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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Facts on Cycling Safety (DfT)
Very useful two-page fact sheet with graphics, giving a quick overview of statistics, e.g.: the 16% rise in 2012 of reported cycle casualties (all severities) over the 2005-09 average; the fact that per mile travelled a cyclist is no more likely to be killed than a pedestrian; and that in collisions between a cycle and one other vehicle, cyclists were almost twice as likely to have no contributory factors attributed to them when compared to the other vehicle.
The DfT’s bumper collection of annual transport statistics, with useful accompanying fact sheet picking out the headline figures on, for example, personal travel, travel to work, casualty rates, pollution and greenhouse emissions, road traffic (plus forecasts), licensed vehicles and drivers, public sector expenditure, transport costs and Government revenues. Includes section on walking and cycling.
The influence of a bicycle commuter's appearance on drivers’ overtaking proximities (Dr Ian Walker et al., University of Bath)
Results of a study that looked at whether a cyclist's outfit influences how much room a driver gives them when overtaking.
The researchers tested seven outfits, from a stereotypical sport rider's outfit (suggesting high experience and skill), to a vest with ‘novice cyclist’ on the back (suggesting low experience). They also used a hi-viz jacket.
They found that the only outfit associated with a significant change in mean passing proximities was a safety vest featuring a prominent mention of the word ‘police’ and a warning that the rider was video-recording their journey. Fear of detection is, clearly, a powerful deterrent to unsafe and inconsiderate driving behaviour.
“Notably,” the authors say, “whilst some outfits seemed to discourage motorists from passing within 1 m of the rider, approximately 1–2% of overtakes came within 50 cm no matter what outfit was worn. This suggests there is little riders can do, by altering their appearance, to prevent the very closest overtakes; it is suggested that infrastructural, educational or legal measures are more promising for preventing drivers from passing extremely close to bicyclists.”
Published in 'Accident Analysis and Prevention'
Obesity and the environment: increasing physical activity and active travel (Dr Nick Cavill and Professor Harry Rutter / Public Health England)
Written in conjunction with the Local Government Association, this ‘healthy people, healthy places’ briefing summarises the importance of action on obesity and a specific focus on active travel, and outlines the regulatory and policy approaches available. Advocates creating an environment where people actively choose to walk and cycle as part of everyday life, and supports 20 mph speed limits
A robustly titled briefing that has been emailed widely by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) to Councillors and key Council Officers promoting neighbourhood 20 mph limits. Available to LGiU subscribers.
Lawless Roads 2 (Jenny Jones AM, London Assembly)
A sequel to 'Lawless Roads 1' (published six years ago), this report sets out the road safety proposals for London that were highlighted by the 120 cycling campaigners, the acting head of the Met’s Transport Police and the Mayor’s Commissioner for Cycling, who all attended a seminar in the summer. Presumed (or ‘stricter’) liability; driving bans; 20 mph limits and Advanced Stop Lines are discussed as the priorities.
Commuting by Car (RAC Foundation)
Report looking at car/van commuting trends, concluding that more people in England and Wales are choosing these modes to get to work.
“The RAC Foundation can now show,” its Director Prof Stephen Glaister says, “… just how important the car is for journeys to work – not merely in the case of rural inhabitants, but equally for city-dwellers.” This may be true, but the authors don't think beyond the car - bemoaning motoring costs, the report concludes: "So far, however, people have not turned their backs on the car. What other option do they have?" CTC can think of at least one!
The report does contain some useful facts about car commuting, however.
Transport and Health: Position Statement (Faculty of Public Health)
Policy statement from the standard-setting body for specialists in public health in the UK.
Advocates “a major shift away from cars in favour of active travel: walking, cycling and public transport”. This is needed, it says, to reduce “the harms of the road transport system, enhance the benefits to individuals, society and the environment, and help reduce carbon.” Recommends reallocation of urban road space; policies that discourage private car use in urban areas; and 20 mph design speeds for streets used by pedestrians and cyclists.