02 July 2013

Moving the goal posts...

In the Cycling Action Plan of 2010   the Scottish government considered whether or not strict liability should be adopted, noting that
"the differences in laws between the UK and continental European countries have often been cited by cyclists as the main reason cyclists on the continent enjoy greater protection. "(Section 5.5)

They went on to note 

"However, this has often been combined with a number of other measures such as increased investment in cycle infrastructure so it will be difficult to isolate one particular factor influencing why these countries have higher cycling levels than the UK". 

But when they came back to us last week with the CAPS 'refresh', oddly enough, they didn't say we've decided that it's the infrastructure that makes the difference, so we'll be investing in infrastructure. Nor did they say strict liability does make a difference, so we'll be moving to change our legal framework.  No, they claimed:
"The available data does not supply robust evidence of a direct causal link between strict liability legislation to levels of cycling and KSIs (killed and seriously injured statistics), when countries like the UK and Ireland are clearly reducing fatalities in cyclists and all other road users without strict liability legislation in place." (my emphasis) pp21

But, as the data released in recent days in both Scotland and England has shown, KSI rates may be falling for all users, but not for vulnerable road users, and certainly not for cyclists (see here and my previous blogs)

The problem with moving the goalposts is that you might just score an own-goal by mistake.

If the data doesn't back up the Minister's contentions,  then suggesting that even more can be achieved by ensuring road users are aware of the Highway Code and 'be considerate' of each other, is not evidence-based policy-making. This surely takes us back to the original premise in the CAPS study - either Strict Liability or infrastructure? or - more likely - both.

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