CycleDigest December 2013
From the Editor
The stories we gather for each issue of CycleDigest are, of course, a round-up of whatever the month in question happens to bring.
Stepping back to look at them all as a whole - a fitting thing to do at the end of the year - helps refine what cycle campaigning seems to me to be all about: a) encouraging cycling and opening up opportunities for more of it because it does such a lot of good; and b) tackling anything and everything that gets in the way. Inspiring, promoting and protecting, in other words.
Hence, for example, the awards for progress on cycle-rail, the push to mobilise forces to encourage the MoD to give cyclists a warmer welcome on their land and the crucial political focus on cycle safety and on the lorry threat in particular. Read on for all of this, and more.
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Most international bike share schemes do better than ‘Boris Bikes’ in London, according to a study of data from four of the biggest schemes in Europe and a range of others in North and South America.
CTC believes that poor cycling conditions are likely to be the main reason why the capital’s scheme is one of the least used and the most expensive to operate. Whereas each bike in Barcelona's scheme is hired over 10 times per day, London's are used just 3 times; and they are used less than half as often as those in the Parisian Vélib’ scheme.
The Mayor of London has recently set out a delivery timetable for his ‘Vision for Cycling’, with plans to upgrade 33 major junctions and ‘Mini-Hollands' in four outer boroughs. It also includes a 'Central London Grid' of "connected safe set of routes taking cyclists across central London".
The grid will be made up of 'Quietways' and 'Superhighways' built to a higher standards than before - the proposed routes have just been published and TfL is inviting comments (deadline 14 February 2014).
News that the Department for Transport (DfT) has finally given the go-ahead to ‘low-level’ traffic lights has been welcomed by CTC, who have long campaigned for the move.
The mini, cycle-specific lights help cyclists at junctions because they repeat the signal displayed on the main traffic lights at a level that makes them easier for people on bikes to see. The lights are already a common sight in most other European countries.
The very first set will be installed as a pilot at London’s Bow Roundabout in the New Year, and another 11 locations in the capital will follow. The lights could also be used, subject to further research, to give cyclists an ‘early start’ at junctions.
Transport Scotland is consulting on specific proposals to introduce trial 20 mph zones on trunk roads in Maybole, Largs, Biggar, Langholm and Oban. The zones are expected to be largely self-enforcing with gateway treatments, signing and lining rather than traffic calming measures.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said that the trial “…will seek to improve road safety generally, but we expect them to bring specific benefits for vulnerable road users, such as older people and cyclists”.
Congratulations to CTC member Bill Telfer, who has led a long campaign for the Langholm 20 mph zone.
The winners of ATOC’s (Association of Train Operating Companies) 9th round of National Cycle Rail Awards were announced in November.
The Awards recognise progress in encouraging and developing integrated cycle-rail travel and are judged in partnership with cycling stakeholders and campaign groups, including CTC.
This year’s winners include:
- Greater Anglia (Best Customer Service/Partnership Working and Local Government Schemes)
- Bike and Go, Merseyrail (Innovation)
- Stirling Cycle Hub, ScotRail/Forth Environment Link (Door to Door Journeys including Station Travel Plans)
- Peckham Rye Station, Southern (London Cycle Parking)
- Merseyrail, First Capital Connect (Cycle Security Award)
- Chelmsford, Greater Anglia (Station of the Year)
- South West Trains (Operator of the Year).
- Larry Heyman from First Capital Connect won the ‘Cycle Champion’ category for driving forward a cycle parking project at St Albans station and an on-site cycle repair and servicing scheme.
Royal Mail has confirmed that its cycling days are almost over - what's left of its cycle fleet will be gone by 2014.
When in 2010 Royal Mail proposed to scrap cycle deliveries, CTC objected because of the greater risk to other road users and increased emissions. We also pointed out that cargo bikes are an extremely efficient way to deliver post and other goods.
CTC still objects to the loss of Royal Mail's cycle fleet. We believe, however, that there will be time for Royal Mail to re-think when their replacement vans come to the end of their working life in about 5 years' time. We also note that, while Royal Mail is ditching cycles, rivals TNT and DHL are discovering the benefits of cycling as a fast and cost-effective solution for urban deliveries.
- CTC has teamed up with Gnewt Cargo to expand a trial of green deliveries as part of our involvement in the Cyclelogistics project.
In a speech about the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Local Growth Fund, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and future plans for sustainable travel, Minister of State for Transport Baroness Kramer stressed the need to reduce the costs of congestion to the economy and decarbonise transport.
The Baroness said, “…local sustainable transport needs to be on the agenda when local leaders decide the priorities for their community” and stated that she would be watching to ensure that LEPs bear in mind the significant economic benefits that such investment brings.
Thanks to lobbying by ECF (European Cyclists' Federation), cycling and EuroVelo (the European cycling route) will be recognised by The Trans-European Transport Network. TEN-T is an EU policy area designed to focus funds on supporting strategically important trans-European transport infrastructure developments. CTC is a member of ECF.
- For global thoughts about cycling, see ECF Development Director Kevin Mayne’s reflections on the Climate Summit in Warsaw.
Surrey and Hampshire cyclists are finding that the MoD (Ministry of Defence) is increasingly restricting access to their land for cyclists.
Local CTC member John Johns recently met MoD minister Andrew Murrison to discuss the situation, while an ongoing byelaw review by the MoD is a good opportunity to persuade them to take proper account of cycling as a legitimate activity on their land and to ensure that unnecessary restrictions are lifted.
CTC would like to hear from any cyclist who has experience of accessing (or trying to access) MoD land.
Plymouth Cycling Campaign, a CTC affiliate group, is calling on the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) not to hold a costly public inquiry into improving a “narrow, rooty, rocky and slippery” section of a local trail just because of a few objections.
An inquiry, the group fears, could thwart plans for works that could transform the Coast-to-Coast trail between Plymouth and Ilfracombe into an economic asset for the region by making it easier and more attractive for cyclists and others to use.