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Cycle Campaign News February 2016

View of cyclist outside lorry cab
More glass = better view of cyclists outside lorry cab. [Photo: courtesy of S & B Commercials – Mercedes-Benz].
CTC's monthly round-up of cycle campaigning news:
Contents Summary: 

From the Editor

Making it easier for lorry drivers to see cyclists and pedestrians outside their cabs is one of a range of effective ways to reduce the disproportionate threat that HGVs pose to them. 

Now is a prime time to support this measure through CTC's quick online action. This will send an email to Transport for London, who are currently consulting on proposals to ban lorries not fitted with bigger side windows (see 'Headlines'). 

Not only could adding your voice make all the difference to the safety of the growing numbers of people cycling in the capital (see 'Other stories'), but it could also help protect cyclists beyond too. Operators send lorries into London from all over the country, while other areas may adopt such safety measures as well. 

Also this month, amongst other things we're reporting on: cycling debates in the Lords and Commons, both of which produced some inspiring and wise soundbites; a few revealing answers to a selection of parliamentary questions; plus an array of ideas designed to tackle the kind of driving behaviour that puts cyclists at risk.  

Cherry Allan
CTC Campaign News

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Headlines

Help make unsafe lorries a thing of the past!

Transport for London (TfL) is consulting on plans to impose tougher conditions on lorries allowed to use the capital’s roads under the existing Safer Lorries Scheme.

As these measures could significantly improve cyclists’ safety, CTC has launched an online action for supporters everywhere to tell TfL how much they welcome the move, while urging them to go further. 

The current scheme bans all lorries over 3.5 tonnes without certain safety equipment, including extended view mirrors and side-guards. Under the new plans, the only lorries allowed on Greater London’s roads would be those fitted with bigger side windows in the lower section of passenger-side doors, giving drivers a better, more direct view of cyclists and pedestrians around the cab.

However, this is only a step towards safer lorries. Ultimately, CTC wants to see lorry cabs redesigned so that the driver is positioned nearer ground level and surrounded with as much window as possible. This would help them see pedestrians and cyclists as easily as bus drivers can, so we're urging TfL to make this a condition too.

This is, of course, not just a London issue. If we can persuade TfL to adopt our roadmap, all lorries with ‘blind spots’ could be taken off most built-up streets throughout the country within a few years.

Read more about our roadmap and get involved with our action to Get Unsafe Lorries off our Streets (deadline 4 March 2016). 

Lords and Commons talk cycling

  • In the Lords:

Debating how and why to promote cycling, peers of all parties have called for Dutch-style separate cycle facilities, high quality design standards and increased investment.

The Government are committed to focusing our efforts to promote cycling as a healthy, safe and enjoyable activity for people of all ages.”
Lord Ahmad
Transport minister
House of Lords, 10 February 2016

The debate was tabled by Lord Young of Cookham, formerly Sir George Young MP - the ‘Bicycling Baronet’ as was, now the ‘Pedalling Peer’. Lord Young, who had been briefed beforehand by CTC, took the opportunity to recall his first parliamentary speech on cycling in 1975, when he proposed a ‘cyclists' charter’. He then went through his updated ‘modest shopping list’.

  • For more on the debate and Lord Young’s shopping list, read CTC Policy Director, Roger Geffen’s write-up.
  • Roger has also been reflecting on why progress on cycling has lagged since 1975 in his blog on the long history of how 'localism' hasn't worked for cycling. 
  • In the Commons:

On 3 February, MPs of all parties called for action to normalise cycling as a safe and normal activity, not just for healthy younger males but for people of any age, gender, background or ability.

The MPs also stressed - and very necessarily (see below) - that cycling needs a much better funding deal. On that point, it seems that Cycling Minister Robert Goodwill is, at least, urging Local Enterprise Partnerships (who are in charge of much of the local transport budget in England) to make cycling and walking central to their work.

We will be sure that we have done a half-decent job on cycling only when we have as many women as men cycling in our country, and we will know that we have done an excellent job only if the sight of women cycling with their children becomes far more routine than it is now."
Alex Chalk, Conservative MP for Cheltenham
Westminster Hall, 3 Feb 2016

The debate was secured by Chris Green, Conservative MP for Bolton West. He reported that the social media discussion ahead had broken the record for a Commons instigated digital debate, reaching 2.1 million Twitter accounts. He went on to urge the Government to spell out what it would now do to realise the Prime Minister's aspiration for a ‘Cycling Revolution’.

So why are local authorities still having to scrabble for scraps?

Despite all this political backing and inspiring statements, the Government's latest funding announcement is, in CTC’s view, yet again making local authorities scrabble for scraps, or spare change.

Under a 'transition' scheme set up to support English councils (outside London) in the switch from the now closed Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), the Government is inviting them to compete for a share of only £20 million towards sustainable and accessible travel projects. Even with the launch of a £60 million 'Access Fund' promised for the summer, this is by no means enough to stop cycling falling off the funding cliff once the LSTF and other grant programmes have run their course.

There is a real danger that the Government are drawing up an investment strategy with no investment."
Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge, shadow minister for local transport
Westminster Hall, 3 Feb 2016

As far as the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) is concerned, which the Government must produce under the Infrastructure Act 2015, we’re expecting a consultation draft this spring, with a final strategy in the summer.

This must, surely, lead the way at long last to the recognised minimum of £10 per head per year needed to start Britain's 'cycling revolution', rising to £20 over time. 

Other stories

Cycling most popular with households in the lowest and highest income brackets

An answer to a written parliamentary question about the correlation between cycle usage and household income suggests that cycling is most popular amongst people in the lowest and highest income quintiles.

On average, both groups made 21 cycle trips a year, whilst the second and third quintiles each made 15, and the fourth 18.

Campaigners respond to London road traffic crime review

CTC, RoadPeace, Living Streets, the London Cycling Campaign, Road Danger Reduction Forum, Sustrans and 20’s Plenty for Us have sent in a joint response to the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee’s review into road traffic crime.

The response focuses on the disproportionate risks faced by pedestrians and cyclists, and identifies drivers overtaking cyclists too closely, opening car doors in their path, mobile phone use and speeding amongst key crime and anti-social behaviours. It also highlights limited resources for law enforcement and collision investigation, along with the lack of priority given to them.  

Our recommendations include: adopting a ‘harm reduction approach’; research into the effectiveness of traffic law enforcement; increasing transparency and accountability of the police in collision investigation; and treating road crash victims as victims of crime, until and unless the contrary is proven.

Government wants to toughen up on mobile offences

In its current consultation on changes to penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving (Great Britain), the Government has set out four options ranging from doing nothing, to increasing both fixed penalty fines and penalty points.

The Government's preferred option is to increase fines from £100 to £150 for all drivers, and raise the penalty point level from three to four for non-HGV drivers, and from three to six for 'large goods vehicle' licence holders. 

CTC agrees that penalties for this offence should be tougher, but says that they need to be robustly enforced, and that offenders need to be prosecuted rather than merely sent on remedial courses. CTC also believes that using hands-free phones at the wheel should also be outlawed because evidence clearly shows that they are equally distracting.

Consultation deadline: 15 March 2016.

Do latest quarterly casualty stats spell good news for cycling?

The DfT's latest quarterly provisional estimates of reported road casualties (GB) say that, for the rolling year ending September 2015:

  • KSI (killed or seriously injured) casualties decreased for each road user type;
  • The largest decreases were for cyclists (5% – down to 3,340), and pedestrians (4% – down to 5,300).

This is likely to represent a real reduction in the risk of cycling, providing that cycle use hasn't fallen more than the reduction in cyclist KSIs. We don't yet know the figures for cycle use, however, so await their publication later this year with interest. If cycle use has grown or even stayed the same, it would be good news: since 2008, KSI injury rate per mile cycled has gone up in every year but one. 

Answer to 'car dooring' question leads to news of sentencing review

In answer to a parliamentary question about penalties for motorists who cause death by 'car dooring', Andrew Selous (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice) explained this can, depending on the circumstances, be classified as one of a number of offences carrying different maximum penalties.

Drivers opening their doors in front of cyclists can, of course, cause both serious and fatal injuries, as in the tragic case of Sam Harding - hence the advice to ride far enough away from lines of parked cars to avoid the possibility. 

Mr Selous also said the Government is “aware of concerns about a number of sentencing issues and intends to start a consultation on sentencing before the end of the calendar year. This would include driving offences and penalties.”

We have been awaiting this promised review ever since it was first announced in 2014 – not just for car dooring, but for all motoring offences and the penalties for them. We therefore very much look forward to it getting underway. 

Cyclists and road surface defects: minister reveals casualty toll

In a written answer to a parliamentary question on the number of cyclist deaths and serious injuries attributable to poorly-maintained local roads since 2010, Andrew Jones, Secretary of State for Transport, said:

“There were 211 pedal cyclist KSIs (killed or seriously injured casualties) in reported road accidents allocated the contributory factor ‘Poor or defective road surface’ on local roads (for England) or all non-motorway roads (for Scotland and Wales) from 2010 to 2014. A local road has been defined as a road maintained by the local authority.”

Older drivers in favour of restrictions

A survey from IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) suggests that the majority of older drivers would accept some restrictions on the current rules allowing people to continue driving without any testing of their ability, health or eyesight.

  • Almost 60% said drivers should resit their driving test at around the age of 70;
  • 85% said that drivers should pass an eyesight test every five years after they've reached the age of 70;
  • 84% agreed that all drivers should pass an eyesight test every 10 years after first passing their test;
  • Over half said that drivers aged around 70 should be required to have a medical examination;
  • 94% agreed that GPs should be required to inform patients if their medical condition may affect their fitness to drive.

In CTC’s view, the current licensing and renewal system is far too reliant on self-declaration and doesn’t necessarily detect people whose eyesight, medical fitness or alertness has declined over time, let alone those who have accumulated bad habits, forgotten their driver training, or simply not kept up with changes to the Highway Code. Retesting may be particularly useful for older drivers, at a frequency determined by research into when reaction and hazard perception skills typically start to decline.

Government threaten safe haven for cyclists

Citing the need to improve air quality by 2020 as its motive, the Government has decided to allow electric cars into bus lanes on a trial basis in Milton Keynes and Derby.

As bus lanes offer a relatively safe haven for cyclists away from other motor traffic on busy urban roads, CTC is seriously concerned by the news and suggests a simpler and more cost-effective anti-pollution measure would be to incentivise cycling instead.

Latest road safety blogs from CTC’s Road Safety and Legal Officer, Duncan Dollimore

  • Cyclists' safety and corporate irresponsibility: drivers given delivery schedules they can’t safely achieve; employers cutting corners and costs when putting profit before safety; guaranteed delivery promises which incentivise risky driving. Such corporate indifference to road casualties demands a cultural change …
  • Capitals for cyclists need contracts for safety: Transport for London has launched a new bus safety programme that includes a plan to incentivise road safety in its contracts. With further promises of more transparency in collision investigations, and the UK’s first incident support service for those injured in collisions, is a public authority finally listening to the voice of campaigners and independent report recommendations?

“The big problem is cycling is considered unsafe by thousands who might otherwise have taken it up. Pushing a black and white agenda that helmets and hi-viz are vital says, “BE CAREFUL OUT THERE! CYCLING IS DANGEROUS!” For the most part it isn’t. But a sedentary lifestyle? Now that’s dangerous.”
Nick Hussey, founder of cycle clothing company Vulpine
Guardian Bike blog

New CEO for Sustrans

Sustrans’s new CEO from June will be lifelong cyclist Xavier Brice, who comes to the job from Transport for London, where he worked on its cycling strategy, as well as leading the ‘Fit for the Future Stations’ programme transforming the London Underground.

Xavier succeeds Malcolm Shepherd, who’s been with Sustrans since 2008.

Act now

Please support our online action for safer lorries!

Deadline 4 March 2016

New publications

Justifying the investment in cycling infrastructure

By Yaron Hollander, CTthink!

A concise report offering ten recommendations for those who make the case for investment in cycling infrastructure. They include basing benefits on demand, quantifying the potential, criticising your own work and recognising the elephant in the room, i.e. that:

“Many of the investments made to cycling networks throughout the UK during the last decade haven’t shown yet a clear impact […].

“The main benefit from most of our cycling work is meant to be the way it contributes to a major cultural change. The millions invested in cycling are meant to gradually add up into a critical mass which will, at an unknown point in the future, turn England into a cycling nation, with all the huge benefits this would finally bring. We don’t know how feasible such change is, how successful it will be in practice and when it will occur.

“And if it does happen, then the benefits will probably take a different form to what we currently know how to quantify.”

Driver Attitudes about Bicyclists: Negative evaluations of rule-following and predictability

By Tara Goddard et al

Paper presenting data from a comprehensive evaluation of protected cycle lanes in five large U.S. cities that included survey responses of 2,283 residents. Results showed that:

  • People who primarily commute by car were significantly more negative toward cyclists than toward other drivers;
  • Those who make most of their non-commute trips by car were especially positive toward other drivers and negative toward cyclists;
  • While people who commute primarily by cycle were “more balanced in their evaluations than car commuters”, they still rated drivers as more rule-following and predictable than cyclists;
  • Some amount of bicycling was one of the strongest predictors of more positive attitudes toward cyclists.

The authors concluded: “Overall, the analysis revealed significant negative evaluations of bicyclists, and even people who make some or most of their trips by bicycle hold negative attitudes about bicyclists’ rule-following and predictability. These negative evaluations affected drivers’ view of bicycling as a transportation option and predicted whether drivers support building additional separated bicycle facilities.”

Paper presented at a transportation conference in Washington D.C.

The National School Travel Awards Scheme (STARS): Year 1 Delivery Report (Modeshift Stars)

Report on the 1st year of the DfT-backed STARS scheme (England, outside London), which supports the development of school travel plans with bronze, silver and gold awards for achieving shift to sustainable modes of travel. Results show that:

  • 346 schools have achieved STARS accreditation;
  • Between 2013/14 and 2014/15, average cycling levels for all STARS-accredited schools increased from 3.7% to 5.1%;
  • STARS-accredited schools reduced car use by an average of 16% between 2013/14 and 2014/15.

Diary dates

Ready for 20

26 February, The Guildhall, City of London

7th annual 20 mph conference, offering presentations on:

  • Interim report from Atkins on their 20 mph evaluation for DfT;
  • 20 mph roll-out presentations from City of London, City of Edinburgh and Transport for London;
  • Green and Lib-Dem Mayoral candidates on their vision for transport in London;
  • Evidence from public health on 20 mph benefits;
  • Perspectives from councillors, campaigners and implementers.
     
  • Further details

We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote campaign training day

5 March, Glasgow

We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote is a collaborative partnership of walking and cycling organisations putting active travel on the agenda for the Scottish Parliamentary elections.

This event is an opportunity for anyone who wants to campaign for cycling, walking and more liveable towns and cities to meet, share ideas and learn about working together to achieve the transformation that we want. It is also a chance to pick up effective tools and skills, both for the coming election and in the longer term.

Offers practical and creative workshops on: effective campaigning techniques (including social and conventional media skills, using imagery, creative campaigning and combating backlash); key evidence for the benefits of cycling; and how to start a local campaign. The day will also cover key campaign asks and how to articulate these to politicians and the public. 

Of interest to anyone just starting out to experienced campaigners. Co-ordinated by CTC's Suzanne Forup and Sally Hinchcliffe, organiser of Pedal on Parliament.

Spokes' Holyrood Hustings 2016

21 March, Edinburgh

For its spring public meeting, Spokes (the Lothian cycle campaign) has invited all the parties currently represented at Holyrood to send a candidate for any Edinburgh/Lothians seat or for the Lothians list, to give a short talk on their party’s concerns and commitments on cycling, and any related transport policy issues they wish to mention.

Members of the audience will have the opportunity to engage directly with the politicians, and the speakers will close with a brief summing up of what they have learned from the meeting.

Providing for Cycling

12 April – 14 June, London

Ten-week evening lecture series from PTRC* investigating individual, societal, policy and technical issues underpinning current cycling levels, and exploring proven methods of increasing cycling participation rates.

Cycling Infrastructure Design Course

20 April – 25 May, Manchester

Six-week evening lecture series from PTRC* exploring different methods of providing for safe and convenient cycling in the urban environment, illustrated by case studies of innovative cycle infrastructure design. National design guidance, engineering standards, and UK and international cycle infrastructure design best practice is considered in-depth, with topics presented by experts in the field of cycling infrastructure design. Taking a practical look at real-life situations, the course considers solutions for junctions, main roads, quieter streets, and signage.

* PTRC Education and Research Services Ltd is part of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) in the UK, the professional membership organisation for all those working in the passenger, freight transport and supply chain professions. 

Cycle City Active City

19-20 May, Curve Theatre Leicester

Two-day conference and exhibition event. Offers plenary presentations by high-profile individuals throughout the UK and beyond, with expertise and influence in cycle policy, promotion and infrastructure. Product and service suppliers to the sector will also be on show. 

The organisers are currently calling for papers.

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