Posted: Tuesday 19th November 2019
Mike Ginger from Taunton Are Cycling tells us how the Road Safety Fund helps Taunton cyclist get the ‘safe pass’ message out
One of the things that really worries both new and experienced cyclists is that drivers not allowing enough space when overtaking. It can be a scary and dangerous situation for cyclists.
Taunton Area Cycling Campaign (TACC) was set up three years ago to press the authorities for better cycle infrastructure and safer roads. We applied to Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s Road Safety Fund to help us implement a series of small measures that could help improve safety, including safe pass and improved confidence skills.
We would love to see a West Midlands style safe pass campaign in the Taunton area. To start things moving, we received the funding to distribute hi-viz vests and backpack covers with the message ‘1.5m please’, emphasising the distance that vehicles need to be from cyclists. Over 300 have been distributed and, so far, we have had positive feedback from users with 90% saying they would recommend the vests and covers to other cyclists. We really believe that the vests and covers could make a difference if used by more cyclists in Avon and Somerset.
Linked with this work, we also received Road Safety funding to print rigid light weight signs with the same message. The plan is for Somerset County Council to move the signs from site to site, based on a set of agreed locations.
The TACC is keen to encourage more people to cycle as a flexible, healthy and environmentally beneficial method of transport. There is a strong demand to cycle that often goes unnoticed but road layouts and traffic is a major deterrent and I believe that there needs to be real investment in high-quality and user-friendly infrastructure.
In the short term, training can be transformative for those who want to increase in their confidence when it comes to cycling. The Road Safety Fund also paid for one of our groups to be trained to be as ‘Bikeability’ instructors and to ensure they met nationally approved standards. We then secured additional funding through ‘Big Bike Revival’ in order for the ‘Bikeability’ instructors to provide confidence training on a one-to-one basis to local people. So far, over 30 people have received this training and 95% of attendees were female. Many of these local people are now cycling to work and the feedback from the training was extremely positive.
There is now a waiting list for this training and the Road Safety Fund trustees have agreed that where we saved cash on the other projects, the excess funding can be used for the confidence training.
We originally found out about the Road Safety Fund by researching funding sources. Our application was supported by the Police Road Safety Team. It is a relatively straightforward application process and is allocated four times a year. We would certainly urge similar groups to us to look at the fund, which can provide up to £5000 in grant.