Cycle Campaign News February 2018

Beyond the Green Belt: The vision for rural cycling [Photo: Anthony DeHeveningham]

Cycle Campaign News February 2018

Cycling UK's monthly round-up of cycle campaigning news:

From the Editor

Cycling UK has a long history of campaigning for cycling - not just in cities and towns, but also off-road and on road in the countryside. Following this tradition, we’ve written up our vision of what cycling beyond the Green Belt could be like in future, and we're hoping you’ll help us bring it to life (see Headlines).

Obviously, we don’t want to see our options shrinking anywhere so, if you haven’t already, please add your voice to the thousands protesting against an outright cycling ban on a stretch of the A63 near Hull (Headlines/Act now).

Also, as we’re determined to get the best out of the rail scheme HS2, we have just petitioned against the Parliamentary Bill for Phase 2a (as we did for Phase 1). We need the infrastructure to be ‘cycle-proofed’ and the construction work to keep cyclists safe (Other stories).

Amongst all the multitude of other news this month, we’re particularly pleased to report that the Department for Transport has funded our Big Bike Revival for another year - keep watch on our website for more! (Headlines).

Cherry Allan
Campaign News

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Find out what else is in this issue.


Beyond the Green Belt: The Vision for Rural Cycling

For 140 years, Cycling UK has been shouting about the joys and benefits of cycling in the countryside and, building on this, we’re proud to announce our new campaign and report, 'Beyond the Green Belt: the vision for rural cycling'.

First, we ask people to imagine what it would be like if cyclists ...

  • could ride on some of the 80% of the network they can't use now in England and Wales;
  • were able to access more of the National Trails; 
  • could enjoy recreational rides linking cycle-friendly quiet roads to rights of way;
  • were welcomed to National Parks which appreciated the benefits of promoting cycling. 

We then explain the problems that people face if they want to cycle between urban and rural areas and within the off-road network itself, but finish with a host of ideas on how the experience could be transformed.

You’ll find more details in our 23-page report covering:

  • What’s beyond the Green Belt for cycling, and the commercial benefits of cycle tourism;
  • Why cycling off-road is often far from trouble-free with, for example: hostile rural roads to negotiate before cyclists can even get onto off-road trails; an incoherent rights of way network in England and Wales; and difficulties putting ‘legal’ routes together;
  • Visionary advances and legislation from Wales and Scotland, and mechanisms that local authorities already have to make a difference (e.g. Rights of Way Improvement Plans and Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans);
  • The huge contribution that National Parks and Trails, disused railways lines and themed loops could make;
  • Financial incentives for landowners to plug gaps in the off-road network, or enhance it in other ways.

Read Beyond the Green Belt: The Vision for Rural Cycling, and watch our video.

To bring our vision to life, we’ll be working to influence national governments, major landowners, local authorities and other stakeholders. Also, we’ll be responding soon to a new consultation from the Government on farming policy, which looks to include proposals relating to public access.

But we need your help too! If you share our vision and want to get involved, please email our campaigns team, and/or sign up for our new rural and off-road cycling newsletter.

  • Leisure cycle tourism contributes around £345 million to the Scottish economy a year, with mountain bike tourism adding another £141.1 million. These estimates are quoted in a new report commissioned by Cycling Scotland.
  • Government’s farming policy consultation (deadline 8 May).

Stop Highways England banning cyclists from the A63!

So many people are opposed to Highways England’s (HE) bid to ban cycling from a 15-mile stretch of the A63 near Hull that the deadline for objections has been extended by three weeks until 12 March. 

Cycling UK, along with thousands of our supporters, fears the move could set an alarming precedent for banning cyclists from other major roads simply because they can’t keep up with the rest of the traffic. It also conflicts with HE’s own stated ambition to create a high-quality cycling network.

Cycling UK has yet to see convincing evidence to back up HE’s concerns about cyclists in particular, or any impact assessment of how the ban could affect their journeys.

Big Bike Revival returns for 2018

Last year, Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival (BBR) inspired 18,500 people to cycle more regularly in England at a cost of only £23.81 person, a small price to pay for better health and ultimate savings to the health service.

We’re therefore delighted to announce that the Department for Transport is funding the project for the fourth year running with a £500,000 grant.

  • Cycling UK’s news story 
  • DfT announcement - at the same time as announcing the grant for BBR, the Government said it was giving eight cycle ambition cities the chance to bid for £6.5 million of funding to trial new safety schemes. The cities are: Bristol, Leeds, Cambridge, Birmingham, Norwich, Manchester, Newcastle and Oxford.

Other stories

HS2: Cycling UK petitions for cyclists' safety and cycle-friendly infrastructure

Cycling UK sees both threats and opportunities for cycling in HS2, the planned high speed rail link between London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester.

Back in 2014, we petitioned against the original parliamentary bill for Phase 1 (London – West Midlands), and have just done the same for Phase 2a (West Midlands – Crewe).

Like the first, our new petition sets out what the scheme must do for the sake of cyclists’ safety and enhanced provision, i.e. ensuring that:

  • All permanent or temporary works to highways (including rights of way), cycle-specific facilities and station developments are ‘cycle-proofed’ to high standards;
  • Cycle safety is reflected in lorry routing and in the selection of lorry operators, vehicles and drivers when contracting for construction and other associated work.

Our first petition led to constructive negotiations and we won some legally-binding assurances from the Transport Secretary. Since then, however, not only have we been dismayed by HS2 Ltd’s poor highway design standards, but we also fear that the undertakings to ‘cycle-proof’ have been ditched.

Note: these and future High Speed Rail Bills cover the legal rights to purchase land and carry out the construction and associated works. Ticket pricing, conditions of carriage and train layout are not included.

Truro campaign fights for key crossing over dual carriageway

Cyclists in Cornwall are lobbying Highways England for a key crossing as an intrinsic part of its plans to build a dual carriageway between Chiverton and Carland Cross.  While there is local support for the scheme overall, no provision is being made for cyclists on the key St. Agnes to Truro commuter route.

Under the existing proposals, cyclists would have to ride to a new junction nearly a kilometre to the east and back, and still have to negotiate heavy traffic.

Truro Cycling Campaign believes this is a now or never opportunity to connect up local cycle routes, but instead Highways England is locking in a strategic barrier to cycling with this trunk road.
Truro Cycling Campaign

£8.1m active travel funding awarded to Welsh local authorities

The Welsh Government has allocated £8.1 million to a number of local walking and cycling infrastructure schemes.

Although the funding is welcome, Cycling UK believes it is by no means enough to help local authorities realise the active travel networks they have been asked to map under the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013.

  • Welsh Government press release
  • The number of primary children who typically cycle to school in Wales has dropped by one per cent each year since 2013/14: 3% (2013/14); 2% (2014/15); 1% (2016/17). While it’s important to view fluctuations in such small percentages with some caution, on the face of it this is not good news for active travel in Wales, making it all the more crucial for local authorities to get their active travel maps right, and have enough funding to implement them. Check out the stats

Getting the commitment

Last year, Portsmouth Council passed a motion committing it to plan a comprehensive network of high quality cycleways and allocate a minimum of 10% of the local transport budget to ensure they’re built.

We now have word that a similar motion, also based on a draft provided by Cycling UK, is due to be put before Warwickshire County Council when the full council convenes in March. Stay tuned for further updates as the meeting draws nearer.

  • Not in Warwickshire and want your council to take cycling seriously? Check out our series of guides to help you work with your council to do so. Don’t hesitate to contact our campaigns team if you have any queries.
  • Portsmouth motion 

News from London

  • Six of the highest quality: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has approved six more high-quality cycle routes across nine boroughs in inner and outer London at a cost of £142 million. The routes have some of the highest potential for cycling, and design work has already started. Read more
  • Notes from a cyclist on London's infrastructure innovations: send for your copies now! Neil Guthrie, independent cycling specialist, naturally takes a great interest in the routes he rides himself. He’s also keen to spread the word about the latest innovations in London so he’s been writing up his impressions in a series of detailed notes with lots of photos, including: the capital’s East West Cycle Superhighway (CS3); its first end-to-end route designed to continental design standards (CS5); and the signalised cycle track round Queens Circus five-arm roundabout, Battersea. Email Neil for copies.
  • Jeremy Vine airs views on cycling in London: The London Assembly has been talking to BBC broadcaster and regular London cyclist Jeremy Vine about public attitudes to cycling. Jeremy aired his views at a special briefing session of the Assembly’s inquiry into cycling infrastructure.
  • London TravelWatch says restraining car travel will boost cycling: The official watchdog organisation, London TravelWatch, has recently concluded that the capital needs to restrain car travel if levels of cycling are to match those seen in many European cities. Most outer London residents, it says, live less than 15 minutes’ cycle ride from a zone 5 or 6 station, making bike+rail journeys entirely feasible for many more people. Roads pricing, tighter parking and car-free housing are amongst 12 measures it recommends in a new report.
  • Talking tech: London Assembly’s Transport Committee has been looking into how the capital is responding to technological innovation, e.g. ‘driverless cars’, app-based services, and drones (now increasingly used for freight delivery). As part of the process, it considered dockless bike hire schemes, and suggested that a London-wide licensing regime would be worth further examination. Read the report.

Bristol 20 mph model for other towns and cities, says study

A holistic and sophisticated evaluation of the roll-out of 20 mph speed limits across the city of Bristol found:

  • Statistically significant reductions in average traffic speeds of 2.7mph, a larger reduction than seen in previous evaluations in other cities;
  • A drop in the number of fatal, serious and slight injuries from road traffic collisions, equating to estimated cost savings of over £15 million per year;
  • Despite majority support for the limits, people are still concerned about other drivers’ compliance and behaviour;
  • Walking and cycling across Bristol has increased, both among children travelling to school and adults travelling to work;

The authors conclude that Bristol is a model for other UK towns and cities to follow, and advocate making ongoing data collection and analysis a priority. 

A new vision for Aberdeen

Dismayed to hear that Aberdeen’s new city centre masterplan has failed to promise safe cycling facilities on many key routes, Cycling UK has helped local mother Rachel Martin campaign for a better deal along Union Street.

The road is both an arterial route into the city centre and popular with shoppers, but also seriously congested and polluted.

To collect support for the concept, Rachel staged a demo earlier this month.

  • See our visualisation of Rachel’s dreams for Union Street and how it would look with protected cycle facilities. There’s enough room for Dutch-style separated cycle lanes, buses and other vehicles.  

Cyclists celebrate Forth Road Bridge re-opening

The Forth Road Bridge in Scotland has been re-opened for cyclists, pedestrians, buses and taxis only. The Queensferry Crossing alongside now carries the rest of the traffic (i.e. cars and HGVs) and is due to become a motorway.

Staff and supporters of Cycling UK in Scotland attended the opening event and, despite the chilly weather, enjoyed the bridge without any motor traffic and the opportunity to chat active travel with the Transport Minister. 

With the bridge now closed to almost all motor vehicles, cycling over it is much more enjoyable. With no fumes, vibration or noise to contend with, could the route over the Forth Estuary now be one of the most impressive in Scotland? 
Claire Connachan, Cycling UK in Scotland

Cycle networks save lives

According to a new study, 167 European cities between them could prevent over 10,000 premature deaths a year if they reached a 24.7% cycling mode share. To make their assessment, the researchers modelled the association between cycling network length and cycling mode share, and estimated the health impacts of expanding the networks by different amounts.

Their ‘all-streets scenario’ produced the greatest benefits for London with 1,210 premature deaths avoidable annually, followed by Rome (433); Barcelona (248); Vienna (146); Zurich (58); and Antwerp (7).

East Sussex campsite refused on road safety grounds

Local councillors in East Sussex have agreed with Cycling UK and other objectors that a campsite on Pannel Lane, part of a rural route promoted to cyclists and walkers, would have an adverse impact on road safety.

Although the highways authority, East Sussex County Council, did not object, Rother District councillors did and refused the application for planning permission. Like us, they were worried about the amount of traffic the development would generate, and potential conflict with walkers and other motorised transport.

Officially objecting on Cycling UK’s behalf, Head of Campaigns Duncan Dollimore pointed out that the lane “… is exactly the type of East Sussex lane which is likely to attract novice and family leisure cyclists. […] If this application is granted, they will have to cope with and respond to increased traffic on a supposedly quiet rural lane, and with larger vehicles travelling to and from the site.”

Ensuring that rural lanes popular with cyclists aren’t threatened by increased volumes of motor traffic is one of the goals of our new vision for cycling beyond the Green Belt (see headlines).

  • Rother District Planning Committee’s decision
  • The story of Pannel lane echoes another case last year when we and other campaigners successfully objected to retrospective planning permission for an HGV operation out of Chilley Farm, Pevensey, also on a rural route promoted to cycle tourists. Read more

Why are more and more young people losing interest in owning cars?

Academics looking at why car ownership has dropped so markedly amongst young people over the last 25 years have concluded that it’s mostly to do with sweeping changes to socio-economic conditions and living circumstances, e.g. the rise in lower paid and less secure jobs, a decline in home ownership and more going into higher education.

Chance for Bristol's older people to share their walking & cycling experiences

The University of the West of England is asking older people in Bristol to send in videos of their experiences of walking and cycling in the city.

The videos will be shown to council representatives later this year as part of ClairCity, an EU project to raise awareness of the effects of air pollution and carbon emissions from transport.

'Op Velo': Cambridgeshire Police target close overtakers

Camcycle (Cambridge Cycling Campaign) has welcomed ‘Op Velo’, an operation from Cambridgeshire Police targeting drivers who overtake cyclists too closely.

The force is one of several now using an educational mat to demonstrate how to pass cyclists as safely as possible. The mats were supplied by Cycling UK after a crowd sourcing campaign, and inspired originally by West Midlands Police ‘Operation Close Pass’. 

To date, every police force has accepted our offer of a mat, apart from Derbyshire, Humberside and Northumberland.

German high speed trains build in eight bike spaces

The German railway company Deutsche Bahn is incorporating spaces for eight bikes on all their new, flagship long-distance high speed trains.

Overall, the European Cyclists' Federation (ECF) hails this as an advance for bike+rail integration and cycle tourism, but reports that the German cyclists’ association ADFC has some concerns about the way the racks are currently configured.

Cycling UK conducts major review of local activist network

As part of a major review of Cycling UK’s local campaigning networks, we recently invited all our known individual activists and campaign groups to participate in a survey, the results of which are giving us valuable insight, ideas and success stories from all around the UK. 

Over 150 individual campaigners and 49 campaign groups responded, and we're encouraged to learn that nearly 80% have been involved in campaigning activities in the last two years.

We're still analysing the results, and will be carrying out in-depth telephone interviews both within and outside our current network to find out what support our volunteers need for the future.

If you are a Cycling UK campaigner and did not manage to complete the survey, please let us know whether you still wish to remain part of the network by email or phone 01483 238335.

Act now

There’s still time to log your objection to plans to ban cycling from a stretch of the A63 near Hull (see headlines for more). Our online action makes it easy. 

New publications

Can exercise improve cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease [AD]?

By Gregory A Panza et al.

Yes, it can help, say researchers in America who carried out a meta-analysis of evidence. They concluded that: “… exercise training may delay the decline in cognitive function that occurs in individuals who are at risk of or have AD, with aerobic exercise possibly having the most favorable effect.”

Cycling is, of course, aerobic exercise.

Published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Driverless Cars: On A Road to Nowhere

Book: £9.99  

Are driverless cars the future? Or is it all hype? And what about road safety?

Author Christian Wolmar considers many of the technical, legal and moral problems that he believes could obstruct the path to a driverless future.

Diary dates

Cycling and the Tram Extension: Spokes (Lothian Cycle Campaign) spring public meeting

15 March (Edinburgh)

A chance to listen to decision-makers and debate the impact that plans to extend Edinburgh Tram to Leith, Ocean Terminal and Newhaven will present to cyclists.

Numerous cyclists have been injured on or near the tramlines and, last year, a young cyclist was killed.  

Cycling UK’s National Day of Action!

21 April

As this year’s council elections draw nearer, groups around the country are preparing to take part in Cycling UK’s ‘national day of action’ to ensure that cycling is given pride of place in local transport policy.

Take a look at the family fun events we helped to organise last year, email us if you would like to run an event in your area.

Pedal on Parliament

28 April 2018 (Edinburgh & Inverness)

Meet at The Meadows 12 noon to cycle, scoot and march on closed roads down to the Scottish Parliament.

Now an annual event, the idea is to ask all of Scotland’s politicians, from all parties, to sign up to PoP’s manifesto to make Scotland a cycle-friendly country for people of all ages and abilities.

Pedal on Parliament is a grass-roots group of people who want to see Scotland become a place where active travel is safe and enjoyable for everyone, whether they cycle or not.


PoPs will be popping up in Inverness and other cities across Scotland too.

In this issue:

Headlines: Beyond the Green Belt - The Vision for Rural Cycling; Stop Highways England banning cyclists from the A63!; Big Bike Revival returns for 2018

Other stories: HS2 - Cycling UK petitions for cyclists' safety and cycle-friendly infrastructure; Truro campaign fights for key crossing over dual carriageway; £8.1m active travel funding awarded to Welsh local authorities; Getting council commitment for cycling; News from London; Bristol 20 mph model for other towns and cities, says study; A new vision for Aberdeen; Cyclists celebrate Forth Bridge re-opening; Cycle networks save lives; East Sussex campsite refused on road safety grounds; Why has young people's interest in owning cars waned?; Chance for Bristol's older people to share their walking & cycling experiences; 'Op Velo' - Cambridgeshire Police target close over-takers; German high speed trains build in eight bike spaces; Cycling UK conducts major review of local activist network.

Act now: There’s still time to log your objection to plans to ban cycling from a stretch of the A63 near Hull.

New publications: Can exercise improve cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?; Driverless Cars - On A Road to Nowhere.

Diary dates: Spokes (Lothian Cycle Campaign) spring public meeting, 15 March (Edinburgh); Cycling UK’s National Day of Action! 21 April; Pedal on Parliament, 28 April 2018 (Edinburgh).

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