Cycle Campaign News July 2016
From the Editor
The Big Bike Revival is now up and running, rejuvenating cycles so that their owners have a better chance of cycling more often. Such projects are all the more important given that the latest local stats for England suggest that cycle use is flat-lining overall. Walking, on the other hand, seems to be experiencing a small boom (see headlines).
We also have some first thoughts on the new team of DfT and MoJ ministers; take a dim view of a report from the Older Drivers Task Force; bring traffic police numbers in for questioning; and look at what's happening, cycle policy-wise, at Eurostar and GWR.
On top of that, we've listed some new publications on: the owners of electric bikes; how to design towns and cities to encourage active travel; the impact of car ownership on exercise; and managing Greenways.
Finally, the Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle is coming up this Saturday (30 July). Do come along to meet Cycling UK at our stalls and Dr Bike stations dotted along the route.
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In this issue:
Headlines: Big Bike Revival; 2014/15 local area walking and cycling stats out.
Other stories: ministerial changes; older drivers; 2015 GB reported casualty figures; DVSA consults on practical test; traffic police numbers; Eurostar and GWR cycling policy; calls for new Clear Air Act; and more.
New publications: e-bike owners research; guide to mitigating health impact of cars; London's air pollution crisis; active travel in London research; Greenway management.
Diary dates: Prudential RideLondon (29-31 July); Cycle to Work Day (14 September); Transforming London Streets (23 September); Bike Share Conference (4-5 October)
Bring back fun and freedom!
This summer’s Big Bike Revival is good news for anyone with a bicycle in a sorry state.
Up and running until the end of August, this award-winning programme developed by Cycling UK will see over 100 bike recycling centres offering repairs, easy maintenance tips, activities for all ages and plenty of ways to learn how to make the most of the summer by bike.
The project is funded by the Department for Transport, and this year extends into Scotland thanks to funding from Transport Scotland.
So many of us can instantly remember our first bike as a child and the freedom and fun it brought. The Big Bike Revival is the perfect way to bring that fun and freedom back into your life today."
Cycling UK Development Director
Cycle use flat-lines, but some authorities way ahead: latest local stats out for England
Figures from the latest annual Active People Survey, administered by Sport England, suggest that cycle use in England is flat-lining. Walking, on the other hand, has gone up somewhat.
The survey produces the only national scale annual data available on walking and cycling levels in different local authorities. Figures for individual authorities fluctuate quite a bit from year to year, so the data isn't perfect. However, it's the best indication we have for how individual councils are progressing on active travel locally.
The survey found that about 15% of adults in England as a whole cycled at least once a month, a similar figure to previous years. Wandsworth, South Norfolk and Barrow-in-Furness each saw a large rise.
People to do seem to be walking more often, however. According to the survey: “The proportion of adults walking at least once, three and five times a week increased by 3.3, 7.1 and 6.9 percentage points since 2012/13.” This change seems to be largely driven by an increase in people walking for utility purposes.
The stats put the following councils in the top twenty for the proportion of adults (aged 16+) cycling at least three times a week:
Source: Walking and Cycling Statistics 2014/15, Table CW0104
Revolving doors at Westminster
Following David Cameron and Theresa May’s number 10 swap, there have been further changes in the key government departments that Cycling UK lobby and seek to influence.
Department for Transport (DfT)
At the DfT, Patrick McLoughlin was replaced as Secretary of State for Transport by Christopher Grayling. Whilst we are unsure how keen Mr Grayling will be to support cycling-related road safety initiatives, when we met him in his capacity as Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, he was enthusiastic about cycle-rail. Some of his ministerial team have historically appeared cycle-friendly too.
Andrew Jones MP (Harrogate and Knaresborough) retains his ministerial post at the DfT, largely inheriting Robert Goodwill’s portfolio for sustainable accessible travel, specifically expressed to include cycling and walking. Formerly the vice-chair of the All Party Tour de France Parliamentary Group, Mr Jones lobbied for Harrogate to stage the Grand Départ in 2014, explaining in a Westminster Hall debate that Harrogate was one of “the spiritual homes of cycling, because the Cyclists' Touring Club was founded in Harrogate, as highlighted by a plaque in the town centre commemorating that event”. Mr Jones also retains responsibility for road safety.
Given that Mr Jones has already announced that he is “particularly interested in the sustainable transport sector”, and that he is “looking forward to working with local authorities to deliver a real step change in sustainable transport like cycling and walking”, you can of course let your local authority know that the Minister is keen to work with them, and ask whether they have been in contact with his department yet.
John Hayes MP (South Holland and the Deepings) has also returned to the DfT as the minister responsible for other transport issues relevant to our current and likely future campaigning, including: Highways England (covering cycling routes along and across the strategic road network); the Modern Transport Bill (autonomous cars and related safety issues); and freight and logistics (lorry safety issues).
In 2014, Mr Hayes announced at a Pedals Cycling Forum that he wanted to make Spalding “a capital of cycling”, and during his last stint as a transport minister under the coalition government was a strong supporter in parliament of the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. We just need to make sure he is as enthusiastic about ensuring its delivery.
Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
The MoJ is another government department we've been continuously lobbying for the last two years. In May 2014, whilst Secretary of State for Justice, Mr Grayling announced the Government’s review of motoring offences and penalties. Not much happened and he was replaced as Justice Secretary in May 2015 by Michael Gove. Not much happened, again, and we all know what happened to Mr Gove.
The new Justice Secretary is Elizabeth Truss, and we have already written to her in the hope that that, third time lucky, something will now happen. The new minister responsible for courts and justice, including criminal justice reform, is Sir Oliver Heald, MP (North East Hertfordshire). He has worked with local cycling groups in the past, supporting campaigns for cycle paths and generally being active on road safety issues.
We trust that the new faces at the MOJ will provide an opportunity to progress road justice issues, and the 2014 review!
Task Force report on older drivers dismays campaigners
A report from the Older Drivers Task Force setting out proposals for a national older drivers’ strategy has not met with a warm welcome from road safety campaigners. Cycling UK’s Road Safety and Legal Officer, Duncan Dollimore, explains why.
The fundamental problem with 'Supporting Safe Driving into Old Age' is evident from the foreword, which states that: “The aim of the Task Force was straightforward: to find ways of helping older people to continue to drive safely for longer”. Starting from the premise that “being able to drive is a key part of maintaining independence”, and that as a group older drivers “need and deserve special attention to be kept safe”, it is perhaps inevitable that the report focuses more on how to keep older people driving, and their safety, rather than the safety of other road users.
Currently, drivers have to apply to renew their licence every three years from age 70, signing a medical self-declaration form. The Task Force accepts that self-declaration has been shown to be unreliable, but nonetheless recommends raising the age at which drivers have to notify the DVLA of any medical condition that may affect safe driving from 70 to 75.
Acknowledging the evidence showing that older drivers have reduced ability to judge and adapt to speed, and to read complex driving situations, the Task Force also recommends that raising the notification and licence renewal age to 75 should be linked with a requirement to provide evidence of an eyesight test at age 75. What constitutes evidence, however, is unclear. Page 30 mentions “adding a tick box to the licence renewal form, requiring drivers to certify that they have had a satisfactory vision test in the previous 12 months”. This sounds remarkably close to the self-declaration that the Task Force accepts has not worked.
The evidence concerning risks from older drivers is undoubtedly complex, not least because older drivers tend to drive less and often self-regulate (e.g. avoiding night time driving, difficult junctions etc). The Task Force does, however, acknowledge that its own research from insurance industry claims data regarding catastrophic claims (over £50,000), raises concerns that older drivers, possibly those over 80, pose a higher risk of very serious bodily injuries to third parties, and that after middle age the probability of being at fault in a collision increases.
Nevertheless, they make no recommendations to tighten up the testing or licensing procedures, or address the arguments for independent medical evidence of fitness to drive rather than self-declaration.
Perhaps the lesson from this Task Force is that reports concerning road safety are best conducted with road safety as the priority, rather than looking for ways to enable people to drive (as though this is an entitlement), and assuming that is a good thing.
The authors may also find themselves hostages to fortune with another bold statement in the foreword, suggesting that in 30 years’ time, when autonomous cars are king, serious collisions will be “things of the past”. I hope their confidence is not misplaced.
The Older Drivers’ Task Force is a body managed by the charity, the Road Safety Foundation and supported by motor insurers Ageas.
More from Duncan ...
- London’s new Mayor Sadiq Khan has committed to increasing the number of direct vision lorries in the capital to reduce the disproportionate risk that HGVs pose to cyclists and pedestrians. Welcoming the move, Duncan argues that it needs to go national.
- Duncan has also been tracing the history of the Government’s serial inaction over its promised review of all driving offences and penalties. It’s not unlike Waiting for Godot, he says.
2015 GB casualty figures: mixed news for cycling
Statistics just published by the Government show that the number of cyclists killed on Britain’s roads in 2015 (100) represents a drop of about 11.5% over 2014 (113), and of c10% over the average for 2010-14. As recent traffic estimates suggest that the overall number of miles cycled in 2015 increased by around 2% over the average for 2010-14, the risk of being killed whilst cycling looks as if it’s going down.
However, the risk of serious injury is still a matter of a concern. While the reported number of seriously injured cyclists in 2015 (3,237) has reduced by c5% since 2014, the figure is 4% higher than the average for 2010-14.
For road users as a whole, the risk of being killed per billion vehicle miles in 2015 went down by 4% since 2014, and by 7% over the 2010-14 average.
DVSA consults on changes to practical driving test
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is asking for views on proposed changes to the practical car driving test. It is, for example, thinking about:
- increasing the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes;
- asking candidates to follow directions from a sat nav whilst driving independently;
- replacing the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn in the road’ manoeuvres with more real-life scenarios, e.g. driving into and reversing out of a parking bay; and
- asking one of the two vehicle safety ‘show me, tell me’ questions while the candidate is driving.
DVSA says it’s been working with the Transport Research Laboratory to find out how the changes better reflect real-life driving.
Cycling UK will be sending in a response to the consultation, emphasising the need for the testing system to take greater account of cyclists’ safety. Much of this, we believe, should be covered thoroughly before candidates take their test, e.g. through cycle awareness and, better still, practical cycle training (the process, for instance, could include incentives to complete a Bikeability Level 3 course); and more questions about interacting with cyclists in the theory and hazard perception tests.
For the practical test itself, we think candidates should be examined on driving at lower speeds, especially 20 mph; and that eyesight should be assessed by a specialist beforehand, and not by the driving examiner.
- Government consultation (deadline 25 August)
- Cycling UK’s views on driver training, testing and licensing
Traffic police numbers in for questioning
At first glance, an answer to a recent parliamentary question from Daniel Zeichner MP (Lab, Cambridge) looks as if the number of full-time equivalent traffic police in England and Wales went up from 4,356 in 2014 to 5,220 in 2015. This was a surprise, as this figure has been dropping for years (by c37% between 2002/3 and 2013/14).
A footnote, giving a possible explanation for the leap, says: “Reclassification of roles within a force can lead to fluctuations in the number of officers in a particular role. This is particularly apparent between 2014 and 2015.” Having consulted more detailed data published by the Government, Cycling UK has indeed discovered a degree of fluctuation from force to force, but none more marked that in the Met Police, whose stated numbers shot up from 264 in 2014 to 1,433 in 2015. We’re thus trying to find out what ‘reclassifcation’ actually means.
Cycling UK has long been calling for a genuine increase in the numbers of officers assigned to roads policing. Drivers are less likely to offend if they know that there is a good chance of being caught and penalised, while the more resources the police have to investigate and pursue reports of bad driving, the greater the likelihood that victims of road crashes, including cyclists, will be properly treated by the justice system.
Train policies not on right lines for cycle-rail
Cycle–rail campaigners will be aware that both Eurostar and Great Western Railway (GWR) have been grabbing headlines for causing potential problems for cyclists.
Eurostar is fully booked for assembled cycles up till November and in some cases even storing cycles in disabled toilets; while GWR was at one stage insisting on pre-booking for bikes, meaning that cyclists turning up on the day were being turned away, even if a train had space.
Over the summer, Cycling UK is set to meet with Eurostar to get to the bottom of the rumours concerning them, and will also meet with Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw and representatives from GWR to try to make their future policy more cycle-friendly. We’ll report more in next Campaign News.
Bradshaw, who regularly takes his bike with him on GWR services between London and Devon, has circulated a written assurance from GWR’s Managing Director, Mike Hopwood, that states: “We understand that there will be times when booking is not possible and space is available on board. Station staff have been briefed to allow bikes on board if this is the case, and we are checking that this message has reached colleagues …”.
- The MP takes a copy of the letter with him just in case the message hasn’t got through, and is happy to share it online so that other cyclists can print it off and do the same.
- Read also Ben Bradshaw’s stirring defence in Parliament of GWR’s old policy, which has been serving his cycle-rail needs perfectly well for years.
Councils invited to bid for £60m Sustainable Travel Access Fund
The Government has invited councils in England outside London to compete for a share of the £60m to Sustainable Travel Access Fund (2017 to 2020). Happily, it is also encouraging them to work on their plans with their Local Enterprise Partnerships, many of whom have shown negligible interest in cycling so far.
The money is part of a wider £300m fund to boost walking and cycling set aside for the current parliament. It is, however, nothing in comparison to the £15bn allocated to roads. Whether the Government will deliver better funding news once it finishes analysing responses to its draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS), we don’t yet know.
Tour de Yorkshire brings in £££s
£60m, oddly enough, is almost precisely the sum that the Tour de Yorkshire 2016 (29 April to 1 May) contributed to the economy, according to a study from Leeds Beckett University. Over two million spectators lined the route and spent 20% more than last year.
MPs discover wheels can lead to wellbeing
Politicians were given an insight into the world of disabled cycling at Herne Hill Velodrome earlier this month at a Tea, Tour, Talk and Track session organised by the inclusive cycling charity Wheels for Wellbeing, which is affiliated to Cycling UK.
Read more about the day (enjoyed by all despite torrential rain) and the launch of the Wheels for Wellbeing manifesto for London ‘Beyond the Bicycle’.
The Government is thinking about raising the maximum allowance permitted under the ‘salary sacrifice’ Cycle to Work scheme from the current £1,000. The move would particularly benefit disabled cyclists who need specialist cycles.
Cyclists call for improved countryside access
Supported by Cycling UK and other partners, British Cycling has written to English and Welsh ministers calling for a review of rights of way and access provision. Our off-road cycling advisor, Kieran Foster, explains more, and why we’re advocating pilot projects to test out feasible models for improving countryside access for cyclists.
ClientEarth calls for new Clean Air Act
London's horrifying Great Smog of 1952 made the Government sit up, take notice and pass the 1956 Clean Air Act. Now, sixty years on, activist lawyers ClientEarth are calling on politicians to sit up and take notice again and back a new Clean Air Act to tackle the hazardous levels of air pollution the UK still faces today.
ClientEarth believes that new UK legislation is all the more important given the forthcoming exit from the European Union. The organisation is taking the UK Government to court for a second time for breaching EU laws on air quality, but once the UK leaves the EU, those laws may not apply or could be weakened.
Their legal challenge is being backed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is currently consulting on ways to tackle pollution in the capital. Cycling UK will be responding and also contribute to a project on the subject by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). See publications.
Hundreds of London schools exceed legal air quality levels
Figures released by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan at the beginning of July reveal that air pollution levels experienced by 443 schools across the capital exceed legal limits. Southwark, Westminster and Tower Hamlets were the boroughs with the highest number of primary and secondary schools in high pollution areas.
The Mayor says: “ … I am more determined than ever to get to grips with tackling the capital’s toxic air pollution and delivering on a promise of cleaner air for all Londoners.”
What does Brexit mean for transport?
James MacColl of the Campaign for Better Transport has some initial thoughts.
Academic wins prize for cycling research
Dr Rachel Aldred, University of Westminster, has won a 2016 Impact Prize award from the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council). Her research into cycling, the judges found, has produced a fundamental shift in policy “leading to increased investment in cycling infrastructure and a new approach to increasing cycling participation throughout the UK.”
Dr Aldred’s pioneering work, which has mainly considered the barriers to cycling, includes the ‘Near Miss’ project and contributing to the potentially very useful online Propensity to Cycle Tool, due to be formally launched next week (details in next Campaign News).
Cycle Planning Awards: enter now
Entries are now open for the Cycle Planning Awards 2016. Organised by Landor LINKS, the awards celebrate the projects, initiatives, innovations, people and infrastructure that are making our towns and cities cycle and people friendly. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Glaziers Hall in Southwark, London on 23 September 2016.
Motives, perceptions and experiences of electric bicycle owners and implications for health, wellbeing and mobility
Tim Jones, Lucas Harms & Eva Heinen
Academic paper investigating why people buy e-bikes, their riding experience and the impact it has on them.
In-depth interviews in the Netherlands and the UK revealed e-biking opens up opportunities for people who would not otherwise consider conventional cycling and, for some, replaces conventional cycling and journeys that would otherwise have been made by car. People also see it as a way of increasing or maintaining some form of physical activity as their circumstances change, with a beneficial impact on their personal wellbeing too.
Barriers to e-biking include the machine’s weight, battery life, purchase price, social stigma and limitations of cycle infrastructure.
The researchers say that more research is necessary to quantify actual levels of mode substitution and new journey generation.
Published in the Journal of Transport Geography
Local action to mitigate the health impacts of cars (Faculty of Public Health)
Published on the 60th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, this 10-page, evidence-led briefing provides practical advice, based on best practice, to help local authorities design towns and cities that encourage active travel. The authors, the Faculty of Public Health, recommend a “major shift away from cars in favour of active travel: walking, cycling and public transport” to reduce the harm of road transport and improve the health of the population and individuals.
Endorsed by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Chartered Institute for Waste Management and Partnership for Active Travel, Transport and Health.
Harry Quilter-Pinner, Laurie Laybourn-Langton
Report presenting an innovative new modelling that illustrates both the scale of London’s air pollution problem, and the policy changes needed to remedy it at the European, national and local level.
Active travel in London: The role of travel survey data in describing population physical activity
Graeme A. Fairnie, David J.R. Wilby & Lucinda E. Saunders
Analysis of Transport for London's 'London Travel Demand Survey' (LTDS). Finds that whether they own a car or a bike has a significant influence on a London resident’s likelihood of achieving 30 minutes of active travel on a given day:
- People living in non-car owning households were between two and three times more likely to travel actively for 30 mins on a given day than people in multi-car owning households;
- People who own and use a bicycle were around twice as likely to travel actively for at least 30 mins compared to those who do not own a bicycle;
- The key drivers of active travel were similar in both Inner and Outer London.
Concludes that: “This new analysis of transport survey data from a public health perspective shows there are valuable insights to be gained by bringing together transport and public health sectors.”
Published in Journal of Transport and Health.
Greenway Management Handbook (Sustrans)
Based on Sustrans’s 20 years of experience working on the National Cycle Network, this handbook offers practical advice and examples of best practice on managing motor traffic-free cycle and walking routes or ‘greenways’ for both people and wildlife. Covers everything from invasive plant species and habitats to path surfacing and signs.
29 – 31 July
The 4th edition of the annual three-day festival of cycling, featuring a variety of rides and events, including FreeCycle, a chance to ride an eight mile circuit of motor traffic-free roads in central London. The route takes in various landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Bank of England. Cycling UK will be there at stalls and Dr Bike services along the circuit (30 July). Do come along and meet us.
At the other end of the festival’s cycling spectrum, Chris Froome, winner of this year’s Tour de France, is on the rider list for the pro-race, Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic (31 July).
Following on from the success of Cycling UK’s Bike Week, why not take part in Cycle to Work day, the national event celebrating everyday cycling, and encouraging everyone to cycle to work for at least one day? Employees, employers and bike stores are all invited to get involved. Pledges win prizes!
23 September, Southwark Cathedral
Transforming London Streets (the new name for the London Cycling Show) will celebrate the positive impact of walking and cycling on creating better places, showcasing community engagement, regeneration and designing and creating places where cycling and walking is the natural choice.
Offers both a conference and exhibition, with a range of workshops, cycle tours and site visits across Southwark.
Bike Share Conference (Carplus Bikeplus)
4-5 October, Oxford
The first event (4 October), mainly designed for those involved in delivering electric bike share schemes as part of the Bikeplus Shared Electric Bike Programme, will review the experience and research findings so far.
The 5 October is a full day of presentations and discussion of the issues around creating and developing successful public bike share schemes. The programme explores strategies for increasing rider numbers, creating successful funding models and latest innovations.