Spokesmen Cycling Podcast
EPISODE 248: Speed
Tuesday 30th June 2020
SPONSOR: Jenson USA
HOST: Carlton Reid
Welcome to Episode 248 of the spokesmen cycling podcast.
This show was engineered on Tuesday, June the 30th 2020.
David Bernstein 0:24
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jenson usa.com/the spokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at
www.the-spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen.
Carlton Reid 1:08
Hi there. I’m Carlton Reid. And I’m real, and so is David. But the slightly tinny voice at the top of this show, well, that was Daniel. And he’s not real. He’s a computer simulated voice, and I’m using him for a reason. And we while ago, I recorded a group chat with Superintendent Andy Cox, Professor Rachel Aldred and Chris Boardman. Sadly, Chris’s audio didn’t record properly, so I replaced him with Daniel. And yes, I tried to find a soft Scouse voice simulator, but didn’t find one.
All of Chris’s words as spoken by Daniel were the words that Chris actually used. I was able to transcribe them, but the audio was too faint to
use on this show. So, here we go. And remember, the mystery voice is reading out what Chris Boardman actually said.
On today’s show, I’ve got three fabulous guests to whom people will be very familiar with. And that’s Rachel Rachel Aldred. Hi there, Rachel. Hi, Carlton. Hi there. And the second person who, whenever you introduce him, you always say, and I’ve seen this done before, he needs no introduction. And that is Chris Boardman. Hello, Chris. Good afternoon. And my third guest today is if you don’t mind me saying this, Andy. And don’t take this the wrong way. But you’re a bit of a cult figure at the moment with people on social media because you’re doing some amazing stuff. So Andy, tell us, tell us what are missing about your title. So tell us your your job description and
What you do for a living and then people will go Oh, that, Andy.
Andy Cox 3:03
Well, good afternoon, Carlton. Thank you for that introduction. Well, my name’s Andy Cox, I’m a detective superintendent. I lead our vision zero programme across London for the Metropolitan Police Vision Zero is our stated ambition of eradicating death and serious injury on our roads linked to collisions by 2041.
Carlton Reid 3:25
And before I get into bring Chris and and to Rachel, I’d like to basically explore road policing and how that impacts potentially on
on people not in motor cars. But I just like to talk to you first, Andy, just about
that role you have and the role you’ve carved out how new is that?
Andy Cox 3:47
I suppose it’s a little awkward talking about oneself, but here goes so just I’ve been in placement for just over 20 years. I’ve initially worked in Surrey before moving to Northamptonshire, and then joining the Metropolitan Police
In 2016, for most of my career being a detective, I’ve worked in a variety of different roles, had a very diverse career working on on lead a murder investigation on kidnap, and lead and child abuse investigations as well.
I’ve been a superintendent for eight years. And actually the first post I had was to head up rose placing in Northamptonshire.
And I do look back to that role, and with great pride and satisfaction, I really, really enjoyed it. So I’d always wanted to go back into that field. So when the opportunity came to lead, Vision Zero it starts 2019 in London, I jumped at it. I really think the role has huge opportunity to save life and to tackle crime. And I think having the detective in charge of it is very different is unusual, but it means perhaps I bring a different perspective. I really do. See linked to save in life. I know that work that we’ve
done in the past, and currently I believe is having that impact. And obviously, that’s hugely satisfying. But I think the link to tackling criminality is a really important one it’s so often missed. Even if we take just the simple not wearing a seatbelt.
There’s a significant risk, actually, in terms of road safety, but also, it’s an indicator of somebody that’s prepared to essentially ignore the law. So what else are they prepared to do? And I think, by taking that mindset, you can often draw a link between other crime and traffic, offence crime,
and it is a crime. And that’s often missed as well. But I think having that perspective of looking at it in a slightly different way, allows opportunity to really get into who the driver is, what else they might be doing, you know, and is there anything else that we should know about from a police perspective, and fundamentally that supports the law for rodeos and that’s something I’ve been really keen to take forward in this role and in the past
Support for lawful, law abiding citizens. And I think so often the very vast majority of lawful road users are exposed to additional risk and people committing crimes, which puts them at risk and is just unacceptable. So that’s a bit about me. I suppose that’s a bit about why I so enjoy vision zero role and what Yeah, my passion for it relates to
Carlton Reid 6:25
and you’re using social media to great effect to get that message across. Basically, this is what we’re doing?
Andy Cox 6:32
Well, I think social media is a tool which gets the message out there really quickly to a large audience. My follow ins is growing, which is helpful and that is now covered by a number of journalists. So say for instance, I have in the past, tweeted a message which is in a very short space of time, then scrolling along the screen on Sky News that can reach them, a particularly large audience. I think what I’ve tried to do with it
is have a mindset for who I’m communicating the message to, I think, very often police accounts can be quite corporate, they can be quite pleased to police based. So I’ve tried to avoid the sort of internal communication as such within Twitter and communicate a clear message to, you know, is it the dangerous driver? Is it the lawful road user? Is it the broader citizen? Is it you know, the cyclists, pedestrians and so on? So essentially having a really clear message for what I want and who I want to target with it, I think, using data so if I go back to the early stages of starting to tweet on this issue, I did get some difficult communications from people who were saying things like traffic officers or simply revenue raising. Why don’t you go and tackle a criminal and so on, so I found there was a need to educate the public
My view around what we actually do and why we do it. So very much reinforcing this is about saving life. This is about tackling crime. And it’s about responding to local community concerns. So have you use data to help with that I’ve been able to talk about how much killed and serious injury collisions there are on within London and elsewhere, I’ve been able to talk about, for instance, a link to uninsured drivers. And we sees about 50 uninsured vehicles a day on average in London. And I think that’s really hit home with the public and then by explaining those people six to seven times more likely to have a fatal collision, they’re more likely to fail to stop having impact significantly on those left injured behind. And actually two thirds are more likely to be criminally active in other crime within the last two years. And that sort of messages really had a resonance, I think, with the public before Oh, wow. You know, that’s that’s, that was surprising. I think they were shocked at the sort of statistics that backed it up. And likewise, not being able to talk about speeding
Other fatal four activities and rows that we target and so on has had a very significant impact. And I think, for example, the a 10, which is one road, which had had about five years worth of really embedded issues, both from a raid safety perspective and antisocial behaviour, perspective as well and just general local community concerns.
We started an operation in May 2019. And part of that plan was to is to communicate very extensively around what we what we’re doing, why we’re doing when we’re there, what tactics were using, etc, etc. And I think the public and I noticed in the combat scene were initially sceptical and now overwhelmingly supportive that’s had an impact because killed and serious injury collisions have dropped. collisions overall have dropped on the road, looks and feels safer, and is the feedback we’re getting. We’ve also influenced partners
Through proactively communicating and brought them into the problem solving plan as well. So I think it’s had a, there is a place essentially for open and transparent communication. And I think Twitter is so easy to use in the sense that it’s short. It’s almost like the headlines, and it can stimulate debate as part of that pilot plan.
Carlton Reid 10:24
Can I go to Chris then and just ask cos because Andy is very much talking about this being crime, and that often grates with people because they think Well, I’ve already been crime. You know, I’m just going over the little bit of the speed limit that’s on a crime in your experience and your point of view with your your, maybe your current role as, as cycling and walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester, is the fact that speeding or road and if any road infractions is not viewed as a criminal offence by many people does that
is a big issue.
Chris Boardman 11:03
Well, I think what Andy’s done and what attracted me to his social media is depressingly refreshing. He simply spoken to the facts. He’s been very careful. His position his evidence, response opinion. So we’re not seeking to deal with crime in an equal way. It’s actually looking at what causes the most harm. We focus resources to get the biggest return for the public. It’s drivers who tend to do the most harm. When I say depressingly refreshing it’s because that ought to be standard, but it isn’t. It’s a very, very positive position with the public and coming from somebody who in inverted commas is not a cyclist is so important. All our messages right now need to come from all authority figures and those authority figures should be giving the message that’s absolutely grounded in evidence. We’ve got mountains of the stuff. So it’s quite impressive and something to get behind. Because it just makes sense.
road crime is a real crime. And I think that’s something that desperately needs to be addressed. It could change our roads and give people a genuine choice to not have to drive.
Carlton Reid 12:10
So Rachel, let’s bring you in on that roughly the same question, but coming at it from a, a non motorised user’s point of view, which is, which is your, your academic schtick? So is this is Andy’s approach is, is making this public perception of this, this is a crime, will that feed through into safer streets?
Rachel Aldred 12:34
I think it’s about changing a culture, as well as the specific enforcement activities. I think it’s about changing the expectations that people have of behaviour on the roads. And this was what got me interested in this topic, the whole topic of transport and active travel to start off with was the way in which behaviours on the roads which are a public space, you know, were really quite different from behaviours that were seen as acceptable in other contexts. And part of that as Chris was alluding to, as well.
is around risk to others that somehow we don’t see risk to others on the roads in the same ways we may be doing other contexts. And one example of that is the way in which traditionally, risk is measured in relation to transport that, you know, while might say walking is dangerous, or cycling is dangerous, and that’s because of the risk people experience. But it’s not the walking or cycling, that’s dangerous. It’s actually the motor vehicle use because four out of five cyclist fatalities involve the motor vehicle, it’s not cycling itself that is dangerous. And that is an important part of the cultural shift. I think that needs to happen.
Carlton Reid 13:34
And is Andy, part of that cultural shift, Rachel?
Rachel Aldred 13:37
Very much so. And I think it’s really important to see the activities of police services around this and related issues. So another example is around close past policing and the way in which that has become quite widespread. And that is really important because that is around subjective safety and the way that non motorised users are treated on the road. So it’s a range of different issues, but I think seeing this
It is important seeing this as a priority. Seeing road crime is something that matters that kills an interest people is really crucial.
Carlton Reid 14:06
Yes. So Andy, tell us about the actual there’s a new team, and a crime is in the title, which I know shocked have quite a few people on social media. So tell us about that, that crime team and why it’s important to have that word in there.
Andy Cox 14:22
Yes, we created and launched the road crime team. It’s a highly professional team. It’s got the full range of skill sets a traffic officer would want. So it’s got the ability to pursue those that fail to stop. It’s got all the sort of ability to stop vehicles. They’ve been handpicked for the role, and the role crime team. The name is really important as you’ve highlighted, I think it’s important that we use the word crime. So often, traffic offences are not considered crimes. We found it’s important to use that terminology to show the impact. Actually low crime has
On lawful road users, but also the sub often links between traffic offences and other criminality. It’s not unusual for us to stop a vehicle to then find drugs to find weapons to find subjects wanted for serious offences.
And I think if we just reflect for a minute those that are prepared to breach traffic, offence law, maybe that’s a
mindset to breach other criminality as well. So we’ve introduced a road crime team. It’s a relatively small amount of officers so far, but we do plan to extend that in the next month or two.
It was built on the concept of targeting property people property places and property themes. And by that I mean really, intelligence led absolutely work on the right roads at the right time. So those raised most sites have killed in serious injury or and collision data to back that up. Looking at very high hammer
vendors, those products have multiple disqualifications, those with a history of bad driving, those currently disqualified and so on, I’m really targeting in on on them.
And also looking at what we’d say is our fatal four that is essentially speeding is absolutely our priority within that. But other fatal four offences as well. So drink and drug drive using the foam balls distracted and not wearing your seatbelt. And essentially focusing in therefore the most risky issues and most risky themes and people.
It builds on the success of an operation we ran and travelled in the summer last year well for three months. We deployed on 50 occasions.
And we targeted along those mindsets that we’ve applied the road crime team. And in just 50 deployments, we made over 100 arrests, we seized over 75 vehicles, we found drugs weapons, wanted people confiscated cash. Yeah, it was a really significant option.
opportunity I feel to support a normal road user to tackle the criminal who uses their car. And one of the phrases I often use is,
of course, not every driver is a criminal, but those that have reached ages 17 and a criminal, also use a car or use a vehicle. So I think when you have the mindset of actually criminals are likely to be looking to use a car or vehicle to go about their their criminality, you can see why we might introduce a road crime team to tackle those individuals deny them use the roads. And actually sometimes the penalties for driving offences can be more severe than others. And it gives us an opportunity to tackle so much criminality, just through tackling their, their driving issues as well. So that’s the purpose of the team. And I’m delighted with the inroads it’s made already, just in the very first day arrested people drink driving, arrested.
People that had weapons in their car. It found people that were wanted so very successful the first day and that has been built over a few weeks and it’s been operating now. Andy and cyclists infractions is that part of the the road teams remit to the road crime team was essentially born out of tackling issues proportionate the to their risk so often on social media, I find criticism of the police for not enforcing cyclists who commit offences. Firstly, that’s wrong. We do enforce cyclists for example, those that breach a red light. And we do very much trying to educate those office around the risks that they pose themselves through breaching a red light as an example. However, we have to be proportionate. And therefore we enforce a compared to all enforcement of traffic offences and crime is a very, very small percentage of our work because we target
resource to match the risk that is presented. While. cyclists, of course, isn’t theirs, there is risk attached to cyclists harming another individual or themselves. It is very, very low in comparison to a vehicle harming another vehicle user, another surface or a pedestrian or just as simply a road user. So
my point is we focus results on risk. And what the road crime team has done is focus our resources on the greatest risk. But I do want to address the fact that we’re there we look to support the vulnerable road users and we target resources specifically in locations where we know vulnerable road users are likely to be and because they’re there, the driving is so important, because a legal drive in high speeds, whatever it may be, presents such a risk to cyclists and pedestrians that we’re right to target those issues because
That’s where our risk is to assign I was also called
Carlton Reid 20:04
so there has been some social police social media accounts would have had that that exact message. So West Midlands are very good at that. Other forces aren’t so good, do we as a country as a whole, do we suffer from not having all police forces in effect talking from this not singing from the same hymn sheet handy?
Andy Cox 20:26
So I think there is scope for some improvement on national coordination around roads policing. As an example if we take dashcam
there is an element of postcode lottery around that. So some areas are not using it, some are using it to an extent and some are using it fully. I know for instance, some members of the public contact me to say look, we’d really like this footage used, but we are not having any
scope to do so within the area that they
Live. And I think, to support that we introduced a national Working Group involved all at the police forces that were able to attend. And we’re looking at how we might take for the piece of work that makes it consistent. Clearly for us, London drivers drive elsewhere, and people that drive outside London drive in London. So I think it’s in everybody’s interest to have a consistent approach around dashcam. And of course, that goes for every issue, I suppose there will be some local variances, of course, based on the environment or the, you know, the support locally for, for activities. But I think if we take the approach that we’ve used as Vision Zero around targeting the most risky people, places and themes, I think that’s an approach that can be used anywhere successfully. We do have national meetings now with colleagues I chair one around collision investigation, I tend to number one around those places in general.
And they are actively attended by forces around the country, we do share good practice ideas,
and so on. So we share, for example, the work we’ve done on the A10, around tackling, that sort of anti social behaviour, high speed driving, and the success That’s hard. And we’ve listened to other examples from around the country as well, which we take on board. And there’s also the Department for Transport roads policing review is undertaken at the moment. And that review is looking at,
you know, all those policing aspects and technology to computer systems to you know, how we do our activities day to day on the street.
So that’s a great opportunity to coordinate it in a little, you know, in a smooth, more joined up fashion. And there’s also the HMRC review that’s been undertaken recently. I think that’s due to report imminently. So that would present again, an opportunity to look at how
We nationally perform in terms of roads policing, and how that’s coordinated. I really like the idea of this coordination hub that looks at identifying through analysis that the most dangerous roads based on killing serious injury collisions and some other data over the long term. identifies then has some responsibility for making resources target those areas, looks at most high AI high harm offenders make sure they’re for example, an AI MPR database.
And really hones activities around are fatal for I think that coordination hub could help put it all together nationally and pull loads of good work together. So it’s not done in isolation. But at least I can absolutely confidence say there are good discussions taking place and I do share my ideas and vice versa with with national colleagues.
Carlton Reid 23:48
Rachel, would you welcome that something like nationally national guidelines for all police forces. So not just West Midlands being an exemplar not just people like Andy being an exemplar should we have something that
You know, national guidelines that everyone every police force should adhere to?
Rachel Aldred 24:06
I mean, obviously, it would depend on the guidelines, but I f&e say we’re helping with them, then I would like to think that this would be something that would be would be useful. I mean, there’s there’s a range of issues. And one issue that I’ve been thinking about lately is around language and how collisions are described, which can be quite important because it’s reproduced in local media and then can reinforce or challenge perceptions about around responsibility on the road so that there’s a range of things that would be better to have more standardisation on I guess,
Carlton Reid 24:36
collision not accident. You’re going on?
Rachel Aldred 24:39
Yeah, yeah. For instance, in around how the interaction and how sort of how blame is potentially attributed or not so yeah.
Carlton Reid 24:48
And Chris, can I ask What’s your relationship like with with police in your area and and how do they view that the conversation we’re having now with Andy do they view it and
Same way, things are changing.
Chris Boardman 25:02
Now, there’s not a lot I can add to the comment about data. And it’s not surprising that I agree wholeheartedly about the evidence based approach. For the last several years, whenever I have been asked about cyclists running red lights, the response has always been absolutely anybody should be prosecuted. But where you’ve got to have resources concentrated, it makes sense to find the most harm and work backwards, which is essentially a version of what Andy was saying. And the point I’d like to add, which touches on Rachel’s mentioned of closed passes is what we didn’t do is we don’t look at the wider implications of crime and the knock on effects. So for example, not wearing a helmet. I remember when I started on the government advice body, I remember it was in about 2000. And that’s brought forward a private member’s bill on helmets, which I thought made sense and we were tasked with going away and looking at the implications of doing that. So I was forced to personally go look at the wider issue.
indications of that and I realised it will effectively kill more people than it saved. If you take into account people stopped doing a beneficial activity and saw it as dangerous, and so on and so forth. So I think people are seeing speeding is not a crime until it causes an accident, then you can see it’s a crime. I think that’s better storytelling. If you like to get the message across that this person just drove 10 miles over the speed limit didn’t hurt anybody. What’s the problem? And tell that story about the past and the implications. Do you know what just jump in the car and drive a kilometre to school? That is what’s happening with kids and why they don’t go on to the street. in Greater Manchester. We have 250 million car journeys every single year that are less than a kilometre for predominantly that reason. So it’s not just about road crime, but how you talk about it. We need to make sure people understand what the implications are of just speeding.
Carlton Reid 26:58
So Andy, I’m looking outside in
To a beautiful blue sky, it’s a beautiful day out there. It’s not too far away that I can actually I can probably hear normally a dual carriageway that isn’t too far away from me, in which at the moment, it’s pretty much empty. There are speed cameras on there, but people are basically speeding on it fairly frequently. So you’ve come to the fore during lockdown by posting lockdown speeding offences where people really really go way over the limit because they can now so so what’s your experience been during lockdown of of those motorists who use a minority but who are really going way beyond? You know just what Chris was saying like 510 miles an hour over the limit.
Andy Cox 27:51
Since lockdown commenced, we have seen significant rise in speeds we know less congestion on the road.
We think that
Somewhere between 40 and 50% less volume on the roads that of course has created an opportunity for the environment for people to speed. But it’s unlawful to do so of course, the limit is unchanged. But in zones 2040 and 60, we’re actually seeing on average, the speeds are above the limit sets on average, imagine what the upper end of those are in every speed zone from 20 to 70. Data shows speeds have increased.
And we’ve seen a rise in extreme speed as well. Now extreme speed is allows drivers who can only be dealt with by way of going to court there’s no chance to for example, go on a speed awareness workshop or get a fixed penalty notice your speeds are so excess that there’s only the court will hear the case. So for example, we have seen 151 mile an hour in a 70. We have seen 140 to 140 we’ve seen 134 in a 40
seen as 73 and a 20. And that’s extremely concerning when you consider those lower speed zones 20s 30s and 40s. What we are seeing significant speeds are where your key workers are likely to be commuting to work using cycles and pedestrians going across London and particularly vulnerable road users so deeply, deeply concerning. We have tried really robustly try to draw a link to a the consequences to you but the risk of speed so
I of course personally seeing this devastation of families but by speeding they risk a fatal serious injury collision
and, and risks obviously much greater.
So they might devastate their life, somebody else’s life and their family’s life and so on. I’ve drawn a link to the NHS because of course, who’s going to deal with those people seriously injured or fatally injured? It’ll be the NHS where they’re going to go to hospital when they come
Dealing with the NHS COVID-19
sort of abstracted and didn’t the COVID-19 patients loads that get seriously injured, we know about the underlying health issues linked to COVID-19. And how that makes you more vulnerable, where you’re going to have an underlying health issue, and you’re going to go to hospital where COVID-19 is being treated. So there’s huge impact and risk to them to the NHS and of course of providing services. But I’ve also drawn a link to
the whole issue around the consequences to them and their licence. So, you know, by being enforced, a lot of these will lose their licence because extreme speeds are going to have consequences to
their family circumstance to finance potentially a job, and so a whole host of problems for them. And I’ve tried to stand back and say if we look at as an example, drunk driving is rightly being socially unacceptable for about the last 2530 years, speeding these become socially unacceptable. How many people would challenge a drink drive
Listen to your show, we challenge your drunk driver. But don’t judge a speeding driver for speeding driving is the thing that creates the most risk at the moment for us. So I asked those people to reflect on that and actually make speaking socially acceptable challenge your friends, your family, yourself, your colleagues not to speed if you’re in a car somebody has been asked him not to, and basically make a significant difference. Surely the purpose of any journey is to go from A to B safely, not being subject to police enforcement, not injuring anybody, keeping everything you know,
sensible in terms of getting to your destination. And actually, I always try and point out how many times you see somebody perhaps do an overtake on you that puts them at risk anybody else at risk? But actually they’re stuck at the traffic lights a short distance down the road anyway. So how much time does it actually save you by speeding and then you factor in the risk that you pose yourself others the risk to the NHS to restaurants or services, the risk to your financial
And your circumstances and your mobility for just those maybe two, three minutes that saves off your journey. So don’t be complacent complacency is undoubtedly our biggest issue here. It can and does happen to people who didn’t think it would and I’ve met them their families they are devastated their life has changed for good and and in a really dramatically bad way. So don’t be complacent focus into purpose, your journey going from A to B
make it socially unacceptable, and by doing so, have the greatest chance to stay safe.
Carlton Reid 32:35
Rachel, a lot of Andy’s team has enforcement are on for one of a better expression fast roads. So like the a 10, where where cyclists and pedestrians aren’t really, you know, going on those roads. So is it really that much of a problem to have people speeding on those roads just so long as they don’t speed on the you know, the 20 mile an hour roads? Or there’s somebody who do you think
speeding on that road is naturally going to speed on every road?
Rachel Aldred 33:05
I mean, I think Yeah, I would tend to agree with the latter that if people are willing to speed on those roads they’re probably going to be behaving badly on other roads but I don’t think those roads are free of cyclists and pedestrians either I mean the a 10 It depends what part of the town you’re talking about, but there are certainly quite a lot of cyclists on some parts of it there are people who have to cross the road as pedestrians or have to walk along it so you know, particularly in in a London context, you some of those, some of those roads have multiple functions and you will get fast moving both traffic alongside pedestrians and potentially cyclists as well.
Carlton Reid 33:36
And Chris, on the pandemic front, do you see after we are back it is possible if it is possible to become normal again. Do you think things will have changed on the roads, on getting people on bikes, pedestrians, the things that you’ve been talking about for many, many years do you think you’re gonna have an easier time
After a lockdown has finished or do you think we’ll just go back to business as usual?
Chris Boardman 34:06
The thing about lockdown is that it’s finite. It’s a short period diverted into our lives. But I think what we now define as important is not what we would have done some months ago. Now we have a choice. I try very hard not to use the word opportunity. People are dying. However, you can’t ignore the good that has also happened. We discovered what quiet roads are like, I can’t imagine any other circumstances where the world the whole world has stopped driving. Many of our key workers now use bikes. Our stats told us that all the journeys went down, but cycling, which was on two and a half percent mode shared is now up significantly. And if you ask anyone, which do you prefer in terms of transport, then you wouldn’t be surprised by the answer. Having said that, we have got a very small window to implement measures that both aids recovery and allows you to keep travelling
safe distance apart and give the opportunity now to get back into cars. I am scared, we will lose the chance to redefine normal. It’s an opportunity there. I have used the word. It’s an opportunity to make a new normal. We should do everything in our power to make that happen.
Carlton Reid 35:18
And at this point, I just like to remind everybody, of course, that isn’t the real Chris Boardman that a computer simulation. But I would now like to go across to the real David for a short ad break.
David Bernstein 35:31
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Carlton Reid 36:57
Thanks to the not-at-all-simulated
David, and let’s get back to the show with me asking a question of Andy.
I’d like to ask the same question. You know, is this as Chris says, Is this a pivot point? Can this change? I’d like to ask both Rachel and Andy, that question but first, Andy, I just like to ask you because a point came up in there from from what Chris was saying, is it on your radar? That after this lockdown finishes potentially motoring could could double overnight? Is that something that you are looking at as a force? Is it something that you’ll deal with that later if it ever happens? I Are you are you predicting forward basically.
Andy Cox 37:44
So we do use an analysis of data to work out what the traffic volumes are, what the demands are, where they rises in speed, what roads are the most problematic? And I think of course post lockdown, we are likely to see a significant upset upturn in
in traffic volume, however, I think with the change that that’s been forced upon people, I think it will create a different culture as well. So I do expect to see perhaps more working from home, perhaps people looking to walk or cycle more than they previously did. So I think we will have to be cognizant of that we’ll have to make sure our 2030 and 40 mile an hour zones are really appropriately supported that vulnerable road users who are exposed to more risk because of obviously that the nature of their travel.
And we just need to make sure that you know, we’re in the right time right place. So the strategy essentially does stay the same. It is targeting the most risky people the most risky roads and the most risky themes. Our comp strategy will be more the same but reinforced. We will look to obviously utilise our cycle safety team, our highly visible patrols, things like the community Roadblock, schemes, again. Really
reinforcing the visible presence where it matters most, but recognising a change in volume of traffic, and of course, maybe a style of change as well, in terms of the mode of transport, people are choosing to use post lockdown and post all the learning that’s come from this enforced period and changing in working culture and going to you with that, is this going to be a pivot? I know this is not data driven. This is something that’s going to be more gut driven. Do you and do you think things will change? After locked down? Do you think driving culture will have changed? But I absolutely. Do you think it’s a pivotal moment for road safety? Obviously, London and elsewhere, I think we’ve got this captive audience at home. And so our strategy using social media and communications on television and newspapers and on radio
is more effective than it would otherwise be because people are actually in a position to heal a message. I think we have successfully drawn a link to
The risk of speeding to serious injury collisions and fatal collisions and the devastation that causes the impacts of their licence and the consequences to them. But also, because of the COVID-19 challenge for the NHS, I think by journaling to the emergency services and in particularly the NHS and the impact it has on Lowe’s that so busy dealing with such a significant issue, I’m hoping it really does influence a change in driving culture. And I think we’ve really got to take this opportunity, and not rollback from it really consistently reinforce that I think we need hard hitting campaigns nationally, I think we need to use a collection of agencies. So involving nurses and doctors as part of the message is really important, involving families affected is really important, and really making that change. But also then, as a pivotal moment looking at our whole strategy around vulnerable road users, the infrastructure, you know, to use of the vehicle, how we might create a better, safer place.
For all forms of travel, I think is really, really important. And looking at the legislation, obviously, I’m a police officer. So I work with whatever legislation I’m given. But actually I do have a voice in the subject and I think we could look at for instance, some the deterrents that we use. So I just draw a very quick comparison. This day somebody driving 150 miles an hour, the devastation that person could cause is so vast and significant if they get charged with speeding only because the sentences tend to get strict once a collision happens and somebody left in it you know, somebody unfortunately dies was left in a permanent disabled state.
You know, then of course then sentences are But before that, so they get caught for speeding the sentences can be less severe and I sometimes do a comparison with if somebody was to take a knife onto the street, not harm anybody would expect the sentences to be really severe for actually and quite rightly so. The carrying a weapon but if you’re driving 150 miles
An hour, or you’re driving to extreme speed, you know, set the 74 into 20 the devastation you can cause is equally severe. So I think we just need to look at our whole sentencing and criminal justice plan.
And really look at it from a deterrence perspective and supporting lawful road users. I work with whatever legislation I can. But I think, you know, sometimes we just need to recognise the risks posed by these people. I think we’ve got that opportunity at the moment because we have a captive audience. We have people that recognise the impacts it has on our NHS, we have people that recognise the impact it has on all of our services. I’m ever really, really good opportunity to make our roads a safer place for all.
Carlton Reid 42:41
okay, and Rachel said that I’ve gotten back to you the same question but I’ll just frame it in a slightly different way in that I’m absolutely sure you will be very familiar with all of the the academic research which shows that that the likeliest time to make somebody
switch their travel behaviour is when for instance, they move home, or they make other big life changes. So you couldn’t get much bigger a life change for most people than what we are currently living through. So do you see this as not just an opportunity, not just a pivot point, but something that will actually genuinely change things?
Rachel Aldred 43:24
Yes, I mean, I think the the impact of disruption on travel behaviour is quite well studied. And unfortunately, often it happens in a negative way. So people have children, they start driving more, for instance, but also in a positive way in terms of shifts to more sustainable modes, really, it’s the chance that people get to think rather than acting out of habit and to reevaluate what they do and often in quite difficult circumstances, like, like at the moment, and some people are travelling more actively than they have before. So key workers taking up cycling for instance, at the same time as people who might be habitual cycle commuters, and now working from home
By myself. So there is an opportunity to change. We’ve seen
the increased use of cycling at the weekends in particular. And we’ve seen in the UK as well the explicit discussion of the right and need to take daily exercise which can be by walking or cycling. So, yeah, I think there is the potential for people’s behaviour to change longer term. And particularly if you know, there isn’t going to be a simple end to lockdown, there will be a series of different stages that you know, some of them might involve more commuting trips returning some of them might involve more leisure trips returning, and this needs to be planned for the support needs to be in place because, you know, things could end up in a very negative direction. So if people are nervous about why walking on the foot way because there isn’t enough space to safely pass all the people in terms of infection, then that could put people off walking. On the other hand, if we can be allocate road space to walking, that creates more incentive to walk that means that people are more likely to walk it discourages car, use.
We could have a virtuous circle from that. But there will be a lot of choices, policy choices that need to be made now, and in the near future to ensure that we get some of the benefits.
Carlton Reid 45:10
Mm hmm. I did a story. I’ll come to Chris with this one first. But I did a story on the World Health Organisation who were being lobbied behind the scenes by lots of different people to make a recommendation that in this this this lockdown in this pandemic, who could make a recommendation to national governments around the world to reduce speed limits.
So Chris, is with that have been something that you would have liked to see, would that make any difference at all?
Chris Boardman 45:45
Yes, reducing speed limits is a positive thing. We have to think hard about what we can do quickly, and then what needs to be done longer term. We’ve just heard discussion from Andy about consequences. That’s what it boils down.
down to, like the majority of human beings, we react to consequences. What’s the easiest thing? what’s acceptable, what’s not acceptable? That’s part of a longer term fix. But there are measures that we can do that aren’t just down to the police. We can slow people down without spending much. We can reshape roads. There’s a lot we can do with infrastructure. It’s not just about speed enforcement. We have some temporary powers given to us. We need to see what can be done quickly. And that isn’t too scary for politicians to actually want to do something with it. possibly the biggest opportunity for us right now is that it’s very scary at a political level, not to be doing something. It’s very scary as a politician not to be doing something when it’s clear that attitudes are changing. We need to take action to reduce speed and increase the number of people travelling without cars.
Carlton Reid 46:54
Mmm, now Rachel when when I did that WHO story and it was
was a very high up individual in who who, who did want it to happen, but didn’t want to be seen actually to use this as an inverted commas an opportunity so they didn’t want to be seen to be using the pandemic as as something to do their their favourite thing because they’ve always wanted to get who to, to to lobby for this but they thought it was politically expedient to do so. However, a few days later, who issued
a missive to national governments to restrict the sale of alcohol. So here we’re doing something that’s quite, you know, contentious, you know, take away alcohol from people and yet they were perfectly willing to do that yet they weren’t willing to ask people to slow down. So do you think this there’s there’s just because the driving culture is so embedded, it’s so hard to
Get something like an organisation like WHO to actually move on something that could save lots of lives. Just as you know, the the if you do better at in the pandemic that saves lives, but reducing speed also saves lives.
Rachel Aldred 48:14
Yeah, I mean, I don’t know the details of those specific, you know, though the negotiations that went on over those specific issues, but I do think it challenging car culture is always hard. It doesn’t get easier. It’s hard in Copenhagen taking space away from car parking to allocate to other uses. You know, it’s hard everywhere. But, you know, it’s clear that for something like speeding and speed limits, the evidence is really clear. And I yeah, I would have liked to have seen them making a recommendation on that because I think the case is so strong, particularly in the pandemic when national health services are under such a lot of strain.
Carlton Reid 48:49
Now, Andy, I did come to you when I was doing this who story and you gave me a point of view that was understandably added
and understandably politically correct and that you couldn’t be seen, to be asking for speed limits to be, you know, recommended by who? Well, is there anything you can add to that topic to what maybe Chris has said or what Rachel said?
Andy Cox 49:16
I think the speed limit debates an interesting one. I recently ran a poll on Twitter, again, there was support to reduce the speed limit. I gained as I mentioned, just now I work with the legislation I’m unable to work within, but I do recognise the risk of speed.
The Isle of Man, for instance, introduced legislation very quickly into this lockdown period that had a national speed limit reduction. But I really think that it is a question. Unfortunately for the legislators all I would say from a policing perspective of speed is our biggest challenge. We know during the lockdown period, it’s our biggest challenge. We are seeing exceptional speeds.
But even a 73 to 20 I sometimes wonder whatever speed limit was in place that person
Won’t be driving at 73. You know, and it’s deeply frustrating.
And that’s why I look at could we take a different approach around, you know, a more robust justice system that recognises the risk that people pose sufficiently and supports lawful road users prior to that serious life changing or fatal collision taken place?
Carlton Reid 50:22
Okay, last question. And then I’ll let you get on with your your busy days. So this might not be a question for Andy unless he wants to pitch in because it’s more of a
general issue on car culture as a whole, really, but this is a bit of a scoop today that I did a story on that the basic of the Heathrow
legal team that successfully challenged the government to stop Heathrow expansion, has now today going to be doing the exact same legal challenge, but for the 28 billion pound road building programme in the UK.
I’ve got that story online right now, it will get bigger, I’m sure when other media outlets pick up on it too, and when they get their crowdfunding, but coming to Chris first, one of the points, or one of the things that they want to stress is that 28 billion pounds which are currently pledged by Rishi Sunak ought to be spent on public transport, cycling and walking instead, will that challenge work?
Chris Boardman 51:29
Maybe the message hasn’t changed in the last year? Do we want more cars filling up the roads, because that’s what happens. We see evidence of it from all around the world. So it’s crazy. Now might be the best opportunity we will get to not spend on things we don’t really need. I know in Greater Manchester that the tram network cost a lot of money and it was paying for itself but now the revenues dried up, but it’s not dissimilar to other urban authorities around the country that have got bills that need to be paid.
forms of transport that are more desirable. So to divert that cash seems absolutely logical when you can’t afford to pay all your bills, pay the one that’s most pressing. So it’s an opportunity to rethink transport spend full stop, we’ve got a scenario not to give cash to the mode of doing harm and spend it elsewhere.
Carlton Reid 52:21
Rachel’s kind of same question to you, but given the fact that governments around the world but certainly the UK government is going to have to be spending billions upon billions that is our cash I suppose, but still spending billions upon billions to dig us out of this this pandemic Hole In fact, they’ve got to pay people who are being furloughed and all these different funds that are gonna have to be found from somewhere, given the fact that the government in the future is not going to have huge amounts of cash to splash around. Do you think the road building programme that took
728 billion pounds. Do you think that is the right first of all government departments to that’s easy to chop? let’s just let’s just cross that that road building programme?
Rachel Aldred 53:12
Well, it would certainly go a long way in terms of building active travel infrastructure, which is not cheap. But it’s value for money. So, yes, and I think now, you know, we are seeing the government stepping in in a whole range of ways that seemed impossible to imagine not that long ago. So I think potentially with support for businesses support from employment and so on, can come some thinking, some public debate about, you know, the best use of resources, for instance, around freight and deliveries and so on, and what we actually want to see this money used for and yes, I would agree that that that that amount of money allocated to a road building budget should definitely be up for grabs in terms of sustainable transport. We’ll need it.
Thank you to my guests, Chris Boardman, Superintendent Andy Cox and Professor Rachel …
Carlton Reid 53:59
Computer voice I’ll take over from here. So anyway, yes, it’s thanks to Professor Rachel Aldred, Superintendent Andy Cox and Chris Boardman. This has been Episode 248 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. Sorry it has taken me so long to get this audio to you, but Chris’s recording really was quite unusable. Thankfully everybody else had pristine audio, so I was able to resurrect the group chat. Now I hope you enjoyed listening to Chris, played by a computer simulation. The next show will be out real soon and is a conversation I had last week with the deputy leader of Waltham Forest Council, Clyde Loakes, he showed me the now world famous Orford Road Mini-Holland scheme, but we also cycled elsewhere in the borough to see how it is being transformed and it is
being transformed, and very much for the better. Significantly, Clyde was voted in again, on an increased majority, showing that politicians need not be afraid of putting people first and taming car use.
It’s a great episode. Meanwhile, get out there and ride