Cycle Campaign News November 2017

Cyclists on countryside ride

Cycle Campaign News November 2017

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

From the Editor

This month, much of our focus has been on the Government's Cycle Safety Review, what we would like to see in it, and what we'd rather not.

We've been looking too at the guidelines local authorities apply to road maintenance, and their deficiencies when it comes to cyclists. Also, with the vision of a 'driverless' vehicle future growing a little clearer, we've written to Parliament outlining our concerns about the potential repercussions for cycling.

Otherwise, we have news of a drivers' eye-testing campaign from The Association of Optometrists, which we are happy to support; notes on some welcome/unwelcome national and local moves to improve/not improve infrastructure; good results from London's public bike share scheme; and much more.

Cherry Allan

Campaign News  

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Reviewing cycling offences and cycle safety: what's in the offing?

The Government's two-phased review of cycle safety, announced back in September, is now edging forward.

For Phase One, which covers cycling offences, we understand that the DfT has commissioned legal advice to help decide whether the law needs changing or not.

If the answer is yes, Cycling UK will be reiterating that it's nonsensical to deal with cycling offences in isolation from motoring offences, changes to which have already been proposed (also the result of a review, but one we've argued was too limited in scope - see our news story).

Phase Two will focus on road safety issues relating to cycling, but precisely what they'll be may depend on the matters individuals and organisations raise during the consultation process.

Helmets and hi-vis?

Cycle helmets and hi-vis may well be on the list for Phase Two, as cycling minister Jesse Norman MP has acknowledged.

In a tweet rebutting a misleading headline in The Times (Friday 24 November) that suggested that the Government plans to make helmets compulsory, he said: “To be clear: there is no “plan” re: compulsory helmets or hi-vis for cyclists as suggested in @thetimes. As @BikeBizOnline reported, I don’t take a position on this. It’s sure to be raised in the consultation, and we will consider it based on the evidence.” (The Times has since admitted that the headline was indeed misleading).

Cycling UK is not against cycle helmets and hi-vis, but opposes moves to make them compulsory. Instead, we want the review to focus on measures that will really get more people cycling, and cycling safely. This means tackling irresponsible driving, the threat of lorries, dangerous junctions and other poor infrastructure, along with hostile road conditions caused by too much motor traffic going too fast.

Highway Code? Sportives?

The Highway Code is likely to be up for consideration, probably including new rules on junction priority as called for in British Cycling's 'Turning the Corner' campaign. It's possible that regulations covering sportives might be looked at too:

  • When asked whether he will bring forward legislative proposals to review the Highway Code so that motorists are obliged to give way on turning into or out of side roads to protect people crossing those roads, Jesse Norman said the review "... may offer an opportunity to review proposals and evidence on this matter in relation to cyclists.” See the written answer
  • When asked whether the Government will bring forward proposals to amend the Cycle Racing on the Highways Regulations 1960 to include sportives, Mr Norman said no, but it may look at it as part of the review, and consult on any changes. See the written answer


  • Read the Government's original announcement - the review was proposed very soon after cyclist Charlie Alliston was sentenced for “wanton and furious driving” following his fatal collision with pedestrian Kim Briggs in London last year. Phase One applies to all of GB, as will some aspects of Phase Two.
  • For more on our views on helmets and hi-vis, with the evidence behind them, see our briefing on helmets and Q3 of our Ten Common Questions. On helmets, we know that enforced helmet laws significantly reduce cycle use and its associated health and other benefits. Given that these benefits far outweigh the risks of cycling, it has been shown that it would only need a tiny reduction in cycle use to shorten more lives than helmets could possibly save, however effective they might be. 

Doctors should care about cycling, as it’s one of the best preventive health interventions we have. […] I’m concerned that the tragic Alliston case will be used to create laws and restrictions that won’t make pedestrians and citizens safer or healthier. It may result in changes that make cycling a harder option, not an easier one.

Margaret McCartney GP, writing in the BMJ.

A world where a 12-year old can cycle safely?

According to a report on an interview for the Guardian, Jesse Norman is a strong advocate of better cycling infrastructure and cycle training, and a key question for him is “how can we make the transition to a world where a 12-year-old can cycle safely?”

Other stories

Will the laws for driverless cars protect cyclists?

A bill is currently going through Parliament to enable the use of autonomous (‘driverless’) vehicles. Inevitably, this means considerable debate on the ethics, risks and benefits involved, and Cycling UK has been looking at them from the point of view of cyclists.

  • Read Chris Peck’s blog on our recent submission to Parliament, which pointed out gaps in the Bill that could endanger cyclists.

Unfortunately, the bill creates some ambiguous areas, particularly around when and where technology can be used safely.

Cycling UK's Chris Peck

    Cycling UK welcomes driver eye-testing campaign

    In the interests of road safety, Cycling UK supports ‘Don’t swerve an eye test’, a new campaign from The Association of Optometrists (AOP) who want drivers to prove they meet the legal requirement for driving standards every 10 years, and more frequently as they get older.

    We're talking to AOP about supporting their campaign more proactively.

    • Find out more, and email your MP.
    • Useful graphic from AOP on eye-testing requirements in other countries.
    • A driver’s eyesight has been implicated in several fatal collisions involving cyclists, including that of Ian Jobson, who was knocked from his bike in Surrey in June 2014. The driver failed an eye test at the roadside, and again a few months later.
    • See Me Save Me is an ongoing campaign founded in 2009 by Kate Cairns following the death of her sister, Eilidh, in a collision with a lorry in London. The driver was fined £200 for defective eyesight (although we found it hard to believe that his only offence involved driving with uncorrected defective eyesight).
    • Cycling UK’s policy briefing on driver training and testing

    Guidance on pothole repairs needs attention, says coroner

    An inquest into the death of Roger Hamer, an 83-year-old cyclist who hit a pothole in March 2016, has led a coroner to conclude that changes to Bury Metropolitan Borough Council’s highway management procedure “will increase the risk of future deaths, in particular to cyclists.”

    Cycling UK says this raises questions about how local authorities are choosing to interpret the UK-wide advice on highway maintenance, and whether clarification of that advice is needed.

    • Read more
    • In the Autumn Budget, the Chancellor said the Government is investing an additional £45 million in 2017-18 to tackle around 900,000 potholes across England. (Incidentally, a word search for ‘cycle’ in the official budget report came up with ‘recycled fibre’, ‘annual tax policymaking cycle’, ‘motorcycles’ (in the context of VED), and '… recycled into extra domestic spending’. ‘Cycling’ didn’t appear at all).
    • According to this year’s ALARM survey from the Asphalt Industry Alliance, the estimated ‘one-time catch-up cost’ needed for England outside London is £10.78 billion (it’s £686.1m for London, and £591.5m for Wales).

    HS2 cycle infrastructure plans dismay Cycling UK

    The Government has allocated £30 million towards improving road and cycle safety in towns and villages along the HS2 (High Speed Two) Phase One rail route between London and the West Midlands. The money can be used for traffic calming measures, safer pedestrian crossings or safer junctions for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers.

    Unfortunately, the plans shown to Cycling UK dismay us. Our Policy Director, Roger Geffen, says:

    “Despite assurances from HS2 Ltd that they would use quality design standards to include cycle-friendly infrastructure along and across the HS2 corridor, the plans Cycling UK saw last week were unacceptable.

    “To avoid wasting this £30 million, HS2 Ltd must greatly improve the standards they are using before they begin carrying out any detailed design work.”

    London Assembly enquires about cycling infrastructure

    The London Assembly Transport Committee has launched an inquiry into cycling infrastructure.

    Amongst other topics, it’ll cover: progress so far; long-term plans; evaluation of the Cycle Superhighways; Quietways & Mini-Hollands; TfL’s transport strategy; awareness & diversity; and cycle parking.

    Oxford Street's cycling future?

    Transport for London (TfL) is consulting on detailed proposals to transform Oxford Street into a public space that will be easier to walk through.

    Cycling UK thinks that a dedicated cycle facility for much of the length of such a busy street could cause conflict, so pedestrianisation needs to be accompanied by a high-quality parallel route to the north or south for ‘through’ cycle journeys.

    At the same time, though, we don’t believe that an alternative route justifies a blanket prohibition of cycling on the street itself. For one thing, cycle users will still want to get to destinations along it and, for another, at times when pedestrian flow is likely to be light, ‘through’ cycle trips won’t cause problems anyway.  

    Experience and evidence of many similar major shopping streets with pedestrian priority show that cycles and pedestrians can mix perfectly safely.

    Two-stage right turn for cyclists on Edinburgh's Leith Walk

    A new two-stage right turn junction is being introduced in Edinburgh along Leith Walk, one of the city’s major thoroughfares. It is the first such junction in Scotland. 

    Manchester cycleway clocks up 1,000,000 cycle journeys

    Over a million cycle journeys have been made on the Oxford Road and Wilmslow Road Cycleway in Manchester since monitoring began in September last year.

    Cycle lanes from Fallowfield to Oxford Street in the city centre are physically separated from the main carriageway by kerbing.

    High 'usability' score for London's bike share scheme

    London’s bike share scheme is doing particularly well in terms of usability, according to analysis of quarterly data from Stage Intelligence. ‘Usability’ means that bikes and docking stations are available when and where they are needed most.

    London shares the top usability spot with Chicago, while New York City ranks lowest because, on average, 10% of riders at any given time cannot access the bikes or docking stations they want. The scheme in Paris, it seems, suffers somewhat from inconsistency.

    Also, London's scheme now offers improved Santander bikes, thanks to a consignment of new machines built by Pashley Cycles in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Last year was a record-breaker with 10.3m hires - 4.4% up on 2015.

    Keeping Wales active

    Fulfilling their duties under the Active Travel Act 2013, local authorities in Wales have now submitted their ‘Integrated Network Maps’ to the Government. These set out how they’re planning to provide for walking and cycling in the coming years, and their longer term aspirations for active travel routes.

    Cycling UK, together with Sustrans Cymru and Living Streets, helped make it easy for local people to get involved in the consultation process via an online tool, and we know that this significantly boosted levels of public engagement.

    Cycling's a good thing, says Scottish Parliament

    Following a very positive debate on a motion in the name of Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport, on the promotion of active travel, the Scottish Parliament agreed to recognise the importance of walking and cycling, and a range of measures that encourage and support it.

    Peak District businesses to get the most out of cycling 

    The Peak District National Park is offering small grants of up to £2,500 to help Derbyshire businesses provide good quality experiences for all types of cyclists - residents, day visitors and tourers - and to stimulate the cycling economy.

    Successful applicants will receive half the cost of their projects, most of which are expected to be small-scale (e.g. bike storage for holiday guests, public pumps, bike wash-down areas, and network links). The pot of money is the result of a successful bid to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

    • Read more about Pedal Peak for business grants
    • A new Peak District cycle tourism toolkit, endorsed by Cycling UK, offers businesses tips on how to improve the quality of the visitor experience for all cyclists and increase profitability as a result. See 'new publications' below.

    Doubled funding for primary school PE and sport could boost active travel

    The Department for Education (DfE) has doubled the funding that primary schools receive to improve the quality of their PE and sport provision to £320 million a year (England).

    Amongst other things, the DfE says that schools might like to use their funding to: “embed physical activity into the school day through active travel to and from school, active playgrounds and active teaching.” This, we hope, will encourage more schools to fund bike clubs and cycle training.

    Ben Bradshaw MP speaks up for bike-rail

    As we’d expect of an MP who regularly takes his bike on trains between his Exeter constituency and London, and speaks up whenever he can for bike-rail travel, Ben Bradshaw MP (Lab), said in a recent Parliamentary debate on rail links in south-west England:

    “Our trains were built in an age when suitcases were not the size of wheelie bins—people did not used to be able to carry those huge great cases—but I am worried that, having lost the guards van, and as a regular cyclist who puts my bike on the train, we will see conflicts between the people who regularly put their bikes on trains and people who need luggage space. If that becomes a problem, that is not only a problem for passengers, but for the staff who have to resolve the disputes.”

    • Read the debate
    • Train companies have been battling it out for recognition at the 2017 Cycle-Rail awards, the annual competition from the Rail Delivery Group. Who won this year? Cycling UK's Sam Jones reports.

    Conservative environmental think-tank gives cycling an airing

    As ClientEarth prepares to take the Government to court for the third time over illegal levels of air pollution, Cycling UK’s Policy Director Roger Geffen explains why cycling should be at the centre of official thinking in his blog for the Conservative environmental think-tank Bright Blue.  

    • ClientEarth’s case 
    • Four parliamentary select committees have relaunched an unprecedented joint inquiry into improving air quality, and are now hearing oral evidence.

    New publications

    A guide to inclusive cycling (Wheels for Wellbeing)

    An in-depth guide with policy recommendations and case studies, and sections on: what inclusive cycling is; infrastructure; facilities; and recognising disabled people as cyclists.

    Wheels for Wellbeing, an inclusive cycling charity based in London, is this year celebrating its 10th anniversary. See the presentations from their birthday ‘Beyond the Bicycle Conference’.

    Disabled people: attitudes towards travel (Dept for Transport)

    Findings and recommendations following research into the travel behaviour and attitudes to travel of UK disabled people. It looks at travel across multiple kinds of transport, including cycling.

    Bike Life (Sustrans, in collaboration with seven major UK cities) 

    Reports presenting the results of the UK’s biggest assessment of cycling in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and Newcastle. Revealing significant support for cycling, the survey results found that: 

    • Four out of five people want more protected bike routes on roads, even when this could mean less space for other road traffic;
    • Of the 7,700 people surveyed, 69% say more cycling would make their city a better place to live and work.


    • Currently, there's just 19 miles of cycle routes on roads physically separated from traffic and pedestrians in six of the seven cities in total (excluding Birmingham where no data are available);
    • Only 30% of residents interviewed think cycling safety in their city is good.

    Bike Life reports every two years, and mirrors the Copenhagen Bicycle Account.

    Peak District cycle tourism toolkit (Pedal Peak for Business)

    A lively guide for businesses on increasing profitability from the cycling market. Explains the market and what it’s worth; dispels myths; looks at events, sportives, bikes on trains & buses; advises on how to market to all kinds of cyclists and improve their visitor experience; and much more.

    Effects of active commuting and leisure-time exercise on fat loss in women and men with overweight and obesity: A randomized controlled trial

    By JS Quist (et al)

    Results of a study examining the effects of exercise on fat loss in overweight and obese women and men.

    The researchers concluded that six months of active commuting and leisure-time exercise led to meaningful fat loss, but the effect was greater with vigorous compared to moderate intensity exercise. “Active commuting”, they say, “is an alternative to leisure-time exercise in the management of overweight and obesity."

    Published in the International Journal of Obesity.

    Active Lives Adult Survey (Sport England)

    Summarises activity levels in England from May 2016 to May 2017. The data show that:

    • Six in 10 adults (27.1m) are physically active  - i.e. do 150 minutes+ a week; 13.8% (6.2m) are fairly active, but don't reach 150 minutes a week; over a quarter (11.5m) are inactive, doing less than half an hour a week.
    • Around 7.1% cycled for leisure and sport at least twice in the previous 28 days; 14.5% for travel.

    Transport Poverty in Scotland (Sustrans Scotland)

    Report setting out the results of research into transport poverty, i.e. when people don’t have access to essential services or work because of a lack of affordable transport options.

    Finds that:

    • Up to 20% of neighbourhoods studied were at risk, and not just in the remote parts of Scotland – the areas at higher risk were far more likely to be in accessible small towns (28%) or accessible rural locations (30%);
    • Of the high risk areas, 61% were places where vital services could be reached by bike in 10 minutes, or by foot in half an hour. 

    Essential Evidence on a Page latest:

    Succinct briefings from Dr Adrian Davis on:

    Negotiating Multi-sectoral evidence on transport and health

    Top line: Research suggests that the most pronounced difference in negotiating multi-sectoral evidence on transport and health is a preference by transport specialists for what has been done previously, and for systematic evidence synthesis by public health specialists.

    The Rise and rise of e-bikes

    Top line: E-bike use has grown dramatically over the past decade and there is little evidence to suggest this growth will slow in the coming decade, as market penetration is low across much of Europe.

    Pedelecs and speed pedelecs (SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research)

    A research fact sheet from SWOV, a research organisation based in the Netherlands. It covers: definitions of a pedelec, speed pedelec and e-bike; their popularity; safety; frequency of crashes and how they occur; possible improvements; helmets; speeds; publications & sources.

    Includes an interesting discussion on elderly people’s safety on electrically assisted bicycles, and looks at whether speed pedelecs should be on the roadway or cycle path (pedelecs stop giving assistance at 25 km/h, but speed pedelecs stop at 45 km/h).

    Road Accident Statistics (House of Commons Library)

    A briefing paper collecting a range of headline data on: severity; road type; road user type; time of incident; age; breath testing; and international comparisons of road fatality statistics. Also discusses the reliability of reported road casualty stats. It is based on the more detailed Reported Road Casualties GB 2016 report, published by the DfT last September.

    RAC Report on Motoring 2017: Feeling the squeeze

    This publication, produced annually and based on research and in-depth interviews with over 1,700 drivers, is always a useful resource for anyone wanting to find out what’s on motorists’ minds. Lawless drivers are always high on the list and this year, the report says: “Motorists’ number one concern is now other drivers’ use of handheld mobile phones while at the wheel.”

    In this issue

    Headlines: Reviewing cycling offences and cycle safety
    Other stories: Will the laws for driverless cars protect cyclists? Cycling UK welcomes driver eye-testing campaign; Guidance on pothole repairs needs attention, says coroner; HS2 cycle infrastructure plans dismay Cycling UK; London Assembly enquires about cycling infrastructure; Oxford Street's cycling future? Two-stage right turn for cyclists in Edinburgh; Manchester cycleway clocks up one million cycle journeys; High 'usability' score for London's bike share scheme; Keeping Wales active; Cycling's a good thing, says Scottish Parliament; Peak District businesses to get the most out of cycling; Doubled funding for primary school PE and sport could boost active travel; Ben Bradshaw MP speaks up for bike-rail; Conservative think-tank gives cycling an airing.
    New publications: A guide to inclusive cycling (Wheels for Wellbeing); Disabled people - attitudes towards travel (DfT): Bike Life (Sustrans); Peak District cycle tourism toolkit (Pedal Peak for Business); Effects of active commuting and leisure-time exercise on fat loss in women and men with overweight and obesity (academic paper); Active Lives adult survey (Sport England); Transport poverty in Scotland (Sustrans Scotland); Essential evidence on a page - transport & health / rise & rise of e-bikes (Dr Adrian Davis); Pedelecs and speed pedelecs (SWOV); Road accident statistics (House of Commons Library); RAC report on motoring.  

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