, shorter waiting times at crossings, lower speed limits in towns, better speed enforcement and higher fines). At the same time cyclists should help themselves, not least by always using lights at night.

Mr Prescott has never been accused of being faint-hearted. He will need all his pragmatic resolve to deliver a White Paper which will provide the framework that local authorities need to implement their traffic-reduction strategies and air-quality management plans.

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