Campaign News May 2017

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


What will each Metro Mayor do for cycling?

The voters of six recently-formed Combined Authorities in England have now elected their Metro Mayors. With significant powers and devolved funding, these politicians could make a huge difference to the health, wealth and wellbeing of their communities by transforming local streets into people- and cycle-friendly places.

This is why Cycling UK teamed up with local campaign groups before the elections to ask each set of candidates to back a number of measures specifically tailored to their area. We received widespread support, but how does that translate now that the individuals are in office? See our Space for Cycling Campaigner Tom Guha's analysis:

WalkCycleVote in Scotland will be updating its local candidate base so that voters can see which new councillors support the campaign’s three asks on investment infrastructure and local action. 

Cycling and the justice system: parliamentary group reports back on Inquiry

Having gathered evidence from twelve organisations and 198 individuals, the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) has published a report outlining actions that the Government, its departments, agencies and the police need to take to stop the justice system failing to protect cyclists.

A cross-party report such as this is not a silver bullet, but something else to reference, something to stick in front of new MPs in June, something to make a noise about to make sure that Road Justice issues are matters that politicians, PCCs, senior police officers and others have on their agenda and in their minds, when they make decisions. That's why we welcome this report.” 
Cycling UK’s Duncan Dollimore        

With its headline call - that the licence to drive is a privilege not a right – the report’s 14 recommendations are:

  • Revise the Highway Code to give clearer priority to cyclists (and other vulnerable road users)
  • Change the driving test to improve driver behaviour towards cyclists
  • Retest professional drivers more frequently
  • Give roads policing a higher priority
  • Counter the risk posed by illegal freight operations with enforcement partnerships
  • Adopt close passing enforcement practice
  • Research under-reporting of all road casualties and track cases through the justice system
  • Raise standards of police collision investigation
  • Ensure evidence from bike camera/smart phones submitted by cyclists is put to use
  • Extend the 14-day period required by the police to serve a Notice of Intended Prosecution
  • Examine how the offences of ‘careless’ and ‘dangerous’ driving are used, and the penalties for them
  • Ensure victims and bereaved families are always kept informed of charging decisions
  • Examine why the number of driving bans is declining
  • Exempt injuries to cyclists and pedestrians from any ‘whiplash’ claim reforms.
  • Read detailed commentary on the APPCG’s recommendations from our Senior Road Safety and Legal Officer, Duncan Dollimore.
  • APPCG report

Loving cycling again: the Big Bike Revival       

The Big Bike Revival (BBR) is now up and running for the fourth year in England and the second in Scotland. An award-winning programme developed by Cycling UK, BBR helps people bring their bikes back into use with bike health checks, maintenance knowhow and a confidence boost.

Last year BBR reached nearly 25,000 beneficiaries in England and 8,000 beneficiaries in Scotland, and saw a huge increase in the number of people who took up cycling as a result. We are aiming to top these figures this time round.

Both the Department for Transport and the Scottish Government have funded the project to the tune of £1 million and £450,000 respectively.

Partnered by Halfords, community groups and bike recycling centres, hundreds of BBR events are taking place across England and Scotland until 18 June.

Other stories

Upturn for cycle traffic - but it still needs boosting

At 3.5 billion vehicle miles, pedal cycle traffic on British roads in 2016 was up 6.3% on 2015, and 23% above the figure ten years before. This is reassuring news, but a doubling of cycle use over the decade is the kind of news we really wanted to hear. 

Indeed, some of the extra mileage is probably due to population growth (c7% since 2006). Cycle traffic still represents only around 1% of all traffic on the roads, while car traffic shot up to the highest estimate ever - 252.6 billion vehicle miles in 2016, up 2% on 2015.

Van traffic continued to grow more quickly than any other vehicle type, rising 4.7% from 2015 to 49.1 billion vehicle miles. The rising popularity of internet shopping probably explains this, i.e. ordering online and having goods delivered by van.

Although four-fifths of the road cycle miles ridden in 2016 were on minor roads (where most cycling takes place year after year), the largest proportional increases in cycle traffic were, interestingly, on ‘A’ roads (on rural ‘A’ roads, up 11.9% on 2015; and on urban ‘A’ roads, up 13.6%).

North Yorkshire Police furnished with close pass mat

Having taken delivery of one of our ‘close pass’ mats, North Yorkshire Police have officially launched Operation Spartan, a campaign to teach drivers how to overtake cyclists safely.

We want to ensure that every driver in our region feels confident to overtake a cyclist safely and is aware of the guidance. The close pass mat is a great way of depicting really easily exactly how much room that is and we are grateful to Cycling UK, and all those who supported the fund raising campaign, for their support.”
TC Michelle Bergstrand from the Major Collision Investigation Unit, North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire Police is the first force in the UK to take up the offer of a mat, developed and funded by Cycling UK’s ‘Too close for comfort’ Kickstarter appeal. The original idea came from West Midlands Police.

We are in the process of sending mats to over forty other forces and road safety partnerships. Local authorities are also showing an interest in purchasing one – please get in touch with, who’ll be able to tell you more. 

  • Read the full story 
  • If you're in any doubt about what's legal/not legal on your bike, read Duncan's latest blog. It covers all of the most common issues: riding two abreast; lighting; reflectors; brakes; drink/drug cycling; careless, dangerous and furious cycling; red traffic lights and advanced stop lines; pavement cycling; hi-vis and helmets; cycle lanes and road positioning. 

More than half of UK drivers admit to speeding in 20 mph areas

A survey of 2,000 UK drivers commissioned by the road safety charity Brake and Churchill Car Insurance reveals that:

More than half (52%) admit to driving at 25 mph or faster in a 20 mph speed limit;

  • 25 to 34-year-olds are most likely to drive at 25 mph or faster in a 20 mph area (73%), while 55 to 64-year-olds are least likely (45%);
  • Nearly 8 in 10 (78%) think traffic travels too fast in their neighbourhood for the safety of children on foot or bike;
  • More than 7 in 10 (72%) underestimate the amount of children killed on roads globally every day – currently 500.
  • Release from Brake

Draft air quality plan forced out of Government

Following a failed application to the High Court to delay the publication of its air quality plan until after the General Election, the UK Government has no choice but to produce it by 31 July.

Along with Client Earth, who have repeatedly and successfully battled with the Government in court over illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide, Cycling UK believes that action must be taken as soon as possible. Encouraging more cycling and walking is part of the solution - road transport is responsible for around a third of nitrogen oxide emissions.

The UK Government is now consulting on a draft, already condemned by Client Earth as “weak and incoherent.”


  • ‘Doctors Against Diesel’ marched to Downing Street earlier this month to deliver a giant prescription to the Prime Minister ordering her to deliver tougher action on air pollution to protect children’s lungs ‘every breath, every day’ across the UK. 

London trials motor-free hotspots

Transport for London (TfL), the Mayor of London and Westminster Council are consulting on ideas to remove motor traffic from Oxford Street. The London Cycling Campaign (LCC) welcomes the initiative, although they say there's a lot of unknowns and complexity involved.

Bank junction, a collision hotspot for cyclists and pedestrians, is already paving the way for Oxford Street. On a trial basis from this week, it will be free of all motor traffic (except buses) from 7am to 7pm on weekdays. LCC has been campaigning for changes at this junction for years, and is calling for support to make the scheme permanent.

Cycle infrastructure adds value to property, says research

If anyone needs persuading that investing in cycle infrastructure has a positive impact on property value, a recent investigation in London suggests that it is indeed significant.

Having compared the value of properties within 100m of a segregated cycle lane with those further afield in the same local authority, the data indicate, for example, that:

  • The duelling of Royal College Street in 2013 resulted in a 45% increase in value for the 90 properties within 100m of the new cycle lane, generating an additional £7.7m value in sales in comparison to other properties in Camden, which only increased by 23%;
  • Property value along Cycle Superhighway 2 in Newham has been increasing at almost twice the rate of other properties in the borough since the construction of the segregated cycle lane in late 2013;
  • Following the construction of the Torrington Tavistock segregated cycle route, properties within 100m of the route increased value by 50%, whilst the average increase across Camden was only 10%.

The investigation comes from Systra Ltd, part of the Systra Group, a global company offering engineering and transport planning expertise. They have been involved in London’s mini-Holland scheme for Kingston upon Thames.

Bike theft stats out

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales victimisation survey, there were an estimated 297,000 incidents of bicycle theft in 2016, down 10% on 2015, and 52% on 1995. This means that around 23 out of every 1,000 bike-owning households were affected by bike theft in 2016. 

Not every bike theft incident is reported to or recorded by the police, of course. In 2016, the police recorded 90,910 bicycle theft crimes, 4% more than the year before, but 20% less than 2005/06. 

New publications

Our Lawless Roads: Road policing, casualties and driving offences since 2010, England & Wales (RoadPeace)   

Crunching together policing data from the Home Office, casualty statistics from the Department for Transport (DfT), and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures on prosecutions and outcomes, this report presents a uniquely holistic view of the impact that ongoing cuts to roads policing have on road casualties, particularly amongst vulnerable road users.  

It's the enforcement of road traffic offences, such as hit-and runs, that requires officers on the street and visible roads policing, rather than offences which just rely on electronic enforcement e.g. speeding.”
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK

  • Read a full review of the report by our Senior Road Safety and Legal Officer, Duncan Dollimore, who also illustrates the problem as suffered by cyclists through a number of case studies.

New walking and cycling infrastructure and modal shift in the UK: A quasi-experimental panel study

Yena Song, John Preston & David Ogilvie, on behalf of the iConnect consortium

Paper presenting the results of an analysis of changes in travel behaviour following the provision of new walking and cycling infrastructure, looking in particular at modal shift from private car use.

The researchers found that: “… actual exposure to (use of) the infrastructure was significantly associated with a modal shift towards active travel after controlling for personal and household characteristics, but that passive exposure (residential proximity to the infrastructure) was not directly associated with a modal shift.”

In consequence, the authors conclude that “… infrastructure provision was not a sufficient condition for modal shift, but may have been a necessary condition.” They say that their study supports the construction of walking and cycling routes, but that this may not be enough to promote active travel on its own.

Published in Transportation Research Part A (Elsevier Ltd)

  • Read blog from Dr Andy Cope from Sustrans about this research, which was informed by the charity’s Connect2 project to build links that created shorter and more coherent cycling and walking routes. 

Changes in Perception - action tuning over long time scales: how children and adults perceive and act on dynamic affordances when crossing roads 

By Elizabeth E. O'Neal et al (University of Iowa)

Using an "immersive pedestrian simulator", researchers observed six- to 14-year-olds and adults crossing a busy road. This particular skill, say the authors, involves two variables: perceptual ability (judging gaps, speed and distance); and motor skills (timing when to step into the street after a car has just gone by).

They found that younger children were less discriminating than older children and adults, choosing fewer large gaps and more small gaps in the traffic. Timing improved steadily with development, reaching adult-like levels by the age of 14. The most conservative of all, at least with their gap choices, were twelve-year-olds.

Some people think younger children may be able to perform like adults when crossing the street. Our study shows that’s not necessarily the case on busy roads where traffic doesn’t stop.”
Jodie Plumert, professor in the UI’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences & one of the study’s authors

Younger children gave themselves significantly less time to spare than others when choosing gaps and, as a result: six-year-olds were struck by vehicles 8% of the time; eight-year-olds 6%; 10-year-olds 5%; and 12-year-olds 2%. No collisions occurred for those aged 14 and older.

The researchers also suggest that stepping into the street as soon as a car has gone by is a motor skill that young children may not have developed. Younger children, in fact, were “incapable of timing that first step as precisely as adults, which in effect gave them less time to cross the street before the next car arrived.” Equally, their eagerness to get to the other side may cloud their judgement.

Cycling UK believes that anyone who designs road infrastructure or sets speed limits, especially in built-up areas, needs to bear this research in mind. Speed, after all, is closely associated with the increased risk of crashes and severity of injuries, and widespread 20 mph limits (and enforcing them), would create safer neighbourhoods for children who want to travel and explore independently. The speed of the cars in this experiment was 25 mph.

Published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance

Managing Speed (World Health Organisation) 

Report suggesting that excessive or inappropriate speed contributes to one in three road traffic fatalities worldwide. Advocates speed management measures including:

  • building or modifying roads to include features that calm traffic, such as roundabouts and speed bumps;
  • establishing speed limits appropriate to the function of each road;
  • enforcing speed limits through the use of manual and automated controls;
  • installing in-vehicle technologies in new cars, such as intelligent speed assistance and autonomous emergency braking;
  • raising awareness about the dangers of speed.

Associations of specific types of sports and exercise with all-cause and cardiovascular-disease mortality: a cohort study of 80,306 British adults

By Pekka Oja et al.

Results of a large study looking at the associations of six different types of sport/exercise with all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality risk in a large pooled Scottish and English population-based cohort.

Found that significant reductions in all-cause mortality were observed for participation in cycling, swimming, racquet sports and aerobics. No significant associations, however, were found for participation in football and running.

A significant reduction in CVD mortality was observed for participation in swimming, racquet sports, and aerobics, but there were no significant associations for cycling, running and football.

Concludes that taking part in specific sports may have significant benefits for public health.

Trends in walking and cycling safety: recent evidence from high-income countries, with a focus on the United States and Germany 

Ralph Buehler and John Pucher

Paper examining changes in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities per capita (1990– 2014) and per kilometre (2000–2010) in selected high-income countries; and in fatalities and serious injuries per kilometre by age in the United States and Germany (2001–2009).

Finds that:

  • while most countries have reduced pedestrian and cyclist fatality rates per capita and per km, serious injuries data show smaller declines or even increases in rates per km;
  • there are large differences by age group in fatality and serious injury rates per km, with seniors having the highest rates;
  • the US has much higher fatality and serious injury rates per km than the other countries examined, and has made the least progress in reducing per-capita fatality rates.

Concludes, not surprisingly, that the US “must greatly improve walking and cycling conditions”, and all countries “should focus safety programs on seniors and children.”

Published in the American Journal of Public Health. (AmJPublicHealth.2017;107: 281–287. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2016.303546)

Building for Equality: Disability and the Built Environment (Women and Equalities Committee)

Report, with recommendations, on an inquiry conducted by the Women and Equalities Commons Select Committee, covering: strategic leadership; designing for equality; housing; public buildings and places; and shared spaces.

Concludes that “… disabled people find their lives needlessly restricted by features of the built environment”, and that “… the burden of ensuring that an accessible environment is achieved falls too heavily at present on individual disabled people, an approach that we consider to be neither morally nor practically sustainable. That burden needs to lie more obviously with the bodies who create, occupy and manage the environment.”

The report reflects witnesses’ concerns about a variety of ‘disabling barriers’, which include the difficulties faced by people who use adapted or non-standard cycles, such as restrictive gates on paths and cycle routes (which cause problems for wheelchair users too) and lack of suitable cycle parking.

It is perhaps the recommendation on shared space that could have most impact on cyclists of all abilities. Having heard evidence from many groups and individuals that “their ability to move about freely in the public realm had been severely curtailed by the implementation of schemes which they considered to be unsafe,” the Committee advises the Government to “… call a halt to the use of shared space schemes, pending clear national guidance that explicitly addresses the needs of disabled people.”

Wheels for Wellbeing welcomes the Committee’s report, which makes a number of important recommendations for improving the accessibility of the built environment. In our response we argued for more step-free access in public buildings, as well as the need for more cycle parking to be allocated for non-standard cycles, such as tricycles and tandems.

“We strongly agree with the Committee’s suggestion that making buildings accessible shouldn’t be seen as a ‘nice-to-do’, but that it should be a prerequisite for any planning development. Whilst we recognise the Committee's concerns surrounding 'shared space' schemes, we will continue to work to ensure that the needs of those who use cycles as mobility aids are not penalised as the result of any forthcoming actions.”
Neil Andrews, Wheels for Wellbeing

Cycling UK understands why shared use schemes in places where motor traffic volume remains high may cause concern, but where motor traffic is minimised or completely barred, they offer significant environmental benefits for everyone, including pedestrians and cyclists of all abilities. We therefore endorsed the response to the inquiry from Wheels for Wellbeing, a charity that supports disabled people of all ages to enjoy the benefits of cycling. Wheels for Wellbeing said:

“With regard to shared spaces, we recognise that there is a potential conflict of interest between cyclists and pedestrians at bus stop bypasses/floating bus stops and bus borders. However, we maintain that such infrastructure plays an important and necessary part of ensuring the safety and security of all cyclists and that, if designed properly, such infrastructure needn’t cause an issue between pedestrians (including people with sight-loss) and cyclists.

“Clear markings, colouring and delineation are needed, as are appropriate surfaces. Nevertheless, we would like to see transport bodies make greater efforts to bring together disability and cycling organisations during the initial planning stages, in order to ensure that the needs of both sets of groups are met in a way that is mutually acceptable and achievable.”

The charity also pointed out: “More positively, there are some forms of guidance, such as the London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS, 2014), that display a welcome acknowledgement of the needs of disabled cyclists. However, these are only guidelines, are not mandatory, and little observed outside of London. To make such guidance count and improve the situation for disabled cyclists everywhere, they should become enforceable standards that can be applied and adhered to nationally. Similarly, whilst we welcome the government’s draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) it is important that the criteria for allocating funding linked to this programme includes a duty to meet the needs of disabled people as cyclists as well as pedestrians, in accordance with the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED).”

Diary dates

Women’s Festival of Cycling

Month of July

Throughout July 2017, Cycling UK will be celebrating women who cycle and 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.

Also, this is your chance to nominate inspirational women in cycling, living or dead, for our own '100 Women in Cycling' list.  

Bike Week 2017

10 - 18 June

Delivered by Cycling UK, Bike Week is the biggest nationwide cycling event in the UK, offering the foremost annual, mass opportunity to promote and encourage 'everyday cycling for everyone.'   

The week is all about freedom and fun, giving people the chance to give cycling a go or celebrate what it does for them. It also helps demonstrate its social, health and environmental benefits, and what an efficient way it is of getting around for work or school, shopping or just to visit friends.

Tackling Road Danger

14 June, Edinburgh

A public meeting organised by Spokes (the Lothian Cycle Campaign) to discuss how to reduce danger in the existing road system.

Spokes says that cycling in Edinburgh is now far safer than it used to be: an average person cycling around five miles most days of the week in the city can expect a serious injury (such as a bone fracture, or worse) only about once in every 15  lifetimes. When the campaign was founded in 1977, it averaged once in every one lifetime.

“Nonetheless”, Spokes says, “one injury is too many – on top of which fear of road danger puts many people off cycling, so they lose out on the pleasure and the health benefits, whilst the city and its residents suffer more motor traffic congestion, noise and pollution than should be the case.”

The meeting hosts a panel of four expert speakers, covering: the police ‘Operation Close Pass’; a proposed Scottish Parliament bill for a 20 mph default speed limit in Scottish urban areas; action-research on reducing dangers posed by large vehicles; and research into vulnerable road users, including how the dangers vary according to age.

In this issue:

Headlines: What will each Metro Mayor do for cycling? Cycling and the justice system - parliamentary group reports back on inquiry; Loving cycling again - the Big Bike Revival
Other stories: Upturn for cycle traffic - but it still needs boosting; N Yorks Police furnished with close pass mat; Draft air quality plans forced out of Government; London trials motor-free hotspots; Cycle infrastructure adds value to property; Bike theft stats out.
New publications: Our Lawless Roads (RoadPeace); New walking and cycling infrastructure and modal shift in the UK (academic paper); Changes in perception: how children and adults perceive and act on dynamic affordances when crossing roads (academic paper); Managing Speed (WHO); Associations of specific types of sports and exercise with all-cause and cardiovascular-disease mortality (academic paper); Trends in walking and cycling safety (academic paper); Building for Equality: Disability and the built environment (Women and Equalities Committee). 
Diary dates: Women's Festival of Cycling (month of July); Bike Week 2017 (10-18 June); Tackling Road Danger (14 June, Edinburgh). 


From the Editor

Now that there’s six new Metro Mayors in England, we’ve been poring over their pre-election cycling-related promises and predicting what might happen as a result (see headlines). Poring over political intentions is not over yet, though, as there’s all the major parties’ General Election manifestos to analyse too (watch out for our round-up, coming soon).

In the meantime, we've added our voice to a wider coalition set up to influence the manifestos, and been campaigning behind the scenes for more ambitious targets: at the very least, a spend of £10 per head in England, and for cycling to account for 10% of all trips.

We’ve also been studying a number of other publications which we’re keen to see on the desks of politicians everywhere, not least those of incoming ministers at the Department for Transport, Home Office and Ministry of Justice.

Especially worth a read is a report from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) on its inquiry into cycling and the justice system, and ‘Our Lawless Roads’ from RoadPeace, which strongly argues for more traffic policing. Both documents back up many of the measures we've been advocating for years (see other stories/new publications).

On a summery note, it’s the ideal time to celebrate and/or rediscover the fun and freedom of cycling, courtesy of UK-wide Bike Week (10-18 June) and, in England and Scotland, the Big Bike Revival (until 18 June) – see diary dates. 

Cherry Allan
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