Cycle Campaign News July 2014
From the Editor
Cycling has most decidedly won the health argument - reports and academic papers on its physical benefits are rarely missing from our 'New Publications' section.
Persuading politicians of the theoretic need for adequate funding is likewise going well (see 'Headlines'), yet the Government is still to allocate serious, long-term cash on a remotely adequate scale. Also, in their bids for money for transport schemes, most Local Enterprise Partnerships in England seem to be demonstrating a marked preference for road projects over healthier and more sustainable options.
So, how do you hone your influencing skills or pool those you already have? Come to one of CTC's campaigner training days - the next is in Sheffield on 13 September (see 'Diary Dates' for details).
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A report on cycle safety from the House of Commons Transport Committee has endorsed many of the recommendations CTC made to the MPs’ inquiry back in February.
CTC particularly welcomes the Committee’s backing for:
- £10 a head for cycling per year (although we need this now, rather than waiting till 2020)
- a stronger focus on respect and understanding for more vulnerable road users in the driver training and testing process - with no driver allowed to gain a licence without awareness of cycling safety;
- cross-departmental leadership;
- collaboration between the Government, EU and the industry to improve vehicle design and the culture of safety in the construction industry; and
- the end to inadequate cycling infrastructure.
Photo: Inquiry witnesses Edmund King (AA), Chris Boardman (BC) and Roger Geffen (CTC)
£10 a head p.a., however, still seems a long way off for England, despite £64m revenue funding from the latest Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF). Welcome as it is, this funding - together with matched local contributions - amounts to £2.75 per person, p.a. until 2021 for only around half of England's population. Even using DfT's generous estimate of the proportion of LSTF currently being spent on cycling (28%), this would mean cycling is set to receive just 80p from the fund per person for the next six years.
There are, of course, other sources of money for cycling, including some dedicated, capital schemes (e.g. Cycling Cities); and, more recently, a useful £15m from 2015-16 for cycle-rail improvements, typically more cycle parking at stations.
However, expanding existing roads, building new ones, plus other big transport projects are still where most of the serious cash is going: for instance, direct benefits for cycling were barely discernible in the £2bn-worth of ‘local growth deals’ proposed by the 39 Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs) - see ‘New Publications’ for Sustrans and the Campaign for Better Transport analysis.
A few LEP schemes, though, deserve to be mentioned in dispatches, e.g.: there’s £5.8m for Bodmin as Cornwall’s 'Cycling Town', and £6m for cycle infrastructure improvements associated with Birmingham’s Cycle Revolution.
CTC believes that to 'Get Britain Cycling', funding for it needs to be sustained, significant and readily available for the whole of the country, not just isolated patches.
Where’s LSTF money going? See CTC’s funding map.
CTC has analysed data from England and Wales showing that only 80% of motorists convicted of killing another road user have their licences taken away, compared to 94% ten years ago. This is the case, even though driving bans are mandatory for all causing death by driving offences.
Moreover, the data from the Ministry of Justice also show that the average length of a driving ban in fatal cases has plummeted from 42 months in 2003 to 21 months in 2013.
In CTC’s view, bans are not only an effective punishment, but also an important way of protecting the public from bad drivers. In order to have an impact, though, they need to be of sufficient length, imposed more frequently and accompanied by driver education and a full, thorough retest.
Cycling Scotland ad was OK after all
Earlier this year, the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) faced an influx of protests from CTC, other cycling groups (including the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group) and from individuals, after it ruled that a Cycling Scotland video ad depicting a helmetless cyclist riding some way out from the kerb had breached the Broadcast Code of Advertising.
The ASA agreed to investigate and, having received evidence from Cycling Scotland and CTC's report on helmets, withdrew their objection. Citing CTC's evidence in its reversed ruling, the ASA concluded that: “… the ad was not socially irresponsible and likely to condone or encourage behaviour prejudicial to health and safety." After all, its message was aimed at motorists, and it simply depicted reality and not illegal activity.
In a move that has dismayed CTC, Jersey has become the first part of the British Isles to make it compulsory for under-14-year-olds to wear helmets whilst cycling. The parents of those who breach this law will be fined £50.
Jersey has made this decision in spite of fears that overall public health will suffer because compulsory helmet-wearing puts people off such a beneficial activity and, moreover, that it could threaten Jersey's potential as a family cycling destination.
In any case, cycling isn't an unduly risky pursuit and there is a body of evidence disputing the effectiveness of cycle helmets to reduce the risks of head injury amongst cyclists. CTC believes that, if they want to improve cycle safety, the island’s legislators are better advised to prioritise the design of infrastructure and the enforcement of existing laws regulating driver behaviour, such as speed limits.
Read more on CTC’s views on Jersey’s decision and on the hastily compiled TRL report on which it was based.
Cyclist fatalities and serious injuries down for 2013, but no room for complacency
According to the latest official road casualty figures, cyclist serious injuries and deaths dropped in 2013. Combined with the news that cycle use increased slightly - and the fact that the total number of reported casualties (slight, serious and fatal) amongst all road users dropped by 6% from 2012 - this looks like a positive story.
Slight injuries to cyclists, however, rose by 3% between 2012 and 2013, and one year’s figures shouldn’t make anyone, not least the Government, complacent. We need all politicians, local and national, to back the calls of CTC's Space for Cycling campaign, so that anyone can cycle anywhere in safety.
Cyclists' Defence Fund supports cyclist's appeal against pavement cycling fine
CTC’s subsidiary charity, the Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF), is supporting Kristian Gregory’s appeal against a fine for pavement cycling when he strayed out of a substandard cycle track alongside London's New Kent Road before turning (as signed) to cross the road at a pedestrian crossing.
While the Met Police say they will ease off 'over-zealous' enforcement at this legally ambiguous spot, Kristian still faces a possible fine, even though he was cycling considerately. He points out that penalising him and others like him is not in the public interest and that in any case, the police are supposed to use their discretion over fining cyclists who are not endangering anyone.
- Read more about the case, donate to CDF and watch Kristian's helmet camera footage of the incident.
'Cyclists Stay Back!' stickers come unstuck
After an exchange of letters and a meeting in June, Transport for London (TfL) has agreed to redesign its ‘Cyclists Stay Back’ stickers so that it’s clear that they’re warning cyclists of the dangers of overtaking lorries with blind-spots on the inside, not prohibiting overtaking more generally. The stickers were appearing not just on HGVs, but quite unjustifiably on buses, small vans and taxis too, on the right as well as the left-hand side. Some drivers clearly felt these signs could be used to put the onus on cyclists to keep out of the way, rather than taking care themselves. The re-issued stickers will be accompanied by instructions on correct usage.
New ministers for DfT
As a result of the latest re-shuffle, the Department for Transport (DfT) has two new junior ministers: Claire Perry, MP for Devizes, who lists her spare time interests as “reading, walking and cycling with her family”; and John Hayes MP, former energy minister and MP for Spalding who recently attended a meeting of local campaign group Pedals, speaking supportively of cycling, and saying he wanted Spalding to be a “capital of cycling”.
Robert Goodwill MP retains responsibility for cycling, road safety and local transport in his role as Parliamentary Under Secretary, while Patrick McLoughlin is still Secretary of State for Transport.
Northern Ireland's travel habits revealed
The Travel Survey for Northern Ireland Headline Report 2011-2013 found that: the average journey length was 6.6 miles; a whole 72% of all journeys were by car, 17% by foot and only 1% by cycle; the most commonly used main method of travel to or from school for the 4-11 age group was the car (60%), followed by walking or cycling (27%) and then the bus (13%).
Scotland commits to long distance cycling and walking network
National Planning Framework 3 for Scotland, just published, specifically refers to the development of a national long distance cycling and walking network to link key tourism locations and open up further opportunities for visitors. This gives the project, which includes Sustrans's and Scottish Canals’ routes, national development status and marks a firm and strategic commitment to it from the Scottish Government.
Millions more journeys on the NCN
The National Cycle Network (NCN) saw an extra 50 million journeys in 2013, a 7% increase on 2012, according to the latest figures from Sustrans. The charity also says that over a third of NCN users could have driven but chose not to, and that the project delivered £1 billion to the UK economy in health benefits and fuel and carbon savings.
Back to the drawing board for cycle-unfriendly Lincoln Eastern Bypass
On the recommendations of a planning inspector, the Secretary of State for Transport has blocked the Lincoln Eastern Bypass until the designs take better account of cyclists’ safety. The concerns were raised by CTC Lincolnshire on the grounds that the bypass would sever existing cycle routes, and that the standard of the parallel cycle track was poor. Designs for one particular junction have been picked out for special condemnation.
CTC has suggested that the road might be a first test of the Department for Transport's commitment to 'cycle proof' new roads.
Sheffield opens railway cycle hub
A new cycle hub has just been opened at Sheffield railway station, with more than 400 cycle parking spaces, cycle shop and hire, changing rooms and toilets. It also offers secure 24-hour electronic access and extensive CCTV equipment. The £850,000 scheme was funded by Network Rail and the Department for Transport.
Cycle hubs at rail stations have been springing up elsewhere, including Leeds and Leicester. Others are under development at Nottingham and Derby.
Community shop looks out for cyclists
Seven miles from Sheffield lies the village of Grindleford and its newly opened Community Shop. It too has opted to welcome cyclists by providing a bike box for them to use in the event of mechanical failure.
Cycling wins commuter challenge
Bicycles almost always triumph in mode v mode commuting contests, and they did yet again in the Big Commute Challenge recently organised in Manchester by Love Your Bike. In a 3.5 mile trip to Manchester Town Hall, the two participating cyclists were on the road for just 14 minutes, the tram commuter for 37 minutes, bus passenger 38 minutes and car driver 43 minutes.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, who took part in the challenge by bike, said: “We were 23 minutes ahead of the next arrival, which shows clearly that for that sort of journey the bikes are by far the quickest and the cheapest way of getting in. The bike costs absolutely nothing apart from the effort of riding, which gets you fitter as well. I think the key thing is cycling is easy, quick, cheap and healthy and most people can do it.”
Bristol consults on cycling strategy
Bristol City Council’s first comprehensive strategy to encourage more people to cycle is out for consultation until 11 August. One of Cycling England’s former Cycling Cities and a subsequent winner of a Cycle City Ambition grant, Bristol already enjoys a commendable 8% of commuting trips by cycle and now aims to increase this to 20% by 2020. The city also wants to continue to invest £16 per head of population per year to deliver cycle improvements, and plans to address the challenges and barriers that put people off cycling.
Bristol Cycle Campaign Chair, Eric Booth, said: “We warmly welcome this strategy, which is in line with our Bristol Cycling Manifesto. We’re looking forward to working with the council and local communities on making it happen.”
CDF fundraising appeal
The Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF) is supporting cyclist Kristian Gregory’s appeal against a fixed penalty notice (FPN) given after he moved from a poorly designed pavement cycle track before turning to cross an adjoining road at a signed cycle crossing point (see ‘Other Stories).
CDF supports the proper administration of the law, but feels that in this case the police response was disproportionate and discriminatory. Please donate to CDF to support Kristian’s appeal and other cases like it. If you've had a similar experience, please get in touch.
British Social Attitudes Survey 2013: Public attitudes towards transport (DfT)
Yearly report covering opinions on congestion, road building, sustainable travel, the environment and road safety. Its findings from 2013 show that, of respondents:
- 37% said they could just as easily cycle for many of the journeys of less than two miles they now make by car;
- 42% had access to a bicycle (40% owned one and 2% had regular use of one belonging to someone else);
- 63% said that they had not ridden a bicycle in the previous 12 months;
- 48% of cyclists agreed that it is too dangerous for them to cycle on the roads compared to 67% of non-cyclists;
- 69% of females said it is too dangerous for them to cycle on the roads compared to 53% of males;
- 68% were in favour of 20 mile per hour speed limits in residential streets (not significantly different from 2012, but more people were against the idea - 16% in 2013 as opposed to 11% in 2012);
- 39% indicated that they are willing to reduce the amount they travel by car to reduce the impact on climate change;
- 61% indicated that they were concerned about damage to the countryside from road building.
So, there's clearly much potential for more cycling, but there's still work to be done on perceived and real hazards. 20 mph limits are one of the solutions and it's good to know that they haven't stopped enjoying significant support from the British public - although there must be no let-up in promoting their benefits, given the increase in the otherwise low number of objectors.
Strategic Economic Plans Review: A brief review of LEP proposals (Sustrans / Campaign for Better Transport)
Research concluding that the Government's £2bn Local Growth Fund is at risk of being dominated by road projects. Only 49% of the initial bids submitted by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) sought funding for extending travel choice (and even then, much of this is associated with large-scale road schemes), while just 46% have put forward projects for walking, cycling or public transport.
The analysis is also critical of the lack of transparency shown by LEPs during the development of their bidding documents (SEPs or Strategic Economic Plans). Only 54% ran a public consultation, with a third offering no public scrutiny at all.
Transport and Health in London: the main impacts of London road transport on health (Greater London Authority)
Researchers: Dr James Woodcock and Anna Goodman
Report commissioned by the GLA to find out the health implications of transport policies. Using The Integrated Transport & Health Impact Model (ITHIM), a bespoke tool for London, the researchers found that:
- The health benefits of physical activity from walking and cycling outweigh the harms of exposure to air pollution and road traffic injuries;
- Currently around 25% of Londoners meet their minimum physical activity needs (150 minutes per week) through walking and cycling for transport alone;
- The increased cycling expected by 2031 in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy could deliver health benefits of between 3,800 and 6,800 years of healthy life for the population of London, nearly £250 million in monetary terms.
Looking further into the future, this research concludes that over 60% of travel time could theoretically be spent walking or cycling - currently only 28% of travel time is. If, in the longer term, this theoretical potential could be fulfilled, it would deliver over 61,500 years of health benefit each year. It would also mean that around 60% of Londoners could meet their physical activity needs through transport alone, delivering an economic benefit of nearly £2.2billion
New Walking and Cycling Routes and Increased Physical Activity: One- and 2-Year Findings from the UK iConnect Study
Anna Goodman, Shannon Sahlqvist and David Ogilvie, on behalf of the iConnect Consortium, published in the American Journal of Public Health
A study into the impact on physical activity of ‘Connect2’ routes developed in three communities by Sustrans along with local authority partners. Finds that two years after they were built, people living nearby increased their total levels of physical activity, compared to those living further away. People living 1km (0.6 miles) from the new routes had increased their walking and cycling time by an average of 45 minutes per week more than those living 4km (2.5 miles) away. There was no evidence that the gains in walking and cycling were offset by reductions in other forms of physical activity.
The three subjects of the study were two traffic-free bridges, one across Cardiff Bay and the other in Kenilworth in Warwickshire over a busy trunk road; and a new boardwalk along the River Itchen in Southampton. All of these new crossings link into extensive networks of routes.
Report spotlighting the breadth of existing work that demonstrates the benefits of active transport for health, the economy and the environment. Also identifies opportunities within the planning, design, engineering and transport policy realms to increase levels of active transport.
Active Transport for Healthy Living is a collaboration of professional institutions and other partner organisations.
Community Matters: Making our Communities Ready for Ageing - a call to action (International Longevity Centre / Age UK)
Report on how communities need to adapt to an ageing society. Argues that it’s not just about catering for basic needs, but also about making sure communities are fun places for all. Highlights the importance of increasing the numbers of cyclists across the life-course as a public health, environmental and social goal by Health and Wellbeing Boards and local authorities.
Report on the second year of the DfT’s longer semi-trailer trial. Says that: “The evidence to date indicates that operating the LSTs on the trial so far has not led to an increase in casualty rates on public roads, when compared to the general operation of GB registered articulated HGVs. Whilst this is encouraging, it is too early to infer longer term conclusions about the safety of LSTs, as there are many factors associated with their operational practice that need to be taken into account.”
The report also notes, though, that the drivers are part of a specific trial and have been well trained. At least this shows how much difference good training makes to collision rates, but the report fails to make specific mention of cyclists. CTC objects to longer semi-trailers on the grounds that their manoeuvres are potentially hazardous and intimidating for cyclists, and that they are unfit for use in urban areas and on local roads.
By David Begg (commissioned by Clear Channel)
Report examining the claim that autonomous vehicles will transform 21st century travel. Concludes that: “… automated vehicles have great potential. But we must not allow them to shape our cities in the way the internal combustion engine was allowed to in the last century.” Includes discussion of the impact on cyclists and pedestrians.
The results of the RAC’s annual survey of motoring and motorists, based on returns from 1,526 British drivers. This year, the organisation decided to expand on the subject of the ‘multi-modal’ motorist – i.e. drivers who at least at some point during the week choose to travel by means other than their cars. Found that 30% of urban-dwelling motorists are multi-modal, and 21% elsewhere. Also includes a look at potholes (drivers have had enough); Highway Code (drivers need to brush up more); and mobile phone distractions (major concern).
13 September 2014
Other training dates will follow. Find out more about the training and/or register for Sheffield.