Memorandum by the British Horse SocietyEast
of England (RTS 22)
ROAD TRAFFIC SPEED
British Horse Society research has shown that
riders consider the largest hazard they face on the roads is the
speed of motor vehicles. This response to press notice 15/2001-02
highlights the need for consultation before traffic calming measures
are implemented, to reduce the risk of making roads worse for
horses, and considers the unfortunate and often unintentional
consequences of the use of the signs that encourage cyclists on
to verges. Recommendations are given to improve the situation.
The British Horse Society is now halfway through
an exercise in monitoring the perceptions of riders in the East
of England, with surveys having been performed in three of the
region's six counties (Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire).
The survey questions relevant to the Committee's present inquiry
related to the hazards that were encountered when using the roads.
In the most recently published survey,
99 per cent of respondents cited the speed of motor traffic as
the biggest hazard faced by them when riding on the roads. It
was found that 5 per cent of the respondents had had an accident
with a vehicle while riding within the preceding 12 months, and
50 per cent reported a "near miss" in the same period.
There are an estimated 68,000 riders in Hertfordshire. Fewer than
3 per cent could go for a ride without using the roads at all.
The results for the other counties have followed
a similar pattern.
Different highway authorities have tried to
reduce traffic speed by various methods including traffic calming
in villages and suburban areas. These areas are those where the
majority of on-road riding takes places as most riders live on
the urban fringe. The Department of Transport, Local Government
and the Regions has recently consulted on the draft contents of
a Local Transport Note entitled "Design and Effectiveness
of Traffic Calming Measures". The draft note gave examples
of methods used to encourage drivers to slow down, by means of
signs and physical features. The Society advised that where traffic-calming
measures are implemented without taking into account equestrian
needs, matters could be made worse for riders. For example, the
use of gateway features at a village entrance, while causing motor
traffic to slow down, could also force riders off verges. The
Society supports suitable measures to reduce traffic speed providing
the needs of all the vulnerable road users have been taken into
Road re-design must also be considered carefully.
It has the potential to improve conditions for pedestrians, cyclists
and horse riders, but if performed inappropriately can make matters
worse for all. There are reports of walkers and cyclists not mixing
well where a highway authority has changed a pavement into a cycle
track without ensuring there was adequate width. On roads where
a cycle track is painted at the edges, many riders think that
they cannot ride there, and so are pushed further into the carriageway.
In other places, verges used by riders have
been converted into cycle tracks under s.65 Highways Act 1980,
so prohibiting riders, when a hard surface could have been applied
under the general powers of maintenance, keeping the rights of
riders to stay off the carriageway. At present, the effect of
erecting the pedestrian and cyclists roundel (Sign 956 from the
Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) 1994)
is to prohibit horses, whether or not that was the intention.
Authorities who see the sign as one which encourages cyclists
off the road but which did not wish to prohibit riders are faced
with a dilemma, as there is no road sign to indicate that a route
is for walkers, cyclists and riders. The Department of Transport,
Local Government and the Regions consulted on revisions to the
1994 Regulations last year, and the Society hopes that its recommendations
relating to signage will be incorporated before the necessary
statutory instruments are laid before Parliament.
Section 268 of the Transport Act 2000 will allow
local authorities to designate "Quiet Lanes". The Society
believes that this concept has the potential to reduce speeds
and make the designated lanes a safer part of the routes used
by riders and other vulnerable road users than they are at present.
The Society looks forward to the introduction of Regulations under
this section in due course.
From the survey results, it appears that the
majority of riders would be pleased to see a reduction in the
speed of traffic. Although a reduction in the speed limit sounds
attractive, it is unlikely to be effective in changing riders'
perceptions without adequate publicity and enforcement. The government
could take action that would benefit riders in other ways:
Amending s.65 Highways Act 1980 to
provide for margins for walkers, cyclists and riders. [Primary
Promoting more widely the ability
of highway authorities to create routes suitable for cyclists
in margins without removing the rights of riders (that is, by
not designating the route under s.65 of the 1980 Act). [Departmental
Encouraging better consultation with
representatives of non-motorised user groups before physical measures
to reduce speed are implemented. [Departmental guidance]
Creating a road sign that indicates
that a route is designated for non-motorised users. [Secondary
Providing for Quiet Lanes. [Secondary
legislation and Departmental guidance]
I trust that this brief submission will assist
the Committee in its consideration of methods to reduce inappropriate
Dr P D Wadey
39 BHS/RN/01-A Survey of Riders and Horses in Hertfordshire
2000 (published 2001). Back