Cycle Campaign News May 2014
From the Editor
The coming warmer, drier weather will undoubtedly inspire more people to cycle - it always does.
More space for cycling would be an even bigger boost and, judging by the popular and political support for the messages of both the London and national Space for Cycling campaigns, thousands agree.
If you haven't done so already, do get involved in spreading the word - see 'Headlines' below for more.
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Bad driving offences: review and reform
CTC’s Road Justice campaign has welcomed the Government’s plans to review driving offences over the next few months and its proposals to toughen up on disqualified drivers who kill or cause serious injury. The latter changes would increase the maximum sentence for disqualified drivers who kill from two to ten years, and bring in a separate offence of 'causing serious injury whilst disqualified' with a maximum sentence of four years.
These proposals were the subject of a recent Parliamentary debate, in which CTC’s Road Justice campaign was given strong backing.
CTC has long campaigned for tougher sentences for those who flout driving bans, but also wants to see much greater use of the penalty in the first place. Analysis of recent Ministry of Justice figures shows just how reluctant the courts still are to impose bans and, when they do, how short they tend to be. For example, the number of lifetime bans given for dangerous driving convictions has gone down for a third consecutive year, from nine in 2011 to two in 2013.
EU safer lorry amendment needs UK backing
CTC and other active travel organisations have jointly written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, calling on him to support a proposed amendment to EU rules on safer lorry designs and to back the European Parliament’s decision not to permit further international use of ‘mega-trucks’ until a full European Commission report is carried out in 2016.
The amendment on design, which was approved by the EU Parliament in April, would lead to rounded rather than ‘brick-shaped’ cabs, and allow for bigger windscreens. This would help lorry drivers see other road users directly, instead of relying on mirrors, sensors and cameras.
However, the Financial Times (FT) has reported that two member states - France and Sweden - want to delay these potentially life-saving provisions until 2025, with some manufacturers (from France and Sweden, it would seem) arguing that this is necessary to maintain "competitive neutrality". CTC and its partners responded with a letter in the FT itself, urging McLoughlin to act.
Stop Press! We understand that the UK did oppose the delays, but the EU has granted a moratorium nonetheless.
Back in February, CTC, LCC and other cycling and road safety groups, wrote to Transport for London (TfL) calling on them to instruct van, taxi and bus operators to stop using warning stickers on their vehicles telling cyclists to 'Stay Back'.
The letter was prompted by serious concerns that the stickers could adversely affect driver behaviour by putting the apparent onus on cyclists to stay behind all vehicles in all circumstances, not just to avoid undertaking lorries on the left side (where ‘Watch Out’ stickers are more appropriate). Not only is this 'warning' misleading and impractical to follow, but the drivers of small vans, buses and taxis have adequate vision from their vehicles and should have no difficulty interacting with cyclists safely and considerately.
All this could have legal implications too: there’s already been an inquest where lawyers acting for the driver pointed out that the vehicle involved had a ‘Stay Back’ sign on it, implying that the deceased cyclist was therefore in some way at fault.
In response to the co-signed letter, Leon Daniels, TfL's managing director of surface transport, agreed to consider a new sticker design and asking members of TfL's Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) to remove them. However, he rejected calls for their removal from buses, taxis and vans.
CTC and its allies have therefore sent a further joint letter to TfL, clarifying our concerns and reiterating a request for a dialogue.
School survey reveals parents' fears about road safety
41% of the parents who responded to a YouGov survey for Sustrans said that their child has been involved in some sort of ‘near miss’ while walking or cycling to or from school. The survey also revealed that road safety is a bigger concern for parents than 'stranger danger': 44% are most concerned about their child crossing the road safely, and 28% about stranger danger. To make them more willing to allow their children to walk or cycle to school, parents say they want slower speeds, more dedicated walking and cycling routes and safer crossings.
Welsh Active Travel Act design guidance out for consultation
The Active Travel (Wales) Act requires Welsh local authorities to follow design guidance setting out the minimum standards that new or upgraded routes must meet in order to be considered as adequate routes under the Act. The draft of that guidance, to which CTC contributed, is now out for consultation, deadline 4 August.
Pedal on Parliament: report from the ride
On 26 April, thousands of people from across Scotland pedalled on the Scottish Parliament to show politicians that more investment is needed for cycling and active travel. Claire from CTC Scotland was there - read her blog.
EU elections and cycling
In the run-up to the European Parliamentary elections this May, the European Cycling Federation (ECF) organised a survey of candidates’ opinions on EU cycling policy.
364 candidates from 23 countries across all main political groups responded, with 96% agreeing that motorised vehicles should be safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and 93% supporting the ECF’s demand that the European Commission develops and adopts a 'European Master Plan on Cycling' by 2019.
15% of the candidates said they cycled at least once a day, 30% a few times a week, 40% a few times a month or less, 12% never – an impressive figure given that half the European population doesn’t cycle either. 3% didn’t seem to know if they cycled or not (!?)
ECF is planning to launch a Brussels-based ‘Cycling Mobility Forum’ in the autumn so that it can meet and discuss cycling-related policy issues with all relevant stakeholders
UK cities take up European cycling challenge
The European Cycling Challenge 2014 is now under way with over 30 towns and cities challenging each other to see who can ride the longest total distance in May. Good luck to Bristol, Reading and Inverness who are all competing with such places as Oslo, Barcelona, Rimini, Groningen and Odense.
Essex city tackles barriers
Sometimes it seems that it’s only very fortunate and/or savvy cyclists - or those with lots of time for detours - who can ride from A to B without having to negotiate some sort of physical barrier(s) at some point in their journey. Thanks to Essex County Council, however, such impediments are now a thing of the past at a number of sites in the city of Chelmsford - even barriers at various underpasses have gone. CTC’s Richard Monk was involved in the transformation and explains more. (Photo: bollards replace barriers in Chelmsford)
Building bikes and changing lives
CTC’s Suzanne Forup recently visited ‘Build Your Own Bike’, a project at HM Young Offenders' Institution Polmont that brings together disadvantaged youngsters from both sides of the law. Inmates are taught how to make their own bikes by other young people, building confidence and skills in both parties. Read more.