Cycle Campaign News July 2014
From the Editor
Cycling has most decidedly won the health argument - reports and academic papers on its physical benefits are rarely missing from our 'New Publications' section.
Persuading politicians of the theoretic need for adequate funding is likewise going well (see 'Headlines'), yet the Government is still to allocate serious, long-term cash on a remotely adequate scale. Also, in their bids for money for transport schemes, most Local Enterprise Partnerships in England seem to be demonstrating a marked preference for road projects over healthier and more sustainable options.
So, how do you hone your influencing skills or pool those you already have? Come to one of CTC's campaigner training days - the next is in Sheffield on 13 September (see 'Diary Dates' for details).
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Cycling Scotland ad was OK after all
Earlier this year, the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) faced an influx of protests from CTC, other cycling groups (including the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group) and from individuals, after it ruled that a Cycling Scotland video ad depicting a helmetless cyclist riding some way out from the kerb had breached the Broadcast Code of Advertising.
The ASA agreed to investigate and, having received evidence from Cycling Scotland and CTC's report on helmets, withdrew their objection. Citing CTC's evidence in its reversed ruling, the ASA concluded that: “… the ad was not socially irresponsible and likely to condone or encourage behaviour prejudicial to health and safety." After all, its message was aimed at motorists, and it simply depicted reality and not illegal activity.
In a move that has dismayed CTC, Jersey has become the first part of the British Isles to make it compulsory for under-14-year-olds to wear helmets whilst cycling. The parents of those who breach this law will be fined £50.
Jersey has made this decision in spite of fears that overall public health will suffer because compulsory helmet-wearing puts people off such a beneficial activity and, moreover, that it could threaten Jersey's potential as a family cycling destination.
In any case, cycling isn't an unduly risky pursuit and there is a body of evidence disputing the effectiveness of cycle helmets to reduce the risks of head injury amongst cyclists. CTC believes that, if they want to improve cycle safety, the island’s legislators are better advised to prioritise the design of infrastructure and the enforcement of existing laws regulating driver behaviour, such as speed limits.
Read more on CTC’s views on Jersey’s decision and on the hastily compiled TRL report on which it was based.
Cyclist fatalities and serious injuries down for 2013, but no room for complacency
According to the latest official road casualty figures, cyclist serious injuries and deaths dropped in 2013. Combined with the news that cycle use increased slightly - and the fact that the total number of reported casualties (slight, serious and fatal) amongst all road users dropped by 6% from 2012 - this looks like a positive story.
Slight injuries to cyclists, however, rose by 3% between 2012 and 2013, and one year’s figures shouldn’t make anyone, not least the Government, complacent. We need all politicians, local and national, to back the calls of CTC's Space for Cycling campaign, so that anyone can cycle anywhere in safety.
Cyclists' Defence Fund supports cyclist's appeal against pavement cycling fine
CTC’s subsidiary charity, the Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF), is supporting Kristian Gregory’s appeal against a fine for pavement cycling when he strayed out of a substandard cycle track alongside London's New Kent Road before turning (as signed) to cross the road at a pedestrian crossing.
While the Met Police say they will ease off 'over-zealous' enforcement at this legally ambiguous spot, Kristian still faces a possible fine, even though he was cycling considerately. He points out that penalising him and others like him is not in the public interest and that in any case, the police are supposed to use their discretion over fining cyclists who are not endangering anyone.
- Read more about the case, donate to CDF and watch Kristian's helmet camera footage of the incident.
'Cyclists Stay Back!' stickers come unstuck
After an exchange of letters and a meeting in June, Transport for London (TfL) has agreed to redesign its ‘Cyclists Stay Back’ stickers so that it’s clear that they’re warning cyclists of the dangers of overtaking lorries with blind-spots on the inside, not prohibiting overtaking more generally. The stickers were appearing not just on HGVs, but quite unjustifiably on buses, small vans and taxis too, on the right as well as the left-hand side. Some drivers clearly felt these signs could be used to put the onus on cyclists to keep out of the way, rather than taking care themselves. The re-issued stickers will be accompanied by instructions on correct usage.
New ministers for DfT
As a result of the latest re-shuffle, the Department for Transport (DfT) has two new junior ministers: Claire Perry, MP for Devizes, who lists her spare time interests as “reading, walking and cycling with her family”; and John Hayes MP, former energy minister and MP for Spalding who recently attended a meeting of local campaign group Pedals, speaking supportively of cycling, and saying he wanted Spalding to be a “capital of cycling”.
Robert Goodwill MP retains responsibility for cycling, road safety and local transport in his role as Parliamentary Under Secretary, while Patrick McLoughlin is still Secretary of State for Transport.
Northern Ireland's travel habits revealed
The Travel Survey for Northern Ireland Headline Report 2011-2013 found that: the average journey length was 6.6 miles; a whole 72% of all journeys were by car, 17% by foot and only 1% by cycle; the most commonly used main method of travel to or from school for the 4-11 age group was the car (60%), followed by walking or cycling (27%) and then the bus (13%).
Scotland commits to long distance cycling and walking network
National Planning Framework 3 for Scotland, just published, specifically refers to the development of a national long distance cycling and walking network to link key tourism locations and open up further opportunities for visitors. This gives the project, which includes Sustrans's and Scottish Canals’ routes, national development status and marks a firm and strategic commitment to it from the Scottish Government.
Millions more journeys on the NCN
The National Cycle Network (NCN) saw an extra 50 million journeys in 2013, a 7% increase on 2012, according to the latest figures from Sustrans. The charity also says that over a third of NCN users could have driven but chose not to, and that the project delivered £1 billion to the UK economy in health benefits and fuel and carbon savings.
Back to the drawing board for cycle-unfriendly Lincoln Eastern Bypass
On the recommendations of a planning inspector, the Secretary of State for Transport has blocked the Lincoln Eastern Bypass until the designs take better account of cyclists’ safety. The concerns were raised by CTC Lincolnshire on the grounds that the bypass would sever existing cycle routes, and that the standard of the parallel cycle track was poor. Designs for one particular junction have been picked out for special condemnation.
CTC has suggested that the road might be a first test of the Department for Transport's commitment to 'cycle proof' new roads.
Sheffield opens railway cycle hub
A new cycle hub has just been opened at Sheffield railway station, with more than 400 cycle parking spaces, cycle shop and hire, changing rooms and toilets. It also offers secure 24-hour electronic access and extensive CCTV equipment. The £850,000 scheme was funded by Network Rail and the Department for Transport.
Cycle hubs at rail stations have been springing up elsewhere, including Leeds and Leicester. Others are under development at Nottingham and Derby.
Community shop looks out for cyclists
Seven miles from Sheffield lies the village of Grindleford and its newly opened Community Shop. It too has opted to welcome cyclists by providing a bike box for them to use in the event of mechanical failure.
Cycling wins commuter challenge
Bicycles almost always triumph in mode v mode commuting contests, and they did yet again in the Big Commute Challenge recently organised in Manchester by Love Your Bike. In a 3.5 mile trip to Manchester Town Hall, the two participating cyclists were on the road for just 14 minutes, the tram commuter for 37 minutes, bus passenger 38 minutes and car driver 43 minutes.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, who took part in the challenge by bike, said: “We were 23 minutes ahead of the next arrival, which shows clearly that for that sort of journey the bikes are by far the quickest and the cheapest way of getting in. The bike costs absolutely nothing apart from the effort of riding, which gets you fitter as well. I think the key thing is cycling is easy, quick, cheap and healthy and most people can do it.”
Bristol consults on cycling strategy
Bristol City Council’s first comprehensive strategy to encourage more people to cycle is out for consultation until 11 August. One of Cycling England’s former Cycling Cities and a subsequent winner of a Cycle City Ambition grant, Bristol already enjoys a commendable 8% of commuting trips by cycle and now aims to increase this to 20% by 2020. The city also wants to continue to invest £16 per head of population per year to deliver cycle improvements, and plans to address the challenges and barriers that put people off cycling.
Bristol Cycle Campaign Chair, Eric Booth, said: “We warmly welcome this strategy, which is in line with our Bristol Cycling Manifesto. We’re looking forward to working with the council and local communities on making it happen.”