Given the current climate, and with an Olympic gold medallist on the panel, it was hardly surprising that there was a heavy focus on cycling during the Question Time session on day two of National Conference (14 Nov).
The panel comprised Chris Boardman MBE (British Cycling), DCC David Griffin (ACPO), Catriona Henderson (DfT), Jim Kirkwood (AA Driving Services) and Tim Philpot (Road Safety GB). The session was chaired by David Bowe (North Yorkshire CC).
Opening the session, Bill Smith from dbda asked whether the panel would support offender retraining courses for cyclists similar to those currently on offer to drivers. While the panel recognised the merits of the idea and supported training for cyclists, David Griffin suggested that without a licensing scheme for cyclists, and therefore no license to endorse, it would not be practical to introduce such a concept.
On the subject of drug driving, Tim Philpot suggested that perhaps the greatest challenge is getting society to accept the scale and magnitude of the drug problem in the UK – that it is not something that predominantly affects a minority "underclass" but that illegal drugs are used by around 25% of the adult population. However, Catriona Henderson said there is strong political will to tackle this issue, including from the Prime Minister himself.
A question submitted via the Road Safety GB conference twitter feed asked for the panel’s views on the conflict that often exists between cyclists and drivers. Chris Boardman said these are "not groups but modes of transport" and suggested that we "need to not make it tribal".
On the subject of older drivers, the panel was asked whether the emphasis should be on persuading people to give up driving, or more about helping them to continue to drive safely. There was a general concensus that independence is vital to older people and that there is a connection between loss of license and life expectancy, and that the issue is very much about education and providing support for older drivers, and empowering them to make the decision to give up driving at the appropriate time.
The panel was asked whether with the current focus on cyclists, there is a danger that motorcyclists could become the "forgotten vulnerable two-wheeled road users’? Describing this as a "great question", David Griffin said there is frustration among the motorcycle fraternity that cycling has taken over, adding that there is currently no national PTW strategy and that this is something he will and others will be lobbying ministers on next year.
Finally, the panel was asked what, in their opinion was the greatest road safety invention? Dave Griffin and Jim Kirkwood suggested seat belts, Chris Boardman said brakes, Catriona Henderson opted for traffic lights, while tongue in cheek Tim Philpot suggested the Disney video Motormania!