Cycle Campaign News February 2017

Rides of Way: new report on off-road cycling from Cycling UK

Cycle Campaign News February 2017

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

From the Editor

In this month's news, we share our insight into off-road cycling, gathered from thousands of experienced riders who regularly enjoy trails in the countryside.

A fair proportion of them are frustrated by the Rights of Way system in England & Wales, though, and they've explained why. So our 'Rides of Way' report is a useful campaigning pointer for anyone who'd like to see more people cycling in green and open spaces.

We also look ahead to the metro-mayoral elections coming up in May; deliberately flout the first rule of exam success (we didn't stick to the questions in the Ministry of Justice's driving offences and penalties consultation ...); celebrate a lorry-on-country-lane victory in East Sussex; and much more. 

Cherry Allan
Cycle Campaign News

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In this issue: 

Headlines: On the trail of the off-road cyclist - Cycling UK's new report; charities united on conflict; Mayoral hopefuls make cycling pledge; election heads-up.
Other stories: Thousands demand driving offences and penalties overhaul; Fletchers Solicitors and Cycling UK join forces over 'whiplash' claim reform; Pevensey cyclists celebrate as lorries barred from country lane; MOT changes could worsen road safety; campaigners send road safety messages to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary; more drug drivers caught by new law; London's new Walking & Cycling Commissioner takes office and plans for 'healthy streets'; DfT shares out £64m Access Fund; campaign for new Clear Air Act launched; 'Toxicity charge' on way for London; long time, no ride.
Act now: If you're a disabled cyclist, or have a health condition affecting your ability to cycle, tell Wheels for Wellbeing about your challenges; if you live in Wales, get involved in improving conditions for walking and cycling in your local area.
New publications: How to make a 'tube map' of your local cycle network (online guide); Play on Pedals evaluation report; Evaluating low cost workplace-based interventions to encourage the use of sustainable transport;Tackling the school run research study; Active Lives survey 2015-2016.
Diary dates: Festival of Women & Bicycles (4-5 March, Oxford); 20's Plenty for Healthier Places Conference (8 March, Birmingham); Spokes Council Hustings (6 April, Edinburgh); National Bikeability Conference (9-10 May, Hull); Cycle City Active City (11-12 May, Bradford).  


On the trail of the off-road cyclist: Cycling UK publishes new report

What are the main motivators for off-road cyclists? Where do they ride? How much do they spend on cycling trips? What facilities do they like when they get there? Are they investing in technical innovations like GPS and e-mountain bikes? Do women off-roaders share the views of men off-roaders?

And, of particular interest to campaigners, what are the access challenges they face when out on the trails and what can we all do about them?

Find out more from Cycling UK’s new report, Rides of Way. Based on the results of a survey we conducted with advocacy group OpenMTB, it summarises the views of almost 11,500 off-road cyclists, most of whom are experienced, long-term riders. They say, for instance, that:

  • health and/or fitness is their strongest motivation;
  • off-road cycling is hugely important to their mental health and wellbeing too;
  • they mostly choose byways and bridleways, and like Forestry Commission land;
  • they rate ‘quality of trails’ above all else; BUT …
  •  … almost three-quarters said ‘no’ when asked if they thought the existing Public Rights of Way network in England and Wales is suitable for modern cycle usage. Most find it difficult to put together a ‘legal’ route often or sometimes, are seriously confused by the network’s incoherence, and hampered by archaic legislation.

It’s not surprising, then, that they think off-road advocacy groups should put ‘increased access’ at the top of their priorities.

Charities unite on conflict

Far from being a divisive subject, conflict on countryside trails united the representatives from Cycling UK, The Ramblers and The British Horse Society sitting before a parliamentary committee recently on rural tourism. All three agreed that problems between cyclists, walkers and horse riders are more perceived than real.

Cycling UK’s representative, Policy Director Roger Geffen, also took the opportunity to explain that opening up the countryside for responsible access would help spread cycling and horse riding over a wider network, easing any tension caused by overcrowding.

Wales needs an approach to public access for outdoor recreation that is less burdensome to administer, provides for a wide range of activities, but at the same time, respects the concerns of landowners.”
Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths, having reviewed responses to the Welsh Government’s consultation on responsible outdoor recreation.   

Mayoral hopefuls Andy Burnham and Andy Street make cycling pledge

Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s nominee for Greater Manchester’s mayoral elections in May, has told Cycling UK that he’d like to see a dedicated cycling budget for the city, along with new infrastructure and a bike share scheme. His ultimate goal is to reach London’s funding figure of £17 per head for cycling. 

We have been the medals factory that has kick-started so much Olympic success, but if you go out on to the roads of Greater Manchester you see very few people cycling. So we have got an opportunity here to put that right, to learn from where London got things right, where they got it wrong, and come back with a really strong plan to boost cycling across the city region.”
Andy Burnham MP & Labour nominee for Mayor of Manchester.

  • Watch Mr Burnham being interviewed by Cycling UK’s President and Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow. 

Meanwhile Andy Street, the Conservative metro-mayoral candidate for the West Midlands and former boss of the John Lewis Partnership, has pledged a 40-fold  increase in spending on walking and cycling.

Investment in cycling and walking also needs a major boost. There is some exceptional work taking place in parts of the region around cycling. For example, Birmingham Cycling Revolution is an excellent project; what we need to do is apply this across the West Midlands.”
Andy Street, Conservative nominee for West Midlands Mayor (as reported in the Birmingham Mail).

Mr Street also said: “The role of Mayor means that, for the first time, we will be able to have a fully co-ordinated approach and somebody who will be able to press for investment in our cycling and walking routes. In London, spending per head on sustainable transport is around £20. In the West Midlands it is 25p – that is clearly unacceptable and as Mayor I am committing to achieving a 40-fold increase which would lead to a transformation in our region’s cycling infrastructure.”

The 25p figure comes from the West Midlands Cycling Charter, drawn up by Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM), which Cycling UK and other local and national walking and cycling groups are jointly urging the region’s mayoral candidates to back.

In due course, Cycling UK will also be talking to Greater Manchester mayoral nominees Sean Anstee (Con) and Jane Brophy (LibDem). 

Election heads-up

  • Our interviews with Manchester’s prospective candidates are just the start of our collaborative campaign to put cycling on the agenda in the run-up to the metro-mayoral and other elections later this year. It’s a particularly good opportunity to urge local politicians to back our Space for Cycling calls by committing to create cycle-friendly conditions through a three-step ‘plan, invest and build’ process.
  • On 2 March, Northern Ireland heads to the polls once more as the populace votes in new Members of the Legislative Assembly. Cycling UK has teamed up with local campaigner, NI Greenways of Bikefast, to ask candidates to back cycling. Last year, 74% of candidates responded, with 95% saying they’d support our call for funding of at least £10 per head. This year we’re going for the full 100%.

Other stories

BikeBiz advocacy award goes to Cycling UK

Cycling UK is BikeBiz’s Cycling Advocacy Achievement 2017 award-winner, having fended off stiff competition from other campaigning organisations.

The expert judging panel from across the cycling industry clearly liked the look of our submission showcasing three high-impact initiatives: Trails for Wales, the Big Bike Revival and Bike Week. 

With the Big Bike Revival helping to bring tens of thousands of bikes back into use, Bike Week giving people a helpful nudge into making more regular use of cycling for day-to-day travel, and our Trails for Wales campaign illustrating how effective lobbying can create a positive tipping point in favour of greater cycling opportunities for a healthier, happier nation, we are proud to accept this award.”
David Murray, Cycling UK’s Head of Communications and Campaigns

Thousands demand overhaul of driving offences and penalties

With a record-breaking 9,000-plus responses to the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) recent consultation on driving offences and penalties, there’s clear demand for a meaningful overhaul.

To do this, though, Cycling UK believes that the MoJ must look at issues beyond the consultation’s narrow focus on the most serious death and injury offences and tougher penalties for them (principally longer prison terms).

Debating the length of the jail term for the worst offenders, whilst ignoring sentencing and disqualification for repeat offenders and those committing common driving offences, sounds like a sticking plaster not a cure.”
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Senior Road Safety & Legal Officer

In our response, therefore, we deliberately overshot the restrictive consultation questions and covered: the problematic definitions of ‘careless’ and ‘dangerous’ driving which lead to all too many dangerous drivers being charged merely with the lesser, ‘careless’ offence; the wider use of disqualification as a sentencing option; the scope of the offence of car dooring and penalties for it; and an increase in the maximum penalties for failing to stop.

Duncan’s blog of the month: why the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s (APPCG) inquiry, Cycling and the Justice System, should be hugely welcomed by anyone who rides a bike or numbers cyclists amongst their family or friends.

Fletchers Solicitors and Cycling UK join forces over ‘whiplash’ claim reform

As reported in the last two issues of Campaign News, we’ve been fighting Government moves to raise the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 because of the detrimental effect this will have on cyclists (England & Wales).

If the moves go ahead, all claims up to £5,000 must be settled in the small claims court, where legal costs are not recoverable. Most cyclists’ claims typically fall within this bracket, meaning that they’ll have to pay their lawyer from their compensation, or litigate the case themselves. This is particularly unjust as the £5,000 hike is designed to tackle bogus ‘whiplash’ claims, which mostly come from car drivers. Whiplash, bogus or otherwise, is a rarity amongst cyclists.

Fletchers Solicitors have now joined forces with us on behalf of motorcyclists, whose claims they specialise in pursuing. They point out that the injuries suffered by vulnerable road users are often too complex for a small claims court to handle, and reveal that their own data show that less than 0.0002% of motorcycle claims have any finding of dishonesty.  

Together, Fletchers and Cycling UK are now calling for the reforms to make a clear distinction between claims from occupants of a vehicle and those from bikers, pedestrians and cyclists.

Pevensey cyclists celebrate as lorries barred from country lane

Cycling UK, local cycle groups including the 1066 Cycle Club and Bexhill Wheelers, and local walkers celebrated a return to safer roads and country lanes earlier this month as Wealden District councillors unanimously blocked retrospective planning permission for a heavy goods vehicle operation working out of Chilley Farm, Rickney Lane, Pevensey, East Sussex.

Cycling UK took action after learning of multiple incidents involving cyclists and lorries along the lane, which is part of National Cycle Route 2. These included a collision that led to a cyclist suffering serious injury.

MOT changes could worsen road safety, says Cycling UK

Cycling UK is seriously concerned about Government proposals to set the first MOT test for all new sub-3.5 tonne vehicles at four years instead of three.

While technological advances mean that this may not be a road safety issue for new cars, we certainly think that vans/goods vehicles should still be tested at three years. This is because a three-year-old 'white van' used for delivery or trade purposes could have clocked a huge mileage in that time.

Indeed, the volume of such vans is rising rapidly for several reasons. Online shopping is more popular than ever, for example, while some operators now choose 3.5 tonne vans over small trucks/lorries both to avoid HGV operator licence requirements and the challenge of hiring people qualified to drive HGVs (which, in turn, raises questions about whether the licensing threshold needs to be lowered).

Cycling UK will be responding to the consultation, and keeping tabs on the impact that the proliferation of van traffic may have on cyclists.

Campaigners send road safety messages to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary

Cycling UK has signed a joint response to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary's (HMIC, England & Wales) consultation on their proposed 2017 / 2018 inspection programme.

Along with RoadPeace, British Cycling, Living Streets, London Cycling Campaign, Road Danger Reduction Forum, Sustrans and 20's Plenty, we argue that:

  • HMIC's PEEL programme (Police Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Legitimacy) should be extended to include roads policing, with a thematic inspection of how the police prevent road traffic crime and anti-social driving, investigate crashes and support victims;
  • The HMIC's focus should not be restricted to ‘notifiable crimes’, but include those driving offences that pose a risk of harm to others;
  • Victims of road crime should be included in The Crime Survey for England and Wales;
  • HMIC should consider the extent to which the police collaborate with other agencies on setting and enforcing speed limits, given that some forces refuse to enforce 20 mph speed limits.

Of course, dealing with the aftermath of tragedy is only one part of your job. The priority is always to prevent it from happening in the first place."
Roads Minister Andrew Jones MP, thanking the police for their enforcement work, National Roads Policing Conference, 26 January 2017. 

More drug drivers caught by new law

Thanks to Section 5a of the Road Traffic Act, which put drug driving on the same legal footing as drink driving by setting limits for eight drugs, both legal and illegal:

In 2016, the first full year with the new law, at least 8,500 people were caught and successfully convicted of drug driving. In 2014, there were just 879 endorsements for drug driving.

Figures quoted in Road Minister Andrew Jones’s speech to the National Roads Policing Conference in January

London’s new Walking and Cycling Commissioner takes office

Cycling UK welcomes Dr Will Norman to his full-time appointment as Walking and Cycling Commissioner for London.

Now in post, Will is an avid, everyday cyclist, and former Director of Global Partnerships at Nike. His history also includes a PhD from the London School of Economics, social research, and working with not-for-profit organisations, governments, UN agencies and European institutions to tackle the global inactivity crisis.

Healthy Streets

One of the new Commissioner’s first actions, in conjunction with Mayor Sadiq Khan, was to launch a long-term plan, Healthy Streets for London. If implemented, the plan will see levels of car use drop, more room for walking, and a warmer welcome from public space. 

If every Londoner walked or cycled for 20 minutes a day, the plan says, the NHS would save £1.7bn in treatment costs over the next 25 years (a finding calculated from Sport England’s MOVES tool).

With the deaths of three cyclists in the capital already this year, the need for strong leadership on improving road conditions is tragically apparent. The incidents involved a hit-and-run, a coach and a lorry, respectively. Two happened on the same day as an elderly pedestrian was killed in a collision with a tipper truck.

DfT shares out £64m Access Fund

The DfT has made its final decisions on which local councils in England are to benefit from a share of its £64 million Access Fund 2017 – 2020.

The money will go towards projects such as cycle training, extra cycle storage, improving road safety, mapping for pedestrians and real-time information for bus users.

The DfT says that the investment could lead to:

  • 95 million fewer miles in car journeys
  • 99,000 extra walking trips per day
  • 40,000 extra cycling trips per day

We welcome the cash and look forward to working with some of the successful councils on their cycling initiatives. £64 million, though, when shared between 25 councils outside London, pales beside the £15 billion allocated to English trunk roads and motorways over the next five years.

Campaign for new Clean Air Act launched

Cycling UK is amongst numerous supporters of the Health Air Campaign’s calls for a new Clean Air Act, launched on 15 February.

Along with Greenpeace, the National Union of Students and the Royal College of Physicians (to name but a few of the other organisations signed up to the campaign), we want to see modern legislation tackle the country’s toxic and illegal levels of air pollution. A recent YouGov survey suggests that 65% of the British public agrees, with 75% of them feeling that the Prime Minister has a moral obligation to act.

Air pollution comes from a number of sources, but transport exhaust is a major offender.

Toxicity Charge on way for London

The most polluting vehicles entering central London from October 23 will be subject to a £10 ‘Toxicity Charge’ (T-charge). Operating on top of and at the same times as the congestion charge, the scheme’s main target will be the vast majority of pre-2006 vehicles.

I will continue to do everything in my power to help protect the health of Londoners and clean our filthy air. But now is the time for Government to show real leadership and join me by introducing a diesel scrappage fund and bring in the new Clean Air Act we desperately need.”
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London.

Representing the toughest emission standard of any world city, the T-charge is part of a wide-ranging package of measures to clean up London’s badly polluted air. Motorists can use a free online vehicle checker to see if they’ll be affected.

Long time, no ride

The British Heart Foundation has released the results of a survey of 2,000 people suggesting that:

  • One in five people in Britain haven’t ridden for more than 10 years;
  • The average household in the UK owns just one bike, while 41% of households don’t own a bike at all;
  • Around 6.3 million people don’t know how to ride a bike anyway.

More positively, one in eight said one of their Christmas presents was a bike; and well over half (57%) would consider a cycling challenge as a way of getting back into cycling in 2017 (think BHF’s London to Brighton Bike Ride!).

Perhaps not the best use of time ...

According to a survey from BPA (British Parking Association), on average motorists each spend around four days a year hunting for a parking spot. The solution to this shocking, life-wasting habit is obvious to us: one car parking space can accommodate at least eight bikes. 

Act now

  • Are you a disabled cyclist, or have a health condition that affects your ability to cycle? If so, is your voice being heard?  Let Wheels for Wellbeing understand the issues facing you, and help them shape the focus of their campaigns by filling in this five minute survey.
  • Live in Wales? Here's your chance to help improve cycling and walking in your local community. Find out how, and get involved through our online action now

New publications

How to make a 'Tube map' of your local cycle network (online guide developed by CycleBath)

An illustrated, step-by-step tutorial on producing a ‘Tube map’ of your current cycle network and identifying, very graphically, where there’s room for improvement.

This colourful and simple-to-read type of map has already proved itself to be a persuasive local lobbying tool: the first, created by the Bristol Cycling Campaign in 2015, has been incorporated into the city’s Cycling Strategy.

Authorities in England may well be particularly grateful for the work you put in, as they’re being asked to draw up network maps to support their funding bids.

If you’re not an active member of your local campaign group, check in with them first to see if they’re aware of the tool and, if so, whether they’re on the case already.   

Play on Pedals evaluation report

End of project report from Play on Pedals, which has helped over 7,000 pre-school children in Glasgow gain confidence, self-esteem, resilience and language skills whilst having lots of fun on bikes. The children have also grown more active, and enjoy improved balance, co-ordination, strength and gross motor skills.

Additionally, people who have trained as instructors now have more ideas for outdoor play sessions; parents have learnt more about cycling; while a variety of local groups, bike shops and charities have linked up.

The report also highlights some barriers, including:

  • The lack of safe cycling infrastructure for children and families;
  • Costs of equipment, making cycling seem prohibitive for some families;
  • Lack of space to store bikes at home (Glasgow has a lot of tenement buildings that make cycle storage difficult);
  • Low use of bikes by parents and grandparents. 

The project, funded by the People's Postcode Lottery, ran from April 2014 to December 2016. Delivery partners included Cycling UK, Cycling Scotland, The Bike Station Glasgow and Play Scotland.

Evaluating low cost workplace-based interventions to encourage the use of sustainable transport (Behavioural Insights Team)

Commissioned by the DfT, this report presents a rigorous study of interventions to encourage sustainable travel amongst the thousands of staff who work at Heathrow Airport (less than 1% of whom currently cycle).

Having looked at schemes to promote car sharing and public transport take-up, and decrease the use of ‘single occupancy cars’, the authors conclude that many of the ‘light touch’ interventions did not yield a significant effect. One of the reasons behind this may be that Heathrow has been encouraging staff to travel sustainably for some time, and it’s now more of a challenge to change the habits of staff who have so far resisted.

Certainly, one key lesson from the study is, it seems, “… not to take self-reported opinions at face value when devising transport interventions” – e.g. drivers expressing a willingness to car share, but not going through with it.

The researchers originally intended to test the effect of monetary versus non-monetary incentives to promote “continued cycling behaviour.” In the end, however, they decided against it, given the likelihood of a small sample size and the closure of cycle lanes leading to the airport’s terminals.

They did, however, carry out a qualitative evaluation of Heathrow’s ‘Try a bike on us’ scheme (a brave intervention given that 82% of staff said they would never consider cycling to work). Through the scheme, 74 people borrowed an e-bike and 17 a regular bike. On the basis of feedback from some of the participants, the authors conclude: “When marketing a cycling scheme in this context, it may be better to appeal to people’s desires to be fit, save money, and have fun, and focus less on the sustainability or convenience of cycling.”

In the view of their overall findings, the authors recommend some not quite so light touches, such as:

  • More intensive or targeted interventions (e.g. car parking charges, paying people not to drive to work, workplace-specific shuttles, or capping the number of times employees can park a week);
  • Timing interventions for individuals at key points in their lives when they may be re-evaluating their travel habits anyway (e.g. when they move house or job etc.);
  • Pairing behaviour change with more direct measures such as improvements to infrastructure and services.

Tackling the School Run Research Study (by Systra in partnership with Wellside Research and Sustrans)

Commissioned by the Scottish Government and focusing on Scotland, this report reviews the policies and programmes designed to address health and environmental problems caused by sedentary, car-centred journey choices to school.

Highlights the fact that there is little debate amongst policy makers, practitioners, parents, teachers, local communities and other stakeholders on the benefits of walking and cycling to school. Evidence, the authors find, backs this up.

While the 2016 Hands Up Scotland Survey found that half of pupils travel to school by cycling, scooting and (mostly) walking, the authors suggest that there is still scope to grow the share of pupils travelling actively, through:

  • Regular and ongoing reinforcement of targeted activities
  • Supporting infrastructure
  • Integrating active and sustainable travel fully into the school ethos, e.g. a whole school approach
  • Concerted “cross-portfolio working” between government departments and agencies

Also shows that schools with sustained and well-resourced initiatives get much better results than schools without them. They do even better if they engage in more than one initiative, e.g. a Sustrans I Bike Programme combined with a School Travel Plan.

Active Lives survey (Sport England)

The November 2015 to November 2016 results of a rolling survey of around 200,000 people offering an insight into the physical activity habits of the nation. Finds that:

  • 19% of men and 11% of women cycle for leisure and sport; 15% overall, the same as running
  • 10% of men and 4% of women cycle for travel
  • 25.6% (11.3 million) do fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a week

Diary dates

Festival of Women & Bicycles 2017

4-5 March, Oxford

A weekend festival, hosted by Oxford’s Broken Spoke Bike Co-op in partnership with The Adventure Syndicate. 

Speakers include Josie Dew (author, veteran cycle tourer and Cycling UK's Vice President) and Isla Rowntree (designer and founder of Islabikes).

Open to people of all genders, ages, abilities, shapes and sizes, keen cyclists, aspiring cyclists and the bike-curious alike. With practical workshops, Q&A sessions, local guided rides and bike-specific yoga classes. Tickets are £45.

20's Plenty for Healthier Places Conference (20's Plenty)

8 March 2017, Birmingham

The national 20 mph conference, now in its 8th year, will focus on why and how best to implement and educate drivers on 20 mph limits to make a healthier public realm that feels safer, cleaner and friendlier for all. Features a line-up of experts on speed reduction, covering health-themed best practice, innovation, research, policy and cost-effectiveness. 

Spokes Council Hustings

6 April, Edinburgh

Spring public meeting organised by Spokes, the Lothian Cycle Campaign.

Taking the form of a hustings for Edinburgh City Council’s election on 4 May, the meeting will be a chance for voters to hear and question party representatives about their thoughts on cycling and any related transport policy issues they wish to mention.


Space for Cycling / #Walk Cycle Vote bike rides

22 April

A number of local cycle advocacy groups will be holding Space for Cycling rides to raise the visibility of the pro-cycling vote ahead of local elections in England & Wales. 

Cycling UK is also a lead partner in the #Walk Cycle Vote coalition, which will organise Pedal on Parliament rides that day ahead of local elections in Scotland.

Watch out for further details at Space for Cycling and #WalkCycleVote

National Bikeability Conference

9 -10 May, Hull (City of Culture 2017)

The Association of Bikeability Scheme’s (TABS) conference, offering free guided ride round Hull and social evening (9 May, hosted by Hull City Council) and workshops (10 May).

Cycle City Active City (Landor Links)

11-12 May, Bradford

The 5th annual Cycle City Active City conference.

Includes a two-day exhibition of the product and service suppliers to the sector, with plenary presentations by high-profile individuals throughout the UK and beyond with expertise and influence in cycling and walking policy, promotion and infrastructure, active place-making, public health, and positive urban design and development. Also offers seminars, study tours, keynote presentations and networking opportunities.

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