Cities must adapt design for active travel and safety to co-exist

Posted: 6 February 2019 | | No comments yet

Exploratory analysis completed by TRL identified 96,345 short car journeys that theoretically could have been walked or cycled in 2015 alone.


TRL, the global centre for innovation in transport and mobility, has highlighted changes to city design that would enable both shared mobility and active travel through cycling or walking to be increased.

This would assist initiatives such as the Road to Zero strategy and the development of smart cities, whilst pushing the UK towards a connected future.

Although it is understood that casualty numbers could increase if more people took an active travelling approach, this estimate is much lower than the direct projection of current casualties due to an effect known as Safety in Numbers (SiN). This is a widely-accepted phenomenon that observes the relationship between more cyclists on the roads and a reduced collision risk per cyclist. 

In addition, referencing the successes of other countries, along with various schemes in London, TRL claims it is possible to increase cycling, while decreasing casualties, by making changes to street design and infrastructure, as well as reviewing priority and liability laws.

Marcus Jones, Principal Consultant, Sustainable Mobility Group, TRL, commented: “It is easy to focus on the rise in predicted casualties and reconsider the merits of healthy mobility, when weighed against the seemingly unavoidable rise in casualties. But this doesn’t have to be the case. It is possible for healthy mobility and increased safety for vulnerable road users to co-exist.

“Not only do we need to tackle attitudes in the UK, but we need to understand the successes of other countries, like the Netherlands and Denmark: the challenges they overcame, and how they adapted their cities to accommodate new designs, infrastructure, policies and initiatives in line with recent NICE recommendations. If we take a mobility-by-design approach that places safety at the centre of initiatives from the onset, we can reap the rewards of active travel, without compromising safety.”

Solutions put forward by TRL include reducing traffic speed by designing people-friendly streets, rather than retrofitting speed bumps; creating more space and segregation for cyclists, while maintaining priority and directness; introducing better crossing provision for pedestrians on busy roads, with improved waiting and crossing times at signalised crossings; changes to priority rules at side-road crossings for cyclists, supported by the design that reduced the speed of turning vehicles; and consideration of presumed liability laws, where motorised road users take greater responsibility for collisions with vulnerable road users.

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