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Scottish Parliament

Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee

Tuesday 8 December 2009

[THE CONVENER opened the meeting at 13:30]

Active Travel Inquiry

The Convener (Patrick Harvie): Good afternoon. I welcome everyone to the 28th meeting in 2009 of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee and record apologies from Cathy Peattie, Alex Johnstone and Marlyn Glen.

The only item on our agenda is a third evidence session for our active travel inquiry. We will take evidence first from professional transport and logistics bodies and then from road safety organisations. I warmly welcome to the meeting Campbell Divertie, chairman of the south of Scotland branch of the Institute of Highway Engineers, and Eric Hill, a member of the institute; Sebastian Tombs, chartered architect with the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland; Will Reid, senior development manager with PARC Craigmillar Ltd, an urban regeneration company; and Douglas Norris, national officer for Scotland at the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. Members have quite a number of prepared questions, but first I invite the witnesses to make some brief opening remarks.

Sebastian Tombs (Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland): Chartered architects, whom I am representing this afternoon, cover all issues of urban design, and active travel forms only part of their work. Speaking on behalf on those who have direct experience of that field of activity and from my background as past chairman of RIAS and Architecture and Design Scotland, I will focus in my responses to members' questions on a number of key issues: planning; buildings and places; road standards; leadership and budget; and the need for this to be a shared community design agenda issue. I certainly think that the concern for all of us this afternoon is to find ways of tackling those issues and translating policy into practice.

Campbell Divertie (Institute of Highway Engineers): The Institute of Highway Engineers welcomes the publication of the cycling action plan for Scotland and supports its aspirations.

The Convener: I will kick off with a general question about where we have reached. Most people will agree that, for many years, perhaps

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even half a century, accommodating as much vehicular transport as possible, particularly private motor vehicles, has been the key consideration in the design of roads in the public realm. How has that situation come to be so dominant and is there any realistic prospect that it will change?

Will Reid (PARC Craigmillar Ltd): We have not applied that principle at PARC Craigmillar. There has been no segregation in the residential areas; indeed, right from the start—from the design framework that was agreed in consultation through master plans that were agreed in consultation to planning consents and road construction consents—we have ensured that integration of all users of the road space has been part of the design. As you will appreciate, even getting that far has been a long haul and it has taken probably five or six years of lengthy consultation to be able to implement what has been implemented. That tells you straight away that there is an issue with making such changes.

I am pleased to say that our work to date has been recognised—this year, we won a United Kingdom award for the best home zone. I would be happy to answer questions on the detail of that.

The Convener: Does anyone else wish to comment?

Sebastian Tombs: It is clear that the advent of the motor vehicle and the internal combustion engine represented a great strike for freedom for many people who aspired to depart their place of residence and access their work, and that has been widely adopted as an expression of civilised development.

The consequence of that, given that there are high-speed vehicles moving around, is an increased perception of risk, which has led to a general attitude of protecting pedestrians and cyclists from that risk. An interesting and counterintuitive approach to tackling traffic congestion and accidents was adopted in the north of Holland by the engineer Hans Monderman, who was allowed to experiment. He asked what would happen if the road signs were taken out.

Of course, the Netherlands is a different country, where there is a much greater level of cycling, but what he found was that people's behaviour started to change as roads became less regulated. Drivers had to make decisions when they were faced with the reality of pedestrians and cyclists moving across their space. It became a negotiation, which led to slower traffic movement and, in some cases, greater bus reliability, as well as a much pleasanter environment for walking and cycling. That approach has led to a number of initiatives taking place in the UK, such as the naked streets initiatives, which all allow for greater

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shared access to space. As yet, apart from cases such as Craigmillar, there are few such examples in Scotland, so more work needs to be done in that regard, but here in the UK we are beginning to see the benefits of the interesting counterintuitive move that was led by the Dutch.

The Convener: Are there any other comments?

Campbell Divertie: I disagree with Sebastian Tombs. There is a roads hierarchy that must be recognised. There are different roads for different types of journey and different types of traffic, so the approach that Sebastian Tombs described is not a panacea for all. The roads hierarchy needs to be observed. A phased and staged approach needs to be adopted, which involves roads being treated differently and having different priorities, relative to the hierarchy.

The Convener: You seem to be implying not only that you do not sense a mood for challenging the assumptions of that hierarchy but that it would be wrong to do so.

Campbell Divertie: It is right to do so, but it is a case of horses for courses. There are roads that will lend themselves to what Sebastian Tombs suggests and I support that, but there are other parts of the network on which such measures would not be appropriate for the road or for the type of traffic movement on it.

Sebastian Tombs: The great move at the moment is to do with residential areas and streets. Moves have been made to calm traffic, for example by limiting traffic around schools to 20mph, all of which are extremely welcome.

The Scottish Government is busy preparing a policy document called "Designing Streets", which translates the English document "Manual for Streets" and gives it a Scottish application. That will be important for advancing the initiative for residential areas at a policy level, but there is another level that we should discuss—the improvement of facilities for walking and cycling in town and city centres. That is where the two hierarchies could start to come into conflict. We should look to the Scottish Government to produce additional policy guidance for those situations once "Designing Streets" has bedded in. A lot more work of a positive nature can be done.

Rather than being in conflict with one another, we probably all approach the issue in a positive mood. Nobody would disagree that trunk routes and motorways are designated for fast-moving, high-speed vehicles and are inappropriate for pedestrians or cyclists. As we move down the hierarchy, we have to find appropriate mechanisms to accommodate all users.

The Convener: My next question was going to be about the draft policy "Designing Streets". I

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invite other witnesses to comment on that document or the other issues that it raises in relation to walking and cycling.

Eric Hill (Institute of Highway Engineers): As you mentioned, those of us from a highways background have traditionally looked at the design of roads very much with the motor vehicle as king in mind. Basing "Designing Streets" on the "Manual for Streets" south of the border, which looks at pedestrianisation, home zones and similar areas, is a good move.

There is a hierarchy. We have to be careful in our approach and ensure that we do not cause safety concerns by trying too hard to integrate various modes of transport in one area. Generally speaking, I think that the guidance in "Designing Streets" represents a brave move—I know that colleagues in our part of the industry have expressed some concerns about it. We have to consider not only engineering aspects but the psychology of road users. That is a major issue. In the Netherlands or Denmark, there have always been large numbers of non-motorised users on the network, so there is a different psychology among road users, who respect one another. Because we have had so many years of strong segregation here, that psychology is not yet instilled in road users here.

The Convener: Do the ideas that are coming forward from the Government, albeit in draft form, lead to an expectation that we should design environments that will support a change in psychology or behaviour patterns?

Eric Hill: The evidence from some of the schemes on the continent and the United Kingdom is that, where we remove fixed boundaries that segregate road users, interaction is improved, certainly where speeds are low and people have time to react to and acknowledge one another. We could achieve a lot, particularly in residential areas and busy shopping centres, where speeds and volume of traffic are not high. The guidelines should work successfully in those contexts.

The Convener: Are there any other comments on that subject, or on alternative approaches, in which there are segregated cycle facilities as opposed to on-street cycle lanes?

Will Reid: We should widen the discussion and not concentrate purely on engineering technique. Our experience is that a combination of many factors must be considered and that should happen through the urban design master planning process. We have not yet spoken about walking. Rather than concentrating on your question about integrating rather than segregating users, we should think about what makes a successful street for all users. The area should be overlooked, feel secure, comfortable and pleasant and be

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attractive. We have to look at all those other issues, which is what we have tried to do in operating from the top down, starting with making sure that all the connections are in place. There should be no cul-de-sacs and layouts should be permeable. Eventually, when we get down to street level, we look at engineering techniques, but we have to get everything else in place as well.

Sebastian Tombs: An observation that I picked up from some of the talented architects involved in designing the Craigmillar scheme was that they had to go through a mindset adjustment to accommodate what the client was looking for and understand what quality of streetscape was required of them. A change of psychology is needed not only in a particular part of the professional world, the lay world or the political world; rather, everybody's psychology must go through some adjustment, because, although we can see plenty of examples of urban areas from the past that exhibit the required characteristics, we seem to have lost the skills that are needed to create such places and the ability to take an integrated approach.

"Designing Streets" will require changes by our road engineering colleagues, but changes will also be required by design professionals, architects, landscape engineers, clients and, indeed, everybody who is concerned about and has a stake in the quality of our local built environments. That is quite a large challenge, and leadership and investment will be required to meet it. As I have said, the areas inherited from our past that many people value often have density, mixed use, public space and quality-of-space features that we disregarded in the 20th century with our love affair with the motor vehicle.


Douglas Norris (Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK): We believe that it may be desirable to reduce the speed and volume of motorised traffic on shared roads, particularly on local and urban roads, to give walkers and cyclists a more comfortable feeling. Safety is a key issue, and it is probably not practical to enlarge major roads in some older towns. There will have to be fewer cars, fewer motorised vehicles and possibly lower speed limits so that collisions or incidents are less serious.

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK is planning to set up an active travel and planning group in the early part of 2010, which will have a specific cycling, travel planning and walking remit. More will come out about that shortly.

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The Convener: Is that group intended to be a short-life group that will produce a report or an on-going group?

Douglas Norris: It is meant to be an on-going professional sector within the institute.

The Convener: Does anyone want to add anything about the issues that have been raised so far?

Campbell Divertie: On the better design of streets, we have to remember that long-term maintenance is an issue. Local authorities' revenue budgets are stretched, so proposals are resisted, although there is support for them, because of their financial and maintenance implications. Obviously, the utility companies must be able to maintain their infrastructures and ensure that supplies can be repaired. That creates resistance or reluctance to move forward. The geometry of the streets needs to be such that access for refuse vehicles and fire engines can still be maintained. That is where a lot of the conflict comes in.

Will Reid: Before it receives approval, every scheme is put through a tracking model, through which emergency and refuse vehicles are tracked. Such matters are therefore dealt with at the design and approval stage.

Shirley-Anne Somerville (Lothians) (SNP): How can road space be reallocated to cyclists and pedestrians without unduly restricting the movement of essential vehicular traffic? I am keen to find that out. How can we prioritise pedestrians and cyclists more without impeding traffic flows, if that is a good thing?

Eric Hill: I think that what you are suggesting would involve taking a step backwards towards segregation, in which all the flows are separated and allowed to do their own thing. If we are trying to encourage cycling in particular, to take it out of a leisure context and put it into a necessity context—my impression is that design for cycling has been carried out in that way over the past 20 years or so—and to give it as much importance as public transport that goes into town centres, for instance, we will have to alter things so that cyclists have priority at junctions similar to the priority that they have on the continent. The Netherlands is always a good example in that respect.

However, we find that when many of our cycle routes come to a side road, the give-way is on the cycle route, which means that anyone trying to commute by bicycle is stop-starting all the way in and it would be quicker for them to cycle on the road in among the traffic. Segregation can create that kind of issue. Having cyclists in with the traffic means that, from the design side, it is easier to maintain the priority for cyclists in particular by using adequate cycle lanes, bus lanes and so on.

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It is more difficult with walking in the sense that, unless we are talking about major investment in bridges, underpasses and so on, maintaining priority for walking means having controlled junctions. As you will be aware, somebody has to stop at a controlled junction to give walkers priority. We must look at each situation and identify what is needed. If we want to encourage people to commute by walking or cycling on a particular route, we must treat it as a priority route and design it for non-motorised transport. However, we must accept that motorised transport will be delayed because of that.

Sebastian Tombs: Speaking as a cyclist, I thought that I might be a little cheeky and raise the question, as I do at most conferences to which I go, of which modes of transport everybody used to get here—perhaps I will not ask you to answer that. I got down here from Grove Street, having just had a haircut, in 12 minutes on my bicycle. I came down through the Cowgate and shared space with traffic, which is a little hairy at times because the road is fairly narrow and you have to be very alert. Many people do not cycle in this city because they are concerned not so much about the hills as about other users of the road space.

Everybody makes a set of risk assessments when judging how to travel. The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment produced a document about risk and the design of public space that might be of interest for the committee's work in trying to find which balance of measures is appropriate at certain levels of the hierarchy. Separate, segregated access for pedestrians and cyclists is appropriate in many cases where vehicles move at a certain speed, but once one gets below that, as others have said, one can then start to talk about integration.

We have not mentioned disabled people and those with sight impairments and so on, for whom this whole agenda is extremely worrying. One looks at their submissions to the "Designing Streets" consultation, for example, and notes that they have concerns that we must try to work through in practice. It is all very well to try to get some of this done by debate and discussion but, at some point, one has to make decisions, start implementing and learn from experience. We could get a long way towards some good results by looking at experience elsewhere.

For example, Neilston in East Renfrewshire is a renaissance town that promotes community-wide measures to improve access to schools. We have not talked about access to schools, but that is a real congestion problem there. In Neilston, they are looking at ways of dealing with traffic and vehicle movement and are trying to encourage young people to get to school by bike. There is a through-route in the town, which brings us back to

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the initial question of how we manage getting vehicles from one end of the town to the other without stopping, while providing the appropriate quality of space whereby drivers will adjust their speed and behave according to what is required. There has to be a mixture of solutions that is appropriate for each case. Craigmillar, too, has a big through-route as well as residential areas. It is therefore a question of trying to find the right mode and degree of separation and protection according to the speed of the vehicles.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: We can perhaps hear from Will Reid about his experience of dealing with that issue in his design for Craigmillar.

Will Reid: There is equal priority in the residential areas, so there is integration there. We have a school right in the centre of the development, which has been a great boon, particularly as the school was built first—two primary schools came together into one new one. The streets were therefore colonised by the children before the motorists arrived as the housing was built up. I would recommend to anybody who is looking to do a similar design that they get a use in early that generates a lot of pedestrians and cyclists. In that way, they naturally take over the public realm and the motorists, because of the design techniques that have led to low speed, naturally give way. Although I cannot give you figures—the evidence is anecdotal—cycling to those schools has increased, so more primary school children are cycling in that shared space environment and I believe that walking is also up. We will of course endeavour to get statistics to back that up.

I agree with Sebastian Tombs's comment that, when we move out from the residential areas to the busier streets, there is probably a case for having an element of segregation but, in our experience, some of the links out from residential areas to other areas are lacking. We are part of the Scottish sustainable communities initiative. One aspect of that is that we are working on an active travel plan, which addresses how to improve the links out from residential areas and the long-distance routes back into the city centre and how to improve the knowledge among people moving into the area so that they choose to cycle or walk rather than use their car.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: Does anyone have anything to add?

Campbell Divertie: I think that we all agree that people require safe routes to encourage them to consider using their bicycle, so safe routes are important.

With segregation, problems arise with the procurement of land and with opposition from residents, who are reluctant to think about land at

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the back of their property becoming open to the public. Another issue is that, when there is segregation, the traffic eventually comes to a hub and comes back into a mixed domain, so education is key, to ensure that everyone respects each mode of transport.

Douglas Norris: I will make two other points. First, on travel planning in relation to the location of new schools and hospitals, it may be possible, when new facilities are being built, to consider access not only by car or bus. Secondly, it may be possible to create more space on existing roads by encouraging schemes such as car sharing, so there could be a focus on that issue.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: Sebastian Tombs mentioned the challenge in coming to terms with a new way of thinking that architects faced when they designed the Craigmillar scheme. We are interested to know whether people—not only the architects, but transport experts, town planners and planners—have sufficient professional knowledge. Do they give enough consideration to active travel? Is it sufficiently built into their training so that they consider and investigate it, whether in relation to designing one scheme or something as big as what is going on in Craigmillar?

Sebastian Tombs: The issue relates partly to how we procure places. Most professionals are engaged by a client to look at a spot or site with a red line round it. It is only when we go up a gear to the broader planning role that settlements as a whole are considered, which is the level of consideration that we are talking about here. We must think about settlements as an holistic set of interconnected issues that require consideration, rather than as just individual sites that are surrounded by red lines. In the urban regeneration company examples in Craigmillar, Clydebank and elsewhere it is possible to take that slightly broader view. Of course, the role of local government and, in particular, the local authority planning teams, will be vital if we are to see a big change.


As we have heard, there is a hierarchy of transport moneys; however, there is also a hierarchy of levels of thinking and planning. From the individual professions' point of view, there are people who are thinking more strategically and environmentally. Of course, there is a big agenda on how we can improve how we address climate change; for example, the Copenhagen conference is going on at the moment. Active travel is a net contributor to that agenda and to the health agenda. People in the design professions are considering how their skills can, by encouraging active travel, be brought to bear in addressing a wide range of issues.

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However, I have to be honest and say that the majority of professions in my field—architecture—are still thinking more about the individual building and how it sits on a particular site, rather than about how that site fits into the bigger context of a settlement. That sort of thinking needs to come from our colleagues in transport, engineering and planning, who have that broader responsibility.

Eric Hill: One of the stumbling blocks in looking at the type of schemes that have been on-going—I mentioned the design manual—is litigation. As the committee will appreciate, road safety engineering has, over decades, become a massive part of the industry. We are aware that an incident on the network can lead to a fatal accident inquiry—questions are always asked about why certain safety measures are not in place. In many cases we take away what would previously have been perceived as safety measures. An example from down south is Kensington High Street, from which miles and miles of pedestrian barriers were removed. How many of my colleagues would be comfortable doing that, given the potential litigation if a child ran out in front of a vehicle and was injured?

We have been glad to see a lot of brave decisions being made in all the sectors that are involved in infrastructure, but we need political backing so that people accept that there are risks—although they have to be measured risks—in introducing such changes. We all go through various processes of risk assessment when we are creating schemes and carrying out road safety audits and such like, but policy makers must take that on board and not leave the poor individual who added or removed a line in a drawing to carry the can, so to speak.

Will Reid: I would totally back that up—we need strong civic leadership. I recall the nervousness among professionals before we opened the first street; there was a lot of nervousness around the table. When someone asked what would happen if there were to be an accident, the whole tone of the discussion changed, as you can imagine. The process needs strong civic leadership and political buy-in.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: Would that be done through "Designing Streets" or is more required on top of it? Are you talking about planning guidance or something more? What would give the professions reassurance?

Sebastian Tombs: "Designing Streets" is a policy document rather than guidance and advice. In that sense, the Government itself is taking on responsibility for setting a platform of risk assessment that is different from the one that we have existed under until now—at least, that will happen when the document is published. The difficulty with guidance is that it would leave the

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risk assessment where it is at the moment, which is at individual officer level.

Interestingly, in Kensington, it was a local political leader—I think it was the chairman of the appropriate committee on the council—who put his hand up and said, "Yes. I'll stand for the council and I'll take responsibility should litigation occur as a result of this action." That allowed the decision to remove the barriers to be taken. Interestingly, the accident numbers have reduced—at least, that is the case according to the information that I have had to date. Confidence is being built. Of course, that does not mean that litigation will not occur in the future. The policy document status of "Designing Streets" provides greater freedom for judgments to be made locally without that particular fear arising so strongly in the future.

Will Reid: To return to the question about training and skills, it is about learning from examples. There is now refreshingly little—although there is still an element—of the approach of using the old manuals in "Designing Streets". We need to consider what has worked elsewhere. People are being encouraged to do exemplar work through initiatives such as urban regeneration companies and the Scottish sustainable communities initiative—we need to get everybody else out there to look at and learn from those experiences.

We need to ensure that such initiatives are studied over a long period of time, so that people can see how something works over three, four or five years rather than just going in at the start. My concern is that knee-jerk reactions might occur sooner than that—we have to let the designs evolve and the surrounding areas develop so that people change their behaviour and their practices.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: A number of witnesses have spoken about the fact that a lot of good buildings and developments with good facilities for active travel are set up, but no further thought is given to the wider community of which those developments are parts. How can co-ordination between what happens in a new development—whether it is one new public building of whatever scale, or a large housing estate—and the wider community be improved? How can we better develop what goes on around buildings or schemes in terms of travel into the city centre and travel-to-work routes?

Campbell Divertie: Funding is key, and the question "Who funds?" is important. The developer creates the development, the building or the place, but who funds the links to the existing towns, villages and communities? Is it incumbent on the developer to absorb all that cost, or is the local authority supposed to come up with capital funding to ensure that the development is joined up? That

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question is key, as it affects how a development will fit together and join up.

Sebastian Tombs: With regard to the longer term, we come back to the planning system. The RIAS welcomes the Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006, which is trying to bring more effort into the early stages—the strategic thinking and future planning—to allow the type of co-ordinated approach that we are discussing. Much will depend, however, on the attitudes and leadership of local planning officers and planning committees in establishing local development plans and in deciding where the key connections need to be made.

We are, I think, all aware of cases in which key opportunities to make such connections have been lost. It is hugely frustrating when that happens. At the lower level, conditions can be imposed on consents when those are granted, but if the local planning framework is clear enough about what is required of the developer, that should eventually adjust the land value that the developer is paying for the privilege of developing the land. Enough should be understood about what is required, whether that involves developer contributions or other means, for the adjustment to affect the land value.

The difficulty at present is that most land is purchased, or options are acquired on it, so far ahead of any actual development that such adjustments have a hard time getting into the equation. The 2006 act points to a longer-term adjustment in that process, so that better judgments can be made by the development community to build in bigger-context thinking.

Will Reid: I agree. There is currently a tendency to expect the developer to make a contribution—through section 75 contributions—outwith the immediate surrounds of the development. At present, given the slowdown in development in general, the funds to complete those strategic links are not forthcoming.

Douglas Norris: It might be helpful to have measurable targets, because particular areas will be good, while others will not be so good. If there are such targets, and they are communicated, that may drive some improvement.

Eric Hill: With regard to the original question about who should co-ordinate the links, I view that very much as a local authority function, in relation to planning and transportation planning. My experience of local authorities is that those departments tend to be firefighting; they are basically underresourced for what is required in order to take a much more strategic view of how to integrate schemes and the existing infrastructure. We currently have good people in local authorities involved in those things but, unfortunately, they

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just do not have the time or the resources to look at the matter in the context that we require.

Sebastian Tombs: We have heard of one or two schemes that are being supported under the Scottish sustainable communities initiative. The criteria for better place making, which Architecture and Design Scotland helped to establish, include all the active travel issues that we are talking about today. We would like those to become more broadly integrated in general planning approvals.

The Herald, on Saturday, looked at a number of new towns or new developments around the central and western parts of the country, many of which are led by the private sector. The market is beginning to pick up on the eco-town tag. The planners have the opportunity to say, "One of the factors of an eco-town is an active travel package. Let's see how you're going to do that." That becomes part of the initial thinking of the development through private sector-led initiatives as well as through public sector-led initiatives.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: Okay. Let us move on to budgets. Funding has been mentioned and other witnesses have suggested that 10 per cent of all transport budgets should be spent on walking and cycling. Have any of your organisations done any research on that or taken a view on that proposal?

Sebastian Tombs: The RIAS has not.

Campbell Divertie: In transport, the key is to maintain the existing network. That takes most of the focus of people's attention because we appreciate that the existing road network is in decline.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: On behalf of the committee, Charlie Gordon and I spent yesterday in Dumfries, looking at active travel in the context of upgrading the existing network. We saw some interesting examples of upgrades that had been made to the trunk road network, including investment in cycling. However, that work had been done in a very piecemeal fashion, and it was debatable whether the facilities would be used. When we are thinking about upgrading the existing network, is enough work done to ensure that the money is spent effectively?

Eric Hill: I am ashamed to say that in roads developments, particularly in rural areas, there is almost a box-ticking exercise. We need to meet requirements for other people, so certain things are done but—Shirley-Anne Somerville alluded to this—they are not the best and it is questionable who would use the facilities that are provided in that way. Rather than include in a project funding that will not provide a valuable facility, would not it be better to provide the facility elsewhere, where it would make a difference? That has happened on a lot of trunk roads, particularly the A9 heading

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north, on which cycle tracks have been provided around Drumochter. They are currently used as a fly tipping area and the road surface is breaking up. It appears that, in the third generation trunk road contracts, not much allowance has been made for maintenance of cycleways, whether by the operating companies or the local authorities. In such areas, the issue is not just feasibility—whether the facilities are worth providing—but who will look after them once they are built and which budget will pay for that.

The Convener: I would like to pursue the point about funding. I acknowledge that your organisations may not have clear positions on the call for 10 per cent of transport spending to be spent on active travel. I also accept that the money that is spent on maintenance of roads benefits cyclists as much as it does car users. The Scottish Government has set an ambitious target for modal shift to walking and cycling. Even if we put in place the right planning and the right attitudes for new developments, is it pretty overambitious to imagine that the 10 per cent share of journeys could be attained without significant additional expenditure to achieve that objective?


Campbell Divertie: We must improve the cycling infrastructure in the main workplace areas, because that is where we are encouraging people to move from cars to bicycles. We must improve the existing infrastructure in industrial areas and towns by designing in safer cycling routes. That is the key. Another factor is education to allow the whole travelling community to acknowledge and respect all the modes of travel.

The Convener: None of that can be done free of charge.

Campbell Divertie: Unfortunately, it cannot.

Douglas Norris: If we were to concentrate on the health benefits of walking and cycling, that would have significant health benefits in the medium to long term, because people would exercise more. I accept that that would have to happen over the long term, but we are discussing an event that has taken place over a long term, so change will take a long time.

On the continent—in the Netherlands—it is possible to arrive at a railway station and then to hire a cycle for €1 a day instead of carrying a cycle. Cycles can be carried on trains and even buses, but only in limited quantities and perhaps not in the rush hour. If such a simple facility were available on arrival at stations, take-up would probably be much greater, provided that the road-safety environment were suitable.

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Sebastian Tombs: For commuters, the challenge will be going from a place of residence to work—a lucky few, such as me, have been able to cycle to their workplace for the past 30 years—or to a point of mode transition. Trains have been mentioned, but buses are also relevant. People want to reach a convenient place where they can store bicycles safely and know that the bicycles will not be vandalised or damaged while they are away, and which gives them reliable and predictable travel expectations. However, we are not co-ordinating our thinking about investment in train or bus services with that in mind.

I return to the issue of encouraging children to cycle and walk more to school. When people start young to use those forms of transport in environments that allow them to be used, they grow up with the expectation that such behaviour is normal. When such children become adults, they are much more likely to campaign for such provision or to continue using those transport modes. Most of us are pedestrians much of the time in any case, so we are talking only about extending such behaviour.

I am in no position to comment on funding, but if we want something to be done, the people who are in charge and who have clout must do it, but they need some resources in order that they can deliver. I am not in a position to say what that means in practice for the Scottish budget, but those ingredients are necessary, or not much change will occur. If the Government and the committee are ambitious and if we all share the agenda, that mixture of ingredients will be needed to obtain results.

Will Reid: Lateral thinking can be applied to funding. In Craigmillar, a strategic footpath is proposed from a housing development to the hospital. Using that footpath would be healthy, but funding it is a problem. Does an opportunity exist to talk to the hospital and the national health service about using their budgets for that instead of always requiring the developer to contribute?

Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (SNP): I have questions for the RIAS that follow on from what we have just talked about. Provision for pedestrians and cyclists appears to be an afterthought in many new buildings—even large public buildings. Why is that?

Sebastian Tombs: It would be interesting to hear comments from the client side, too.

The reason is that architects do not concentrate their attention on that aspect of developments. When the health campaign began some years ago, the question arose in the profession of how buildings could be designed such that people were encouraged to use stairs rather than lifts, which has health, energy and other benefits for

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individuals and organisations. That was a new way of thinking for architects, who are not asked to afford sufficient priority to such issues at the moment. Often provision for cycles in buildings is considered as an afterthought: I say that as an architect and cyclist. There is work to be done by the profession on addressing that approach, which devalues cycling and walking.

Rob Gibson: You are not seeing briefs for new projects that—

Sebastian Tombs: It comes back to the relationship between the design team and the client. Normally, what the client is looking for is encapsulated in the initial brief. In most cases, there should be a dynamic relationship between the design team and the client: there should be room for challenge and development of the brief. It would be instructive to know how the dynamic works in active travel. I can take that message back to the RIAS—we can raise the issue in some committees and try to find out more about it. The key driver for change will be clients and the bigger context of demand among users and in the planning system, rather than architects, although architects have a significant role to play in challenging clients' briefs in this area, as they do in respect of the environmental agenda generally.

Rob Gibson: During their initial training and subsequent continuing professional development, are architects taught about designing for active travel?

Sebastian Tombs: The subject is not given great priority.

Rob Gibson: That sounds like a matter that should be pursued.

Sebastian Tombs: I am happy to take back that point to both the profession and the schools of architecture.

Rob Gibson: Is it difficult or expensive to provide facilities such as cycle parking, showers and lockers in offices and other existing workplaces?

Sebastian Tombs: It is not unduly expensive. Provision of space for safe storage of cycles is not an issue and provision of facilities for people who use cycles does not have a large cost in a significantly sized development, although the cost becomes significant in small developments. The development market—for example, the British Council for Offices, which represents the developers that deal with office developments—needs to be encouraged to ensure that its client group more regularly includes such facilities in briefs. It is not difficult to design them in.

The Convener: In your answer, you concentrated on new developments. What is the cost of adding facilities to existing buildings?

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Sebastian Tombs: The key points in relation to buildings are how people move about and where the drainage goes. If we can solve those problems, we can usually get buildings to work. That applies to new buildings: it is trickier to do with existing facilities and structures, but there is no reason in principle why an intelligent design team should not be able to solve the problem, if their doing so is part of the brief. Space can be an issue in existing structures. As others have mentioned, a bit of lateral thinking about the use of external space may be required—for example, if cycle space cannot be fitted into the building—but none of the problems is insuperable.

Charlie Gordon (Glasgow Cathcart) (Lab): I have some questions for the highway engineers. Do Scotland's transportation engineers have the knowledge and training to develop a comprehensive new network of cycle infrastructure and enhance the existing networks?

Campbell Divertie: Due to natural wastage and demands on resources, only a limited resource is available. A lot of expertise has been lost because local authorities have lost some of their senior staff as a result of financial cuts.

Charlie Gordon: But if there are fewer larger projects for engineers to work on at local authority level, will we see more of the small to medium-sized projects that might be associated with the active travel agenda, such as new cycleways?

Eric Hill: There is enough guidance for engineers to follow. There is quite a lot of guidance—past and present—on the design of cycleways and how to implement them.

On larger schemes, we are back to looking at how we do things. Larger schemes can integrate much more easily. A larger project creates a lot more publicity and there is a lot more involvement in the various aspects of the construction and so on. As we said before, with smaller schemes, things end up being a bit piecemeal and we can lose sight of the bigger picture.

One of the big issues is co-ordination. We can provide various things for a school as part of a school travel plan. However, school travel plans are focused much more on the school than on the area. We tend to forget about what the other parts of communities require. We provide a great route for children to get to and from places, but we should have a similar infrastructure for the wider community. In Edinburgh, although public transport makes it easy to get into and out of the middle of the city, it is difficult to go round the side of the city. We can integrate facilities into projects, but the big issue is co-ordination.

As I have said previously, my experience of the transportation planning side of local authorities is that it is quite underresourced. When smaller

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schemes are designed, they should be done with the future in mind. In that way, we will be able to incorporate a much better infrastructure that will help us to meet the target of a 10 per cent modal share for cycling.

Charlie Gordon: So, all things being equal, you would like more money and you would like to work in bigger schemes. Earlier, you admitted that there has been a tick-box approach with, for example, trunk roads being built with bits of cycleway next to them that do not go anywhere. How about engineers giving a bit of leadership, and buying into the agenda and showing a bit of commitment to it?

Eric Hill: If you would like to have us along.

What is our role as engineers? We have planning people and we have transportation planners. The transportation planners should perhaps take the lead; they are trained and have experience in that type of thing, and they are able to take the lead.

Charlie Gordon: In the 19th century, engineers might have seen themselves as leaders, but we are in quite a different century now. Why have other northern European countries been able to develop comprehensive cycle and pedestrian networks in existing cities, while Scottish cities continue to be dominated by motorised traffic?

Eric Hill: It is almost a political issue. As my colleagues mentioned, this country has very much taken the line that car is king. It has taken quite a shift to make people realise that we should be considering other modes of transport, particularly the healthy options of cycling and walking, which I am sure we all enjoy.

Charlie Gordon: I have been involved in some of these decisions in one large Scottish city, but the recommendations were always written for me in the first place by an engineer. Is there a cultural issue here to do with how highway engineers handle traffic in our cities?


Eric Hill: Historically, not only in Scotland but across the UK, design in major cities has been for the car. However, as we said, the situation has been redressed over recent years—certainly, over the past decade.

In citing examples of northern European cities that champion people having no car and promote cycling and walking, we have to remember that many of them are in countries where a large majority of people are regular walkers, cyclists and users of public transport. Also, the public transport systems in those cities are much better than those in Scottish cities. It is therefore a lot easier for people in those cities to make the move. Can you

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give an example of a city that you have in mind? We are always looking for examples from around the world that show us how to deal with problems. We hope to instigate some such examples in this country.

Charlie Gordon: The example that was cited in recent evidence to the committee is Copenhagen, which is very much in the news at the moment for other reasons.

Eric Hill: Like Holland, Denmark is a flat country where a large percentage of people cycle and walk and there is an excellent public transport system. Certainly, the public transport system in Danish cities is much better than those in some Scottish cities.

Charlie Gordon: But we have to understand cause and effect when we consider such cities. We heard evidence that Copenhagen did not always have a high percentage of cyclists and walkers.

Eric Hill: If we provide facilities, people use them. My experience of making cycle routes is that, even where it was thought that uptake would not be fantastic, people use the routes if they are good facilities. The issue comes down to the level of provision that we can achieve, given the existing infrastructure and space in our cities to do things.

Sebastian Tombs: I have an observation on Copenhagen.

Charlie Gordon: If you do not mind, I will stick with the highways engineers for the moment, but it is up to the convener.

The Convener: I will bring you in, Mr Tombs, when Charlie Gordon has finished his questioning.

Charlie Gordon: Is the construction of high-quality on-street and off-street cycle lanes and associated infrastructure as expensive as the construction of other road infrastructure?

Eric Hill: The biggest issue is land take. If we can work within existing highway boundaries without having to purchase land or remove buildings or other structures, it is not difficult to do. Problems arise when we run out of space and have to look at measures such as compulsory purchase. That is the biggest stumbling block.

The Convener: I will now bring in Sebastian Tombs.

Sebastian Tombs: If one had visited Copenhagen 20 years ago, one would have found that much of the city centre was full of car parking. At that time, the city was unaccommodating to pedestrians and cyclists. Change was influenced through the work of Jan Gehl, who began to measure how pedestrians used the city centre. He collected data on the conditions that provide good

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environments and what helped people to move through the city and enjoy it. As a result of his research, he recommended to the city that car parking in some public spaces be pulled back. That was done slowly and organically and it created a void into which cyclists and pedestrians flowed. Traders saw the economic opportunities and followed on, which led to other investment.

The change that took place in Copenhagen happened over a long period of time. It was a gradual revolution that removed vehicles and created space for cyclists and pedestrians. Jan Gehl says that if he had gone to the politicians 20 years ago and said, "I want to remove all car parking from the city and this is the city that you will get as a result," no one would have believed him. The change in Copenhagen happened organically in the minds of those who lived in the city as well as the politicians. We can learn from the example, but we need to understand that there was a long process of experimentation.

Charlie Gordon: What was Jan Gehl's profession? Was he an architect or a highways engineer?

Sebastian Tombs: I think that he was a landscape architect by original profession.

The Convener: Is the data collection to which you refer place specific or does it give rise to a generic principle? Should we replicate the same research here or is that not necessary?

Sebastian Tombs: Over the last generation, various improvements have taken place in the collection of data about how pedestrians behave. There are now mathematical models that can predict where pedestrians will go given certain circumstances, such as the proximity of junctions and routes. Therefore, we could now draw on a lot more evidence to help Scottish citizens and their city leaders.

The Convener: I have a couple of questions for the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport on issues that have been touched on but which we might be able to cover in more depth. Douglas Norris mentioned traffic speed in answer to a previous question. Several witnesses have called for a universal or near-universal 20mph limit in residential streets to increase cyclist and pedestrian safety. There has been some discussion about whether that would make a difference to actual or perceived risk and safety. I ask him to expand on the institute's views on traffic speed and the impact that such a speed limit would have on risk and on the likelihood of people changing their transport decisions.

Douglas Norris: That question applies to what we call shared-use roads, which are found mainly in towns and cities. We draw a distinction between those and the highways.

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We somehow need to create more space. By that, I do not mean that we should knock down buildings but that we need to reduce the number of motorised vehicles on the existing streets. That could be done partly by reducing the speed limit, partly by encouraging car sharing and partly by having parking controls. For instance, is it essential or desirable that many city centre or town centre offices provide car parking free of charge? We could call it a subsidy or an encouragement but, whatever else it does, it generates motorised transport, so there is a question about whether it is desirable. Also, facilities such as schools and hospitals, for example, may be on the edge of town or in areas where there is a lot of motorised activity.

One thing that might stimulate the creation of more space would be to encourage people to consider the health benefits of active travel rather than how much the bus or train fare is or how much a litre of petrol costs. Change will take place over time and it is likely to be a long time. At the moment, something like 1 per cent of journeys in Scotland are undertaken by walking or cycling, so the only way to go is up.

Those are some of the measures that we think might help.

The Convener: I was not clear whether you had a position on the idea of a default 20mph limit.

Douglas Norris: We do not have a specific limit in mind. We have not said that it needs to be 20mph, although that is a common limit around schools and in some urban areas. However, a reduction from the 30mph limit would be required.

The Convener: Resources are relevant because speed limits could be seen as a cheap and easy option—just a matter of putting up the road signs and changing the rules—but, if they were not enforced, confidence in the speed limit could be undermined. Is it easy to achieve the desired effect rather than just take the decision?

Douglas Norris: The key is to bring about a reduction in motorised traffic, which would make walking and cycling safer and perceived to be safer. The enforcement of the speed limits is a legal matter rather than one on which we could say much.

The Convener: There were also some comments earlier about training on active travel issues for people who are involved in transport planning. Does the institute have any involvement in that? Does it design or provide such training, or does it intend to do so?

Douglas Norris: The only comment that I can make on that is that Transport for London carried out some integrated training. I am not sure who provided it, but the company decided that it was

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desirable for its highway engineers, architects and planners to have specific training on active travel.

The Convener: You are not aware of any such training in Scotland for those involved in transport planning.

Douglas Norris: I will check and get back to you.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: I have questions for Will Reid. We talked earlier about how you have designed your development around the integration of road users. I want to ask about the budgetary implications of that. Did the budget and the cost go up because you were looking at things in a different way? Did you have to persuade people to spend their money in a different way, which might have challenged their traditional views about how you should spend funds in a development of that scale?

Will Reid: We certainly had to persuade people to look at cost in the widest possible sense and to think of a street as more than just a street. The streets have been designed as sustainable urban drainage systems. In other words, when the rain falls, it goes slowly through gaps in the blocks. In that way, flooding is prevented and the rainwater is cleaned at the same time. If you did not do that, what would you do and how much would it cost you? You would have to devote a piece of expensive land to a pond, build bigger pipes and put in tanks. All those elements have to be costed. The knee-jerk reaction was, "That piece of block is expensive." Yes, it is more expensive than tarmac, but it would make you a saving, because you would not have to put in the measures that I have just described. If you put in that type of surface, you would not have to spend the money on gritting the roads in wintry conditions, because it drains freely.

I have never seen anyone put all that together on one spreadsheet. That sort of information has to be put out there, so that when people look at cost, they look at every single aspect, rather than just at the cost of the surface itself.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: Did you have to look at particular budgets for specific infrastructure that would assist with active travel in the area?

Will Reid: We can break that down and start with the element of whether there is enough provision for cyclists. We have got to the stage where making such provision is policy in many areas. If a developer is building in certain areas, they have to meet policies and standards, which in our case included ensuring that every single person has a secure area for parking their bike. When the developer is doing their budget, they know that they have to build that standard into their costs—there is no discretion.

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The lack is in connecting residential areas to the rest of the city and in having other people take responsibility for funding those links.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: I want to move on to the other types of planning decisions that are made. Developments such as yours are taking into account all these issues, whether the environment or active travel, but we also see the continuation of urban sprawl and out-of-town shopping. There still seems to be a contradiction within the planning system—good practice is going on, but there is a lot of bad practice, too. Why is that still the case?

Will Reid: Quite a change is taking place. In Edinburgh, very little development is permitted on the edge of the city. The local plan has just been approved. Even given the size of Edinburgh, only 400 houses have been allocated on the edge of the city. Compared with previous local plans and structure plans, that would be an all-time low. In the case of Craigmillar, the development is fairly dense. It is all about reducing the distance that people have to walk or cycle to basic amenities and facilities. It goes back to good town planning, which looks at all those issues and moves away from low-density sprawl.


Shirley-Anne Somerville: There are some very good examples of cycling and pedestrian facilities that have been secured through planning agreements and the attachment of conditions to planning permission, but there are also some very bad examples of conditions that have been imposed by planners that have not resulted in good provision. Why do you think that that is the case? What can be done to ensure that planning agreements produce good facilities that are well maintained in the future?

Will Reid: Can you give me a few examples of what you have in mind?

Shirley-Anne Somerville: We received interesting examples from an organisation in Warrington. We do not have the photographs here, but they included examples that made it look as if the planners had indicated that cycling infrastructure had to be provided, but that was done in such a way that it appeared to be a tick-box exercise. Does that still happen?

Will Reid: I would prefer to concentrate on the case study—or rather, the worked example—that I am involved with through the Craigmillar development rather than give an opinion on the situation nationwide.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: Fair enough.

The Convener: I have one further question for Mr Reid. We had some discussion about disability access and the perception of an inclusive

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environment. Have you encountered those issues at a practical level in Craigmillar? Have organisations that represent or work with disabled people had an opportunity to feed in their views and to help to shape the development?

Will Reid: Yes. That is why I made my comment. We must look at such areas over a long period and see how they work. Concern has been expressed on behalf of the Royal National Institute of Blind People or the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. Such concerns do not relate just to our scheme—as Sebastian Tombs said, they are nationwide. I understand that research is being done on the issue by the Department for Transport, which it will be extremely helpful to have. The "Designing Streets" policy is to come out shortly and we will look at what that says about the issue. There is certainly a willingness to engage with organisations for disabled people and to work with them to see what can be done. All that I can say is that concerns exist; the issue has still to be worked through.

The Convener: Are there any final questions?

Members: No.

The Convener: In that case, I thank the witnesses for their time and for answering our questions. I suspend the meeting briefly to allow for a changeover of witnesses.


Meeting suspended.


On resuming—

The Convener: We continue with item 1, which is oral evidence on our active travel inquiry. I welcome our second panel of witnesses: we are joined by Duncan Pickering, who is the cycling development manager at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, and Michael McDonnell, who is the director of Road Safety Scotland.

I will open with a question about barriers to people choosing to walk and cycle. We have heard from a number of witnesses that one of the main concerns is safety, or the perception of safety. Obviously, actual risk may be different from perceived risk. Do you share the view that fast-moving traffic and the perceived danger that it poses is the main barrier? If not, what priority would you give other factors or barriers in terms of their effect on whether people choose to walk or cycle? If you agree that fast-moving traffic is the main concern, what should be done to overcome that?

Duncan Pickering (Institute of Advanced Motorists): First, I agree that the biggest barrier to

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people changing their transport mode to the bicycle is fear of the road and other traffic. Our roads are getting more congested all the time and the fear of conflict between the motorist and the cyclist is putting people off cycling. The IAM undertook research that shows that, for about 80 per cent of people who own a bicycle but do not use it often, fear of the roads is the single factor that puts them off.

There are two key threads to follow in starting to turn that around. First, we need sustained but carefully implemented new infrastructure for cyclists that will lead to a clear demarcation between cyclist use and motorist use on the roads. Secondly, we need an education campaign and training for people who wish to cycle more often. People learn to ride a bike when they are children, but they may not use a bike again for many years, and so they use motor transport on the road. They do not forget how to ride a bike, but they forget how busy the roads can be, what they should do and the key points that they should look for when they are out on the road on a bicycle.

Michael McDonnell (Road Safety Scotland): I agree largely with what Duncan Pickering said in that there are several threads to follow, including the infrastructure. However, infrastructure can almost remove the possibility of education. If we were to segregate traffic as much as has been done in some places, we would not give people experience of road-traffic situations. We know that such experience and proper training can give people the tools and skills that they need. However, we have to decide at some point when the situation is such that it requires that infrastructure and segregation be put in place.

It is also worth noting that only about one third of reported cyclist casualties relate to on-road incidents, which means that most casualties do not. Especially among younger age groups, casualties result from the bicycle being used as a toy rather than as a means of transport. It is particularly important for children that, as they begin to experience the toy, they are also trained at an early age in the skills that they need to keep them safe on the roads.

From the education and training point of view, to which Duncan Pickering alluded, there are two strands, which we have already tried to tackle. First, cyclists need to remember that they are road users: they are obliged to observe and obey the rules of the road. Secondly, drivers must give respect to cyclists: they must accept that cyclists are entitled to use the road, too. I heard from earlier witnesses the phrase "The car is king". I think that we have adopted and developed that culture in Scotland. Motorists feel that no one has a right to get in the way of their completing their journey from A to B, whether it is another car

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driver, a bus driver, a cyclist or a pedestrian. We must tackle that culture.

The Convener: I will come on to infrastructure in a moment, but I want to ask first about training. Can you expand on the role that cycle training and equipping people with skills can play in reducing fears or the perception of danger in cycling on the roads? To suggest that drivers should have to undergo continuous retraining or reassessment is difficult and controversial enough, so how can we get adults to think that they need to sign up for cycle training in changing their travel patterns? How can we sell it to people?

Duncan Pickering: As Michael McDonnell said, a bicycle on the road is very much a vehicle. It should be treated as such and given respect and room, but its rider should also abide by the rules of the road.

I have lost my train of thought. I am sorry.

Michael McDonnell: I will pick up on that. On education and training, Road Safety Scotland has adopted a policy of giving young people the skills that are needed by particular age groups from the earliest age at which we can get access to them, which tends to be from around three. We see those skills as cornerstones and we look to instil in young people attitudes and behaviours that do not relate to any particular mode of transport, but will make them safe road users using whichever mode they choose.

There is something that I say for which I often get criticised, but I will say it again so that members can criticise me. When we get access to three-year-old children, we see them as future drivers, because many of them—although not all—will eventually be drivers. Therefore, we try to instil in them the cornerstone skills that they need now, and we consider a spiral curriculum.

We invest about £75,000 a year in cycle training, which we see as being crucial. Anecdotally, driving instructors tell us that, when people go to them for their first driving lesson, they can often tell whether they have done cycle training when they were young, because they recognise that a degree of road sense has already been laid down in them. People who have not done cycle training often do not have that road sense, so cycle training is very valuable.

I agree with what has been said about perceptions about safety often being the biggest barrier to people taking up cycling.

Duncan Pickering: Michael McDonnell is right: a bicycle needs to be given room on the road. It is important that people are aware of what they need to do on bicycles. We learn to ride a bike when we are young, but we forget what we need to do on the roads in the 21st century, which is a very

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different kettle of fish. We want people to get back on their bikes, but they do not have the skills or the confidence that they need to tackle the roads of the 21st century. They make the wrong assumptions when they are out on their bikes. Perhaps they will think that they should be in the cycle lane that the local authority has painted near the gutter on the left-hand side of the road. A bicycle needs to be clearly visible to other road users, and a cyclist has a right to be further out in the road; indeed, that is the safer place to be. Cycle training can give cyclists skills to make them safer on a daily basis.

Rob Gibson: I will give a practical little example from the village of Evanton, where I live. A main road goes into that village, and there is suddenly a 30mph limit sign. Within the boundary, there is a right-hand turn towards the school from the main road that children who can cycle might take, but the school will not allow them to do so because of the turn across the traffic. Children in primaries 6 and 7 are given cycle training. You talk about the theory of starting to train children at the age of three, but there are constraints set by parents and teachers, for example. How can we solve the simple problem of a right-hand turn across a main road?

Michael McDonnell: That is the $64,000 question. We develop and distribute cycle training materials and make them available to every school in Scotland, but there are, as Rob Gibson said, barriers in the school environment: the education authority may allow us to do only some things. In an ideal world, theory materials would be used in classrooms, then playground work would be done so that basic skills could be learned and manoeuvres could be practised, and then children would move on to the roads to complete the third training stage. That is the ideal sequence, but in many parts of Scotland the final stage of on-road training very often does not take place either because the education authority, the roads authority, the road safety unit or even the headteacher does not want to do it, or because the parents are not prepared to allow it.

All that we can do through education and training is try to equip children with skills; it is very difficult for us to solve road problems or to do anything about whether headteachers allow children to cycle to the school that might well be on a dangerous junction. After all, some schools in this country front on to roads with 60 mph limits. In such circumstances, I can understand why headteachers would make that decision.


Duncan Pickering: One problem is that many parents and school teachers have not had cycle training and do not cycle much. As a result, they

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are unable to pass on to school children the necessary skills or give them the confidence to make them capable of, say, taking a particular right turn properly. Our organisation tries to promote cycle training to families, because it means that everyone—not just the child—buys in to the idea of being safe on the road on a bicycle. Parents who are confident about their own cycling ability tend to have more confidence in the ability of their children, because they can teach them these things as they grow up.

Charlie Gordon: Yesterday, on a committee visit to Dumfries, Shirley-Anne Somerville and I learned a lot about work on active travel in that part of the country. One thing we learned was that Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary was the last to move away from giving young people cycle proficiency training. However, although a gap had developed in that respect, the local authority was going to pick up the work. What is the national picture? Have we ever had, or do we still have, all-Scotland coverage for cycle training for youngsters?

Michael McDonnell: Although we make provision for that, we do not have full uptake because of some of the problems that I highlighted earlier.

Compared with the rest of the UK, the situation in Scotland with road safety education, training and publicity units is a bit anomalous. When local government was reorganised, the decision was taken in Strathclyde Regional Council and Highland Regional Council to make the roads authority responsible for those units. As a result, the 12 councils that make up what had been Strathclyde Regional Council are still responsible for the road safety education, training and publicity function, whereas in the rest of the country such units are part of the police service. In recent years, those who are involved in active travel and road safety units have been encouraged to take over that training which—I have to say—was always largely done by volunteers. As a primary school teacher who used to be responsible for cycle training, I know that teachers, as Duncan Pickering has pointed out, simply train children to pass the test. Now that I am a road safety officer who tests children—poacher turned gamekeeper, if you like—I think that the main thing is to ensure that they cycle safely. I suppose that that is the nature of education.

The facility for good coverage exists, but there are barriers to rolling out training, many of which lie with schools. For example, when as a road safety officer in Strathclyde I used to offer cycle training to the local schools every year, the headteacher in one particular school always refused—end of story.

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Charlie Gordon: Do you think that it is right for parts of the public sector in Scotland simply to opt out of training youngsters to cycle, even though the resources are available?

Michael McDonnell: Of course we would rather that they did not opt out and that there was full take-up. However, I think that I can understand why there are barriers in certain places.

We should remember that there are fewer than 90 road safety officers in Scotland and that, in recent years, their role has had to change dramatically. Instead of being deliverers, they are now facilitators or enablers, and the material that we have been asked to put together is more for teachers, volunteers and other people to deliver, with road safety officers' encouragement and support.

The Convener: I just want to pick up on your use a little while ago of the term "future drivers"—

Michael McDonnell: I knew that I was creating a noose for myself.

Charlie Gordon: You thought that you could get away with it without any reaction.

The Convener: I remember trying to wind up the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change on the same issue some time ago.

My serious point is that, even if the majority of young people will eventually get a driving licence so that they can drive for part of their lives—perhaps in a particular period when they work too far from home to walk or cycle or whatever—most people will also be pedestrians and users of public transport and, possibly, cyclists for some journeys. Should not we think of people as future road users in the generic sense, rather than imagine that a person's default relationship with the road is as a driver?

Michael McDonnell: Absolutely. I have no problem with that. I knew that I was leaving myself open to criticism when I referred to "future drivers". The transport minister was pulled up for talking about "pre-drivers", so I avoided that term deliberately.

The issue is safe road use. As I said in my opening statement, we need to ensure that people can be safe no matter which mode of transport—bus, car, bike or whatever—people choose. It is critical that people develop safe road-use skills that they can apply. Obviously, the technical aspects of different mode use might be different, but people need skills that can be applied across the board.

The Convener: It is difficult to predict what kind of vehicles people might drive in 10 or 20 years' time. Young people who are growing up now and

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who undertake cycle training might drive electric scooters or something else, instead of cars.

Michael McDonnell: Basically, in educating and teaching children, we need to prepare them for jobs and technology that do not yet exist.

We talked earlier about speed control. Down south, the institute for transport studies at the University of Leeds is running an experiment on intelligent speed adaptation—I do not know whether that phrase is familiar to members. Behind it is the notion that, given a good speed-limit map of the country, satellite navigation and engine management systems that are linked to a central computer, any car that enters a 30mph speed limit area could have its ability to go faster than 30mph removed. Four or five experimental cars are currently running about the country to test out that system. The institute for transport studies believes that the system could be rolled out by 2015 if there is the will to do so.

The Convener: We will perhaps raise that with other witnesses.

Duncan Pickering: I totally agree with the statement that we are all road users and that we are not just motorists or cyclists or pedestrians. We choose the mode of transport that suits our journey, depending on the weather, the distance, passengers, luggage and so on. We are, however, probably kidding ourselves if we think that young people do not at some point aspire to be behind the wheel or handlebars of a motorised vehicle. That seems to be part of the growing-up process.

At the IAM, we have recognised that, if we can engage with young people earlier than we currently do—which is as motorists at the age of 16, 17 and upwards—we can start to instil road safety principles from an earlier age. We hope that they will, when they then begin to use motorised transport, have at the back of their minds the principles of safety, such as obeying the speed limit, observation, awareness and so on, which all lead to lowering risk.

The Convener: As interesting as it may be to go into a discussion about what creates those aspirations—banning "Top Gear" is not within the committee's remit—we also need to think about forms of transport that might not be heavily advertised but that we all use each day, such as walking. We also need to think about modes that we might prefer not to use, such as wheelchairs and electric buggies—or electric scooters—which people need to use in later life to get around. Those modes of transport might be less aspirational, but they are still necessary.

Duncan Pickering: Absolutely. I think that everybody would like to see more bicycles on the road and more people taking a walk of two miles instead of jumping in the car. The sea change is

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taking longer than we thought it would take 10 years ago, but it is starting to happen.

The Convener: Let us move on from training to talk about infrastructure. We have had the debate with several witnesses about whether segregated infrastructure or on-street provision for cycling, in particular, is the right way. You used the term "demarcation", which could be taken to apply to either or both. Is there a role for both segregated and on-street provision, or would that simply lead to a confused set of expectations for motorists? Is there a single answer that would be right in all circumstances?

Duncan Pickering: That is a big question. Improvement of cycling and walking infrastructure is undoubtedly necessary. The UK is unlike other European countries, which have implemented infrastructure for cycling and walking to a much greater extent. There is a difference in culture there that allows people to accept infrastructure change, which allows part of a road to be taken up by cyclists only. In the UK, it is difficult to convince the electorate that they should give up part of their road for use solely, or at certain times, by cyclists.

We are, nevertheless, starting to see that culture change in the UK. For instance, the number of cyclists in London has doubled since 2000. we should, however, bear in mind that it is nearly 2010: it has taken 10 years for that to happen, and London is only now beginning to establish the physical infrastructure for cyclists. Two cycle superhighways will be opened in London next year, for instance.

My answer to the question is that there is a role for such provision, but it will take a lot of convincing of the electorate if we are to establish them to the necessary levels.

Michael McDonnell: There is a case for segregation and on-street provision. There will be situations in which it will be more appropriate to segregate cyclists from traffic, as we do pedestrians. It is, however, important to maintain sections where cyclists and motorised vehicles are kept together; otherwise, we will create an atmosphere in which neither has respect for, or takes cognisance of, the other's needs.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: I have a supplementary question for Duncan Pickering. You mentioned the fact that London has done well in increasing the number of cyclists, but it seems that that has not been achieved through investment in infrastructure. How has it been achieved and what can we replicate here?

Duncan Pickering: London has done well to double the number of cyclists, but the authorities would admit that they are currently behind their target of a 5 per cent modal share for cycling by 2026. They still have a mountain to climb. The

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increase has been achieved through sustained marketing and advertising and through educating the London population about the possibility of cycling safely in London.

Measures have been introduced to achieve that. Many are soft measures, such as the provision of cycle training through the 33 London boroughs, which has been fairly consistent and is heavily funded so that it is extremely cheap for people to do. Bike buddy schemes have been introduced, whereby confident cyclists take novice cyclists on their journey to work for a given period. Other new schemes are being advertised for the future to give the population confidence that the authorities are in it for the long term. For example, there will be a cycle hire scheme in zone 1 next year, and there will be the cycle superhighways that I mentioned. There has been a concerted and sustained effort on many fronts, which has led to the successes that London has had so far.

Rob Gibson: In my youth, when I was a cyclist in Glasgow, tramlines were a hazard, and tramlines are now reappearing in Edinburgh. Cyclists must be very careful when they are travelling parallel to tramlines that they do not get stuck in them.

We have talked about having in residential areas a 20mph speed limit for cyclist and pedestrian safety. Would that measure be successful in reducing the number of accidents and improving the street environment?


Michael McDonnell: When North Lanarkshire Council introduced its 20's plenty scheme, average speeds did not go down, but the number of casualties did. Do not ask me how that happened—it is an interesting phenomenon. I am going to sit on the fence on this one, because I work largely on the principle that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Why should we introduce blanket speed limits if we do not have a problem? By introducing limits, we can create a problem. The other side of the coin, though, is that it is good to bring speeds down and to protect more vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Rob Gibson: Is there an argument against a mandatory 20mph speed limit, as against the discretionary limit that we have?

Michael McDonnell: A mandatory limit certainly exists in some places. For example, there are part-time mandatory speed limits outside schools in Glasgow. A pilot on 20's plenty was run in about 90 areas of Scotland by the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland, and it was found that the limit was a good thing and that it had a feel-good factor. However, I am not sure whether the results proved that the scheme was

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beneficial in reducing the number of road casualties. Many people in those communities certainly wanted it, however.

Rob Gibson: Over what period was the study done? Clearly, we would expect an effect from the initial response to the scheme, then a falling away, or something else.

Michael McDonnell: We would need to come back to you on that. I was not involved in the study, but I can certainly pass you details of its findings without any trouble.

Rob Gibson: That would be helpful.

Duncan Pickering: The implementation of 20mph speed limits is still in its relative infancy. South of the border, the first major urban authority to implement the limit across the board in residential areas is Portsmouth City Council. It has not yet got results on how that has affected the accident rate. It is therefore still early days on the 20mph speed limit.

Rob Gibson: The committee has also heard calls for 10 per cent of all transport budgets to be spent on walking and cycling. What are your views on that suggestion?

Michael McDonnell: From the safety point of view, it is good to consider all transport modes and to ensure that all measures that we consider reflect all modes that people might elect to use. I do not, however, feel qualified to put a percentage on the amount that should be spent.

Duncan Pickering: All I can say is that not all measures to improve walking and cycling cost the same. Many soft measures that try to influence behavioural change—especially cycle training, which increases skills and confidence—can be delivered relatively cheaply and have a hugely beneficial effect. We can probably achieve a much safer cycling community more cheaply that way than we could by putting in the physical infrastructure.

Rob Gibson: How might spending more on walking and cycling impact on other users' transport and road safety priorities?

Michael McDonnell: As well as spending money on those particular user groups, we are keen to ensure that motorised-vehicle road users are aware of the more vulnerable groups, such as pedestrians and cyclists. Last year, we delved into this area and created on the web a microsite called "Where is the love?", which was about drivers' perceptions of cyclists and cyclists' perceptions of drivers, and about trying to encourage mutual respect.

Rob Gibson: It sounds like cowboys and Indians to me. However, there is a problem about mutual respect, is there not?

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Michael McDonnell: Absolutely. We have used the backs of buses and posters to promote mutual respect, and we created the website that I described. There is a cultural problem in Scotland. It is almost entrenched that drivers see cyclists as people who do not have to have a licence, training or insurance, and who become pedestrians when it suits them by crossing at the green man if they cannot be bothered waiting at the lights. At the same time, drivers are not prepared to give cyclists room. I regularly see drivers passing cyclists very closely and not giving them time for anything that might go wrong.

In my previous position, we promoted defensive cycling—in other words, the idea that cyclists should present themselves as a full obstacle. We advised cyclists not to cycle way over in the gutter where lots of things can go wrong, but to present themselves on the road so that a driver really has to think before overtaking them. However, cyclists are a bit concerned about doing that because they think that they will irritate drivers even more and that drivers will adopt even riskier behaviour.

Duncan Pickering: The respect issue is key, and I agree totally with what Michael McDonnell just said. According to our statistics, about 80 per cent of cyclists own or have access to a car—they have a driving licence. People change their behaviour on the road according to the mode of transport that they are using. A person feels more vulnerable when they are a cyclist and defensive cycling comes into play, with the message, "Here I am. Please see me." When people are in a car, they feel extremely safe, and the technology in cars is now extremely good. A lot of motorists still perceive cyclists as a nuisance, rather than as valid road users, who should be given time and space.

Rob Gibson: Is that just an impression, or is there any actual evidence of how cyclists morph into car drivers with different attitudes? I can imagine that that happens, but it would be interesting to see statistics.

Duncan Pickering: Our organisation has a research division, which will be undertaking work on motorists' attitudes towards cyclists and vice versa. I do not have that information yet, but the issue is obviously key.

Charlie Gordon: Has the Institute of Advanced Motorists done any research into what would encourage motorists to consider walking and cycling more, particularly for shorter journeys? If so, what were the results?

Duncan Pickering: Yes, we have. We produced a research report called "Cycling Motorists", which asked people who drove a car what would make them want to ride a bike more often. As I think I mentioned, the biggest barrier is a fear of the road

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and the other traffic on it; about 78 or 80 per cent of respondents said that that was the biggest barrier. Another barrier, which we have little control over—we are doing something about it, albeit negatively—is the weather. The weather is a deterrent, whatever way we look at it. We might point out that many more people cycle in other northern European countries such as Denmark, where there is a fantastic cycling infrastructure. The Scandinavians say that it is not bad weather that is a problem, but bad clothing. Perhaps we need to learn some things in that respect if people are going to be prepared to ride a bike more often.

Respondents to the research said that the convenience of the car was another thing that kept them from digging out their bikes from their garage or shed, as well as the absence of punitive measures on using the car—there is nothing to prevent someone from getting in their car and driving a mile or two, and there is plenty of parking at the supermarket, for instance.

Charlie Gordon: Could you supply the committee with the information from that research?

Duncan Pickering: Yes, absolutely.

Charlie Gordon: What is the IAM's view on more road space being allocated to cyclists through the creation of dedicated traffic-free cycle lanes? Earlier, you said that cyclists do not necessarily want to be near the gutter, in a cycle lane, and that cyclists should perhaps ride defensively, further out into the road, which makes them more visible to other road users.

Michael McDonnell: In saying that, I was referring to places in which there is no cycling provision. As I said, it is important to make decisions based on individual situations. It is important to have a dedicated infrastructure, separate from the road network or separated from the road. However, in some instances it is important that cyclists are integrated on the road, otherwise an atmosphere of them and us is created.

Charlie Gordon: I am talking about an intermediate situation. We have all seen it in cities such as Glasgow, where some very narrow so-called cycle lanes are painted at the side of the road; usually people cannot cycle along them because of the parked cars. Is there any point to those?

Duncan Pickering: Some of the infrastructure is not well thought through. That might be because there has been a desire to create Xkm of cycle lane and declare that the job is done. Well, the job is not done. Cyclists care deeply about their safety and if they see cycle infrastructure that will only increase the risk, they will not use it. Infrastructure must be implemented carefully and only if it lowers risk.

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Charlie Gordon: Does the IAM have a view on the licensing of cyclists or the payment of vehicle excise duty by bike owners?

Duncan Pickering: We do not have an official view on that. Our stance is that at the moment the UK cycling culture, although not sceptical, could go either way. We do not want to introduce too many measures that would be seen as punitive, which could prevent people from buying bikes or using them more often. The key to success is to educate cyclists that they are road users and that they need to respect the rules of the road and other road users, because there are some cyclists who do not. The perception of other road users is that there can be conflict.

Charlie Gordon: Do you feel the same about insurance for cyclists?

Duncan Pickering: It is clear that most cyclists think that their bike is insured, probably through their home insurance. Only a small minority take the extra step of insuring themselves for liability when out on the road. Perhaps the message should be sent to cyclists that they should think about the issue seriously, because lack of liability insurance can lead to all sorts of problems. Cyclists, as well as other road users such as motorists, can be the cause of accidents.

Charlie Gordon: Lastly, relations between pedestrians, cyclists and motorists are often portrayed as adversarial, with all users critical of how other groups obey the rules of the road. A great deal has already been said about that issue. How best could relations be changed?

Duncan Pickering: It goes back to respect. Our organisation is trying to educate and train users of three modes of transport—perhaps more, given that that covers a host of different vehicles. Michael McDonnell made the point that education in one mode of transport is complementary with training in another and that people who have been trained in different modes are likely to be much more respectful of other road users.

Charlie Gordon: In fact, that was my penultimate question for the IAM—this is definitely my last one. Do you see a role for car-sharing schemes in contributing to the amount of walking and cycling that motorists do?

Duncan Pickering: Car-sharing schemes are great. Many companies have put in place such schemes or are thinking of doing so. Was your question about how they influence the amount of walking and cycling that people do?

Charlie Gordon: Yes. Looking at it again, I am not sure that the question is entirely logical. How does car sharing fit into the active travel agenda?

Duncan Pickering: It reduces the number of cars that go on to the road, especially at key times

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of the day—rush hour in the morning and afternoon. That can only be a good thing. A bit of education and incentivising are needed to ensure that people use car-sharing schemes. A number of companies are doing that in the workplace, through preferential parking and so on.

You asked how car sharing fits into the active and sustainable travel agenda. It is reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a daily basis. It does not influence as much the amount of walking and cycling that is being done. People still use the car, but they do so more economically and efficiently.

The Convener: Can we do more to improve shared access to cars, so that not every family, individual or household needs to own a car? There is a housing association in Clydebank that charges up electric vehicles from the excess electricity from its combined heat and power unit and hires them out at a fiver a day. An elderly couple who use the car only occasionally, to do their shopping, can hire a car instead of keeping one on the road. For other journeys, they may walk, instead of using the car. City car clubs allow people to use a car when they need to. However, because they do not have a car available to them every day, they may use other modes for the majority of their journeys.


Duncan Pickering: Car clubs are very much on the increase in London—I apologise for referring to London again, but that is where we are based. Car clubs have got past the stage at which they were a novelty and are becoming part of the transport infrastructure in London. Several competitors are vying to put in their fleets. Clubs are changing modes of transport, because people can hire not only a car but a van cheaply and easily, for example if they are moving house.

The next stage is electric vehicles. London has an ambitious target of making about 15,000 electric vehicles available by about 2015. That will involve serious infrastructure, but it is on the cards.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: Will the witness from Road Safety Scotland tell us about the key findings in your report, "Sharing Road Space: Drivers and Cyclists as Equal Road Users"?

Michael McDonnell: Was that our report?

Shirley-Anne Somerville: That is what it says in my briefing. If it is your report, perhaps you can get back to us with the information. However, the briefing might be incorrect.

You advise cyclists to wear high-visibility clothing and helmets. The committee heard that the need to dress differently and perhaps spend a

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fair bit of money on safety equipment might put some people off cycling, because cyclists are regarded as somehow different and the activity is regarded as expensive. How can we deal with the safety issues with which your organisation is concerned while tackling people's perception of cyclists as the Lycra-clad, luminous yellow people on the roads whom they do not want to join?

Michael McDonnell: A balance needs to be struck. We encourage people to wear cycle helmets for protection, and in an ideal world wearing a helmet would be mandatory. However, if making cycle helmets mandatory means that many more people will not take up cycling, there is an issue to do with encouraging active travel to reduce obesity and tackle other problems.

Schools often decide whether they will allow children to undergo cycle training if they are not wearing helmets, so in some ways the need for safety equipment is instilled from the beginning.

It makes good sense for cyclists to have reflective equipment and fluorescent gear. At certain times of day, and given our Scottish weather, cyclists can be almost invisible. If we consider the psyche of drivers, we find that drivers are "thinking car", so they often miss things that are much smaller than the vehicle that they are driving. We would never stop encouraging cyclists to wear fluorescent and reflective equipment and to ensure that they are seen, just as all motorised vehicles are encouraged to ensure that their lights are on and that they are visible to everyone at dusk or in inclement weather conditions.

I understand that some people do not want suddenly to become an alien in yellow gear. That is a decision for the individual to make. We do not want to dictate to cyclists what they must do to such an extent that people decide that it is not worth cycling, but we want to ensure that they give themselves every chance of arriving safely at their destination, by ensuring that drivers and other motorised road users can see them. Pedestrians need to see cyclists, too. Many pedestrians have problems seeing vehicles, let alone a bicycle.

Shirley-Anne Somerville: What other safety measures can be put in place for pedestrians and cyclists by national Government, local authorities or individual road users? What else can we do to improve safety?

Michael McDonnell: I presume that the engineers from whom you heard discussed a variety of measures that are available. Your question brings us back to the issue of segregating and corralling people, which is often an attempt to fix a problem without educating people. As we know, prevention is much better than cure. We must try to educate people about the rights of everyone who uses the road. It is

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unfortunate that when that does not work we must probably use engineering methods to try to resolve problems.

Education is the cornerstone; we must lay the foundations so that no matter which mode of travel people use they have the skills and the attitude that will keep them and the people around them safe. "Scotland's Road Safety Framework to 2020", which the Scottish Government recently published, makes it clear that that is everyone's responsibility. We cannot expect central Government or local government to fix the problem; we must all take responsibility for our safety and the safety of other road users. However, because the car is king, that will involve a major shift in how many car drivers think.

The Convener: Do you want to talk about disability and risk on the road? Has Road Safety Scotland taken part in discussions about sharing spaces with, for example, people who are visually impaired, wheelchair users and people who have other mobility issues?

Michael McDonnell: Our responsibility is simply road safety education and publicity; we are not involved outwith that sphere. In the context of people who have additional needs, the only thing that we have done is to develop the website The aim of the website is to give young people who have learning difficulties confidence that they can complete journeys, so that they do not have to stay in the house. The young person can use an on-screen avatar to make simple journeys to the shop or the baths, in the hope that ultimately they will develop the skills that they need to make the journey themselves. The website contains work for teachers and parents, too, so that we can get the key people in a young person's life to encourage them to be more active and to be confident that they can complete journeys safely.

The Convener: Does training for people of any age, in safe driving, safe cycling and general road safety awareness, address the diverse range of road users? Are we doing that proactively?

Michael McDonnell: When I worked with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, we had a wheelchair proficiency test. "Proficiency" is the old word—I noticed that Mr Gordon used it.

Charlie Gordon: I am quite an old guy.

Michael McDonnell: We tend to talk not about cycling or wheelchair proficiency, but about training. Road Safety Scotland is not involved in training for wheelchair or mobile scooter users.

Charlie Gordon: In response to a question from Shirley-Anne Somerville, you explained why you recommend that people wear yellow Lycra, helmets and the like if they want to cycle. During

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our inquiry we have heard about international cultural differences. We were shown slides of Copenhagen, in which laid-back Scandinavians were cycling in their usual clothes and not wearing helmets. In this country, a cyclist is got up like some sort of warrior. Do you have a view on the cultural difference? Is the Scandinavian approach less safe than the approach that you recommend here?

Michael McDonnell: It would be less safe here. There is a cultural difference. In some Scandinavian countries and in the Netherlands the bike is a constant presence and drivers of motorised vehicles seem to accept bikes on the road. In such countries, bikes do not cause an issue for drivers, whereas here we seem to have a culture in which the bike is regarded as something that gets in the car driver's way. That is why we have tried to get cyclists to cycle defensively and to make themselves visible—being visible is common sense, whether one is a pedestrian, a driver or a cyclist. There is a cultural issue. In Scotland and perhaps throughout the United Kingdom we do not "think bike", to use the DFT's phrase.

The Convener: I thank both witnesses for discussing the issues with us. That concludes today's meeting, which is the committee's final meeting this year. I thank members for their constructive contributions during the year and I wish you all a happy Christmas and new year, after which I will report back to Charlie Gordon on my time with the laid-back Scandinavians.

Meeting closed at 15:40.