After his recent unfortunate brushes with the cycling community the secretary of state for transport might be interested in a planning inspector’s view that a cycle is a vehicle (DCS Number 400-013-998).
Readers might be aware that towards the end of last year footage emerged of Mr Grayling opening the door of his ministerial car directly in front of a cyclist. After dusting himself off the cyclist appeared relatively unscathed but the minister was nonetheless criticised for his failure to exchange details. We all make mistakes, even transport ministers who might be expected to have some knowledge of highways law, but he did not improve matters by commenting in an interview with the London Evening Standard not long afterwards that cycle lanes can cause problems for road users. ‘We are road users!’ screamed the cyclists.
In (DCS Number 400-013-998) the inspector had to decide whether a proposed fence would be adjacent to a highway used by vehicular traffic. A ‘Redway’ ran alongside the boundary of the property, she noted, the term ‘Redway’, being a term applied to a network of shared use paths in Milton Keynes generally surfaced with red tarmac, and dedicated as cycleways open to public use by means of pedal cycles or on foot only. The inspector recorded that ‘No definition of ‘vehicular traffic’ exists either within the GPDO, the 1990 Act or the Highways Act 1980. In the Road Traffic Act 1988, a “cycle” is interpreted to mean a bicycle, a tricycle, or a cycle having four or more wheels, not being in any case a motor vehicle (section 192).’ Yet, she reasoned, there is nothing to suggest that for the purposes of the GPDO, the term ‘vehicular traffic’ is confined to motorised vehicles. Although a ‘vehicle’ will often have an engine, she noted that an ordinary definition of the word does not exclude other forms of vehicle and she found no reason to suppose it should be interpreted so restrictively when applying the GPDO. From the viewpoint that a cycle is a mode of transport which provides a means for the rider to travel, it seemed to her that it is a vehicle. Use of the Redway by cyclists would thus amount to use by vehicular traffic.
The following DCP section is relevant: 4.3422