Politics & Priority
Hayley Pells MSc CAE FIMI
Changes to the Highway Code following a consultation from the Depart for Transport (DfT) on the Hierarchy of Road Users’ concept was designed so that those likely to do most harm would have the greatest responsibility, but it has raised concerns that it could widen divisions between different groups of road users. The consultation began on 28th July 2020 and closed on 27th October the same year.
The DfT have explained that this hierarchy would not give priority to any group but would ensure a “mutually respectful” and “considerate culture”. The hierarchy includes all users of the road, from horse riders to drivers of articulated lorries and seeks to be realistic about the diversity of modes of transportation available to road users, being mindful of how roads might be used in the future and how particular modes may become more popular.
The pandemic has witnessed a boom in uptake for walking, running, and cycling. As more people adopt flexible working practices and the move towards electric technology for private transport becomes not only more popular, but the deadline for purchasing a new internal combustion car looms closer, will become the only option. Urban areas are becoming more congested and the space allotted to cars is becoming more questionable, subterranean parking solutions are a fantastic feat of engineering, but may not be affordable for the average user.
Sellers of electric bicycles have enjoyed a buoyant business as the government removed the previous limit of £1000 for the Cycle to Work scheme and it has been reported that users enjoyed greater benefits than regular bicycle users as the technology was more attractive to use all the time, not everyone relishes arriving at work to immediately shower and change.
The benefits of cycling, not just to the general health and well being of the user, but to the environment in which they operate, are numerous. Much quieter in functionality and requiring less electric to power (if using an electric bicycle) the benefits to reduce the emissions level and risk to health for everyone within that environment increases.
The opportunities for the aftermarket as this cultural shift in transportation use are numerous. The pandemic has also proved that considerable effort (and sometimes even risk) will be made to travel and enjoy leisure time. The trend for larger vehicles, such as the SUV, leisure van and pick-up truck enable cyclists to extend their reach and enjoyment of their pastime. Retro fitting charging facilities for electric bicycles within vehicles for bicycles to charge en route and devices for safely securing these heavier electric counterparts will require engineering solutions to name a couple. Changes from vehicles used for lots of short routes to more occasional long ones will also present changes in how these vehicles are maintained and for the repairs that we see. Any vehicle mechanic will understand that the more complicated a technology becomes, the more knowledge you need to repair and maintain it, there may be a demand for care for electric bicycles themselves.
The feedback from the consultation is still under analysis and the increase of cycle lanes may be impactive for local elections this year as the spending from last year starts to be repaid meaning the politics of priority may determine the type of work presented to workshops in a nearer future than the demise of the internal combustion engine.