CycleDigest October 2013
From the Editor
Congratulations to the Welsh Assembly for passing a law that should make forgetting about walking and cycling harder for all local authorities in Wales (see headlines).
We hope the new legislation will set an example for the rest of the UK in the future and, at the same time, demonstrate how vital it is to back up policy commitments with funding.
Sustainable transport can't do without the support of politicians and over the last few years cycling has certainly benefited from a dedicated cycling minister in Norman Baker MP. We wish him well for his new post in the Home Office, and look forward to working with his successor, Robert Goodwill MP.
Thanks to legislation just passed by the Welsh Assembly, the next few years should see Wales become cycle-friendlier and a model for the rest of the UK.
The Active Travel (Wales) Act places a duty on Welsh local authorities to improve facilities and routes for walkers and cyclists continuously; to prepare maps identifying current and potential future routes; to consider pedestrians and cyclists’ needs at an early stage in designing new roads; and to connect key sites such as hospitals, schools and shopping areas with traffic-free routes and cycle lanes. Progress will be well-monitored and regular reports produced.
As none of this is cost-free, CTC and other campaigners are stressing how vital it is that the Act is underpinned with investment.
CTC is a member of the working group preparing guidelines for local authorities to ensure high standards for cycle-friendly planning and design.
Sentencing for bad driving in the news
- Sentencing guidelines: PM David Cameron has recently announced that the sentencing guidelines for England and Wales are up for review.
CTC has long called for an overhaul of the guidelines on prosecuting and sentencing for serious driving offences to ensure that these are treated with the seriousness they deserve. The review announced by the Prime Minister will cover sentencing for careless and dangerous driving, and causing death by driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured.
Meanwhile, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has said it will consider a subsequent review of the corresponding prosecution guidelines. CTC, plus road crash victims' charity RoadPeace, were strongly critical of these when they were last updated.
CTC and its partners in the Road Justice campaign feel that much greater use should be made of long driving bans.
- ‘Unduly lenient’ sentence appeal rejected: The sentence handed down to Gary McCourt, whose driving killed cyclist and CTC member Audrey Fyfe in 2011, led her family, supporters and CTC to pursue an appeal against it on the grounds that it was ‘unduly lenient’.
However, the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh has decided that the original 300 hours community service and a five-year driving ban were appropriate, even though McCourt had killed another cyclist back in 1985. CTC believes that McCourt should have been banned for driving for life to stop him from endangering anyone else.
At the moment, Scottish courts tend to refer to the sentencing guidelines for England and Wales (now up for review, see above), but Scotland may produce a set of its own in future.
One of the most dedicated cycling ministers of all time, Norman Baker MP, has been promoted out of the DfT and into a more senior role in the Home Office.
As a junior minister from the junior party in the Coalition and working in difficult financial times, Mr Baker had a weak hand politically, but nonetheless managed to secure funds for Bikeability cycle training, moulded the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, and got the PM to back a ‘cycling revolution’ along with cycling money for eight cities and four national parks. While these are modest achievements compared with what's needed to Get Britain Cycling, his commitment to cycling and sustainable transport was never in doubt.
Robert Goodwill MP has taken over the cycling portfolio (along with aviation, strategic roads and the Highways Agency, motoring agencies, road safety and standards, freight and logistics, local roads, HS2 Phase One… and Europe). Fortunately, he is a cyclist and has been a member of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group. One of his first cycling tasks will probably be to oversee the development of a promised 'Cycling Delivery Plan'.
CTC has just spent three days meeting Department for Transport officials who will be preparing the plan. They are clearly keen to be ambitious. However, we have explained that this will require real political commitment and funding, not just from DfT ministers, but from other departments and bodies too. It will also require new cycle-friendly traffic regulations, design guidelines and professional training to deliver the safe and connected cycling provision that mass cycle use will need. We look forward to meeting Mr Goodwill shortly.