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Cycle Campaign News November 2016

Archaic laws in England and Wales frustrate off-road cyclists. Photo: Flickr CC shirokazan
Cycling UK's monthly round-up of cycle campaign news:
Contents Summary: 

From the Editor

Wouldn't it be lovely if everyone could cycle off into the countryside unproblematically?

If you live in Scotland, access law means that you may well be able to do that, and in Northern Ireland, 1,000 km of greenways are in prospect. But in England and Wales, archaic rights of way legalities aren't helping at all (see Headlines).

And wouldn't it have been equally lovely of the Chancellor to commit some new money to everyday cycling in his Autumn Statement, read out in Parliament today (23 November)? He didn't specifically do this, but we think that the additional £1.1bn he's sinking into upgrades for English local transport networks is a real opportunity for councils to make Space for Cycling at the same time. 

Also in this issue: we want to help bail the Government out of its air pollution nightmare; invite you to one of our Space for Cycling roadshows; update you on cases illustrating how and why the road justice system keeps failing cyclists; visit Woking station's treat for cycle-commuters; and much more. 

Cherry Allan
Cycle Campaign News

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In this issue:

Headlines: Cycling UK survey backs rights of way overhaul; Go-ahead for Northern Ireland's greenways; ClientEarth win means Government must re-balance roads investment towards cycling.
Other stories: Book your Space for Cycling; Waltham Forest's Mini Holland scheme already cutting car traffic; Campaign for Better Transport calls on Government to 'Fix it First''; US health journal extols high quality cycling infrastructure; Space for cycling in Royal Parks?; DfT funding, national park and local campaigners make routes together; Road Justice news and blogs; Mobile phone penalty upped; Award for W Mids Police close pass initiative; Make Brake's Road Safety Week pledge; DfT evaluates higher speeds for HGVs; 20 mph win for Isle of Wight; Police dole out lights, not tickets; Campaigns Conference report - St Albans; Bikes revived in Scotland; Awards for cycle-rail excellence; Woking station chooses 250 bikes over two cars; Remembering Gordon Selway.
Act now! Time to make a 'Tube Map'
New publications: Cycling and Green Jobs (UNECE/UNEP/WHO); Crapper Cycle Lanes (David Whelan); Well-managed highway infrastructure - a code of practice (UK Roads Liaison Group).
Diary dates: Brake Road Safety Week (on now); Cycling@teatime - Cycling & disability (24 November, London); Cycling@teatime - Diversity in Cycling (12 December, London). 

Headlines

Cycling UK survey backs rights of way overhaul

With 11,482 people responding to our recent off-road survey, and three quarters telling us that the routes open to cyclists in the English and Welsh countryside aren’t fit for purpose, we now know for sure that archaic rights of way (RoW) law needs an urgent review.

Cycling UK wants to make it easier for more people to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of cycling away from traffic in the beauty of our extensive countryside.

“It’s going to be quite a battle to change the outdated laws and attitudes that have prevented progress so far, but we managed it in Scotland, and with the off-road and mountain biking community’s help, we can do it too in England and Wales.”

Paul Tuohy, Cycling UK’s CEO

The current RoW network is both incoherent and frustrating for cyclists. This is largely due to the fact that whether a route has been classified as a footpath, bridleway or byway is generally determined by who's used it in the past, and not by how suitable it is for the people who want to travel on it now.

As a result, you may well find that you're free to cycle on a boggy bridleway, but not on the tarmac-surfaced footpath right next to it. It's not surprising that 85% of our respondents said they "often" or "sometimes" found it difficult to put together a legal route. 

Cycling UK believes that England and Wales should adopt (and adapt) the model of Scotland’s Land Reform Act 2003, allowing people to cycle almost anywhere in the countryside as long as they comply with an Access Code.

There would still be powers to restrict cycling (or indeed horse-riding or other users) where it would be unsafe or inappropriate, along with signage pointing everyone to the routes most suitable for their chosen mode of travel. This would go a long way towards opening the four-fifths of routes that cyclists in England and Wales can't currently ride.

We’ll be publishing a full report on our survey in early 2017.

Go-ahead for Northern Ireland's greenways  

Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure has published plans for a 1,000km network of 'greenways' to connect towns and cities to the villages and countryside across all eleven councils.

There is no doubt that money is tight, but we must ask ourselves this question: can we afford not to invest in greenways? Although roads projects very often hog the limelight, greenways and other active-travel initiatives are truly transformative projects for communities, as well as personally for individuals.”
Chris Hazzard, Infrastructure Minister
Northern Ireland Assembly debate 14 November 2016.

Jonathan Hobbs, from the NI Greenways campaign, says: “This is an exciting first step towards creating a world class greenway network, which will be a welcome investment in rural development and active travel, enhancing our tourism offering and creating long term employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.” 

The paths for walkers, runners and cyclists will be motor traffic-free along disused railways, riverside paths, abandoned canal towpaths or flood embankments. The funding initially set aside to help councils work up their feasibility studies has more than doubled, and now stands at £160,000. The Government is also now considering a capital grant scheme for further delivery.

The Belfast cycle-hire scheme could be extended as part of the initiative too.

ClientEarth win means Government must re-balance roads investment towards cycling

 

Investing in cycling and walking makes sense for many reasons, but ClientEarth’s recent High Court win against the UK Government over its failure to tackle illegal air pollution underscores how vital such non-polluting modes are. 

Cycling UK hopes ClientEarth’s victory acts as a wake-up call to Government, making it stop dithering on dirty air, and address its root causes, such as motor traffic."
Policy Director, Roger Geffen MBE

The judge in ClientEarth’s case, Mr Justice Garnham, ruled that the Government’s 2015 air quality plans failed to comply both with an earlier Supreme Court ruling, and relevant EU Directives. He has now given the Government eight months to draw up fresh air quality plans, which must bring pollution within legal limits.

With motor traffic one of the largest contributors to air pollution, Cycling UK wants the Government to re-balance its £15 billion Road Investment Strategy towards clean forms of transport. Yet cycling and walking are set to receive only £300 million up until 2021 through the forthcoming Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS, England)*. How short-sighted is that?

This is the second time that ClientEarth has taken the Government to court over air quality, and won.

* We are still waiting for CWIS! According to a recent answer to a written question from Daniel Zeichner (Transport Shadow Minister), the Government is in the midst of revising the strategy in the light of the very large number of responses to its consultation draft, and though it hopes to publish shortly, isn’t able to specify a precise month. 

!Stop Press - Cycling UK's first thoughts on the Chancellor's Autumn Statement!

Other stories

Book your Space for Cycling!

 

If you’re interested in presentations and workshops on how to make a positive difference to cycling conditions where you live, book your place now at one of our Space for Cycling roadshows. There are still seven to go, in Edinburgh, Crewe, Bristol, Cardiff, Plymouth, Durham and London. Edinburgh is next on 26 November.

All the roadshows are free and cater for all levels of campaign experience.

Read Tom Guha’s reports on the events so far:

  • Cambridge
  • Birmingham
  • Leeds
     
  • Tom has also been looking into news from Copenhagen that the number of cycles entering the city centre has officially topped the number of motor vehicles for the first time since records began in 1970. What’s Copenhagen doing that cities in the UK aren’t? 

Waltham Forest's Mini Holland scheme already cutting car traffic

Initial figures for Waltham Forest’s ‘Mini Holland’ scheme suggest that the improvements are having a noticeable impact on motor traffic volume. Trial closures of twelve roads to cut rat-running have led to a 56% drop in overall vehicle numbers, with reductions ranging from 22% to 97% on individual streets. 

The idea of the Mini Holland programme, grant-funded by TfL, is to improve life for residents and make it easier to cycle and walk by creating designated space for cycling, redesigning public areas, and cutting traffic volume and noise.

Fix it First!

In the last Campaign News, we reported on the Campaign for Better Transport’s new ‘Fix it First’ briefing, which argues that it makes better financial sense to spend money on small local schemes (including fixing potholes), than on a limited number of large infrastructure projects.

CBT has now submitted the report to the Treasury in advance of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement today, which is expected to herald over £1 billion worth of road improvements. 

US health journal extols high quality cycling infrastructure

December’s American Journal of Public Health carries an editorial pressing home the point that cycling infrastructure helps both increase cycle use and improve cycling safety. However, the authors, John Pucher and Ralph Buehler (both PhDs), stress that it has to the right type for the circumstances, and of a high quality.

“More and better bicycle infrastructure and safer cycling,” they say, “would encourage Americans to make more of their daily trips by bicycle and, thus, help raise the currently low physical activity levels of the US population.” 

Space for cycling in the Royal Parks?

Do the Royal Parks support the “provision of safer and improved cycleways, even at the expense of reduced space for cars and carriages”?

Answering the question from Cycling UK's Vice-President Lord Berkeley, Lord Ashton of Hyde (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport) went as far as to say that the Parks seek “to balance the needs of all visitors while protecting the intrinsic qualities of the parks. It aims to achieve a safe coexistence between drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. The addition of new cycle provision is one of a number of ways of delivering this.”

Not quite unqualified support for reallocating Royal Park space to cycling, but some comfort at least. 

DfT funding, national park and local campaigners make routes together 

South Downs National Park Authority has recently crowned its programme of cycle improvements with a new 2.5 mile cycle route from Petersfield to Queen Elizabeth Country Park in Hampshire.

The idea for the route was spearheaded by Cycling UK local campaigners Mike Ashton and Robert Sebley, who organised a petition that attracted 4,000 signatures. SDNPA secured a £3.81m Cycle Ambition Grant back in 2013, and this route (along with nine others) is one of the outcomes. 

Duncan’s road justice news and blogs …

This month, our Senior Road Safety and Legal Officer, Duncan Dollimore, looks at:

  • The position of Leicestershire Police in the case of Maurice King, the driver of the car that killed twelve year-old Jake in Wellsborough in 2014. Jake was cycling with his mates to the local water park, looking over his shoulder at the tractor behind him. Three drivers saw the boys and decided it was unsafe to overtake, but King didn't want to wait. So, he overtook the queue at 60 mph, hitting Jake after passing the tractor.

    At the inquest last Friday, the Coroner said: "It seems to me that the decision to overtake was the wrong decision." With the help of Cycling UK's Cycling Defence Fund (CDF), Jake's parents' fight for justice continues. CDF is now writing to Leicestershire Police, asking them to review the case in the light of the evidence heard at the inquest. Read the full article

  • The London magistrate who, when wealthy investment banker Tanguy Marie De Carne appeared before her on a charge of dangerous cycling and failing to stop for the police, announced that: "People don't like cyclists". While Duncan is certainly not out to condone De Carne’s riding behaviour, he argues that he was still entitled to expect the magistrate to concentrate on his conduct, not display prejudice towards cyclists. Read the blog.

De Carne didn't injure anyone or prevaricate. He put his hands up and pleaded guilty, but to listen to the magistrate’s comments you could be excused for thinking he was one of the worst traffic offenders she had come across.”
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK

  • Christopher Gard, the driver who’s appealing against his nine-year prison sentence for driving into and killing 48-year-old cyclist Lee Martin whilst texting. Before the collision, Gard had already been caught eight times for using his mobile at the wheel, but managed to convince magistrates that he wouldn't do it again and that banning him would cause him ‘exceptional hardship’. The case, Duncan says, demonstrates why the Ministry of Justice’s long overdue review of motoring offences and penalties is so urgent. Read the full article.

“The Magistrates' acceptance, in this and so many other cases, that the need to drive trumps the necessity to remove dangerous drivers from the roads, and their inability to distinguish between predictable inconvenience and what is truly exceptional, demonstrates why disqualification of drivers for non-imprisonable and repeat offences, before they kill people, has to be reviewed urgently.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK

Mobile phone penalty upped

Now that it’s analysed responses to its consultation on changes to the penalties for using hand-held mobiles whilst driving, the DfT has decided to:

  • Raise the fixed penalty points issued under a fixed penalty notice for this offence from 3 to 6 for all drivers
  • Raise the fixed penalty notice fine from £100 to £200 for all motor vehicles
  • Remove the option of drivers attending a re-training course in lieu of prosecution

Imposing bigger fines and more endorsements, however, will be merely cosmetic if drivers like Gard (see story above) aren't actually banned once they’ve totted up enough points.

Award for West Midlands Police close pass initiative

At an event in the House of Lords recently, the Road Danger Reduction Forum (RDRF) gave the West Midlands Police the recognition it deserves for its 'Give Space: Be Safe' initiative, which targets close overtaking of cyclists by drivers.

Make Brake's Road Safety Week pledge

We’re now in the midst of Brake’s Road Safety Week 2016 (21 – 27 November) and, to mark the event, the charity is inviting everyone to help raise awareness of road safety and sustainable travel by promising to be "Slow, Sober, Secure, Silent, Sharp and Sustainable."

Asked recently by Brake to identify what kind of driving behaviour they think poses the most danger out of a list of six, three quarters of the 1,000 drivers surveyed picked speeding or distraction. The other choices were drink- and drug-driving, emissions, not wearing a seat belt and poor vision. Nearly eight in 10 (79%) admitted to taking risks.

DfT evaluates higher speeds for HGVs

Vulnerable road users don’t get a specific mention in the DfT’s first evaluation of higher speed limits for HGVs of 7.5+ tonnes in England and Wales (allowed since April 2015 to travel at 50 mph on single carriageways (instead of 40 mph), and at 60 mph on dual carriageways (instead of 50 mph)). 

Otherwise, it says: “[…] there is preliminary evidence of a reduction in HGV collisions estimated to be between 10% and 36%, however, it is not possible to attribute this directly to the speed limit changes.” Readers are also advised that these Year 1 results ought not to be taken as indicative of long-term trends.

We hope further analysis in 2017 and 2018 will provide a clearer picture (e.g. the impact on vulnerable road users, and if there are fewer collisions involving cars overtaking HGVs, said to happen because of the former difference in speed).

20 mph win for Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight council has resolved as follows:

“20 mph areas are proven to contribute to reducing road traffic accidents, increased active travel and other public health benefits. This Council therefore asks the Executive to consider introducing a policy for a 20 mph speed limit in areas agreed with Town and Parish Councils across the Island in residential streets, town and village centres and where people work and learn."

Police dole out lights, not tickets

The City of London Police, working with the City of London Corporation, spent a week recently giving away cycle lights instead of penalty notices to unlit cyclists riding in the dark. The aim was to raise awareness of lighting regulations, but it’s business as usual with penalty notices again now, it seems. 

Campaigns Conference: St Albans, 19 November 2016

The 2016 Cyclenation/Cycling UK conference, hosted by St Albans Cycle Campaign, offered a kind of intensive, one-day course in almost every topical subject that any active campaigner wants to investigate.

With expert-led plenary sessions and workshops on the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS), the huge potential of Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs), the threat of air pollution, advances in junction treatment, road justice developments, how to identify the most likely active travel networks - and much more - the opportunity for the 100 or so delegates to pick up facts, ideas and news from professionals and academics was impressive.

But, and equally impressively, it was also an inspirational lesson in voluntary local advocacy, its shifting tactics and the expertise that comes from grass-roots campaigning too.

This was especially well-illustrated by London Cycling Campaign volunteer Clare Rogers, whose remarkable conversion from school-run driver to school-run tandem-rider came to pass at the sight of a horrible brown haze over London from her car window one morning. Clare is now a natural champion rather than opponent of Enfield’s Mini Holland plans, once widely hammered but now winning more residents over thanks to another conversion – the previously cycle-centric pro-campaign has morphed into ‘Better Streets for Enfield’.  

Another example of expert voluntary activity came from Adam Reynolds of CycleBath [Photo above: courtesy Nick Clarke]. Adam’s produced a template to help other cycle campaigns create their own ‘tube maps’ of their local area so that they can graphically point out to local decision makers where the best cycling investments would be. Have a go - see 'Act now' below. 

Bikes revived in Scotland

Since mid-September, the Big Bike Revival, an award-winning programme developed by Cycling UK, has been bringing bikes back into use in Scotland with free mechanics sessions, bike checks, confidence-building classes, led rides, route planning and more. 

The Revival has partnered with 81 community groups, businesses, charities and bike recycling centres, working across every single local authority area in the process.

Awards for cycle-rail excellence

This year’s winners of the 12th annual National Cycle Rail Awards, are:

  • East Midlands Trains for ‘A Cyclist’s Experience’ (Best Customer Experience)
  • Sustrans Scotland for the Links to Borders Rail and Haymarket Station Cycle Facilities (Partnership Working)
  • Waltham Forest Council for Cycle Hubs (London Cycle Parking)
  • Bainton Bikes and Great Western Railway's cycle hire mobile phone app (Innovation)
  • Abellio Greater Anglia for the Cambridge CyclePoint (Station of the Year)
  • East Midlands Trains (Operator of the Year)

The Rail Delivery Group, who run the awards on behalf of the Cycle Rail Working Group report that: the number of ‘cycle-rail’ journeys last year - c.50 million - was up 40% on 2010; cycle-rail journeys where a bike is parked at a station has increased by 70% since 2010; cycle spaces at rail stations have risen from 23,500 to more than 70,000 in the last six years, and are set to rise to 75,000 in 2017.

The awards play a key part in increasing cyclists’ access to the railway by improving communications and spreading best practice. They were sponsored by CyclePods in 2016.

Woking station chooses 250 bikes over two cars

Earlier this month, Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP opened an expanded, undercover cycle hub at Woking railway station, virtually doubling the existing capacity. Cycle-commuters can also enjoy 24/7 CCTV, a stand equipped with tools and pump, and a real time display screen to help them catch their trains (instead of spending all day admiring the new facility, presumably).   

While mist was still swirling in Woking Station’s car park, causing delays to the arriving and departing trains, one area which was fog-free but rapidly filling was the station's cycle hub."
Sam Jones, Cycling UK

Delivered by Dutch-owned company, Cyclepods, Woking’s hub is one strand of a wider £3.8m South West Trains investment plan designed to deliver 1,400 extra cycling spaces across 36 stations by the end of 2016.

Remembering Gordon Selway

At the end of October, family, friends and former colleagues of much missed campaigner Gordon Selway, gathered at Bromsgrove railway station to unveil a plaque in his memory.

Gordon was one of the most public-spirited people I’ve been privileged to know, and he is still greatly missed. He was indefatigable in his commitment to the causes of cycling and sustainable transport, and to the fairness of public policy and the rule of law.”
Roger Geffen MBE, Cycling UK Policy Director

Gordon died in November 2007 aged only 58, but is still fondly remembered by many. A former barrister and teacher, Gordon devoted an immense amount of his time, knowledge and extraordinary intellect to cycle, rail and community advocacy, and local politics.

Among the campaign topics close to his heart were better cycle-rail facilities both nationally and locally, along with an improved train station for Bromsgrove’s commuters. The latter has now become reality thanks to a major redevelopment.

Joint sponsors of the plaque were Cycling UK, The Campaign for Better Transport, CPRE Worcestershire, the local campaign group Push Bikes, and the Rail Delivery Group, who all benefited greatly from Gordon’s active support.

Act now!

Time to make a 'Tube Map'

A ‘tube map’ is a simple way of illustrating the routes that people would like to cycle in your area and the quality of those routes.

It isn't for navigational purposes, but a campaigning tool to help you persuade your local authority that certain routes in your area need to be made safer. They are easy to create, using the 'Propensity to Cycle Tool', local knowledge and a simple template.

For further guidance and for access to a fresh template, get in touch with our Space for Cycling Campaigner, Tom Guha: tom.guha@cyclinguk.org 

New publications

Cycling and Green Jobs: riding towards the green economy (UNECE/UNEP/World Health Organisation) 

Advanced executive summary of a forthcoming report from the Transport Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP). This is a first attempt to collect evidence in a standardised way about the number of cycling-related jobs in the pan-European region, and then calculate how many more there would be if each of 56 cities managed to increase cycling’s modal share to Copenhagen levels, i.e. 26%.  

It finds that:

  • Up to 435,000 additional jobs could be created if all the major 56 cities had the same modal share of cycling as Copenhagen;
  • If cycling in London were to increase from 3% of trips (the current figure) to 26% (the mode share in Copenhagen), the number of green jobs supporting cycling in London would increase from 6,104 to 46,799;
  • Jobs relating to cycling vary, some are directly associated with it, while others are induced or occur in other sections of the economy (e.g. tourism).

Crapper Cycle Lanes: misguided, misplaced and moronic marvels

By David Whelan

You don’t have to be a cyclist to marvel at ‘Crapper Cycle Lanes’. Anyone browsing through the second collection of the 50 of the worst cycle facilities that the UK has thrown up since the first edition, will find something to baffle, defeat their grasp of common-sense, or make them lol.

With snappy text for every image, and produced more in humour than in anger (but with regret at the lack of progression since Warrington Cycle Campaign’s Crap Cycle Lanes came out in 2007), this little stocking-compatible book has, happily, arrived in time for Christmas. £7.99 each (bulk discounts available). Published by Eye Books. 

Well-managed highway infrastructure: A code of practice (UK Roads Liaison Group)

Supplanting previous codes 'Well-maintained Highways', 'Well-lit Highways' and 'Management of Highway Structures', this document is “…  designed to promote the adoption of an integrated asset management approach to highway infrastructure based on the establishment of local levels of service through risk-based assessment.” It applies throughout the UK.

Whether this means that highways will be well-managed, well-maintained and well-lit from the cycling perspective is something that our Policy Director, Roger Geffen will consider in a future Campaign News once he’s made his way through all 256 pages.

Diary dates

Brake Road Safety Week

21-27 November

On now, Brake’s Road Safety Week involves thousands of schools, organisations and communities each year, inspiring them to take action on road safety and promote life-saving messages during the week and beyond. It also provides a focal point for professionals working in road safety to boost awareness and engagement in their work.

This year, Brake is inviting people to make and share a pledge to be 'Slow, Sober, Secure, Silent, Sharp and Sustainable'.

Cycling@teatime, London -Two free talks and discussions:

24 November

Cycling and disability with guest speakers Isabelle Clement (Wheels for Wellbeing) and Dr William Clayton (Centre for Transport & Society, UWE).  

12 December

Diversity in cycling, with researcher Tiffany Lam who’s investigated how infrastructure influences the uptake of cycling, and Tom Becker (TfL) on his work on diversifying the user base of London’s Cycle Hire scheme.  

Cycling@teatime is a series of events, offered collaboratively by UCL Transport Institute, CIHT, CILT UK, TPS, ICE & IHE

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