Cycle Campaign News January 2016
From the Editor
As CTC has recently been urging the Government to integrate 'Bikeability' cycle training into the instruction and testing process for drivers, we welcomed the news that funding for Bikeability in schools (England) is assured for the next five years, despite severe cuts to other budgets.
This should boost the number of future drivers with at least some personal insight into what it's like to cycle on the roads and, along with that, a better understanding of how to interact with cyclists safely and considerately.
Unfortunately, many of the other road safety measures we advocate haven't made their way into the Government's new 'British Road Safety Statement' (headlines below), although some of our wish-list items have appeared in Highways England's new 'Cycling Strategy' (see 'Other stories).
Without funding, though, all the improvements we need will struggle to materialise, so we'll be pressing the Government to reallocate some of the £15bn they're investing in roads to cycling (see 'Other stories').
Cycle Campaign News
- Subscribe to our email bulletin telling you when the latest Campaign News is online - and what's in it.
It's time to train and test drivers better on cyclists' needs, says CTC
With the Government looking to transform the agencies responsible for ensuring that UK motorists are properly trained and licensed, CTC has stressed that nowadays drivers are encountering more cyclists more often on the roads, and that the system needs to do more to protect them.
We’ve therefore told the Government that ‘Bikeability’ cycle training should be integrated into the learning and testing process for drivers - especially lorry and bus drivers - because it gives them personal insight into cyclists’ needs, and teaches them how to drive safely and considerately in their presence. The most advanced Bikeability training (Level 3) is ideal, because it covers complex junctions and road positioning.
Also, to toughen up on bad driving and deal more effectively with those who’ve fallen into poor habits, we’re calling for changes to the licensing process, and asking the Government to seriously consider introducing routine re-tests.
- For more detail on our response to the Government’s ‘Motoring Services Strategy’ consultation, see our full news story.
Boost for Bikeability ...
Fortunately, more people in future should turn up for their driving test with at least Level 2 Bikeability under their belt, thanks to a £50 million financial boost over the next four years from the Government (England).
Representing a 7% increase compared to the previous five-year budget of £58.5m, this is expected to fund places for 275,000 children during 2015/16, on top of the 1.5 million already trained since the scheme began.
... but 'Road Safety Statement' is a disappointment
Assured funding for Bikeability is, of course, welcome news, but the British Road Safety Statement in which it was confirmed disappointed CTC on a number of separate counts.
This is a very disappointing Road Safety Statement which ultimately shows the Government is letting unsafe drivers off the hook. This is not just a concern for cyclists and pedestrians, but for everyone using our roads."
Roger Geffen MBE
CTC Policy Director
Issued just before Christmas, it:
- fails to strengthen road traffic enforcement or give firm news of a long-promised review of road traffic offences and penalties (see list of blogs below for more on this);
- is weak on lorry safety;
- says nothing about speeding and speed limits;
- sets no targets or indicators for measuring progress on road safety;
- does not commit to cycle-friendly design in all new street designs and planned road maintenance;
- and increasingly passes the road safety burden onto technology and insurance providers.
For more on a range of topical road safety issues, read the latest blogs from CTC’s Duncan Dollimore:
- Critique of the Road Safety Plan (see above);
- Why, yet again, a series of recent cases emphasises the urgent need for the Government to come up with its long (long)-awaited review of sentencing for motoring offences;
- Why the Health and Safety Executive needs to take their road safety duties more seriously, in the light of their claim that ‘policy’ prevented them prosecuting Frys Logistics, who employed the exhausted lorry driver imprisoned for causing the death of two cyclists in Cornwall;
- Why councils must act on road defects – a matter highlighted just after Christmas by the tragic death of a cyclist who hit a water-filled pothole and was thrown into the path of an oncoming car.
Highways England Cycling Strategy rich in promise, but ...
Although only four pages long, Highways England’s (HE) new ‘Cycling Strategy’ includes several items on CTC’s wish-list, including:
- a promise to improve the safety of lorries used on HE’s contracts;
- wider aims to design in cycle-friendliness to all schemes (including planned road maintenance work);
- training staff in how to ‘think bike’;
- working with councils and others to deliver joined-up cycle networks; and
- maintaining a dialogue with stakeholders such as CTC.
As HE is the government company responsible for England’s motorways and most major A roads, these steps should have a positive impact on cycling safety, especially in terms of links along or across the existing network, and particularly at large junctions. High quality design standards are vital of course, and the HE has already issued a reasonably reassuring draft of them.
Importantly, though, HE’s promises need a lot more money behind them. CTC is therefore calling on ministers to give cycling a bigger share of the £15bn now being invested in roads. As it stands, less than 1% of this has been ring-fenced for 200 cycling schemes such as cycle crossings, paths and improved signage. Over forty projects have already started, and are set to be completed by spring.
All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group meets Sec of State for Transport
MPs and Lords from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) met recently with Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, to discuss: funding for cycling; the rise in cyclist serious injuries; HGV/cyclist safety; and national design standards.
Co-chairs of the APPCG, MPs Ruth Cadbury and Alex Chalk, both said they were ‘encouraged’ by some of Mr McLoughlin’s responses.
Spokes campaigns for realistic active travel budget in Scotland
Spokes, the Lothian cycling campaign, has written to the Scottish Parliament Infrastructure Committee suggesting that 1% of the 2016/17 trunk roads budget be transferred to active travel. The group says this is a politically realistic option for preventing damage to council cycling budgets.
Although Government cycling investment in the 16/17 draft budget is roughly similar to 2015/16, Spokes believes that the way it is structured is likely to mean lower cycling investment in nearly all councils.
Spokes has also pointed out that the draft budget is the opposite of what Scotland’s Climate Change policies demand.
- For more detail on Spokes’ alternative budget, plus advice on supporting their call by writing to your MSP if you live in Scotland, see Spokes website.
- See also We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote, the campaign asking all candidates in the 2016 Holyrood elections to support:
- Investment: Provide sustained, long term investment in both cycling and walking, reaching 10% of the transport budget
- Infrastructure: Build and maintain dedicated cycling infrastructure, enabling people aged 8-80 to cycle
- Safety: Promote and deliver safer roads for both walking and cycling
CTC is supporting the campaign.
Ten-minute rule Bill highlights weak penalties for criminal driving
Greg Mulholland, the Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, introduced the Criminal Driving (Justice for Victims) Bill 2015-16 to Parliament on 12 January under the ‘10 minute rule’, which allows MPs to present a case for a new Private Member's Bill in a speech lasting up to ten minutes.
Mr Mulholland's aim is to strengthen penalties for serious criminal driving offences that lead to serious injury or death, redefine some of those offences, and change various aspects of police investigations, bail conditions and the treatment of victims.
The Bill is supported by the road safety charity Brake, and CTC was consulted some time ago about its proposals.
A second reading is scheduled for 11 March, though in practice it is unlikely to be given parliamentary time.
Separately, CTC has been pressing the Government for some time, with limited success, regarding a commencement date for their long-awaited review of motoring offences and penalties, which the former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling MP announced as long ago as May 2014.
We understand, however, that the Ministry of Justice has said that it intends to consult on some sentencing proposals later this year, leading to possible legislation in next year's Queen's Speech. This could include manslaughter charges for drink/drug drivers who kill. It is important, though, that this review considers non-fatal (as well as fatal) offences, along with the role of driving bans as a sentencing option for offences that have caused obvious danger, but not obvious 'recklessness' (see also '12 points' story below).
CTC therefore enthusiastically welcomes Mr Mulholland’s efforts to highlight the problems his Bill is designed to address. We’ve been in contact with his parliamentary team, and hope to have some further input on the detail, should the Bill progress. We hope that the attention generated will also prompt the Government to start their own review.
12 points plus, but some drivers are still not out
A Freedom of Information request made by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) to the DVLA, has revealed that in Britain:
- Three drivers with more than 40 points on their driving licences are still on the roads; one has 51 points;
- 13 people currently have 28 or more points on their driving licence;
- The number of drivers with 12 or more points has gone up by 9% in just seven months between March and October 2015 (from 6,884 to 7,517).
If the public sees that persistent offenders are getting away with it, they may believe that road traffic rules – which, let not us not forget, are designed for their safety – are ineffective or unimportant.”
IAM Chief Executive Officer
Drivers who accumulate 12 or more points within a three-year period face automatic disqualification for six months. Magistrates, however, can exercise their discretion and may choose not to issue a ban on grounds of ‘hardship’ (e.g. the offender says they need to keep driving to take children to school, or for work etc).
CTC is seriously concerned that this not only undermines the penalty system, but means that drivers who endanger others are not removed from the roads.
We also think that substantial driving bans are a powerful deterrent and, in cases where a generally responsible driver has committed a dangerous driving offence due to a lapse of attention, are preferable to long custodial sentences. See our policy briefing on prosecutors and courts for more.
20 mph for Cheshire West and Chester
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet has recently voted to roll out 20 mph speed limits in residential areas.
Councillor Brian Clarke said: “There are significant benefits with the introduction of 20 mph speed limits and these will improve community cohesion and individual mental wellbeing with people spending more time in their street, rather than trying to get away from the traffic that is actually there. People will feel safer to walk, to jog, to cycle.”
Rod King MBE, the founder and campaign director of 20’s Plenty for Us, addressed the council meeting before the matter was debated.
“ … in many cases, when you reduce road capacity, existing motor traffic doesn’t all just find another route. Some of it ‘disappears’, or ‘evaporates’. This is still anathema to many people, despite all the evidence. Traffic ‘disappears’ or ‘evaporates’? How can that happen?” asks academic Rachel Aldred in her latest thought piece.
Government's new air quality plan not good enough, says ClientEarth
Environmental lawyers ClientEarth say the Government’s latest air quality plan, published in December, is still not good enough to achieve the UK’s legally binding pollution limits. Fumes from passenger cars, they say, are a particular problem.
ClientEarth has already successfully taken the Government to court over illegal levels of air pollution, and is fully prepared to put them in the dock again, if necessary.
CTC is an official partner of ClientEarth’s Health Air Campaign.
- ClientEarth press release
- Government's air quality plan
- CTC's briefing on how cycling contributes to improved air quality
Looking for local data on levels of car ownership in England and Wales?
If so, click over a new map from software writers, Imactivate.
The National Travel Survey shows that, overall, 24% of households in England do not have access to a car or a van, but this map, which is based on 2011 Census data and drills down to electoral wards, shows that in some inner city areas, households with no car available rise to over 50%, and some well beyond.
MBE dedicates honour to cycle campaigners
Just before Christmas, CTC’s Policy Director Roger Geffen cycled (of course) to Buckingham Palace to collect his MBE.
Roger says: “I genuinely regard this as an award for the fantastic collective efforts made by everyone involved in cycle campaigning, both in CTC and our partner organisations.
"I pay particular tribute to the many volunteers involved in campaigning at the local level. They are absolute heroes and I want to dedicate this honour to their efforts too.”
Smarter Travel Awards: call for entries
Entries are being invited for the Smarter Travel Awards 2016, which aim to celebrate “the impressive achievements, the smartest approaches and the high impact of smarter travel projects and the professionals who lead them.”
The winners will be announced on 17 March 2016, at a reception at the end of the first day of Smarter Travel 2016, in Milton Keynes.
Deadline for entry: 5 February 2016
Fill in the Association of Train Operating Companies’ (ATOC) survey on journeys involving both cycle and rail.
ATOC is conducting the survey to find out how best to provide helpful information for those planning a rail journey with a cycle. It takes 10-15 minutes to complete, and each participant has the chance to win one of four £25 Amazon gift vouchers.
Closing date: 31 January.
Adapting Transport Policy to Climate Change: Carbon Valuation, Risk and Uncertainty (International Transport Forum/OECD)
A 90-page research report reviewing the effects of carbon dioxide emissions in economic appraisal, and the current approaches in selected countries, including the UK. With examples of good practice and recommendations for national and international policy-making.
By Erik E Swartz, (et al).
Paper on the results of a test to see whether helmetless American footballers changed their behaviour when they were tackling other players. Concluded that “Helmetless tackling eliminates the false of security a football player may feel when wearing a helmet.”
The ‘risk compensation’ phenomenon is often cited as one of the reasons why promoting helmets or making them compulsory for cyclists is unlikely to be a sound road safety measure as it could lead to them taking more risks.
Published in the Journal of Athletic Training.
Cycle City Active City, The Curve Theatre Leicester
19 May to 20 May 2016
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.