CycleDigest August 2013
From the Editor
Welcome to the August issue of CTC's CycleDigest.
Congratulations are due to the eight cities and four national parks who've been awarded significant central government funding for cycling.
Although the amount each city has to spend on each of its citizens varies, between them it amounts to around £10 per person per year and, happily, this is the sum recommended by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group's (APPCG) 'Get Britain Cycling' report, published in April.
This is good news for the cities, of course, but the new cycle funding only covers one tenth of Britain's population for two years, so an enduring commitment to spend £10 per person annually wherever they live would be far better - and just think what could be done with double! £20 per person per year is, after all, the APPCG's long-term ambition.
One way of helping reach that goal is to urge your MP to attend the 'Get Britain Cycling' debate on Parliament's first day back on 2 September. It's really easy to send them a letter!
Gary McCourt, the driver found guilty of causing the death in 2011 of cyclist Audrey Fyfe in Scotland, was back in court on 13 August to face an appeal against his ‘unduly lenient’ sentence of a 5-year driving ban and 300 hours’ community service. Mrs Fyfe's family and CTC believe that a lifetime prohibition should be imposed on McCourt instead.
Solicitor General Lesley Thomson told the court that the original trial sheriff had not given enough weight to the fact that McCourt’s driving caused the death of another cyclist in 1985; that he failed to consider public protection properly; and that he had erred in applying sentencing guidelines, notably by wrongly reducing the sentence because Mrs Fyfe hadn't been wearing a helmet.
A written judgement is awaited from the three judges who heard the appeal.
- CTC's Road Justice campaign, supported by Slater and Gordon lawyers, wants to see the legal system take driving that causes death and injury far more seriously.
FPNs for careless driving now in force
A fixed penalty notice (FPN) for careless driving came into force on 16 August. CTC welcomed the move (and the associated 50% increase in all motoring fixed penalties), but warns that it mustn’t lead to any further downgrading of dangerous driving to careless driving. Acts of driving that cause death or injury, CTC believes, must still end up in court. More traffic police are also needed to make best use of the new FPN.
Young, new to driving and far from risk-free - it's time to act
Inexperience and overconfidence are what makes new drivers such a risky group of road users, according to a website poll from IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists). 86% of respondents highlighted both, while 67% rated peer pressure, 52% immaturity and 45% shortfalls in the learning process as other important risk factors.
Given that 68% of IAM’s respondents lacked faith in the current driving test’s ability to produce safe motorists, the awaited appearance of a green paper from the Government on the safety of newly-qualified drivers will not be before time. Options mooted are: a minimum period of learning before the test, increasing the time on driving probation, making the test more rigorous and incentives for additional training post-test.
London police get tough on ASLs
Transport for London (TfL), the Met Police and City of London Police have been cracking down on motorists who break the rules of Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs) or ‘bike boxes’. Drivers caught crossing the first or second lines on red are liable for a fixed penalty charge and three points on their licence.
The Mayor’s Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, said: "Bike boxes are a really important way to keep cyclists and vehicles at a safe distance. They have already saved hundreds of drivers, particularly truck drivers who have blind spots in their cabs, from the anguish of unintentionally harming a cyclist, and of course saved hundreds of cyclists from serious accidents."
The start of the crack-down was heralded by seven weeks of engagement and education, including speaking with drivers and cyclists at key junctions and handing out flyers explaining why and how ASLs work.
Lib Dems to confer about cycling
The Liberal Democrats have put time aside for cycling at their forthcoming party conference. They will be looking at a policy motion presented by Dr Julian Huppert MP on how to reform cycling by making it safer and more appealing. It closely reflects the recommendations made in the 'Get Britain Cycling' report, due to be debated in Parliament on 2 September (see Headlines).
To highlight his campaign for cycle training to be on the curriculum in school, Julian Huppert has also recently enjoyed a two-hour introduction to Bikeability, the scheme designed to teach young people how to ride safely.
International Benchmarking Study
Translating international best practice in cycling provision to London’s streets is the subject of a benchmarking study just commissioned by TfL. A team of consultants will consider what works for cycling in 12 cities around the world – including New York, Dublin and Berlin. The report is due this September.
Bike theft at railway stations drops
Overall, recorded theft and damage to pedal cycles at railway stations has dropped from 6798 (2011/12) to 5779 (2012/13) incidents, according to figures recently published by the British Transport Police.
Would you be able to help the British Transport Police to give out crime prevention advice to fellow cyclists? Contact Kathleen Barlow if you're interested.
- Is your local station a cycle theft hotspot? Don’t know? This interactive map will help.
Wall hears cyclists’ moans
There is a wide range of astonishing cycle facilities in the world and there can't be many cyclists who haven’t found something to marvel at on their travels, either in the UK or elsewhere. This is an interesting, but doomed, supplement to a cycle path, for example, from São Paulo, Brazil.