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Cycle Campaign News December 2015

CTC's monthly round-up of cycle campaign news.
Contents Summary: 

From the Editor

Today (17 December), the Government set out its "timetable and approach" to developing the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS, for England), amongst a rush of other written statements on Parliament's last day before Christmas.

It says all the right things about cycling and walking, while the wording of paragraph 9 is about the best non-monetary present we've had from the Government for ages (see Headlines)!

Essentially, it echoes what CTC has been saying for years, namely that cycling and walking need to be prioritised in street design, and that reducing traffic is one of the best ways to tackle climate change and air pollution.

The vital 'investment' side of CWIS, however, has yet to be unwrapped. As we'll have to wait for the New Year for that, please have a restful festive break so that you're ready for more lobbying action in 2016!

Cherry Allan

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Headlines

Good wishes are nice, but where’s the cash? 

Government publishes mission statement for its Cycling and Walking Strategy (CWIS, England)

The Government has just outlined its "timetable and approach to developing the various elements required to deliver the first CWIS."

Amongst a number of welcome and positive statements in the document, what leapt out to us particularly is a commitment in paragraph 9 to "ensuring" that cycling and walking are prioritised in new street design or maintenance programmes, and reducing road traffic to tackle air pollution and climate change.

By ensuring that cycling and walking are the first consideration of any new street design or maintenance programme we will ensure our streets are safer for our most vulnerable road users. Places with cycling and walking at their heart will help us to achieve our ambitions to tackle air pollution and climate change by reducing road traffic."

Department for Transport
'Setting the First Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy'
(para 9)
Dec 2015

We agree that cycling and walking needs to be put first, not only when designing new roads and streets, but also in planned maintenance schemes. Road re-surfacing works are excellent opportunities to introduce new cycle-friendly layouts at the same time.

Autumn Statement

Funding for the admirable aims of CWIS (see above), however, is still an issue and the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement back in November did not impress.. 

On the face of it, we should perhaps be grateful that the Chancellor at least mentioned cycling in his speech, giving us something that we've been long been campaigning for: a long-term commitment to cycling.

However, the £300 million he announced for the next five years amounts to just £1.39 per person annually for England outside London. Worse still, it seems that very little of it is new money, with almost all of it having already been allocated either to Highways England, the eight 'Cycling Ambition Cities', or the continuation of Bikeability training.

Consequently, our hopes largely rest on the 'Statement of Funds Available' (SoFA), expected in early 2016, which the DfT says will support the 'Investment Plan' for CWIS. Given that 'reducing traffic' is a now a DfT aim (see above), CTC thinks that it would make sense to reallocate some of the £15 billion for road building to cycling instead.

HS2 and cycling: hazards, challenges and opportunities

The new High Speed rail link (HS2) offers both challenges and opportunities for cycling and cyclists: e.g. hazards from lorries during construction; altered highways and rights of way; access to HS2 stations and cycle parking at them; and cycle carriage on trains. 

In 2014, therefore, CTC formally petitioned for amendments to the HS2 Phase 1 Parliamentary Bill, on the back of which CTC's Policy Director Roger Geffen gave oral evidence on 26 November to the Commons Committee scrutinising the HS2 Rail Bill.

Commenting on cycle-friendly lorry design, the most immediate concern, Roger said: "This is a chance for HS2 Ltd, as a publicly owned company, to show real leadership in promoting safe lorry design. Given that they are proposing up to 1,440 lorry movements a day on Camden's roads alone, it is frighteningly likely that cyclists will end up being killed by HS2 lorries, unless HS2 Ltd do all they can to avoid this risk.”

HS2 has agreed to continue its dialogue with CTC on how it can minimise the risks posed by its construction operations. We have every reason to be optimistic: back in 2007/08 we took similar action over the Crossrail Bill, prompting Transport for London to tackle cycle/lorry safety thereafter.

Brighton signs up to Space for Cycling

On the day that the Chancellor punctured the Prime Minister’s vision for a ‘Cycling Revolution’ (see above), cycle campaigners really needed some good cheer. Fortunately, Brighton and Hove supplied it by becoming the first non-London council to sign up to the national Space for Cycling campaign promoted by CTC.

The resolution, made at the council’s Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee on 24 November, signifies a serious commitment to creating the conditions where anyone can cycle anywhere. An amendment proposed by Cllr Janio (Con) asking for a costed report failed.

Becky Reynolds of Bricycles, the local cycling group, said:

“This shows admirable unity of purpose between the Labour chair of the committee, Councillor Gill Mitchell, and the Green Group, led by Cllr Pete West, who tabled the motion.

“Bricycles has been promoting Space for Cycling since the start, and now hopes to see a continued and renewed focus at local level on the remaining barriers to cycling, particularly dealing with busy roads and dangerous junctions.”

Other stories

We need more traffic police, CTC tells MPs

Appearing before the Commons Transport Select Committee at its inquiry into road traffic law and enforcement, CTC’s Policy Director Roger Geffen has urged MPs to support more resources for roads policing.

He explained that the 37% drop in traffic officers in England and Wales since 2003 may well account for an alarming increase in the risk per mile of a serious cycling injury - up by around 15% since 2008. In contrast, the risk for car occupants has gone down by around 28%.

Roger also highlighted the importance of enabling Traffic Commissioners to play their part in tackling rogue lorry firms, citing the time taken to revoke the operator's licences of A.J. Drummond and Frys Logisitics, following their involvement in the deaths of Alan Neve, and of Toby Wallace and Andrew McMenigall respectively.

Disappointingly, the MPs on the committee seemed more interested in asking unhelpful questions, e.g. about the supposed need for cyclists to have compulsory training and insurance and to be forced to wear helmets.

Common sense lords it, eventually

We’re often up against anti-cycling bias and wild exaggeration (e.g. in radio phone-ins, newspaper letter pages etc.), but we don’t expect it of members of the House of Lords.

So, what of: Lord Wills’ claims of “bully boys on bikes terrorising pedestrians”; and Lord Ahmad’s declaration that “the biggest challenge for a commuter in London was avoiding not trucks and cars but the cyclists who were possibly jumping red lights or riding on the pavements”?

Fortunately, Lord Taverne countered, rightly, that “the serious injuries caused by cyclists must pale into insignificance when compared to those caused by motorists.” He also said, equally rightly, that “… bicycles are the most efficient machine yet invented for turning energy into motion. Indeed, the bicycle has been accurately described as a kind of green car, which can run on tap water and tea cakes and, moreover, has a built-in gym.”

Testing and licensing for cyclists rejected, officially

Before they moved on to other business, the Lords rather predictably touched on the subject of cyclists’ ‘identification’, but didn’t get very far. Perhaps it was just as well that Lord Ahmad (who happens to be Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport), did not respond spontaneously, and instead came up with a considered written answer only a few days later.

In this response, with commendable good sense, he wrote: “the costs of a formal testing and licensing system for cyclists would significantly outweigh the benefits cycling has to the country’s economy, health and environment [ … ] It is likely that a licensing system will discourage many existing and potential cyclists, leading to a dramatic fall in the numbers of people cycling.” This is the most unequivocal official statement on the subject for years, and CTC welcomes it.

Moreover by then (4 December), Lord Ahmad also seems to have decided that cyclists aren’t as dangerous as he thought they were on 23 November. He wrote: “… the safety case for a testing/licensing system is not as strong as that for drivers since, by contrast with motorised vehicles, bicycles involved in collisions on the highway are highly unlikely to cause serious injury to other road users.”

Cycling from eight to eighty+?

Cycle-unfriendliness, however, re-emerged in the Lords on 14 December in some banter triggered by a question about Transport for London. Running with Lord Higgins’s complaint about the “appalling increases in congestion and pollution caused by the introduction of bicycle lanes”, Lord Lawson said: “… is my noble friend Lord Higgins not absolutely right that what is happening now has done more damage, and is doing more damage, to London than almost anything since the Blitz? Is it not also hugely age discriminatory? There is a huge section of the population of a certain age, well represented in this House - I declare an interest - for whom cycling is not a practical option.”

  • Festive quiz:

Guess who replied: “I suggest to my noble friend that it is never too late to start”?

a. Lord Wills; b. Lord Ahmad; c. Lord Taverne; d. Lord Higgins; e. Lord Lawson (answer at bottom of page).

Latest road safety and legal blogs

Duncan, our Road Safety and Legal Officer, has also been asking:

  • Whether politicians will ever accept the economic argument for investing in cycling, an activity that actually helps tackle the sort of environmental threats discussed by world leaders at last week’s climate change talks in Paris? Read blog.
  • Whether TfL's welcome decision to allow London bus drivers to report any safety concerns through CIRAS (Confidential Incident Reporting and Analysis System), just as rail workers have done since the Ladbroke Grove disaster, is major step towards preventing road danger before it happens, rather than repairing and repenting afterwards. Read blog.
  • If drivers are supposed to be disqualified from driving when they incur 12 points on their licence in a three year period, why are over 7,000 people still allowed to drive after accumulating between 12 and 45 points? Read blog.
  • Will coroners ever understand cycling or - perhaps more importantly - the Highway Code? Read blog.

Goodwill climbs ministerial ladder

Robert Goodwill MP has been promoted from Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport to Minister of State at the Department for Transport. Whether cycling's rank will go up too remains to be seen. 

Construction industry publishes cycling manifesto to reduce HGV threat

The Construction Industry Cycling Commission (CICC), a group of senior figures within the industry including constructors, developers and architects, has published a 10-point manifesto to tackle the HGV threat.

Based on research commissioned from transport planning consultancy Phil Jones Associates and TMS Consultancy Ltd, the manifesto calls on companies to adopt a number of measures, including: investing in safer vehicles ahead of regulation; and adopting the Construction Logistics and Cyclist Safety (CLoCS) standard as a default requirement on all construction schemes.

CICC also asks local authorities to use Section 106 agreements to enforce safety measures

Judge bucks victim-blaming trend

Members of the legal profession don’t always show much sympathy for cyclists and some even indulge in ‘victim-blaming’ in the case of collisions.  Happily, Judge Sean Enright is not amongst them.

Pronouncing on the case of a tailgating lorry driver who broke an elderly cyclist’s leg by pushing him over, the judge said that there was no suggestion of any improper action by the cyclist and declared:

“Every road user is entitled to use the roadway – it is not confined to those with an engine. Horse and bike riders have equal entitlement.

 “It can be very intimidating for riders to be tailgated in this way and to be overtaken at speed. A cyclist has no way out when a motorist pulls over and starts an altercation.”

Is this really 'careless' driving?

If someone drives without noticing a cyclist in front of them for seven seconds and causes their death, is their driving ‘careless’ or ‘dangerous’? Duncan Dollimore, CTC's Safety and Legal Campaigns Officer, looks at the case brought against Derek Edward Chenney, who pleaded guilty to the charge of causing the death of cyclist and headteacher Paul Miller last January. Mr Miller was wearing high visibility clothing and had lights on his bike at the time of the collision. Read Duncan's blog.

Small claims limit rise - how will it affect cyclists?

What impact will the rise in the small claims limit have on cyclists injured in road collisions? Not good, says Oliver Jeffcott, a personal injury lawyer with Slater and Gordon, who provide legal assistance to CTC members. Read Oliver's blog.

Cycle-rail excellence honoured

The 2015 winners of ATOC's Cycle Rail Awards, announced on 25 November at a ceremony hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group and sponsored by Cyclepods, include: 

  • Citymapper for its journey planning app;
  • Northern Rail for its integrated approach to cycling in Greater Manchester; 
  • Arriva Trains Wales for improvements to cycle provision at Chester Railway Station; 
  • British Transport Police British for ‘Operation Lock-It’; 
  • Brighton - Station of the Year.

Now in their 11th year, the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) Awards are judged in partnership with cycling stakeholders and campaign groups. They play a key role in increasing cycle access to the railway by improving communications and the spread of best practice. 

Oxford campaigners petition for junction re-think

CTC and other campaigners in Oxford have serious concerns about the potential dangers cyclists face at the junction on Hythe Bridge Street and George Street in the city. They say that the 'waiting' area in the middle of the crossing is inadequate to cater for the high number of cyclists who want to use it, and that fast-turning lorries and cars miss cyclists by inches.

Installing low-level traffic lights designed to give cyclists a few seconds' start before cars and buses set off, could be the solution, the campaigners suggest. Over 1,000 people have now signed the petition.

Mountain bike centre brings in £££s

The Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland at Glentress Forest near Peebles, is drawing in 300,000 visitors a year and, according to a new survey, boosting the profits of a number of companies who have worked with it.

The companies, ranging from textiles firms to bicycle manufacturers, forecast a combined increase in turnover of £13.5million, 69 new jobs and an additional £7.4million in international sales over the next three years.

Cycle to Work Scheme makes workers healthier and more productive

A survey of 13,148 employees and 352 employers participating in a Cycle to Work Scheme provided by one of the four Cycle to Work Alliance members, found that 60% of participating employees believe that cycling to work has improved their productivity.

Of participating employers:

  • 86% believe that cycling to work has led to health benefits;
  • 52% agree that the scheme plays an important role in staff engagement.

Find us in the bike hangar

Residents of Eldon Terrace, Windmill Hill in Bristol have been street-partying recently and what better occasion than the 9-month birthday of their LSTF-funded bike hangar?

 

  • Festive quiz answer: B. Lord Ahmad

New publications

Cycling infrastructure for reducing cycling injuries in cyclists (Cochrane Review)

By CA Mulvaney, S Smith, MC Watson, J Parkin, C Coupland, P Miller, D Kendrick and H McClintock

The results of a world-wide literature review carried out to help answer the question: "What effect do different types of cycling infrastructure have on cycling injuries and collisions?"

The authors looked at:

  • Facilities shared by both motor vehicles and cyclists (e.g. cycle lanes and bus lanes);
  • Separated space, like cycle tracks and cycle paths, including those shared with pedestrians;
  • Road management separating motor vehicle and cycle traffic (e.g. traffic rules that ban certain types of traffic from making particular turns) and cycle turns at traffic signals.

These features were then compared with either routes or crossings that either did not have cycling infrastructure, or a different type of infrastructure.

Reporting on their key results, the authors concluded:

“Generally, we found a lack of evidence that the types of cycling infrastructure we looked at affects injuries or collisions in cyclists. Cycle routes and networks do not seem to reduce the risk of collision. Speed limits of 20 mph, changing parts of the road network to some designs of roundabouts and changing busy parts of a cycle route may reduce the risk of collision. In terms of severity of injury, sex, age and level of social deprivation of the area, there is a lack of evidence to draw any conclusions concerning the effect of cycling infrastructure on cycling collisions.

CTC's Policy Director, Roger Geffen commented: "The researchers also said that the quality of the evidence was low in various respects, and recommended further investigation. This is crucial: the report shouldn't be seen as evidence that cycle infrastructure doesn't make a difference. It is more likely that we're simply up against lack of research evidence on the subject published in English.

"Another possibility is that there is a more indirect impact that is hard to detect in research studies. Good infrastructure may encourage more cycling, which in turn could lead to safer cycling through the 'safety in numbers' effect. This could well explain how come cycle safety is so much better in the Netherlands than in Britain, even though the Dutch themselves find it hard to detect a direct link between their infrastructure and cycle safety.

"Whatever the explanation, CTC also maintains that other factors need to be addressed too in order to reduce the actual and perceived risks of cycling, e.g. bad driving, speeding and lorries."

Official Statistics: British social attitudes survey: 2014

Results for the transport questions posed in the 2014 British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey, highlighting trend changes over the last few years.

The survey strongly indicates that cycling is a viable option for many people, but fear puts them off: for journeys of less than two miles travelled by car, 41% of respondents said they could just as easily cycle; 64%, however, agreed that it is too dangerous for them to cycle on the road, the highest level recorded since the question was introduced in 2011. Women, non-cyclists and older age groups seem to be more worried than anyone else.

BSA has returned similar results year after year, showing that much more needs to be done to tackle both the real and perceived risks of cycling. If not, it's clear that David Cameron's 'cycling revolution' is never going to happen. Amongst the possible solutions, lowering speeds is a measure that is gathering popular support: 73% of the survey’s respondents were in favour of 20 miles per hour speed limits in residential streets, a significant increase on the 68% supporting it in 2013.

The survey also highlights other issues that are increasingly playing on the minds of the British public: 

  • Half of respondents considered exhaust fumes in towns and cities to be a serious problem. This was the first increase since 2009 (the lowest figure being in 2012 at 44%);
  • 79% of respondents believed that climate change is taking place and is, at least, partly a result of human actions. This figure is the highest since the question was asked in 2011.

Cycling can help address both of these major concerns, making it all the more important to take action to stop people being so afraid of it.

20 mph council myth buster (20’s Plenty for Us)

People campaigning locally for lower speeds may come up against a number of unsound and misleading arguments against the introduction of 20 mph. This one-pager is designed to bust some standard myths, e.g. that 20 mph aren’t for: A or B roads; roads where the current average speed is over 24 mph; or where there haven’t been enough casualties; or localities with unsupportive police.

Cycling delivers on the Global Goals (World Cycling Alliance/European Cyclists’ Federation)

An 8-page report explaining how cycling is not only already delivering on the ‘Global Goals’ for sustainable development set by world leaders earlier this year, but has the potential to contribute much more. The report says that it can, for instance, help with:

  • Goal #3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all” – by promoting physical activity, cycling reduces heart diseases and other negative impacts of sedentary lifestyles;
  • Goal #8: “Promote sustained inclusive and sustainable economic growth” – the cycling sector creates more jobs per investment than any other mode of transport;
  • Goal #12: “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns” – cycling matches perfectly with the diversity and scale of regional and local economies. In many urban areas, 50% of all goods deliveries can be done by bicycle.

The report also showcases the lessons learnt from successful cycling cities around the world, and includes a useful table giving both the current and target modal share for cycling for 70 of them.

Tracking global bicycle ownership patterns

By Olufolajimi Oke et al

US paper giving the results of research into bicycle ownership. Based on data from 150 countries, it finds that:

  • Ownership was highest in Northern Europe and lowest in West, Central and North Africa, and Central Asia;
  • At the global level, 42% of households own at least one bicycle, and thus there are at least 580 million bicycles in private household ownership.

Published in the Journal of Transport & Health.

Transport Statistics Great Britain: 2015 (DfT)

The Government’s official report on transport statistics published over the year, including:

  • The use people make of different modes of transport
  • Transport energy consumption and greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions
  • Road traffic volumes and congestion
  • Road casualties
  • Licensed vehicles and MOT and driving test rates
  • People using walking and cycling as a method of transport
  • The use of transport by people with mobility difficulties

Travel to school (DfT)

Fact sheet summarising the latest results from the National Travel Survey (England) about how children travel to school.

Says that: “The mode share of travel to school has seen little variation since 2003. The most notable change is that for primary school children, the share of car has slightly increased (from 43% of all trips to 46%) at the expense of walking (which fell from 49% to 46%). The share of the main transport modes of secondary children (walking, bus and car) has remained broadly stable since 2003." 10 pages

Drive less map (Brake)

Produced for Brake's Road Safety Week in November, this map shows statistics for each UK local authority, including physical inactivity, cycling and driving to work, air pollution and premature deaths caused by it.

Horizon Scan: the implications for urban transport policy of transformative social and technological change (pteg)

A guide for decision makers on how to respond to:

  • Changes in demographics and lifestyles and the rise of the sharing economy altering mobility choices;
  • Urbanisation, climate change and the need to improve air quality putting pressure on transport systems;
  • Advances in technology and increased digital connectivity making transport infrastructure smarter and more efficient; 
  • More devolved powers for cities and city regions resulting in more innovation and leadership in responding to urban challenges in locally appropriate ways.

Up in the Air - How to solve London’s Air Quality Crisis: Part 1 (Policy Exchange)

By Richard Howard

An analysis of data from over 100 air quality monitoring sites across London, showing that in the most polluted parts, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels are nearly four times the legal limit.

It includes some very worrying findings, e.g., that 328,000 school children and 3.8million workers in London are exposed to unhealthy levels of NO2; and that 979 out of a total of 3,161 schools in London are over the limit for NO2.

It puts the failure to control NO2 emissions down to the growth in the number of diesel vehicles.

56 pages

Part 2 will consider a range of possible policy options to address London’s air quality challenge.

The district council contribution to public health: a time of challenge and opportunity (District Councils’ Network)

By David Buck and Phoebe Dunn

A report with recommendations, outlining how district councils can help improve the health of citizens, through their planning role, for example. It sets out why promoting and providing for active travel such as walking and cycling is a good investment, and how much difference it can make. 86 pages.

Devolution Deals: An initial review (Metro Dynamics)

By Peter Skalski

A summary of the proposed governance arrangements, the finance and funding issues and the devolved powers and responsibilities that have been agreed so far for the six City Regions: Greater Manchester; Sheffield City Region; Tees Valley; North East; Liverpool City Region; and West Midlands.

Monitoring Progress for the Prevention of Obesity Route Map (Scottish Government)

Amongst this publication’s key points is the finding that: “In 2014, 65% of adults aged 16 and over were overweight, including 28% who were obese. Levels of overweight and obesity increased between 1995 and 2008, but have remained relatively stable since then.”

Diary date

Vision Zero Conference (Camden, London)

19 January 2016

An event to mark the UK launch of 'Vision Zero', a multi-national road traffic safety project aiming for zero road fatalities and serious injuries (KSI). The concept was adopted in Sweden in 1997, is now policy in many US cities and has also been adopted in Northern Ireland, Edinburgh and Brighton.

The conference offers case studies, guidance, discussion and academic research.

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