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CycleDigest October 2013

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The NCN8 near Caernarfon alongside a major road
The NCN8 near Caernarfon alongside a major road
CTC's monthly round-up of campaigning news
Contents Summary: 

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.

Cherry Allan

CTC Campaigns

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ACPO revises speed enforcement guidance

ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) released its updated guidance on the enforcement of 20 mph speed limits in October.

The guidance states that targeted enforcement will take place in all 20 mph zones where there is evidence of deliberate offending or disregard of the speed limit. Routine enforcement, or regular planned attendance, will take place in clearly posted zones where there is no evidence of deliberate offending or disregard.

Marking a new approach, drivers who drive between 24 and 31 mph in a 20 mph zone will be sent on a specially designed speed awareness course. When education is not appropriate (e.g. if the driver in question has already completed the course within the previous three years), they will be ordered to pay a fixed penalty notice of £100 and receive 3 penalty points. The speed at which drivers may face prosecution has dropped from 40 mph to 35 mph.

CTC's Road Safety campaigner Rhia Weston says: "In some respects, the revised guidance is an improvement on its predecessor, but there are some ambiguities in the wording that we need to clear up with ACPO before pronouncing further."

  • 20 mph for Birmingham

Birmingham City Council is keen to introduce 20 mph on the city’s roads and is consulting on proposals.

Points by postcode mapped

The proportion of drivers who have points on their licence varies noticeably from postcode to postcode, according to recently published official data. Glasgow tops the list at 14.5% and Lerwick, in Shetland, is at the bottom at just 4%.

The discrepancy between areas could well be due to differing levels of traffic policing - fewer traffic police means day-to-day bad driving goes undetected.

See CTC’s points map to check on your own postcode.

THINK! campaign: pictures better than words, says CTC

The Department for Transport has launched a THINK! campaign to raise drivers’ awareness of cyclists and vice versa in Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and Cambridge. The main focus is a set of posters, first trialled in London, illustrating the need for drivers to look out for cyclists at junctions and when opening car doors; and for cyclists to ride centrally on narrow roads and ride a door’s width from parked cars.

CTC welcomes the posters, but has long-standing concerns about some of THINK!’s associated ‘tips’, especially its advice to drivers to give cyclists at least half a car’s width. This is far less than the overtaking distance recommended in the Highway Code, which it says is: “…as much room as you would [give] when overtaking a car" – i.e. far more than half a car's width in most cases.

CTC also believes that THINK!’s recommendation that cyclists should wear a helmet implies that it is irresponsible not to wear one, advice that could be prejudicial to cyclists in legal cases. CTC points out that helmets are not designed to protect riders in the sort of collisions that are likely to happen in fast or heavy traffic and that it is far more important to provide sound advice to road users on how to avoid collisions in the first place.

THINK! publishes road safety survey

The recently published results of THINK!’s annual road safety survey show that drivers think that drink-driving is the most important issue to address, and speeding the second, very closely followed by mobile phone use whilst driving.

The survey also says: “There has been an increase in the perceived importance of cycling safety (from 6% in November 2011 to 10% in July 2013), suggesting this is moving up the agenda.”

However, when asked what people look out for at junctions, only three in ten drivers spontaneously mentioned the need to look out for cyclists.

Toughen up on texting, says IAM

Having analysed eleven recent prosecutions involving mobile and smartphone use, IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) wants to see tougher penalties for texting drivers. Loss of concentration was common to all cases: there were six incidents where vehicles ran into the back of a stationary or slow moving queue of traffic or a broken down vehicle; three incidents where vehicles drifted across the road and hit another vehicle head-on; and two incidents leading to the death of a pedestrian.

Cyclists protest at bus lane suspension in Liverpool

Cyclists in Liverpool have combined with other groups to protest at Mayor Joe Anderson’s decision to suspend the city’s bus lanes for nine months, because there are suspicions that the lanes are causing congestion. The Mayor says the time will be used to monitor the effect of their absence.

Many cyclists see bus lanes, which they’ve been allowed to use in Liverpool, as a relatively ‘safe haven’ – so the impact on cycling in the city could be serious and there are doubts that this has been properly considered or assessed.

New app eases cycle-rail journeys

The cycle-rail combination doesn’t always go all that smoothly, and different arrangements apply for different operators, but a new app (Android and iPhone) is now ready to help.

The app makes it easy and quick to find out about cycling facilities, the rules for taking bikes on trains, the number of cycle spaces available and information on cycle reservations. It has been developed by ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies) in partnership with National Rail Enquiries. (Photo: ATOC)

Students study the inside of lorry cabs

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) went to Cambridge University’s Freshers’ Fair recently with a Hanson cement tanker to show students what the view is like from a driver’s cab. The idea was to demonstrate the best road positioning for cyclists in relation to a large goods vehicle.

Cycle to Work Day - the results

The organisers of National Cycle to Work Day (12 September) report that thousands of people pledged to cycle 256,932 miles to work, and collectively saved 6,821.17kg of CO2 while burning 12,071,397 calories.

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