Don’t Look Back In Anger: National Cycling Policy 2009-2019
This is a review of the National Cycling Policy Framework, launched in 2009, covering the period up to 2019. The intention of this post is to provide a quick summary of the last decade of Cycling policy – so that you won’t have to read the policy (56 pages) nor the review that was conducted in 2019 (89 pages).
Summary of the Summary
After a period of 10 years, the programme was about 50% effective.
This is based on the Department of Transport’s own review, and with a basic scoring system to allow for a % calculation.
In the rest of this post I’ll explain how this was calculated, and take a look at some of the actions.
Summary of Actions
The categories above were split into 106 actions, grouped by themes. The review in 2019 assessed each action, and gave a status:
- Green – fully implemented
- Amber – partially implemented
- Red – not implemented
Here’s the summary of the actions.
In order to calculate an overall score, I’ve assigned a value to each status:
- Green = 5 points
- Amber = 3 points
- Red = 0 points
That gives a score for each theme, below:
Let’s dive into a couple of the actions.
The National Cycling Policy Framework was 100% successful in the action to “Provide public bikes in cities”.
The description clearly describes the outcome. As a frequent user of Dublin Bikes (in The Before Times) I can wholeheartedly agree that this action is achieved, so I ranked this as 100% successful. In fact, the action went further, as it included cities with populations less than 100,000.
On the other end of the scale, the programme was only 12% successful for the action to “Evaluate cycling policy/monitor progress”. Here are the actions:
|Monitoring Framework||We will develop a monitoring framework to measure progress in achieving specific 19 objectives and many policies. The policy indicators will have a qualitative and quantitative dimension.||Red||This action was not significantly advanced.|
|Indicators||We note that the two important indicators are:|
(i) numbers of cyclists/modal share.
(ii) numbers of cycle accidents of different severities.
We will develop systems to closely monitor trends in these two indicators in all urban and rural areas.
|Amber||There are published CSO data sources in relation to the numbers of cyclists/modal share which are utilised; however, there is an acknowledged deficit in relation to data as regards the “number of cycle accidents of different severities”.|
|Accident Reporting||We recognise that there is an under- reporting of accidents to the Gardaí but that hospitals pick up on many accidents involving cyclists, We will develop and implement a system that correlates between the databases. This will feed into the work carried out by the RSA.||Red||There are monthly meetings between An Garda Síochána and the RSA in relation to data exchange; however, no system has been developed as per NCPF action to “correlate” between hospital databases and AGS databases.|
|Study of Cycle Accidents||We will commission and produce a detailed analysis of all fatal / serious cycle accidents over (an approximate) 10 year period 15.||Red||RSA are currently preparing a report on cyclist fatalities over the period 2008 to 2016 for publication. Another RSA report looking at all cyclist injuries in 2016 is also scheduled for publication this year.|
|User Satisfaction Surveys||We will arrange other surveys that are deemed necessary such as user satisfaction surveys (every two years).||Red||This action was not significantly advanced; however, there are various surveys undertaken by various agencies.|
This is quite disappointing to see. If there’s no way to evaluate how progress is measured, how are local authorities able to justify spending on cycling / active travel? How will residents see any improvement?
The review document contains details of each action, and the result. Unfortunately, the document doesn’t dig into the reasons why some actions succeeded and others failed. Many of the actions simply say “This action was not significantly advanced”. This feels like an opportunity to address the causes of failure, not just the symptoms.
The policy framework is very detailed and comprehensive, and in many cases there are specific measures of success. If one was to write a cycling policy document today, it would be very similar.
If we consider that the policy was good, that means that the challenges were in the delivery of the actions. Why weren’t the actions delivered?
A useful tool in this situation is a “root cause analysis“, which is a structured analysis of the programme aimed at revealing the underlying causes of the failures (and successes). There are several techniques for performing a root cause analysis, but the one I prefer is the Ishikawa or Fishbone diagram.
Using a structured workshop, involving members with broad perspectives of the programme, it should be possible to review the underlying causes that contributed to the programme outcome.
This would allow us to learn from the past, avoid the failures, continue doing the successful stuff, and be in a very different place ten years from now.
Show me the data
The NCPF review report is provided in PDF format, which makes it impossible to analyse. So I transcribed the report into Excel. I hope you enjoy analysing this data as much as I have 🤓
Dave…..another insightful and informative piece! Yes. All we have to do is implement the ‘Policy’ and all will be well!?