CycleDigest January 2014
From the Editor
I'm not exaggerating (honestly), but this winter I've seen smallish potholes grow into huge chasms in the hours between my cycle to work in the morning and my ride back in the evening.
I'm pleased to say, however, that reporting them to CTC's Fill That Hole has alerted the council and they've patched a lot of the worst ones on my list.
Patching helps, but long-term road maintenance, including high quality resurfacing is preferable. It would be even better to use any resurfacing opportunity to make the road network more cycle-friendly as well. This has been CTC's message for some time and, happily, it seems to be getting through - see this Digest's headlines below for more!
P.S. From the next issue, we'll be retitling CycleDigest as 'CTC Campaign News' - it'll still be a digest and all about cycling, so don't be alarmed!
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Road maintenance looks up for cyclists
CTC is revamping Fill That Hole, the pothole reporting website, thanks to £30,000 from the Department for Transport (DfT). The money will also enable CTC to develop a new app compatible with smartphones running Android software.
Announcing the funding, Cycling and Roads Minister Robert Goodwill MP said: “At best potholes are an irritation but at worst they can damage vehicles and pose a serious danger to cyclists. That is why we want people to tell councils where to find them so they can fill them in. This app means more people are going to be able to report potholes more easily."
Since its launch in 2007, Fill That Hole has processed over 91 thousand reports filed by cyclists and other road users. The FTH app was even nominated recently as one of the top ten sport and fitness apps by the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
Look out for updates to the site and app over the first half of 2014!
CTC has welcomed Government proposals to earmark £50m per year for maintaining walking and cycling facilities, out of the £976m distributed annually to councils for local road maintenance.
We believe, though, that it would be even better if councils considered new or improved cycle provision whenever planning to resurface a road. This highly cost-effective approach has been very successfully deployed in New York and, in the UK, Plymouth City Council is among those who have adopted the idea. CTC now hopes the Government will issue new guidelines encouraging others to follow suit.
- The Government is currently consulting on the proposals (deadline 21/3/2014)
Along with British Cycling and RoadPeace, representatives from CTC's Road Justice campaign met with the head of the Sentencing Council for England and Wales to discuss the forthcoming review of sentencing guidelines for driving offences. They used the opportunity to suggest how sentencing could deter bad driving and take bad drivers who maim or kill off the roads.
The leniency typically shown to drivers involved in cyclists’ deaths has been only too clearly demonstrated by analysis recently carried out by the London Evening Standard. The newspaper’s findings suggest that only 1 in 10 such drivers are jailed, and many more are not prosecuted.
Unfortunately, this bears out Road Justice's experience, and it is why the campaign wants a review of the justice system to ensure that offending drivers are not just charged, but charged appropriately.
Road Justice is supported by Slater & Gordon Lawyers.
Cycling minister Robert Goodwill MP has said that he supports the principle that the police should use their discretion over fining cyclists who ride on the pavement through a fear of traffic. This reflects the original advice given to the police by the then Home Office minister Paul Boeteng in 1999 when fixed penalty notices for the offence were first introduced.
The guidance, which has now been re-circulated to all police forces, says:
“The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of the traffic, and who show consideration to other pavement users.
"Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, [so] sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required."
CTC feels that, in the short term, the best way of tackling footway cycling is for police to have the option of offering cycle training to offenders instead of a fine when they appear to be avoiding danger rather than causing it. However, the real solutions lie in improving cycling conditions, so cyclists are no longer forced to choose between what is safe and what is legal.
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