Cycle Campaign News July 2018

Eurostar train on the HS1 line. Flickr CC: Roger Marks
Eurostar train on the HS1 line. Flickr CC: Roger Marks

Cycle Campaign News July 2018

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

From the Editor

We’ve petitioned once, and now we’ve petitioned twice. Why not turn a major infrastructure project like HS2 into the finest example of cycle-friendliness ever, we ask? See 'Headlines' for more on the case we've just made to a committee of MPs. 

Two new road safety improvements are assured, though: the launch of a one-stop portal for sending in footage of dangerous driving to police forces; and a pilot scheme to train driving instructors in cycle awareness. (Headlines).

There’s also good reason to believe that the Government's ear is sympathetic to our arguments for excluding vulnerable road users from plans to raise the small claims limit. (Other stories).

These, and other road safety-related measures (many of which are covered in a new, 384-page review document commissioned by the Department for Transport), might help build on the 3% increase in GB cycle traffic we saw in 2017 compared to 2016.

That's what 'Moving the Nation', a vision from an alliance of active travel organisations including Cycling UK, is all about, as are Manchester's plans for 'Beelines' and Suffolk's decision to back a strategic cycle network.

Let's hope that all of this starts making inroads into the British public's attitude to cycling: sadly for the nation's health, two thirds keep saying, year after year, that it's "too dangerous" (Other stories). 

Cherry Allan
Campaign News

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Find out what else is in this issue.


HS2 must deliver on cycle safety, says Cycling UK

Unless we receive legal assurances to the contrary, cycle safety could be seriously compromised not only during the construction of the massive rail project HS2, but also from the infrastructure itself.  

This is a very real fear given that Cycling UK believes that HS2 Ltd has breached the spirit and, arguably, the letter of legally binding commitments we won for Phase 1 (London to West Midlands).

Poor design, penny-pinching – especially over tunnels and bridges – and splitting communities are causing us particular concern. 

We don’t want Phase 2 to go the same way, so we’ve just presented another petition, this time to MPs sitting on the High Speed Rail (West Midlands to Crewe) Bill Select Committee.

We explained why we need official assurances on the safety of construction lorries and best practice design standards applied to all highway works associated with the project.

Portal opens for dangerous driving footage

The National Dash Cam Safety Portal
The National Dash Cam Safety Portal

Cycling UK has supported the launch of a new nationwide platform that allows footage of dangerous driving to be uploaded directly to police forces across the UK.

The National Dash Cam Safety Portal, set up by dash camera manufacturer Nextbase, provides a single point for cyclists and drivers to report serious road incidents captured on dash, bike or helmet cams.

A one-stop shop portal is a major advance on the array of different systems operated by individual forces. It saves the police time and resources, and makes it more likely that reports of irresponsible driving receive the attention they deserve.

Cycle awareness training on way for driving instructors

Jesse Norman MP, the Minister responsible for cycling, has announced two welcome initiatives to improve the way drivers interact with cyclists. These are:

  • bespoke cycle safety awareness training for driving instructors; and
  • materials and support for police forces to help tackle drivers who overtake too closely.

Further details of these schemes are yet to be announced.

Cycling UK has long argued that training and testing processes should prime drivers better on cyclists’ safety.

Also, thanks to our Too Close for Comfort campaign, many police forces now have ground mats to help them explain to drivers what safe passing distances are - an idea originally inspired by West Midlands Police.

The Minister’s announcement coincided with a new partnership between Halfords and the Bikeability Trust to give 25,000 more primary school children access to safe cycling programmes.

Other stories

Scotland acts on inactivity

The Scottish Government aims to cut physical inactivity in adults and teenagers by 15% by 2030, a target aligning with the World Health Organisation’s global action plan on physical activity for 2018-2030.

To do this, it says it will fund active travel (including extra investment in cycle and walking paths), support both formal sports and informal physical activity, and boost partnership working across the transport, education, health and planning sectors.

Moving the Nation

Moving the Nation

An alliance of major organisations, all dedicated to promoting active travel, has published a vision of a future where everybody in the UK can live, work and play in places that are ‘healthy, vibrant and that make walking and cycling the natural choice for short journeys’.

The alliance, made up of the Bicycle Association, Cycling UK, the Ramblers, British Cycling, Living Streets and Sustrans, has outlined five first steps it would like to see the Government take:

  • Speed: reduce default speed limits to 20 mph for most roads in built-up areas and 40 mph for most minor rural roads;
  • Space: adopt and ensure consistent application of existing ‘best-in-class’ infrastructure design standards;
  • Safety: revise the Highway Code to improve safety for people walking and cycling, particularly at junctions;
  • Priority: prohibit pavement parking to create safer and more accessible streets;
  • Culture: provide cycle training for all primary and secondary school children, and embed a culture of walking and cycling throughout the school curriculum.

The funding needed turn these measures into reality has yet to be clarified.

Excluding cyclists from small claims limit hike: Government "sympathetic" to idea

Cycling UK has been campaigning for some time for vulnerable road users to be excluded from the Government’s plan to raise the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000.

This is because we estimate that around 70% of cyclists’ personal injury claims are serious enough to fall within this bracket, and small claims don’t allow for the recovery of legal costs.

We made the point to the Justice Select Committee earlier this year and they, in turn, recommended it to the Government.

In its recent response to the Committee, the Government has said it’s "sympathetic" to the argument – good news, although it hasn’t finished considering the matter quite yet. It says it: “… needs to ensure that any exemptions are justified, particularly with regard to those claimants to whom the increase will still apply.”

The Bill will come before the Commons first thing in September, so look out for more from us.

Tome published on road safety delivery practices in GB

Front cover of Road Safety Management Capacity Review

A 384-page review of road safety delivery practices in Great Britain concludes that to make a success of adopting a ‘Safe Systems’ approach and to  “… prevent the substantial avoidable tragedies experienced daily on UK roads”, we need:

  • Strong ministerial leadership;
  • A planned, systematic, accountable approach to road safety management with clear roles and responsibilities;
  • The adoption of a national long-term goal towards the ultimate prevention of death and serious injury; and
  • The adoption of national interim quantitative targets to 2030 to reduce death and serious injury, supported by a set of related safety performance objectives to foster closer management, more efficient delivery and use of public resource to achieve better results.

Cycling UK said much the same in our response to the Government’s recent review of cycle safety.

  • The independent report, 'Road Safety Management Capacity Review', was prepared for the DfT by Systra, with Cycling UK providing stakeholder input.
  • Want a quick briefing on mobile phone use while driving, or on urban cycle use, Safety in Numbers, and speed limits? Check out the latest ‘Essential Evidence’ from TravelWest.

Dim views persist

The DfT's latest 'Public Attitudes towards Transport' (GB) suggest that there's still nothing much to persuade almost two thirds of the British population that road conditions are safe enough for cycling:

  • 62% agree or strongly agree that “It is too dangerous for me to cycle on the roads”. This is the average level since the question was first asked in 2011.

The results of the survey also found that:

  • Although more people are willing than unwilling to switch to cycling journeys of less than two miles, combined agreement / strong agreement with cycling short distances has declined, from 44% in 2006 to 38% in 2017.
  • … there has been little change since 2011 in the frequencies per week with which people cycle.
  • Read more about the survey results

GB cycle traffic up by 3% in a year

Statistics released for 2017 show that pedal cycle traffic in Great Britain crept up by around 3% over a revised estimate for 2016.

Over the last five years, we’ve seen a 4.4% increase – not much, but at least it’s something:

Car traffic in 2017, on the other hand, rose by only just over 1% compared to 2016, and by 6% since 2013.

Northern Ireland sees no shift in cycling

The latest Travel Survey for Northern Ireland shows no change in the proportion of all journeys where the main mode of travel is cycling.

At 1%, it’s been the same each year for the last ten years, except for 2013 when it came in at even less.

Bold plans unveiled for Greater Manchester

    Beelines logo

    Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, has unveiled bold plans for a city-region-wide cycling and walking ‘Beelines’ network. It’ll be made up of 1,000+ miles of routes, including 75 miles of Dutch-style segregated bike lanes.

    All ten Greater Manchester local authorities are involved in what will be the largest joined-up system of walking and cycling routes in the UK, connecting communities, benefiting 2.7 million people and making active travel a real alternative to the car.

    London to lower speeds

    The Mayor of London, Transport for London (TfL) and the Metropolitan Police Service have published the capital's first 'Vision Zero' action plan.

    Its main target is a 65% reduction in the number of fatal and serious road casualties by 2022, with no-one being killed on or by a bus by 2030.

    Lower speed limits are a crucial component of the vision, with 20 mph planned as the new general speed limit on all TfL roads within the Congestion Charging Zone by 2020, a move intended to improve conditions for vulnerable road users.

    Flurry of reports appear on transforming cities for active travel

    • A new report from the Urban Transport Group, ‘Active Travel: solutions for changing cities’, takes a detailed look at how active travel schemes can transform cities for the better. It offers case studies from Manchester, Leicester, London, Sheffield, West Yorkshire, Darlington, Inverness and Bristol.
    • A one-year evaluation of ‘mini-Hollands’ in three outer London boroughs reports that the interventions to transform the environment for walking and cycling were associated with: an increased likelihood of any past-week cycling; and perceived improvements to cycling and street environments.
    • Running out of Road’, a study by former TfL cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan has highlighted the need for new protected bike lanes to stop Oxford and Cambridge from seizing up. More off-road routes and remodelled junctions are vital too, he says. Although both cities already attract impressive levels of cycle use, the report finds that they are still designed almost entirely for cars. It makes recommendations for routes and other improvements, and calls for an overhaul of Milton Keynes’ offerings for cyclists too. 

    Suffolk votes to plan a strategic cycle network

    Suffolk County councillors have unanimously voted to develop a strategic, costed five-year cycling plan to support a network of safe, accessible and direct routes.

    Other councils, such as Warwickshire, Cheshire East and Portsmouth, have passed similar motions in recent months.

    The downside is that Suffolk’s ruling Conservative administration rejected a second motion to allocate 5% of the council’s Integrated Transport Block funding towards it.

    • Cycling UK's Tom Guha blogs on what happened, what it means for Suffolk and beyond, and points to Cycling UK’s guidance on how to get your council to follow suit.


    Save our Crossing protest (July 2018). Becky Reynolds, Bricycles

    A protest against the closure of a vital and popular crossing over the A27 in West Sussex attracted 250 people on bikes, on foot and even on horseback.

    The Sussex Pad junction in Shoreham-by-Sea provides the best, flat, high capacity crossing from the coastal strip to the South Downs National Park. If proposals for New Monks Farm are approved, however, the route would be closed and replaced with a substandard off-road path or a lengthy diversion via several signalised crossings.

    Adur Planning Committee recently deferred their decision on the issue, while local campaigners, led by the Brighton and Hove Cycling Campaign Bricycles, are asking for such a controversial application to be “called in” i.e. reviewed at national level.

    They continue to press for high quality provision for cyclists and other non-motorised users in all road schemes.

    Surrey Hills AONB offers five new cycling trails

    Cycling UK has played an instrumental role in creating five new off-road routes in the spectacular Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

    The 80km of cycling trails were funded by a £19,000 grant from the London Marathon Charitable Trust, and launched by Surrey MP The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt in June.

    E-bikes ignored in low emission vehicle strategy

    Cycling UK can hardly believe that the Government's recently published strategy on low emission vehicles, ‘Road to Zero’, ignores electric bicycles and says nothing new about cycling more generally. 

    This is despite the fact that e-bikes are a good solution for people who want to make sustainable journeys by bike, but can’t face hills or longer distances.

    Not only this, they help tackle congestion, road danger and physical inactivity as well as reducing emissions – and are a fun way of doing it (as your editor has just discovered for herself – highly enthusiastic blog on the way).

    • The Government's Road to Zero 
    • A new study into the safety of e-bikes in the Netherlands concludes that their users are no more likely to be involved in a crash than ‘classic bike users’. The severity of crashes is about equal too. Unlike earlier studies which suggest otherwise, the authors took account of distance travelled.

    Even higher hires

    Santander bike in use

    Transport for London's (TfL) Santander Cycles hire scheme has enjoyed two record-breaking months in a row, with sunny June witnessing nearly 1.2 million hires – the best month to date.

    The scheme now covers 100 square kilometres of the capital, making it the second largest in Europe. More than 70 million journeys have been made since it was launched in July 2010.

    • TfL's press release
    • A discussion paper from the International Transport Forum on bike share systems has concluded that, on a per kilometre basis, bike share is associated with decreased risk of both fatal and non-fatal bicycle injuries when compared to general bike riding. It could get even better, the authors say, if a city’s bicycle friendliness is enhanced.

    In this issue

    Headlines: HS2 must deliver on cycle safety, says Cycling UK; Portal opens for dangerous driving footage; Cycle awareness training on way for driving instructors. 

    Other stories: Scotland acts on inactivity; Alliance publishes ‘Moving the Nation’ vision; Excluding cyclists from small claims limit hike - Government "sympathetic" to idea; Tome published on road safety delivery practices in GB; Dim views persist; GB cycle traffic up by 3% in a year; Northern Ireland sees no shift in cycling; Bold plans unveiled for Greater Manchester; Lower speeds for London; Flurry of reports on transforming cities for active travel; Suffolk votes to plan a strategic cycle network; #SaveA27Crossing, say West Sussex campaigners; Five new off-road routes for Surrey Hills AONB; E-bikes ignored in low emission vehicle strategy; Even higher hires.

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