Cycle Campaign News August 2014
From the Editor
London was a good place to be for cycling last Saturday, with thousands and thousands of people enjoying a circuit of sunny roads clear of other traffic for Prudential RideLondon’s FreeCycle.
Soon, we hope, the capital will be offering exemplary day-to-day provision too for cyclists, judging by its revised Cycle Safety Action Plan and draft Cycling Design Standards (see ‘Headlines’).
Also, the Government’s forthcoming Cycling Delivery Plan is, potentially, an exciting opportunity to encourage more cycling all over the country. Can it actually deliver, though? See below for more on that too.
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Responding to Transport for London’s (TfL) consultations on its draft Cycle Safety Action Plan (CSAP2) and revised set of London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS), CTC has greeted both as significant improvements on any previous official UK cycle planning and safety guidelines.
Amongst its welcome highlights, LCDS:
- Starts with a concise statement of 20 guiding principles or ‘Requirements’ for every councillor, traffic planner and engineer in the country to read, the first headed, “Cycling is now mass transport and must be treated as such.”
- Condemns ‘Cyclists Dismount’ signs;
- Stresses the importance of physical protection for cyclists from other traffic on fast, busy roads whilst strenuously avoiding conflict between pedestrians and cyclists;
- Says that "All designers must experience the roads on a bicycle"
- Offers some careful thinking on junctions;
- Proposes a breakthough ‘Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) process to assess the cycle-friendliness of existing roads and/or proposed improvements.
LCDS does have its weaknesses, however. For example, it could be much more proactive on 20mph; and could recommend improving facilities for cyclists as part of planned maintenance.
The draft Cycle Safety Plan is much better than earlier versions, although CTC thinks that TfL’s laudably ambitious aim to reduce casualties by 40% could unintentionally undermine action massively to boost cycle use. To avoid such conflicts, it's better to measure cycle safety in terms of the casualty risk per mile or per trip, rather than in simple casualty numbers. We also think that the Plan should commit TfL to work with the Met Police to ensure that they take an evidence-led approach to improving cyclists' safety and, as a result, prioritise resources to tackle real sources of danger - e.g. irresponsible drivers and lorry operators.
- For in depth analysis, plus links to CTC's response and TfL's drafts, see Roger Geffen's blog.
Further hope for cycling on the horizon? Or not?
The Government’s long-awaited ‘Cycling and Walking Delivery Plan’ (England) is expected to appear within weeks, quite possibly by the end of August. From discussions with DfT officials, they seem to have taken on board a lot of CTC's points of detail.
However, despite all the backing we’ve had from The Times’s ‘Cities fit for Cycling’ campaign and the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report, we’re still not optimistic about the Plan containing anything like the level of ambition, the commitment to cross-departmental action or the funding that we and other cycling groups have long been calling for. In other words, the things that really matter still seem to be missing.
In the meantime, the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group has called for a further debate on cycling when Parliament returns in September.
Then, during the party conference season, CTC President Jon Snow will be joining Chris Boardman, the Times and other cycling groups to enlist support from MPs and councillors who have backed the CTC-led national Space for Cycling campaign. We want to persuade the main parties' manifestos next spring to commit to implementing the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report, particularly its call for at least £10 per person annually to be spent on cycling, rising to £20 as cycle use grows. Even if the Plan emerges without the funding we have long called for, it still won’t be too late for George Osborne to include this in his final Autumn Statement of this Parliament, expected in early December.
- Get ready to contact your MP as soon as the Delivery Plan is published. Please watch for details on our website – as we may need to act quickly!
Cycling has long needed all the help it can get from the Government, and now is no exception. According to the annual National Travel Survey (NTS), 2012 was a promising year for cycling in Great Britain, seeing the average number of miles cycled per person per year go up from 49 to 55.
The latest NTS (now only for England), however, shows that this figure went back down to 49 in 2013. Especially worrying is another decline in cycle use amongst children and the fact that the average number of cycling trips per person in 2013 was only 14, fewer than at any point over the last 20 years (this figure was 20 in 1995/7, and 17 in 2012). On a more positive note, the average length of a trip by cycle increased to 3.3 miles (3.1 in 2012).
- Read our full news story for an analysis of the latest results from the NTS, with a discussion of the possible causes, cures and implications.
Using detailed road casualty data just released by the Government, CTC has put together a map showing the locations of the 19,000 fatal and serious cycling injuries which occurred in 2013. The map also includes the age and sex of the parties involved, plus the time, the date and the manoeuvres of each vehicle.
The data show, unsurprisingly, that casualties are predominantly in urban areas, where 80% of the population live and where 68% of cycling occurs.
It’s important to note, however, that to form a true picture of the risks of cycling, several years of data are needed for each road, plus exposure data for the amount of cycling that is taking place. We'd therefore urge caution before saying that such a location is 'more dangerous' than another, as it may very well be that the more dangerous locations have low levels of cycle casualties because most people wouldn't ever dream of cycling there.
Lorry speed limit relaxed despite safety implications
The Government plans to increase the national speed limit for HGVs of more than 7.5 tonnes on single carriageways from 40 mph to 50 mph, despite the fact that its own impact assessment predicts that it could lead to an increase in road casualties by between 9.4% - 19.3%. Savings to the haulage industry and the belief that it will cut ‘dangerous overtaking’ are amongst the reasons cited for the move, which is expected from early 2015.
The decision suggests that the Government would rather relax the current limit than go to the trouble of enforcing it. They state that 75% of HGV drivers already break it, and conclude that ‘changing the speed limit would level the playing field’ because those who do comply are ‘operating at a disadvantage’.
This is very worrying news: lorries already pose a disproportionate threat to cyclists and the risk of cycling on rural single-carriageway roads is over 20 times greater than on minor urban roads. Several cyclists are hit behind by lorries on these roads each year, a risk that will only increase as lorries are allowed to go faster.
CTC therefore believes that HGVs should only be permitted to drive at higher speeds on properly engineered major roads, where adequate parallel cycling facilities exist. Also, we urge local authorities to use their powers to lower speeds on roads where pedestrians and cyclists are likely to be travelling (or want to travel), either for day-to-day transport or leisure.
The Department for Transport has now launched a consultation on plans to increase the speed limits for HGVs on dual carriageways from 50 mph to 60 mph (deadline 5/9/2014).
Seven councils granted extra cash for sustainable transport
Seven local authorities in England are being given an extra £900,000 government funding between them to extend their existing sustainable transport schemes. All of the funded projects either have a specific cycling element or will see the introduction of measures that will benefit cyclists (e.g. Dorset Council's plans for 20 mph in Weymouth and Dorchester town centres).
The other councils chosen to share the money are Bournemouth, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Shropshire and Wokingham.
This is excellent news for the authorities concerned, but CTC would like to see high levels of funding everywhere, not just in isolated patches.
Grassroots groups make national campaigns local
Road Justice in Bristol
CTC’s Road Justice campaign is calling on the police to improve their handling of road traffic collisions involving cyclists. Whilst our report ‘Road Justice: the role of the police’ sets out how and why they need to improve, associated grassroots’ pressure on local forces is proving itself to be a highly effective instrument of change at ground level.
For instance, as part of its Road Justice initiative, Bristol Cycling Campaign (BCyC) has connected with the Avon and Somerset Police via social media, presented convincing research on collisions and the response from the police using data gathered from a Freedom of Information request and met with the Chief Constable and the Head of the Collisions Investigations. As a result, the force and BCyC have established a working group, which meets quarterly.
- Full story here
- Read 'Road Justice: the role of the police', and the accompanying reports on charging and prosecution, and courts and sentencing
Space for Cycling in Leighton Linslade ...
Leighton Buzzcycles, the cycle club and campaign group in Leighton Linslade, Bedfordshire, is gathering messages from local residents calling on their councillors to provide more Space for Cycling for the good of the town. Not only has the group been collecting comments via its website, but they also gave people the chance to attach message tags to a bicycle at a local carnival.
Buzzcycles’ project is part of CTC’s national Space for Cycling campaign, through which people are encouraged to write to their local councillors challenging them to support better provision for cycling.
- Full story here
... and in Lancashire
Lancashire cycle campaign group Dynamo has written twice to local councillors asking them to get behind a proposed green cycle route to connect Lancaster to Heysham and also to pledge their support for Space for Cycling – which the go-ahead for the route will exemplify.
To drum up wide local backing for the route, Dynamo produced leaflets, set up a Facebook page and held a public meeting. Most impressively, their e-petition on Lancashire County Council's website and a paper version collected an impressive 2,412 signatures over the 3 month period – one headteacher even sent leaflets home to parents with a letter of recommendation from himself.
- Full story here
- CTC is organising a series of training days for Space for Cycling and Road Justice volunteer campaigners. The next two are in September, in Sheffield and Newcastle. See 'Diary dates' for more.
South Gloucestershire campaigner calls on council to 'cycle-proof' new road schemes
Concerns about provision for cycling in South Gloucestershire Council’s 'North Bristol Fringe Pinch Point' schemes have led CTC’s local campaigner, Richard Burton, to set up petition asking for a halt until the schemes have been ‘cycle-proofed’. Richard says that none of the projects "includes any improvement for cycling and walking, and some make them more dangerous and less attractive."
Have your local councillors signed up to Space for Cycling?
Find out by checking our map.
The deeper shade of green shows a 100% sign up - but it's rare, and we need more of it!
All other hues (red in particular) mean ‘Act now and send your local representatives a Space for Cycling message!'
Who Cycles to Work? 2011 Census Topic Report (Bristol City Council)
A fascinating look at the responses of Bristol’s population to the 2011 Census question on their commuting habits. It finds that:
- More people cycle to work in Bristol than in Sheffield, Nottingham, Newcastle and Liverpool added together;
- Cycle use has almost doubled - up 94% - and walking has increased by 40% between 2001 and 2011;
- A typical person who cycles to work in Bristol is likely to be a white male, aged between 25 and 39, with a degree, who works full time in a professional occupation and who cycles to their workplace which is between 2km and 5km away;
- The majority (57%) of people in employment age under 40 years get to work other than by driving;
- There are 44,000 people who travel less than 5km to work yet still go by car (13,000 drive less than 2km).
Campaigners’ training days (CTC)