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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CTC’s Road Justice campaign believes that, unless the courts stop handing down derisory penalties for bad driving, sentencing will never become the effective deterrent and means to protect the public that it ought to be. (Photo: Simeon Maskrey QC at the debate).
The forthcoming review of sentencing guidelines is of critical importance, so CTC recently organised a live-streamed debate on the subject in London for officials from the Sentencing Council, members of Queens Counsel, judges, magistrates, lawyers, law professors, campaigners and victims.
Chaired by The Times 'Cities Fit for Cycling' journalist Kaya Burgess, panellists and members of the audience covered a range of subjects, including driving bans, custodial penalties, inconsistent sentencing and deficiencies in the law itself.
The event sparked a call for supporters to email the Justice Minister urging him to put more emphasis on driving bans as a punishment, and to stop ‘dangerous’ driving being dismissed merely as ‘careless’.
The debate also saw the launch of two Road Justice campaign reports, 'Charging and Prosecution' and 'The Courts and Sentencing', both available online.
- More on the debate, plus information on how to contribute to the sentencing guidelines review, together with videos giving the reactions and thoughts of some of the attendees.
- Do judges wilfully misinterpret sentencing guidelines? This was one of the questions that Rhia Weston, CTC's Road Justice campaigner, took away from the debate and considers in her latest blog.
CTC's national Space for Cycling campaign continues apace with nearly 250 councillors stating their support. However, with the local elections in England's larger cities now over, it's time to start spreading the campaign to urban and rural areas, calling for high standards of cycle-friendly planning and design, and the funding needed to achieve this.
Check out our interactive map to see if your councillor has signed up.
We also held a Space for Cycling and Road Justice training session for 25 campaigners in Birmingham earlier this month.
CTC, in conjunction with Cyclenation groups across the country, will continue to contact councillors over the summer, and also seek commitment from MPs ahead of the party conferences in the autumn. We are looking for as many MP and councillor allies in each party as possible to make sure that their respective manifestos for the General Election incorporate Space for Cycling goals.
We have also been contacted by a number of councils who are keen to sign up collectively to Space for Cycling. We are now defining what this could mean to ensure that signing up is an achievable yet meaningful commitment to make a real difference to cycling locally. More information to follow.
Meanwhile, we have held a first campaigners' training session in Birmingham, giving local volunteer activists the knowledge and skills to take forward both CTC's Space for Cycling and Road Justice campaigns at ground level. More training days are planned for Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow and Bristol in September and October (dates tbc).
The events we've organised so far have been well received, so do come along. Some of the feedback so far:
- "Good to see & hear like-minded riders & to know that at least some areas are making progress. So often one feels a lone voice in the wilderness!"
- "An excellent, well-organised day which provided a valuable opportunity to share good practice. It offered clear perspectives on the need to work together to achieve effective activities and good organisational capacity."
- "The conference was, for me, enlightening and a fantastic opportunity to meet other campaigners. The information readily available was helpful. I came away motivated and enthused."
Congratulations to London Cycling Campaign (LCC) groups who did an excellent job of ensuring that 43% of newly-elected London borough councillors are supporters of LCC's Space for Cycling campaign. LCC's post-poll tally also shows that Space for Cycling supporters include the majority of councillors in 14 boroughs and 100% of the governing party in 7 councils.
Over the coming months, LCC says that it will continue to lobby the newly-formed councils and local politicians to ensure their commitments to the electorate are fulfilled.
Paul Tuohy, CTC’s new Chief Executive starting this July, is no stranger to life at the top of a charitable organisation. Currently CEO of Mentor, which works in schools to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, Paul has led charities since 2004, largely as a change management specialist focusing on building brands, fundraising and income generation.
Paul, who is also a passionate cyclist, says, “Cycling has not just been a part of my life, it’s changed my life. To ride to work now as the CEO of The national cycling charity is a tremendous responsibility and dream come true." He has also made it clear that strengthening CTC's campaigning capacity to champion everyday cycling is a key priority.
Also interested in joining CTC's staff? We currently have vacancies for a Campaigns and Communications Co-ordinator (deadline 9 July) and a Marketing Officer (deadline 4 July).
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.
Urge the Justice Minister to tackle bad driving
Tackling bad driving through the criminal justice system is a complex issue and campaigners face a long hard slog to improve it, but the good news is that the Government has committed to reviewing driving offences and penalties. CTC believes that the Justice Minister Chris Grayling MP should use this opportunity to:
- Emphasise more and longer driving bans as a sentencing option, with prison sentences for the worst offenders i.e. those who drive deliberately dangerously, who are repeat offenders or who flout driving bans;
- End the dismissal of 'dangerous' driving as merely 'careless' driving;
- Launch a public consultation no later than mid-September 2014.
Send a message to the Justice Minister, urging him to make these commitments. It's very easy - we've prepared a standard letter for you.
(CTC Road Justice, supported by Slater and Gordon Lawyers)
Report arguing that poor charging and prosecution decisions made by the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are failing to protect vulnerable road users by enabling bad drivers to return to the roads. Makes recommendations for improving charging and prosecution practice and includes case studies highlighting the current failures.
(CTC Road Justice, supported by Slater and Gordon Lawyers)
This report argues that the courts are treating bad driving far too leniently and issuing sentences that fail to discourage it. Makes recommendations for ameliorating this situation and includes case studies highlighting the current failures.
The above two reports follow ‘Road Justice: the role of the police’, which outlines how cuts to roads policing across England and Wales have had a detrimental effect on road safety.
Prevalence of prediabetes in England from 2003 to 2011: population-based, cross-sectional study
By Arch G Mainous III et al, published in BMJ
Paper giving the results of a study concluding that: "There has been a marked increase in the proportion of adults in England with pre-diabetes. The socio-economically deprived are at substantial risk. In the absence of concerted and effective efforts to reduce risk, the number of people with diabetes is likely to increase steeply in coming years."
Physical activity, including regular cycling, is known to help tackle diabetes. See CTC's campaigns briefing on health and cycling for more.
Lessons from the Green Lanes: Evaluating Protected Bike Lanes in the U.S.
(National Institute for Transportation and Communities)
Report presenting findings from research evaluating U.S. protected bicycle lanes in terms of their use, perception, benefits and impacts in Austin, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco and Washington. Well-illustrated and explained with charts, 'before and after' photos etc.
Suggests that physically protected cycle lanes help make cyclists feel more comfortable, boost cycle use and are well understood. In particular, survey data and observation showed that:
- Ridership increased on all facilities after some kind of protection had been installed, ranging from +21% to +171%. 10% of current riders switched from other modes, 24% shifted from other cycle routes, and over a quarter were riding more in general because of the facilities.
- There were no collisions or near-collisions over 144 hours of video review for safety at intersections, including 12,900 bicyclists.
- While any type of buffer gives a considerable increase in self-reported comfort levels over a striped bike lane, designs with more physical separation had the highest scores. Interestingly, flexpost buffers (‘wands’) got very high ratings, even though they provide little actual physical protection from vehicle intrusions.
Commenting on the findings, CTC’s Campaigns Director said: “Introducing segregation on a particular route may result in significant increase in cyclists using that route, but the data suggests that initially this is mainly due to existing cyclists switching their route, rather than new cyclists who have switched their transport mode.
“Nonetheless, concentrating the cyclists gives the appearance that lots more people are taking up cycling. This in turn prompts people to think: 'lots of people are taking up cycling; it’s getting safer, so maybe I too should give it a go.' Moreover, this idea gathers strength as the cycle network grows and becomes more comprehensive.”
Enjoy an insight into the work of NHS Liverpool Community Trust’s Cycle for Health project in this new video.
The scheme helps people get back on their bikes, even if they haven’t cycled for a while. The 1.5 – 2 hour sessions are not only free of charge but also of motor traffic, taking participants out into the city’s green spaces and parks.
We’re in the middle of Bike Week 2014 - check out what’s happening!
The Surrey Hills: Natural History by Bike 8-10 August 2014
Showing that field study activities and sustainable transport can make perfect partners, this weekend residential course combines a study of local natural history with cycle rides around the famous Surrey Hills.
Established in 1943, The Field Studies Council (FSC) is the only environmental education charity dedicated solely to providing information and enjoyable opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to discover, explore, be inspired by, and understand the natural environment.
The course, at FSC’s Juniper Hall field studies centre near Dorking in Surrey, is aimed at experienced cyclists who want to use their bicycle to learn about the local environment and see some exciting flora and fauna, including rare orchids and butterflies.
It will include a ride up the famous Box Hill Zigzag Road and conclude with a stop to watch the Ride London professional road race, which passes the centre. Saturday’s ride of 40 miles will follow part of the Surrey Cycleway with stops at many exciting sites to view the wildlife.
The leaders of the course are: Chris Ford a Senior Tutor in Biology at Juniper Hall and Alan Fordham, a local cyclist and long-time CTC member, who is also Surrey County Council’s Cycling Officer.