Cycling Minister Chris Heaton-Harris has today announced new laws will come into force from 22 June to ensure safer journeys for cyclists.
Local authorities in England will have new powers to use CCTV to issue penalty charge notices to drivers who park or load illegally in mandatory cycle lanes, putting cyclists at risk of serious accident.
With approved camera devices, it will now be easier for local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers to take action against cars parked illegally, meaning cyclists won’t have to deviate from their path and into the flow of traffic in order to avoid them.
Today’s announcement, which comes as part of Cycling UK’s Bike Week (6-14 June), is the latest measure from the Government to develop a ‘greener, healthier’ and more resilient transport network as the country recovers from the Covid-19 crisis.
Heaton-Harris said: “Across the country there has been a surge in the number of people dusting off their old bike from the back of the shed and cycling, or taking journeys on foot, to get from A to B. Giving local authorities more powers to stop cycle lanes from becoming blocked will make it safer for cycling.
“These new measures also build on our recent £2 billion investment to create a green, healthier legacy and see more people travelling by bicycle or on foot.”
It is hoped this measure will persuade more cyclists to take to the road for commuting and other journeys and alleviate pressure on public transport infrastructure.
The news follows the Transport Secretary’s announcement of a £2 billion package for cycling and walking last month, including £225 million for local authorities in England to create pop up cycle lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and bike and bus-only corridors.
As part of the funding announcement, the Government also revealed vouchers would be issued for cycle repairs to encourage people to get their old bikes out of the shed, and plans are being developed for greater provision of bike fixing facilities.
Government data detailing the change in transport use over the lockdown period has shown cycling levels rose by up to 300% on some days, reinforcing that well-coined phrase if you build the infrastructure, the numbers will follow. Add to that less traffic on the roads during the lockdown and, of course, less cars blocking said cycle lanes, and the numbers speak for themselves.
In fact, a recent poll revealed the majority of Londoners wanted to see temporary cycle lanes and infrastructure become permanent once the lockdown is lifted.
In addition to the funding and infrastructure announcements, the latest announcement from the Government to give more powers to local councils to aid in the safety of cyclists will, hopefully, go some way to ensuring the benefits of increased active travel levels seen during the pandemic can be retained and integrated into the UK’s long-term transport strategy.