Campaign News June 2017

Some cycle-friendly MPs are back, but Queen's Speech disappoints

Campaign News June 2017

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

From the Editor

In this month's headline news, we welcome the return of some cycle-friendly MPs to Parliament after the snap election. Although we don't yet know which minister will be responsible for cycling, Jesse Norman MP looks increasingly likely. 

We'll need political allies all the more after such a disappointing Queen's Speech. It made no mention of motoring offences and penalties, even though we've waited a long time for the promised review. Nevertheless, we've noted a fair number of government proposals that did make it into the speech that could have something in them for cycling and, of course, we haven't (and never will) give up on the offences and penalties review.

Meanwhile, our campaign to open up more of the Welsh countryside, Trails for Wales, has taken a very promising turn, and we've published a toolkit to help you persuade your council to create more Space for Cycling in both urban and rural areas. Don't be daunted - it may be easier than you think! 

Last, but not least as it involves a Department for Transport deadline coming up this Friday (30 June), please make sure your council (England, outside London) has submitted an ‘expression of interest’ in receiving technical support for producing a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). More in 'Act now' below.

Cherry Allan
Cycle Campaign News

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Queen's Speech silent on long-promised driving offences and penalties review

Last week (21 June 2017), the Queen’s Speech proved to be a serious disappointment both for Cycling UK and other organisations who have been urging the Government to prioritise legislative measures to tackle bad driving and improve road safety.

Even though, unusually, the Queen set out the Government’s legislative priorities for two years rather than just one, there was still complete silence on motoring offences and penalties. This is despite promises of a full review back in May 2014 which led, finally, to a consultation last December.  

We won't be giving up on this, and will be speaking to other road safety and campaign organisations to ensure that the pressure to do something is maintained, but if you want something to happen, and you're tired of waiting for successive Justice Secretary's to progress this, tell your MP. You never know, they might need your vote some time soon! "
Cycling UK's Senior Road Safety and Legal Officer, Duncan Dollimore

Nine thousand people responded to the consultation, including Cycling UK. We took the opportunity to object to the review’s unexpectedly narrow remit, and to press once more for (amongst other things) a rethink over the law on 'careless' and 'dangerous' driving, and changes to ensure the greater use of driving disqualification as a sentencing option.

  • Read more from Cycling UK’s Senior Road Safety and Legal Officer, Duncan Dollimore 
  • Another glaring omission in the Queen’s Speech was any mention of a Clean Air Act to maintain or strengthen existing air quality standards. Read our commentary on this, and find out why some of the proposals that did make it into the Speech could have repercussions for cycling and cyclists (e.g. the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, the Civil Liability Bill, mental health reform, plans to increase housing, the Agriculture Bill, and the High Speed Rail (West Midlands-Crewe) Bill (High Speed Phase 2A Bill). 

Hung parliament - what next for cycling?

Cycling attracted little airtime as an issue worth debating or, indeed, fighting over during the snap election. Yet it wasn’t completely ignored, with brief mentions tucked away in manifestos.

Fortunately, several notable champions for cycling (and walking) survived the vote and returned to Westminster.

So, what next for cycling under a hung parliament? Cycling UK’s Sam Jones ponders.

Cycling UK welcomes landmark step for cycling in Wales

The Welsh Government is making strong and welcome moves towards opening more of the country’s beautiful outdoors for people who cycle or horse-ride.

If the proposals go through, both cyclists and horse riders will be allowed to ride on footpaths, something that is currently not legal. Understandably, some people are concerned about conflict, particularly with walkers, but the proposals also suggest a process for excluding cycle and equestrian access where this would cause undue conflict or environmental harm, along with a statutory code for access similar to Scotland's. Brought in by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, the Code has been a great success.

The Welsh Government is now inviting views on their proposals. This follows on from an earlier consultation in 2015, which saw Cycling UK and OpenMTB joining forces to launch ‘Trails for Wales’, a campaign that rallied 4,000 responses in support of greater access for cyclists.

  • Read our full press release, with links to the consultation Taking forward Wales’ sustainable management of natural resources (deadline 13 September). 
  • As required of them by the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013, local authorities across Wales are beginning to develop their ‘Integrated Network Maps’ setting out plans to develop a network of cycling and walking routes in their areas over the next 15 years. We’ve been keeping tabs on their consultation processes and urging local people to get involved. Our latest update tells you more.

Space for Cycling toolkit out now!

Our Space for Cycling Campaigner, Tom Guha, is missing Bike Week 2017 so much already that he’s just published a new toolkit to help you persuade your council to plan, invest in and build high quality cycle infrastructure to help more people feel they can enjoy the fun and freedom of cycling all year round.

Tom's also busy arranging meetings with the newly-elected Metro-Mayors and their advisors.

Getting councillors to pass a motion in support of Space for Cycling is a highly effective way of creating safe conditions and people-friendly places. The idea may seem daunting, but Tom’s guides explain exactly how to go about it, and how it fits in with the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan process (see Act now for more). Have a go - you might find it easier than you think!

Also new is a guide on forming a campaign group, and working with the media.

  • Read more about the toolkit, and how cities all over the country are leading the way in Space for Cycling.
  • !Make sure your council bids to the DfT for help with its Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP): deadline this Friday, 30 June! Please go to Act now! now!

Other stories

Targeted vision for London welcomed by Cycling UK

Cycling UK has welcomed Mayor of London Sadiq Khan's vision for "a fairer, greener, healthier and more prosperous city".

The vision, set out in the Mayor’s draft Transport Strategy, includes some impressive targets:

  • To increase the proportion of trips in London made by walking, cycling and public transport, from 64% in 2016 to 80% by 2041.
  • To reduce traffic volumes by about six million vehicle kilometres per day (a 10-15% reduction) - including reductions in freight traffic at peak times.
  • For all Londoners to do at least the 20 minutes of active travel they need to stay healthy each day.
  • For all buses to be zero emission by 2037, for all new road vehicles driven in London to be zero emission by 2040, and for London’s entire transport system to be zero emission by 2050.
  • To eliminate all road deaths involving buses on London’s roads by 2030 and to eliminate ALL road deaths and serious injuries by 2041.

Sadiq Khan’s Strategy has laid down the gauntlet to other city and county council leaders to set out similarly ambitious plans for their areas. It’s now down to national Government to provide them with the support they need, as they tackle the problems plaguing our cities, particularly air pollution.” 
Roger Geffen, Cycling UK’s Policy Director.

Booming Copenhagen cycling backs 'safety in numbers' theory

Cycling is still the top transport choice for the inhabitants of Copenhagen, according to the city's 2017 Annual Bicycle Report:

  • Cycling accounts for 41% of all trips to and from work and study
  • 62% of Copenhageners choose to bike to work and study
  • In total, 1.4 million km is cycled in the city on an average weekday, an increase of 22% since 2006. In the same period, cyclists’ feeling of safety has increased by 43%, while the relative risk of having a serious cycle incident has reduced by 23% - good news for the ‘Safety in Numbers’ theory.
  • Copenhageners own 5.6 more bikes than cars, which corresponds to 675,000 bicycles and approx. 120,000 cars.
  • In total, more bikes than cars were counted crossing the city centre in 2016, which is the first time since systematic counting started in 1970.

Another record holder, the busy high street Nørrebrogade, saw 48,800 cyclists on weekdays in 2016, possibly making it the busiest bicycle corridor in the world. Since 2010-2011, when the street was given traffic calming treatment and the cycle tracks and pavements were widened, the number of cyclists has increased by 31%.

'Close pass' mats rolled out to forces

The vast majority of police forces in England and Wales now have one of our free ‘close pass’ mats to help them educate drivers on the dangers of overtaking cyclists too closely. We’ve also sent three to the Police Service in Northern Ireland, and are in the process of offering mats to road safety partnerships all over Scotland.

The original idea for a close pass mat came from West Midlands Police, but their Traffic Unit’s law enforcement campaigning doesn’t stop there.

A recent blog from the unit stresses “the need for a continuous probable threat of prosecution to be present to ensure wide-scale compliance with the laws that are so commonly broken on our roads.”

Short-lived campaigns (e.g. against mobile phone use whilst driving) are good but not enough, the author says, while enforcing 20 mph limits deserves the police’s particular attention because they “have the largest potential of any limit to positively affect lifestyle choices and reduce the amount of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.”

“We know 20mph limits are evidently the most important speed limit to our communities, and so why not enforce them?”
West Midlands Police Traffic Unit blog. 

'Car dooring' driver convicted

A taxi driver has recently been convicted of the offence of ‘car dooring’ in an incident that led to the death of cyclist Sam Boulton in 2016. It was the passenger who opened the door, not the driver, but the law states that it is an offence not only to open the door of a vehicle on a road “so as to injure or endanger any person”, but also to “cause or permit it”.

The passenger pleaded guilty in March, and was handed a £150 fine. The driver Farook Yusuf Bhikhu, however, pleaded not guilty, but has now been convicted at a further hearing, and handed a £955 fine.

Cycling UK believes that the current offence of ‘car dooring’, which can have serious and life-changing consequences, is trivialised as a minor offence. We therefore want to see greater public awareness of its dangers, and a new offence of causing serious injury or death by car dooring, with much tougher penalties than fines.

In 2015:

  • Police at the scene considered ‘vehicle door opened or closed negligently’ to be a contributory factor in 561 reported collisions;
  • The police also thought that ‘vehicle door opened or closed negligently’ contributed to incidents in which three people were killed, 58 seriously injured and 538 slightly injured.

Although we do not know from the figures above how many of the people killed or injured in these incidents were cycling at the time, it is likely that they represent a very high number.

Tragic death in Edinburgh highlights tramline dangers

Several weeks ago, the tragic death of a young woman in Edinburgh rocked the city’s cycling community. The cause of the incident isn’t yet known and is being investigated by Police Scotland, but we do know that 23-year-old medical student Zhi Min Soh fell off her bike near tramlines and was subsequently run over by a minibus.

We also know that Edinburgh’s tramlines have been flagged up to the city’s council and Edinburgh Trams as a serious hazard for cyclists for nigh on a decade, with clear warnings and evidence from cycle campaigners, transport consultants, NHS doctors, and even solicitors. Lack of space and manoeuvrability, pressure from traffic and shallow crossing angles over tramlines mean that cycling along these stretches can be extremely stressful and dangerous.

Revamp for London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS)

Since 1985, the LLCS has controlled the routes that HGVs over 18 tonnes can use at night and at weekends so as not to disturb residents, but proposals for a review have now been approved by London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee (TEC).

Cycling UK supports moves to introduce nighttime and out-of-hours deliveries because lorries pose a disproportionate threat to cyclists, inevitably at its worst during peak times. Fortunately, modern technology has made it much easier for vehicles to operate quietly and reach the noise standard that the revised LLCS would no doubt expect.

Noisy unloading could still be a problem, however, so we also advocate encouraging large businesses to receive nighttime deliveries at distribution centres situated away from residential properties, and arranging for goods to be forwarded in smaller urban lorries.

Cyclists battle to keep taxis out of Belfast bus lanes 

For many cities without dedicated cycle lanes, bus lanes are one of the few stretches of road you can ride in without having to contend with the bulk of motor traffic. Belfast is one such city, but their lanes are under threat of being flooded with private hire cars, creating further conflict and congestion.

Earlier in June, Cycling UK teamed up with Bikefast and Sustrans to put a stop to this, launching a short online action and submitting a joint response. Jonathan Hobbs of Bikefast and NI Greenways fame also addressed the Northern Ireland Assembly All Party Cycling Group, chaired by the Alliance Party’s Chris Lyttle, on this issue, and was well received. 

Third time unlucky again: Government's pollution plans still "woefully inadequate"

Cycling UK has joined lawyers, health experts and environmental campaigners in slamming the Government's third attempt at a draft Air Quality Strategy. Both its previous attempts fell foul of legal challenges from activist lawyers ClientEarth, who are now launching yet another legal challenge.

“In particular, the draft Strategy seems to go out of its way to make it difficult for local authorities to implement road user charging to help deter polluting vehicles as part of their Clean Air Zones (CAZ) plans and to fund healthy and sustainable transport alternatives.”
Roger Geffen MBE, Cycling UK Policy Director.

Cycling UK agrees that tackling pollution must now be now a top priority for new Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

We also believe that revenues from Clean Air Zones should help fund the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) that local authorities are being asked to draw up as part of the Government's sorely under-funded Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy; and that scrappage scheme incentives should be available not only to support the purchase of the cleanest new cars, vans, buses and lorries, but also for pedal cycles, including e-bikes.

  • Read blog from Roger Geffen, Cycling UK's Policy Director

Cycle-carriage on trains aired in Scottish Parliament

At the end of May, members of the Scottish Parliament turned their attention to cycle capacity on Scotland’s railways in a debate inspired by reports that space for cycles on some key services was likely to be cut.

Liam Kerr MSP (Con), who drafted the motion, presented a very passionate, informed, constructive and personal case for cycle capacity, pointing out that Scotland earns £millions from cycle tourism. Other members followed suit, while representatives of Lothian Cycle Campaign, Spokes, sat in the public gallery.

In his response, transport minister Humza Yousaf said he welcomed the debate, and that he’d encourage ScotRail to look into a number of the issues raised. He also said: “There will be disagreement on some issues, which happens with any campaign or lobby group, and differences on some issues between the political parties, but it is clear to me that everybody who has spoken in the debate has been driven by their ambition for cycling in Scotland, which is a good thing.”

Bike test for Eurostar

In 2015, Cycling UK successfully persuaded Eurostar to rethink its bikes-must-be-boxed policy. Cycling UK’s Sam Jones has now taken his bike on the service to test it out for himself, and written up the experience.

“On a London morning, I escape the jostle of Euston Road and glance up at St Pancras International’s Victorian clocktower. In a few hours, I’ll be sipping coffee in Paris. There’s no rush. I’m not dragging a bagged bike out of the back of a taxi and balancing it on a wobbly-wheeled luggage trolley. I’ve arrived, as I’ll depart Gard du Nord, on two wheels. My Surly Disc Trucker is travelling with me unboxed. For that, I can thank everyone who supported our Zero stars for Eurostar campaign …"
Sam Jones

Act now!

Make sure your council bids for help with its Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP): deadline this Friday 3 June!

The Department for Transport's deadline for English local authorities (outside London) to submit an ‘expression of interest’ in receiving technical support to produce a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) is this Friday, 30 June. As you may remember, the Government asked them to produce LCWIPs, essentially network plans for walking and cycling routes, as part of its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) earlier this year.

While Cycling UK has previously criticised the funding settlement for the CWIS, we very much support the LCWIP network planning process, and we strongly recommend that councils and cycling advocates alike collaborate on making it work locally. If your council hasn’t yet submitted an application, please make sure they do so by this Friday 30 June, using this form.

Support 20 mph for Scotland

Mark Ruskell MSP (Green) is now consulting on his Private Members Bill to change the default speed limit in built-up areas across Scotland from 30 mph to 20 mph. Councils could keep some streets with higher speed limits, in consultation with communities, but these would be the exception rather than the rule.

Cycling UK strongly supports these proposals and, along with 20’s Plenty for Us, is urging people to respond. The consultation is open to everyone – individuals, groups, businesses etc., but if you don’t live in Scotland, state the reason for your interest (e.g. holidays, visits to family and friends etc.).

Nominate a Healthy Street!

Do you know of such a well-planned and designed public space that it's helped improve people's health and created an accessible, sustainable, and socially vibrant environment?

If so, nominate it for The Healthy Streets Awards (the new name for The Cycle Planning Awards). The 'Healthy Streets' approach designs and manages public spaces and transport systems so that they serve the needs of people, their health and their happiness.

The Awards will be presented on 28 September, the evening before Healthy Streets 2017, a conference organised by Landor Links and hosted by the London Borough of Waltham Forest (29 September, Walthamstow Assembly Hall).

Cycle in the New Forest? Let the authority know how much it means to you

The New Forest National Park Authority is asking for views on recreation in the forest and the surrounding area. The authority wants the public to help it:

  • provide the best recreational experience for local people and visitors
  • protect "the very thing these people come to see – the spectacular, yet fragile landscape which is a haven for many rare wildlife species"
  • ensure limited resources are spent wisely.

If you would like the authority to improve and increase cycling access to the forest rather than find reasons to reduce it, please let them know by completing the survey (deadline 13 August).

  • Motor-traffic-free routes are particularly important to families, as our poll jointly conducted with Halfords as part of Bike Week found. Over three-quarters of the 500 families surveyed said they'd cycle more often as a family if more such routes were available to them. 

New publications

Cycling: FAQs (House of Commons Library)

A useful briefing produced for MPs and their staff, covering a range of cycling-related topics including:

  • Its benefits
  • What the Government’s doing to encourage cycling
  • Whether cycling gets enough funding
  • Cycling Cities & Town and Cycling Ambition Cities
  • The Cycle to Work scheme
  • London Cycle Superhighways
  • Best practice in other countries
  • Is cycling safe?
  • Liability in collisions
  • Local authority powers to make roads safe
  • Cycle helmets
  • Registration, insurance and ‘road tax’
  • Pavement riding
  • Laws to tackle bad cycling
  • Lights and bells
  • Cycle carriage on trains.

Presents and explains the thinking behind many of Cycling UK’s own arguments, and makes reference to our summary of ten questions commonly asked about cycling

11th Annual Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) Report (ETSC) 

The latest annual report from the European Transport Safety Council, presenting the picture overall and usefully comparing road safety performance between EU member states.

Finds that:

  • Road deaths in the EU have not decreased in three years
  • There were 25,671 road fatalities in the European Union in 2016, of whom the authors estimate 40% were work-related
  • In terms of road fatalities, the UK and the Netherlands were the EU countries with the slowest progress since 2010
  • In terms of road deaths per billion vehicle-km (for the latest three years where data are available), the UK comes third, just after Norway and Sweden.

Switzerland won the 2017 ETSC Road Safety Performance Index Award, which recognises long-term efforts to reduce deaths and serious injuries on European roads. The country registered a 15% drop in road deaths in 2016, with deaths declining by 34% since 2010, and by 60% since 2001. It now has the lowest road mortality (26 deaths per million inhabitants) in Europe, together with last year's winner Norway. 

Cycling, car, or public transit: a study of stress and mood upon arrival at work 

By Stéphane Brutus et al, (Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)

Paper analysing data on stress and mood collected from 123 employees within 45 minutes of their arrival at work by bike, car, or public transport. Found that those who cycled to work were less stressed than their counterparts who arrived by car (although there was no difference in mood among the different mode users).

Published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 10 Issue: 1, pp.13-24

Smart Futures for Urban Transport (Urban Transport Group)

Report from the Urban Transport Group, whose members include some of the major transport authorities in Britain. Sets out the implications of rapid and transformative technological change, e.g. better data for both travellers and transport planners; new vehicle technologies; smarter and more integrated ways of paying for transport; and a shift in transport from “an ownership to a sharing economy”.

As members of a network, each city will take a different approach. But the principles we have set out today represent a clear statement of how the UK’s largest transport authorities will approach technological change.”
Vernon Everitt (Managing Director, Customers, Communication and Technology for Transport for London) who leads for the Urban Transport Group on Smart Futures.

The report’s stated vision is to make travel simpler and easier; facilitate and support change; meet air quality and carbon emission obligations; and manage congestion in a way that promotes healthier streets and places.

Hands Up Scotland Survey 2016 (Sustrans)

Results of an annual survey funded by Transport Scotland to provide an accurate and up-to-date picture of how children travel to school or nursery. Asked how they normally get to school:

  • 42.9% of pupils said they walk
  • 3.5% cycle
  • 2.8% scoot or skate 
  • 16.7% go by bus 
  • 9.3% ‘park and stride’
  • 24.2% used private motorised transport

1,926 schools took part in the survey from 31 local authorities. Of this, 1,911 state schools (primary, secondary and SEN) participated, which equates to 75.5% of all registered state schools in Scotland.  In total, 454,777 children were involved.

Diary dates

Implementing the Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy

29 June, London

Westminster Briefing on the CWIS, helping delegates discover how the strategy will be implemented, what new funding schemes and sector-initiatives are available, and what these will mean for cyclists, pedestrians and local authorities. It will also address what makes successful cycling projects, particularly through working in partnership. (A CPD certified event).

Cycling UK’s Policy Director, Roger Geffen, is speaking.

Women’s Festival of Cycling

Month of July

Throughout July 2017, Cycling UK will be celebrating women who cycle and are helping those who need extra encouragement to take up it up. Be part of it, whether you cycle five miles or 500, on or off-road.

Challenge & Change: Air Quality Conference

12 July, London

One-day conference organised by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health looking at national and local initiatives, and showcasing good practice case studies. With leading air quality professionals.

Cycle to Work day

13 September

A nationwide event promoted by Cyclescheme UK and Halfords. Cycling UK is amongst the partners.

Healthy Streets 2017 

29 September, Waltham Forest, London

One-day conference offering keynotes and thought leadership from internationally renowned experts in the fields of Healthy Streets. An essential mix of workshops and seminars will cover issues of street design, air quality, civilised streets and active travel. 

In this issue

HeadlinesQueen's Speech silent on long-promised driving offence and penalties review; Hung parliament - what next for cycling? Landmark step for cycling in Wales; Space for Cycling toolkit out now!

Other stories: Targeted vision for London; Booming Copenhagen cycling backs 'safety in number's' theory; 'Close pass' mats rolled out to forces; 'Car dooring' driver convicted; Tragic death in Edinburgh highlights tramline dangers; Revamp for London Lorry Control Scheme; Cyclists battle to keep taxis out of bus lanes; Third time unlucky again - Government's pollution plans still "woefully inadequate"; Cycle-carriage on trains aired in Scottish Parliament; Bike test for Eurostar.

Act now: Make sure your council bids for LCWIP technical support (England, outside London); Support 20 mph for Scotland; Nominate a Healthy Street; Fill in New Forest survey.

New publicationsCycling FAQs (House of Commons Library); 11th Annual Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) Report (ETSC); Cycling, car, or public transit - a study of stress and mood upon arrival at work (academic paper); Smart Futures for Urban Transport (Urban Transport Group); Hands Up Scotland Survey 2016 (Sustrans).

Diary dates: Implementing the Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy (29 June, London); Women's Festival of Cycling (month of July); Challenge & Change - Air Quality Conference (12 July, London); Cycle to Work day (13 September); Healthy Streets 2017 (29 September, Waltham Forest, London). 

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