Cycle Campaign News June 2014
From the Editor
Road safety campaigners aren't the only people who think that the justice system is failing both to deter bad driving and to protect the public. It was clear from CTC's sentencing debate on 13th June that there are legal professionals who think very much the same (see headlines below).
Please support our Road Justice campaign by urging the Justice Minister to use the forthcoming review of offences and penalties to stop bad drivers from being treated so leniently - see 'Act now'.
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The Ministry of Justice is planning to raise the maximum fines that magistrates can impose for road traffic offences. There will be no limit on the maximum tariff for careless, dangerous, and drink-driving, while speeding offences and document offences will also increase.
CTC, however, predicts that these changes will not make much difference: fines are based on ability to pay and are not supposed to push individuals below a reasonable subsistence level. This means that the amount many offenders would pay now could well be exactly the same, or not much more. In any case, average fines given by magistrates don’t come anywhere near the maximum £5,000 permitted. In 2013, these were:
- £160 for careless driving
- £539 for dangerous driving
- £260 for drink/drug driving
Longer and more widespread driving bans are a better solution, CTC thinks.
CTC spreads cycling messages to high-level inquiries
The good that cycling could do for the Northern Irish economy and how, and why Britain needs to improve its record on cycle safety and levels of cycle use, are just two of the messages that CTC’s Campaigns Director, Roger Geffen, has been spreading recently:
- Back at the end of May, Roger appeared before The Northern Ireland Assembly's inquiry into the economic benefits of cycling, explaining that more cycling could reap significant financial rewards through improved health, reduced congestion and a wider, more diversified tourism market;
- Earlier this month, Roger gave oral evidence to the Transport Safety Commission where, on the topic of 'Leadership, responsibility and co-ordination', he ran through a number of areas where authorities need to improve, not least the criminal justice system, enforcement and lorry safety.
CTC isn’t taking sides on whether or not to build HS2 Phase 1 (the proposed high speed rail line between London and the West Midlands), but does want to make sure that cyclists get the best deal out of the project. We have therefore formally objected to the HS2 Phase 1 Parliamentary Bill, calling for amendments or commitment from the Bill’s promoters to make sure that the construction works and the eventual result - both route and rolling stock - will be cycle-friendly throughout.
More money for cycling in Scotland
Thanks to some ‘unused inflation contingency’ transferred from the Queensferry Crossing budget, the Scottish Government is putting an extra £15m into ‘green travel’. At least £7m of it will go towards cycling and walking infrastructure and £5m towards the roll-out of its behaviour change programme, ‘Smarter Choices Smarter Places’. The rest will be spent on electric cars and charging points.
News from London
- Cycle Safety Action Plan: Transport for London (TfL) is proposing to add 32 new actions to its existing 2010 'Cycle Safety Action Plan' outlining ways in which it will work with the police, boroughs and all organisations involved in making cycling safer between now and 2020. Consultation on the new draft CSAP runs to 25 July 2014.
A number of the new proposals relate to lorries, which pose a disproportionate threat to cyclists and pedestrians in the capital and elsewhere. These include: helping to reduce HGV traffic during peak hours; delivering the Safer Lorry Scheme this year; continuing to develop and deliver the Safer Urban Driving CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) course to help put more than 10,000 freight and fleet drivers a year through essential safety training.
Other proposals include: carrying out trials of detection equipment on buses to help drivers be more aware of pedestrians and cyclists; working with cycle manufacturers to improve the conspicuity of bikes; and doubling the number of adult cyclists receiving advanced skills training by creating a dedicated London Virtual Skills Hub.
- A new draft of the London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS) has been comprehensively updated to highlight best practice, as well as the lessons from TfL's recent trials of innovative measures such as methods of segregation and low-level cycle signals.
The document has some very encouraging section headings, e.g.: “Cycling is now mass transport and must be treated as such”; "Routes and schemes must take account of how users actually behave. If they do not, they will be ignored”; “All designers of cycle schemes must experience the roads on a bicycle”.
CTC will be scrutinising all of the text, of course, and our full response will be posted on our website. The last version of LCDS dates from 2005, and the new draft is out for consultation until 25 July 2014.
London's reported road casualty figures for 2013, just out, show that killed and seriously injured (KSI) casualties in the capital fell by 23% in 2013 (3,018 to 2,324) compared to 2012.
Pedestrian and cyclist KSIs dropped by 25% and 27% respectively between 2012 and 2013, but the number of cyclist fatalities didn’t change, at 14 for both years. Given that the latest traffic estimates for London suggest that cycle traffic dropped from around 0.4 billion vehicles miles to 0.3 between 2012 and 2013 (see below), this is not good news.
Road traffic in Great Britain: not much change in 2013
The latest traffic estimates for the whole of Great Britain show a slight increase in motor vehicle traffic – at 303.7 billion vehicle miles, up 0.4% on 2012, although it seems that it was large vehicles (HGVs, buses and coaches etc.) who were mainly responsible, rather than cars and taxis. It’s possibly our home shopping habits that are still helping to boost LGV mileage, which reached a new peak of 42.6 billion vehicle miles, a 3.2% increase on 2012. The figures indicate no obvious change in pedal cycle traffic, except for a drop in London (see above). Note: the figures are only published to one decimal place.
Huge support for adding cycling to the National Curriculum
A YouGov survey of 4,615 adults, commissioned by retailer Halfords, has discovered that 82% of those questioned said they would support moves to make cycle training a National Curriculum requirement.
CTC agrees – the ability to swim is considered to be a crucial life skill and the same could easily be said of being able to cycle on the roads confidently and safely for transport purposes. Like swimming, regular cycling also contributes to fitness and is recommended by health professionals; but unlike swimming and other sports, cycling can also help tackle congestion, local air pollution and climate change, as well as teaching young people road-craft skills. Despite this, swimming has a place on the National Curriculum, while cycling currently does not. See CTC's briefing on cycle training for more.
German appeal court says helmet-free cycling is not 'negligence'
In a landmark ruling, the German Supreme Court has ruled that it is not 'negligent' to cycle without a helmet, hence there is no justifiable reason for reducing the injury compensation payable to helmetless cyclists.
The case is a major victory for the ADFC (the German equivalent of CTC), who had supported a woman member in her appeal against an earlier ruling of ‘contributory negligence’ by a regional court. Her compensation settlement had previously been reduced by 20% as a result of this ruling, but she is now entitled to full compensation.
CTC believes that Highway Code now needs revising to make sure this applies in the UK too.
School cycling on the up
The latest ‘Hands Up’ survey conducted by Sustrans of almost half a million school children across Scotland shows that half of them are getting to school actively. Walking is by far the most common method, but cycling, scooting and skating are also becoming increasingly popular.
Also, results from a wider Sustrans survey have revealed that schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland where the charity has been working, have seen cycling double in just a year to 16.6% of all school trips.
MPs and friends take annual cycle trip
Members of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) were out on their annual bike ride on June 11, enjoying the sun and the company of cycling minister Robert Goodwill MP, Dutch Ambassador to the UK Laetitia van den Assum (both pictured right) and representatives from a variety of cycling organisations, including CTC.
Following the ride, there were speeches from MPs of various parties, once again demonstrating the cross-party consensus on how best to encourage more and safer cycling.
Sarah Wollaston (Con) called for her party's manifesto to reflect the Get Britain Cycling report's recommendations, stressing particularly the value of long-term funding for Bikeability training for people of all ages. Mary Creagh, Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary, said that if cycling were a pill, every GP in the country would prescribe it, while Julian Huppert, the APPCG's Lib Dem co-chair, called for an end to stop-start funding. Photo: John Mallows
French Government wants workers to be paid for cycle-commuting
In return for an exemption of certain payroll charges, employers in France could soon be reimbursing their staff between 21 and 25 centimes per km for cycling to work. The proposals are part of 'Plan Vélo', a raft of measures to get people out of cars and onto cycles.