Cycle Campaign News July 2017

Women's Festival of Cycling 2017: just a few of the women nominated for inspiring other women to cycle

Cycle Campaign News July 2017

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

From the Editor

Today (26 July 2017), the Government released its plan to tackle roadside concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, a move expedited largely by legal action brought by ClientEarth. As the plan leaves much of the tackling up to local councils, we're urging them to invest in cycling and walking as one of the cleanest solutions (see 'Headlines').  

We’ve always said that cycling must never to be far from any politician’s thoughts, so it was something of a triumph for it to be mentioned in three recent parliamentary debates that weren’t actually about cycling in its own right.

With a nudge from us here and there, cycling threaded its way into both Lords and MPs' speeches on air quality (naturally), equestrian safety, and local roads investment (see 'Headlines').

Our month-long Women's Festival of Cycling is nearly over, but the campaign to get more women cycling lives on. Survey after survey has put infrastructure and the perception that cycling is a dangerous activity as the biggest barriers, and our latest poll says the same (see 'Other stories'). 

Cherry Allan
Cycle Campaign News

P.S. I don't know if anyone else is counting, but this is the 125th issue of our cycle campaigning round-up.

The first edition appeared in print in 1991 as the CycleDigest, with the most inspiring of headlines: 'Cycling Scene Brightens'.

We continued to publish brightening and not such brightening news more or less every quarter until March 2013. At that point, we went online exclusively, changed the name to Cycle Campaign News and ramped up production to every month. How we ever squashed cycle campaigning news into only four issues a year never ceases to amaze me, although I do remember a lot of creative formatting going on!

Issues dating back to 2010 are still available on our website, but it's all paper before that! 

  • Subscribe to Cycling UK's Campaign News monthly bulletin


Government releases plan to tackle roadside nitrogen dioxide

Faced with further legal proceedings if it fails to take urgent action on illegal pollution levels, the Government has now published a plan specifically to tackle roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations in the UK. 

The plan offers councils a small amount of money to develop initial plans to lower local levels of the pollutant. These need to be submitted to the Government for scrutiny by the end of March 2018, with the final plans following by the end of next year.

Measures that the Government could have taken now seem to be deferred pending further consultation, i.e. steps to reduce traffic in heavily polluted areas through road user charging and a vehicle scrappage scheme, along with the wider air quality plan. Indeed, ClientEarth, who took the UK Government to court over its failure to meet its legal limits on NO2, says that "This plan is, yet again, a plan for more plans."

Cycling isn’t just a pollution solution; it helps tackle congestion, physical inactivity and road danger as well.  If we have healthy streets, where children and older people alike can cycle safely, healthy air will follow.”
Roger Geffen, Cycling UK Policy Director

Given that promoting cycling is an obvious answer to pollution problems, Cycling UK will support those councils who want to present plans that incorporate active travel and make the most effective use of the available funds.

On our initial examination, this is little more than a shabby rewrite of the previous draft plans and is underwhelming and lacking in urgency. [...] This plan is, yet again, a plan for more plans."
James Thornton, CEO ClientEarth

The plan also commits the Government to ending the sale of all conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040 in the UK. This follows news that the French Government recently made a similar decision, a story that our Space for Cycling campaigner Tom Guha investigates in his latest blog.

Cycling threads into three parliamentary debates

Cycling has been mentioned in three recent parliamentary debates, although none of them was specifically about cycling.

Debate 1 (Lords): Air quality in London

Debating air quality with his fellow peers, Lord Borwick (Con) made a number of sound points but, unfortunately, also claimed that “cycle lanes are causing pollution that is now being breathed in by the cyclists themselves”. While some joined him in his criticism and took swipes at cyclists’ behaviour, others leapt to the defence of cyclists and cycle lanes.

Responding for the Government, environment Minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble also spoke positively of cycling: “It is important that we encourage cycling and walking as an investment. It is not only healthy but important to well-being”.

Front bench spokespeople for the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and Greens also urged the adoption of a wider aim of road traffic reduction.

Debate 2 (Commons): Safety of riders and horses on rural roads

Here, equestrian safety on rural roads may have been the core topic, but the debate branched into the safety of cyclists, not least the hazards of being overtaken too closely and the fact that too many drivers get away with dangerous or inconsiderate behaviour.

Making his first parliamentary appearance in his new role as minister for local transport, roads and road safety, Jesse Norman MP said he was happy to pass on the concerns about roads policing to the Chief Constable of his local police force (West Mercia), who is also the national lead on roads policing for the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

Debate 3 (Commons): Road infrastructure

An airing for road infrastructure prompted several MPs to bid for their pet local road schemes, but cycling was by no means ignored. Huw Merriman MP (Con), who called the debate, echoed Cycling UK’s argument for new and existing roads to encourage cycling, a cause that others took up too.

Fabian Hamilton MP (Lab, Leeds NE) went further, citing Cycling UK’s calculation that, by 2020/21 national roads spending is set to increase to £86 per person annually outside London, with cycle and walking investment falling to 72p.

Despite the support cycling already attracts in Parliament, it’s still not getting the investment it deserves. The Government’s ‘Transport Strategy, issued earlier the same day, barely mentions walking, cycling or public transport. It is, in fact, not much more than an announcement of the £1bn available to English local authorities to invest in the A-roads for which they are responsible, e.g. to build local bypasses (although we will be seeking to persuade them that there are other options for invesment, not just bypasses). 

Other stories

​Women tell Cycling UK what would help them cycle more

Research commissioned by Cycling UK as part of our month-long Women’s Festival of Cycling this July, suggests that better Space for Cycling would encourage both men and women to cycle more often, but that women are more likely to need a boost to their confidence. 

When asked what would encourage them to cycle more often, people who don't cycle daily cited: 

  • More cycle lanes on the roads near them (30% for both men and women);
  • Cycle proficiency training to improve confidence when cycling (10% vs 4% men);
  • Having a ‘cycling buddy’ or group to cycle with (18% vs 16% men);
  • Owning a bike or a better quality bike (23% women vs 28% men).

Two in five women (41%), however, said that none of this would encourage them to cycle more and that they would never cycle. 

When asked why they don't cycle on a daily basis:

  • 44% of women said they thought it's dangerous, as opposed to 26% of men;
  • 30% of women, but only 11% of men, said they don't feel confident enough.
  • Read more about our Women’s Festival of Cycling and our 100 Women in Cycling event held in Birmingham earlier this month. 
  • Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival, the national campaign in Scotland designed to encourage thousands of people to cycle for everyday journeys, is offering support to local community groups and volunteers to get more people riding their bikes. Read more.

Close pass mats latest

Cycling UK’s crowdfunded ‘close pass’ mats, used to re-educate drivers who overtake cyclists too closely, are now in use in 30 plus of the 45 UK police force areas (and counting).

Amongst the latest roll-out is a regional initiative in the North East, where 3,044 cyclists were reported injured between 2012 and 2016 (with many more near misses unreported, no doubt).

The original idea for the mats came from West Midlands police.

Dock-free bike hire hits Manchester and London

Dock-free bike hire schemes Mobike and oBike, now operating respectively in Manchester and London, will undoubtedly make it easier for more people to take up cycling.

Unfortunately, the behaviour of some users (e.g. dumping a bike in an undesignated area) and the possibility of vandalism has already been subject to question, but we hope that the companies' rules on responsible use and measures to disincentivise unsociable conduct will tackle this effectively.   

Cambridge campaigners celebrate go-ahead for Chisholm Trail

Camcycle (Cambridge Cycling Campaign) is pleased that councillors have unanimously approved the planning application for phase 1 of the Chisholm Trail.

The trail will provide a long called-for, safe and direct route for people to walk and cycle between the north and south of the City, connecting up railway stations, workplaces, schools, heritage sites and residential areas. 

Lessons from Mile End Road

Two years ago, Essex County Council proposed a footway conversion project that they believed would encourage cycling and walking.

The local campaign group wasn't happy with the plans, but before they knew it, the diggers had moved in. Why weren't campaigners impressed? What did the Local Government Ombudsman say when they took the matter to them? Was it all worth it?

“… by going to the Ombudsman, we proved that we were right to complain. And we hope the verdict will prevent similarly poor decisions being made in the future. It is also a useful case study for campaigners to show other local authorities and say: 'I do hope you won’t fall into this trap.'" 
Will Bramhill, Cycling UK member and local campaigner

Template for EU Cycling Strategy out

Calls for an official EU cycling strategy have gathered momentum with the publication of a set of strategic recommendations from the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF).

Developed by a group of experts (including Transport for London), ECF handed over the document to the European Commissioner for Transport​ Violeta Bulc at the Velo-city conference in June. The hope is to see an EU Cycling Strategy included in the Commission’s work programme for 2018. Cycling UK contributed to the chapter on cycling safety. 

If adopted, ECF's recommended targets for the EU would be to:

  • Grow cycle use by 50% on average across the EU;
  • Halve rates for killed and seriously injured cyclists (in km cycled);
  • Invest EUR 3 billion in cycling from 2021–27, and 6 billion from 2028–34.

The authors also suggest that cycling should be treated as an equal partner in the mobility system.

The recommendations cover: behavioural change; cycle-friendly infrastructure; vehicle registration; multimodality and intelligent transport systems; a financial and fiscal level playing field for cycling; the EU bicycle industry; governance; and monitoring & evaluation.

  • Read the EU Cycling Strategy: Recommendations for Delivering Green Growth and an Effective Mobility in 2030 

Sustrans turns 40

Congratulations to Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, on its 40th birthday this July.

Set up in 1977 in Bristol and cutting its teeth on converting the disused railway line between Bristol and Bath into a shared cycling and walking path, Sustrans has since expanded into Safe Routes to School, created the National Cycle Network, amassed volunteers, worked on street design and liveable neighbourhoods, set up 'Bike It' to get children cycling, and much more.

Act now

GWR (Great Western Railway) is looking for cyclists to test out their cycle reservation system in August and early September. If you'd like to help, please get in touch with Mark Youngman at GWR: 

New publications

Summary of Outcomes of the Cycling Demonstration Towns and Cycling City and Towns Programmes (Sustrans/Transport Quality for Life)

A new study pointing to the importance of sustained, European level, investment for cycling.

The study shows that each of the 18 towns and cities participating in two DfT-funded programmes, saw significant increases in the number of cycling trips for shorter urban journeys. They also enjoyed significantly more to spend per capita on cycling than the £2 typical elsewhere in England (outside London):

  • Central government funding for the twelve ‘Cycling City and Towns’ (CCTs, 2008-11) came in at about £14 per head for just under three years, while the six ‘Cycling Demonstration Towns’ (CDTs, 2005-08 / 2008-11) had around £17 to spend per head for five-and-a-half years.
  • On average, the CCTs saw cycling trips increase by 24% over the three years and on average by 8% per year.  Stoke-on-Trent and Greater Bristol did particularly well, at +62% and +40% respectively.
  • In the CDTs, cycling trips increased by 29% over five years (5% on average per year). Darlington (59%) and Exeter (45%) showed especially high rates of growth.

Each town or city spent their grants on measures tailored to their own needs. Some put the money into new routes and networks, while others focussed on training and working with schools and employers, as well as developing routes.

Rightly, the authors exercise caution when discussing whether the uplift in cycling was, in fact, the result of the funding. With several caveats, however, they say: “The monitoring data suggest that these towns may consider themselves as ‘standard bearers’ for the future growth of cycling in Britain.” 

The study also provides individual reports for each town/city involved: Blackpool, Cambridge, Chester, Colchester, Greater Bristol, Leighton-Linslade, Shrewsbury, Southend, Southport, Stoke-on-Trent, Woking, York, Aylesbury, Brighton and Hove, Darlington, Derby, Exeter, Lancaster and Morecambe.

Changing the way we travel: Infrastructure and our everyday transport choices (CEDAR)

Two-page analysis from the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) of data from the Cycling Demonstration Towns and Cycling Cities & Towns programmes; iConnect projects in Cardiff, Kenilworth and Southampton that built high-quality, traffic-free cycling and walking routes; and a guided busway in Cambridgeshire that opened in 2011.  

Finds that:

  • A large part of our weekly recommended amount of physical activity can be achieved through active commuting;
  • There are many ways to intervene to change travel behaviours – including cycling initiatives, new ‘active’ routes, and wider changes that include public transport as well as infrastructure for active travel;
  • Changes in behaviour can often take time to happen, but all these initiatives have shown some success;
  • Travel behaviour is complex, so it is unlikely that small scale environmental changes alone will result in substantial increases in walking and cycling – systemic change is required across a number of sectors.

The Market Cycles: The rise of cycling and its impact on office specification and investment (British Council for Offices)

A report, based on surveys and research, looking first at cycling growth, drivers of demand and the barriers, and then discussing the current state of cycling facilities, key issues relating to them and the future of the cycle-friendly office. Presents a number of useful case studies too.    

Finds that the cycling facilities offered by many workplaces are failing to accommodate the growing popularity of cycling, with 16% of the office workers surveyed claiming that inadequate facilities are discouraging them from considering commuting by bike. Overall, almost two fifths (38%) said they’d change their minds if their workplace had better or more facilities.

One of the key findings of the research is that, compared to five years ago, cycling provision is increasingly becoming accepted as an integral component of Grade A office specification."
Richard Kauntze, Chief Executive of the British Council for Offices

The survey also found that:

  • Over a third (35%) had taken up cycling to work in the past two years, with 31% having done so between two and five years ago;
  • Of those who do cycle to work: 71% do so for health; 62% for enjoyment; 51% because it is a cheaper form of transport; and 20% because cycling to work offers “thinking time”;
  • While 83% of workplaces in the UK offer some form of bike storage, less than half (47%) of this is covered and secure;
  • One in 10 workplaces offer no cycling provision at all;
  • Just under half (45%) of offices do not have showers, something which almost a quarter (24%) of workers surveyed said would encourage them to consider commuting by bike;
  • As well as insufficient facilities, those who currently do not cycle to work cite dangerous roads (35%), poor cycling routes (21%) and length of commute (40%);
  • 29% of people would be encouraged to cycle if there were safer routes.

 As cycling continues to rise in popularity, ostensibly the most pressing issue for businesses will be finding the space for bikes, lockers and storage. However, our research shows that the focus needs to be on the quality of the facilities offered, not just the quantity."
Neil Webster, Director of Remit Consulting, the company who conducted the survey

The British Council for Offices (BCO) represents the interests of all those who occupy, design, build, own or manage offices in the UK. The full publication is available to BCO members.

Cycling safely: best-practice guidance for organisations using cyclists (Brake, in collaboration with CitySprint)

Based on the welcome premise that ‘Cycling is a healthy, cost-effective and sustainable means of distributing goods within urban areas”, this five-page guidance covers practical and procedural, but not Draconian, advice for fleet managers employing a team of at-work cyclists.

I feel as a courier I also have a huge opportunity to make a difference to businesses; so many companies – law firms, banks and fashion brands included – wouldn’t be able to operate as effectively without us moving their vital documents.”
Julija, CitySprint cycle courier

Finishes with a rather uplifting insight into life as a cycle courier, written by Julija, who’s been working for CitySprint for 18 months.

Free of charge to all Brake Professional members through A priced copy is available to others.

Driving Down Emissions: How to clean up road transport? (Policy Exchange)

Report providing a picture of recent trends in road use, and a review of the main technological options to address carbon emissions and pollutants from road transport. Discusses new technologies like electric, hydrogen and natural gas vehicles, making conventional vehicles more efficient, and encouraging people to take public transport, walk and cycle.

On cycling, the report recommends that:

  • Central and Local Government should increase the proportion of the overall transport budget spent on cycling and walking, given the significant emissions reduction and net benefits this would realise compared to other forms of transport infrastructure.
  • Government should adopt the ‘London Cycling Design Standards’ as a national standard to give greater clarity on cycleway safety standards and cut costs across the industry. 

It also highlights the conundrum the Government faces over the impact that decarbonizing road transport and the uptake of lower emission vehicles could have on its revenue from tax. In VED terms, lower emission vehicles receive very favourable treatment and, although it's been frozen for years, fuel duty is still a big earner. The implication of this, the authors say: “... is that in order to shore up road taxes, the Government may need to tax road use directly, rather than taxing road use indirectly through fuel duties.”

Air pollution: outdoor air quality and health (NICE)

Guideline from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence covering road-traffic-related air pollution and its links to ill health.

Recommends a number of actions in combination because, it says, “multiple interventions, each producing a small benefit, are likely to act cumulatively to produce significant change”.

Of particular interest to campaigners for lower speeds, the guidance suggests promoting smooth driving through, for example, "20 mph limits without physical measures to reduce speeds in urban areas where average speeds are already low (below around 24 mph) to avoid unnecessary accelerations and decelerations." 

Amongst its other recommendations are:

  • Siting and designing new buildings, facilities and estates to reduce the need for motorised travel;
  • Incorporating air quality outcomes in travel plans;
  • Supporting active travel (e.g. through clean air zones - CAZs);
  • Introducing a CAZ that includes restrictions or charges on certain classes of vehicle, and supports zero- and low-emission travel (including active travel);
  • Providing a choice of cycle routes, including routes that avoid highly polluted roads, and ideally using quiet streets or segregated routes;
  • On busy roads, providing as much space as possible between the cyclist and motorised vehicles;
  • Reducing the time cyclists spend at highly polluted sites, including some junctions, where this can be done without increasing the time that other groups spend exposed to poor air quality;
  • Where traffic congestion is contributing to poor air quality, consider incorporating a congestion charging zone within the CAZ;
  • Considering public awareness initiatives such as car-free days or National Clean Air Day to raise awareness of air pollution;
  • Encouraging employees to cycle to work.

Unmasked: the true story of the air you’re breathing (FoE)

Snapshot results of Friends of the Earth’s citizen science experiment that equips people all over the country to monitor local air quality using ‘diffusion tubes’.

Reveals that dirty air is a problem in many more places than the Government admits in its headline policy to deal with nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a gas that is particularly hazardous to human health and has reached illegal levels in the UK.

More than 1 in 6 (17%) of the 2,500 monitoring tubes already in action found NO2 pollution levels above the legal limit. These higher concentrations were found in 133 local authorities and 181 Westminster Parliamentary constituencies, representing every region of England, as well as Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, plus the Isle of Man and Jersey.

The experiment also found high readings in 13 new hotspots, i.e. council areas not currently identified as having a pollution problem by the local authority or national government.

Our citizen scientists are finding that air pollution is not just in the obvious spots, it’s a hyperlocal, nationwide problem." 
​Friends of the Earth

With map, commentary on the Government’s record on air pollution and what the next steps should be.

Most poignant, though, are the personal stories of local people who volunteered for the project, and some alarming descriptions of very specific locations, e.g. a primary school in Tower Hamlets; the Conservative MP’s office in Hanham High Street, Bristol; a quiet residential road in Greater Manchester; the port of Felixstowe; and the magistrates court in Croydon.

You can become one of FoE’s citizen scientists – order your Clean Air Kit  

Powerful People Powerful Places: Mobilising the yet to be mobilized (Fabian Society)

Report setting out how councils and green campaigners can understand and mobilise millions of people to participate in community action to improve the environment.

It builds on previous Fabian research which found that 30% of people would like to get involved as community activists to improve the environment in the place where they live, but very few actually do.  Endorsed by nearly twenty council leaders from across the UK, and supported by UK100, Groundwork and the Woodland Trust.

Traffic-law enforcement & its relationship with risk of death from crashes

By Dr Adrian Davis

The latest one-page briefing from travelwest’s Essential Evidence series (no.161).

It's top line suggests that: “Traffic-law enforcement effectively reduces the frequency of fatal motor-vehicle crashes in countries with high rates of motor-vehicle use. Inconsistent enforcement, therefore, may contribute to thousands of deaths each year worldwide.”

Causing death by driving (RoadPeace)

Detailed annual briefing from RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, on the prosecution, conviction and sentencing of drivers for causing a death in England and Wales.

The figures, which are based on statistics released by the Ministry of Justice for 2016, show that compared to 2015, convictions soared by 31% to 419. Only one driver was given a prison sentence of 10 years or over, with another 25 between 7-10 years. Some 42 drivers escaped being banned.

Driven to Distraction – tackling safety on London’s buses (London Assembly Transport Committee)

Report examining the reasons for the number of bus incidents in London - in 2015 and 2016, 25 people were killed on, or by, buses. Over two thirds of them were pedestrians.

The main conclusion is that punctuality is prioritised over safety:

  • High levels of stress are reported amongst bus drivers, caused by long shifts, inadequate breaks and irregular shift patterns;
  • Fatigued bus drivers may have more incidents than properly rested ones;
  • Rest and toilet facilities are poor or non-existent;
  • The job involves frequent distractions from the control centre and from passengers;
  • In addition to various driver safety issues, London has a relatively high number of collisions involving buses;
  • The contracts Transport for London (TfL) has with bus operators incentivise them to meet punctuality targets, but not safety targets;
  • Key aspects of safety, like driving skills and incident investigations, are often left in the hands of the bus operators.

The report recommends, amongst other things, that Transport for London (TfL):

  • Sets safety targets for bus operators as soon as possible;
  • Revises its senior staff bonus scheme to introduce a direct link between bus safety and performance-related payments;
  • Reduces the number of distractions and difficulties facing drivers;
  • Delivers driver safety training, in the same way it delivers customer service training;
  • TfL needs to review the way it awards contracts to bus operators and ensure it puts safety as a priority, instead of punctuality.

Diary dates

Cycle to Work Day

13 September

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

Healthy Streets 2017

28 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. 

UK Bike Share Conference

27 & 28 September 2017, Manchester

UK bike share conference from bikeplus for those involved in planning and delivering public bike share schemes, including representatives from: local authority planning and transport teams, Local Enterprise Partnerships, private sector investors and developers, technology suppliers, operators, and transport consultancies. Supported by Transport for Greater Manchester, which is in the process of trialling bike share solutions.

Big Bike Celebration

7 October, Birmingham

Cycling UK’s third members’ conference showcasing our own members and volunteers’ achievements and celebrating and learning from other grassroots projects across the UK. 

Cycling UK/Cyclenation Campaigns Conference 2017

11 November, Oxford

Further details in the next issue of Campaign News, but put this date in your diary. 

In this issue:

Headlines: Government releases plan to tackle roadside NO2 in the UK; cycling threads into three parliamentary debates
Other stories: women tell Cycling UK what would help them cycle more; close pass mats latest; dock-free bike hire hits Manchester & London; lessons from Mile End Road; EU cycling strategy template out; Sustrans turns 40.
Act now: help test GWR's cycle reservation system
New publications: Summary of outcomes of the Cycling Demonstration Towns and Cycling City & Towns programmes (Sustrans/Transport Quality for Life); Changing the way we travel (CEDAR); The Market Cycles - the rise of cycling & its impact on office specification and investment (British Council for Offices); Cycling safely - best-practice guidance for organisations using cyclists (Brake/CitySprint); Driving down emissions - how to clean up road transport (Policy Exchange); Air pollution - outdoor air quality & health (NICE); Unmasked - the true story of the air you're breathing (FoE); Powerful people powerful places (Fabian Society); Traffic-law enforcement & its relationship with risk of death from crashes (Essential Evidence); Causing death by driving (RoadPeace); Driven to distraction - tackling safety on London's buses (London Assembly Transport Committee).
Diary dates: Cycle to Work Day (13 September); Healthy Streets 2017 (29 September, London); UK Bike Share Conference (27 & 28 September, Manchester); Big Bike Celebration (7 October, Birmingham); Cycling UK/Cyclenation annual campaigns conference (11 November, Oxford). 

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