CycleDigest October 2013
From the Editor
Congratulations to the Welsh Assembly for passing a law that should make forgetting about walking and cycling harder for all local authorities in Wales (see headlines).
We hope the new legislation will set an example for the rest of the UK in the future and, at the same time, demonstrate how vital it is to back up policy commitments with funding.
Sustainable transport can't do without the support of politicians and over the last few years cycling has certainly benefited from a dedicated cycling minister in Norman Baker MP. We wish him well for his new post in the Home Office, and look forward to working with his successor, Robert Goodwill MP.
Thanks to legislation just passed by the Welsh Assembly, the next few years should see Wales become cycle-friendlier and a model for the rest of the UK.
The Active Travel (Wales) Act places a duty on Welsh local authorities to improve facilities and routes for walkers and cyclists continuously; to prepare maps identifying current and potential future routes; to consider pedestrians and cyclists’ needs at an early stage in designing new roads; and to connect key sites such as hospitals, schools and shopping areas with traffic-free routes and cycle lanes. Progress will be well-monitored and regular reports produced.
As none of this is cost-free, CTC and other campaigners are stressing how vital it is that the Act is underpinned with investment.
CTC is a member of the working group preparing guidelines for local authorities to ensure high standards for cycle-friendly planning and design.
Sentencing for bad driving in the news
- Sentencing guidelines: PM David Cameron has recently announced that the sentencing guidelines for England and Wales are up for review.
CTC has long called for an overhaul of the guidelines on prosecuting and sentencing for serious driving offences to ensure that these are treated with the seriousness they deserve. The review announced by the Prime Minister will cover sentencing for careless and dangerous driving, and causing death by driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured.
Meanwhile, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has said it will consider a subsequent review of the corresponding prosecution guidelines. CTC, plus road crash victims' charity RoadPeace, were strongly critical of these when they were last updated.
CTC and its partners in the Road Justice campaign feel that much greater use should be made of long driving bans.
- ‘Unduly lenient’ sentence appeal rejected: The sentence handed down to Gary McCourt, whose driving killed cyclist and CTC member Audrey Fyfe in 2011, led her family, supporters and CTC to pursue an appeal against it on the grounds that it was ‘unduly lenient’.
However, the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh has decided that the original 300 hours community service and a five-year driving ban were appropriate, even though McCourt had killed another cyclist back in 1985. CTC believes that McCourt should have been banned for driving for life to stop him from endangering anyone else.
At the moment, Scottish courts tend to refer to the sentencing guidelines for England and Wales (now up for review, see above), but Scotland may produce a set of its own in future.
One of the most dedicated cycling ministers of all time, Norman Baker MP, has been promoted out of the DfT and into a more senior role in the Home Office.
As a junior minister from the junior party in the Coalition and working in difficult financial times, Mr Baker had a weak hand politically, but nonetheless managed to secure funds for Bikeability cycle training, moulded the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, and got the PM to back a ‘cycling revolution’ along with cycling money for eight cities and four national parks. While these are modest achievements compared with what's needed to Get Britain Cycling, his commitment to cycling and sustainable transport was never in doubt.
Robert Goodwill MP has taken over the cycling portfolio (along with aviation, strategic roads and the Highways Agency, motoring agencies, road safety and standards, freight and logistics, local roads, HS2 Phase One… and Europe). Fortunately, he is a cyclist and has been a member of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group. One of his first cycling tasks will probably be to oversee the development of a promised 'Cycling Delivery Plan'.
CTC has just spent three days meeting Department for Transport officials who will be preparing the plan. They are clearly keen to be ambitious. However, we have explained that this will require real political commitment and funding, not just from DfT ministers, but from other departments and bodies too. It will also require new cycle-friendly traffic regulations, design guidelines and professional training to deliver the safe and connected cycling provision that mass cycle use will need. We look forward to meeting Mr Goodwill shortly.
ACPO revises speed enforcement guidance
ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) released its updated guidance on the enforcement of 20 mph speed limits in October.
The guidance states that targeted enforcement will take place in all 20 mph zones where there is evidence of deliberate offending or disregard of the speed limit. Routine enforcement, or regular planned attendance, will take place in clearly posted zones where there is no evidence of deliberate offending or disregard.
Marking a new approach, drivers who drive between 24 and 31 mph in a 20 mph zone will be sent on a specially designed speed awareness course. When education is not appropriate (e.g. if the driver in question has already completed the course within the previous three years), they will be ordered to pay a fixed penalty notice of £100 and receive 3 penalty points. The speed at which drivers may face prosecution has dropped from 40 mph to 35 mph.
CTC's Road Safety campaigner Rhia Weston says: "In some respects, the revised guidance is an improvement on its predecessor, but there are some ambiguities in the wording that we need to clear up with ACPO before pronouncing further."
20 mph for Birmingham
Birmingham City Council is keen to introduce 20 mph on the city’s roads and is consulting on proposals.
The proportion of drivers who have points on their licence varies noticeably from postcode to postcode, according to recently published official data. Glasgow tops the list at 14.5% and Lerwick, in Shetland, is at the bottom at just 4%.
The discrepancy between areas could well be due to differing levels of traffic policing - fewer traffic police means day-to-day bad driving goes undetected.
See CTC’s points map to check on your own postcode.
THINK! campaign: pictures better than words, says CTC
The Department for Transport has launched a THINK! campaign to raise drivers’ awareness of cyclists and vice versa in Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and Cambridge. The main focus is a set of posters, first trialled in London, illustrating the need for drivers to look out for cyclists at junctions and when opening car doors; and for cyclists to ride centrally on narrow roads and ride a door’s width from parked cars.
CTC welcomes the posters, but has long-standing concerns about some of THINK!’s associated ‘tips’, especially its advice to drivers to give cyclists at least half a car’s width. This is far less than the overtaking distance recommended in the Highway Code, which it says is: “…as much room as you would [give] when overtaking a car" – i.e. far more than half a car's width in most cases.
CTC also believes that THINK!’s recommendation that cyclists should wear a helmet implies that it is irresponsible not to wear one, advice that could be prejudicial to cyclists in legal cases. CTC points out that helmets are not designed to protect riders in the sort of collisions that are likely to happen in fast or heavy traffic and that it is far more important to provide sound advice to road users on how to avoid collisions in the first place.
THINK! publishes road safety survey
The recently published results of THINK!’s annual road safety survey show that drivers think that drink-driving is the most important issue to address, and speeding the second, very closely followed by mobile phone use whilst driving.
The survey also says: “There has been an increase in the perceived importance of cycling safety (from 6% in November 2011 to 10% in July 2013), suggesting this is moving up the agenda.”
However, when asked what people look out for at junctions, only three in ten drivers spontaneously mentioned the need to look out for cyclists.
Toughen up on texting, says IAM
Having analysed eleven recent prosecutions involving mobile and smartphone use, IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) wants to see tougher penalties for texting drivers. Loss of concentration was common to all cases: there were six incidents where vehicles ran into the back of a stationary or slow moving queue of traffic or a broken down vehicle; three incidents where vehicles drifted across the road and hit another vehicle head-on; and two incidents leading to the death of a pedestrian.
Cyclists protest at bus lane suspension in Liverpool
Cyclists in Liverpool have combined with other groups to protest at Mayor Joe Anderson’s decision to suspend the city’s bus lanes for nine months, because there are suspicions that the lanes are causing congestion. The Mayor says the time will be used to monitor the effect of their absence.
Many cyclists see bus lanes, which they’ve been allowed to use in Liverpool, as a relatively ‘safe haven’ – so the impact on cycling in the city could be serious and there are doubts that this has been properly considered or assessed.
New app eases cycle-rail journeys
The cycle-rail combination doesn’t always go all that smoothly, and different arrangements apply for different operators, but a new app (Android and iPhone) is now ready to help.
The app makes it easy and quick to find out about cycling facilities, the rules for taking bikes on trains, the number of cycle spaces available and information on cycle reservations. It has been developed by ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies) in partnership with National Rail Enquiries. (Photo: ATOC)
Students study the inside of lorry cabs
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) went to Cambridge University’s Freshers’ Fair recently with a Hanson cement tanker to show students what the view is like from a driver’s cab. The idea was to demonstrate the best road positioning for cyclists in relation to a large goods vehicle.
Cycle to Work Day - the results
The organisers of National Cycle to Work Day (12 September) report that thousands of people pledged to cycle 256,932 miles to work, and collectively saved 6,821.17kg of CO2 while burning 12,071,397 calories.
Add your name to the Campaign for Better Transport's protest about the complete failure of Local Transport Bodies (England) to see how important it is to invest in cycling schemes. (See CBT's report on the issue in New Publications)
Report commissioned by the Government looking at the evidence for interventions to improve the safety of novice drivers and reduce the number of casualties and collisions associated with them.
Concludes that a form of Graduated Driver Licensing is one of the best ways forward - including a 12-month learner stage and a minimum of 120 hours' supervised practice, progressing to a ‘probationary’ licence with certain restrictions (e.g. curfew etc).
Given that 17-20 year-old drivers are about twice as likely than any others to kill a cyclist, CTC agrees that the training and testing of young drivers needs to be toughened up and include elements of cycle awareness. A Green Paper on the training of novice drivers is expected from the Government soon.
(Campaigns for Better Transport/CPRE)
Research report looking at how the new ‘Local Transport Bodies’ (LTBs) set up in England are distributing funding. Finds that out of £billion+ worth of proposals, almost two thirds are purely for road building or widening - and that there are no dedicated cycling schemes prioritised anywhere in the country. The report also says that only twelve out of 38 LTBs have carried out any consultation.
CBT is calling on people to write to the Transport Minister to reject the proposals – a tailored letter is available.
The revised, official code of practice covering safe working at streets and road works has been updated and comes into force in a year’s time. The new version includes a section on cyclists and advises supervisors to assess the works’ impact on them and consider preserving access to the carriageway even if it needs to be closed to motor vehicles. It also says that portable traffic lights should be configured to give cyclists enough time to clear the controlled area. The code is an improvement on the last version (2001).
(COLIBI & COLIPED)
Detailed figures relating to the cycle industry in Europe. The report says that the UK market has remained remarkably stable at about 3.6m units p.a. for the last six years. Olympic enthusiasm made little overall difference, although sales of road bikes did experience a surge. Happily, though, 20 million bikes are sold annually across Europe which, the report says, “exceeds that of any other means of mobility (cars, motorcycles etc.).”
25-28 November 2013
Location: West Midlands
Cost: £396, which includes materials, course text, refreshments and VAT.
CTC can also run this event at your venue - please get in touch