CycleDigest June 2013
From the Editor
Encouraging more people to enjoy the benefits of cycling is wrapped up in road safety; and road safety in turn depends to a large extent on how strongly the legal system defends cyclists from bad driving - hence the launch of CTC's new Road Justice campaign and website (see headline below).
As mentioned in the last CycleDigest, the e-petition urging the Government to implement the recommendations of the 'Get Britain Cycling' report has done well - and news has just come in that it will soon be the subject of a debate in Parliament.
Don't stop getting people to sign it, though! It needs to make the biggest impression possible on politicians, most immediately the Chancellor, who'll be setting out his proposals for public spending in the Comprehensive Spending Review on 26 June. Cycling is, after all, an excellent investment - as our topical briefing on cycling and the economy explains.
By the way, if you haven't done so already, you can subscribe directly to the CycleDigest - and do pass the link on to anyone else you think might be interested.
Justice and safety on the roads means that the police, the prosecution services and the judiciary must deal with bad driving more effectively – and CTC’s recently launched Road Justice campaign, supported by Slater & Gordon Lawyers, aims to tackle just that.
Of course, cycling isn’t a particularly hazardous activity but, in the unlikely event of a collision, CTC wants all victims to be treated fairly and well by the justice system.
Since 2009, we have collected over 4,000 reports of bad driving and an analysis of them has told Road Justice exactly where the legal system’s response to road crashes is letting victims down. As a result, the campaign is calling for:
- High quality and thorough police investigations of all road traffic collisions;
- Better charging and prosecution decisions made by the police and the prosecution services;
- Sentences that reflect the severity of the offence and discourage bad driving, including greater use of substantial driving bans.
CTC will now present a compilation of case studies, plus legal arguments based on them, to the police, prosecution services and courts, and work with them to help achieve the campaign’s goals.
On the Road Justice website, you can access resources and advice; watch videos of victims explaining how the legal system failed them; report bad driving; and get involved with the campaign.
Just days before Road Justice was launched, the family of cyclist Audrey Fyfe welcomed the decision by the Crown Counsel in Edinburgh to refer the lenient sentence handed down to the driver who killed her, Gary McCourt, for appeal. This followed a CTC campaign that called on supporters to write to the Lord Advocate in protest. Over 6,000 people responded.
For killing Mrs Fyfe by so-called ‘careless’ driving in 2011, 49-year-old McCourt received only a five year driving ban and 300 hours of community service. It transpired that his bad driving had killed another cyclist, 22-year-old George Dalgity, in 1985. (Mrs Fyfe is pictured right, with her daughter Aileen).
The Crown Office only takes up 12 appeals at most per year and not all of them are successful, so the fact that this case will be appealed is a major step in its own right.
Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG), has asked the Backbench Business Committee for a debate on the Group's 'Get Britain Cycling' report. In response, the Committee says that it’s “supportive” of the application. The debate is likely to take place in the next few weeks.
The Government has now approved the principle of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for careless driving. While CTC welcomes the move, we will be scrutinising the results carefully to check that it does not lead to yet more cases of truly dangerous driving being dismissed as merely ‘careless’ – a trend that is fully discussed in CTC’s new set of campaigns briefings on the legal system, including ‘The legal framework and sentencing’ and ‘Prosecutors and courts’.
The Government has also decided to increase all motoring fixed penalties by 50% to £90, which should go some way to tackling bad driving, although fines linked to income would make more sense, in CTC’s view.
For these two measures to work properly, however, the numbers of traffic officers need a major boost – not only to make best use of FPNs, but also to act as a deterrent to bad driving in general.
The AA and BSM will be rolling out a cycle awareness module to its driving instructors. This should help make young learner drivers – who are often ‘higher-risk’ – understand cyclists’ manoeuvres and their rights better, and discourage inconsiderate and aggressive driving behaviour towards them. It would be good if other driving schools follow suit.
Advanced cycle training for young people before they start learning to drive would complement this idea very well too, says CTC.
First published in 2009, CAPS has undergone a refresh and the new version has just appeared.
The revised plan hasn't changed significantly: the vision for 10% of trips to be made by bike by 2020 is still there, and the actions are a mix of infrastructure and promotion.
Of remaining concern, however, is the lack of money to see the Plan through to reality - although the report acknowledges that £5-10 per head is required to sustain increases in cycling, no commitment is made to fund at that level.
London’s new Road Safety Action Plan has just been published, setting out Transport for London’s (TfL) intentions for the capital to 2020.
The problem with many road safety plans (not just in London, but elsewhere too) is often the target. Aiming to increase the numbers of people cycling has often been undermined by a goal to cut casualty numbers in absolute terms: fewer cyclists mean fewer casualties, so why promote the activity?
Given the health benefits of cycling (which far outweigh the disbenefits), CTC suggests instead that safety should be measured not just by counting the numbers of cyclists injured, but by calculating the risk that they face per mile, hour or trip. A reduced likelihood of injury is a much better indicator of road safety success.
Has London’s new plan taken this concept on board? Sort of, says CTC’s Chris Peck.
Conall McDevitt, MLA, has introduced a Private Member's Bill to the Northern Ireland Assembly to reduce the speed limit on residential unclassified streets from 30 mph to 20 mph. The Bill follows extensive public consultation and engagement with stakeholders, and aims to improve road safety for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike.
CTC has put its name to a joint letter calling on the Chancellor George Osborne to spend government money on maintaining existing roads, rather than splashing out on new road schemes.
The signatories, who also include Living Streets, CPRE, Sustrans and The Campaign for Better Transport, are urging the Chancellor to tackle the growing £10.5 billion deficit in road and footway maintenance by creating a Road Repair and Renewal Fund. The RAC and business groups have made similar calls.
Cyclists are disproportionately affected by surface defects - and it’s possible to install high quality facilities for them at the same time as carrying out repair work.
Anyone can report a surface defect via CTC’s Fill That Hole.
In Britain, an editorial by Ben Goldacre in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has openly questioned the British Medical Association’s (BMA) support for laws that would ban people from cycling without helmets.
In the USA, a successful challenge by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) has persuaded the USA’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to drop the widely-parroted claim that helmets could prevent 85% of head injuries. WABA’s success is noteworthy not just from the cycle helmets point of view - it's also an edifying story of precise and determined campaigning.
For more, see CTC Roger Geffen’s blog.
CTC has been awarded £590,000 from Big Lottery Fund to enable more people with disabilities to enjoy cycling. A network of Inclusive Cycling Champions will build on the inclusive cycling work that CTC already does – e.g. the ‘Everybody’s Active' sessions in Reading – and new projects will be set up.
A cycle rally launched Bristol Cycling Campaign’s five-point manifesto and accompanying petition in the centre of the city on 29 May. First on the ‘Freedom to Ride’ list is a call for local leaders and the Mayor of Bristol to set a target to quadruple cycling by 2025 to 20% of all travel and 30% of trips to work.
Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire is already a hub for tourists – not to mention the annual rowing regatta – and now a new Electric Bike Network (EBN) is out to encourage more people to cycle both for transport and leisure. Funded by the Cycle Chilterns project, of which CTC is a partner, the EBN is one of eight such networks in the UK.
Rod King, the founder of the nationwide 20’s Plenty for Us speed limit campaign, which now has 200 local groups, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Rod says: “It acknowledges the aspiration and efforts of individuals, communities, councillors and council officers around the country who simply want to make their places better places to be.”
Well done, Rod!
"Altogether," says CTC’s Chris Peck, "Vienna is a city in which it's good to be a cyclist."
Chris is just back from Velo-city, the European Cyclists’ Federation’s annual international planning conference on cycling, this year held in Vienna. His first blog looks at how cycling is affected by political leadership; a superb, cheap public transport system; risky tram-lines; and plodding horse carriages ferrying tourists along key routes...
Nominate something or someone for one of The Association of Train Operating Companies' 2013 National Cycle Rail Awards!
The ten categories recognise progress towards encouraging integrated cycle-rail travel.
Deadline: 13 September 2013.
The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF)
An assessment of all 27 EU countries on their cycling levels, cycle tourism, advocacy activity, bike sales and cyclists’ safety. The aim is to help advocates press for change where it’s needed, and answer the FAQ ‘Which country is best for cycling in Europe?’
Denmark and the Netherlands came joint first, Malta last (27th) and the UK 10th, just behind Slovakia and one above France.
League of American Bicyclists/Sierra Club
It reveals that the fastest growth in bicycling over the last decade is among the Hispanic, African American and Asian American populations, up from 16% of all bike trips in 2001 to 23% in 2009; and that, according to a 2012 national poll, “86% of people of color and 82% of white respondents said they had a positive view of bicyclists.”
Looks at the effect of cycling infrastructure and the disparity of provision, new immigrant perceptions of cycling, as well as the economic impact of transportation and health inequity. With demographic data and thought-provoking and inspiring case studies, community action stories and images, this report is a good read.
New campaigns briefings from CTC include:
National Planning Policies
Three additions to our 'Bad Driving and the Justice System' series:
- The Legal Framework and Sentencing
- Prosecutors and Courts
- Compensation for Injured Cyclists (covers 'presumed liability')
Part of the Olympic Legacy, this mass-participation cycling festival offers four separate events for professionals and non-pros.
If you’d like to be part of cycling history, volunteer to become a marshal on the London-Surrey 100 & Classic on 4th August.