The new RISM directive will save cyclists’ lives


The revised Directive on Road Infrastructure Safety Management (RISM) has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The European Cyclists’ Federation is glad to announce this update represents a major breakthrough for cyclists, as the amendments implemented will improve planning, design and management of roads in operation throughout the European Union.

Cyclists represent 8% of all road fatalities in EU roads, a number that has not improved over the last 5 years, with 42% of these fatalities occurring in rural areas. The original RISM directive, adopted in 2008, defined procedures that were supposed to improve the safety of the trans-European (TEN-T) road network. The procedures concerned different stages and aspects of planning, design and operation of major roads, but up until 2019 had almost exclusively focused on the safety of car-occupants. The needs of other road users such as cyclists and pedestrians had often been overlooked in the process, resulting in detrimental infrastructure changes.

Through changes to this directive, the EU has recognised the need to pay more attention to the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. The revisions mandate that their needs have to be taken into account in all stages of development of roads that fall within the scope of the directive. This scope has also been widened to include not only TEN-T roads but also EU funded roads and ‘primary roads’ outside of urban areas.

ECF has been actively lobbying for these changes over the past two years and they warmly welcome the final legislation that includes many important improvements. According to research from the European Commission, the proposed measures could save as many as 3,200 lives and prevent more than 20,000 serious injuries over the 2020-2030 period.

“From the M5 motorway near Szeged, Hungary through Marynarska interchange in Warsaw, Poland to Marsa-Paola junction in Malta – across the whole EU we have seen many examples of TEN-T road infrastructure projects that create new barriers for cyclists and pedestrians, sometimes even destroying existing cycle routes. The updated RISM directive aims to remedy that, obliging Member States to take cyclists’ needs into account on all stages of such projects, from initial planning to periodic inspections of roads in operation” explained Aleksander Buczyński, Infrastructure Policy Officer at ECF.

The EU Member States now have two years to transpose the updates into national regulations. In parallel, the European Commission will develop a set of quality requirements for cycling infrastructure to avoid wasting public funding on cycle paths that are not safe to use.

2019 has been a crucial year for cyclists’ safety, even beyond the update of the RISM directive. Former Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc committed to reducing by 50% road fatalities and serious injuries by 2030, and her successor Adina Vălean backed that commitment, declaring she will be working on achieving Vision Zero by 2050. ECF have successfully worked on the General Safety Regulation approval, now including Intelligent Speed Assistance for all motor vehicles; Autonomous Emergency Braking to mitigate crashes between cyclists and cars; a blind-spot collision warning system as well as a Direct Vision standard for trucks. “It is policies like these that can hopefully start reducing fatalities and serious injuries on the roads again, as well as attracting more people cycling” said Ceri Woolsgrove, ECF Road Safety Policy Officer.




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