Cycle Campaign News June 2016

Cycle Campaign News June 2016

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

From the Editor

What better way to start a June day than:

  • Going to the Dutch Embassy in London for breakfast and the launch of Bike Week 2016;
  • Riding to Parliament with some cycling enthusiasts, including a few MPs and Lords (see photo above);
  • Witnessing the release of a forceful report from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group on the Government's draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy?

If that's not a cycle campaigning dream morning, I don't know what is! See 'headlines'.

In other stories this month: lots of bikes will be seeing the light of day again in Scotland, thanks to Big Bike Revival funding from the Scottish Government; no let up for probing Parliamentary Questions on funding for cycling (England); what the latest GB stats on cycle traffic may or may not be saying; and why we think the Government is side-stepping and buck-passing on traffic law enforcement. 

Cherry Allan
Cycle Campaign News

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In this issue:

Headlines: Stuck in first gear - the Government's Cycling Revolution; funding boost for Big Bike Revival in Scotland; Bike Week - still time to pledge!

Other stories: Cycle spend in England = still not much; Latest cycle traffic stats - end of a trend (or not)? UK economy reaps £millions from Cycle to Work scheme; Side-steps and buck-passing - the Government's response to the Commons Transport Committee's report on traffic law enforcement; Restrictions on young drivers gather popular support; London pedicab rules; Government against compulsory 3rd party insurance for cyclists; Safer lorries win awards; UK Government back in dock over air pollution; Positive Spin (cycling sessions for people with dementia).

New publications: Ranking EU progress on road safety (ETSC); How traffic law enforcement can contribute to safer roads (ETSC); Driver training, testing and licensing (Cycling UK campaigns briefing); Cycling Cities - The European Experience; Moving cycling forward (EU Parliament ThinkTank); Cycle-Rail Toolkit 2 (Rail Delivery Group); Fit for Life (Sustrans); A Transport Journey to a Healthier Life (CIHT); Imagery-inducing distraction leads to cognitive tunnelling and deteriorated driving performance (academic paper).

Diary dates: Cycling@teatime (London) - series of monthly, evening events


Stuck in first gear – the Government’s Cycling Revolution

The title alone of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s (APPCG) new report, ‘Stuck in First Gear – the Government’s Cycling Revolution’, says everything. [Photo above: Ruth Cadbury and Alex Chalk, Co-Chairs of the APPCG release the report in Parliament]

Having heard evidence at a short, sharp inquiry in May on the Department for Transport’s (DfT) draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS, England), the APPCG agrees that the Government needs greatly to magnify its ambition and funding commitment if it really wants cycling to reach levels seen in other European countries like the Netherlands.

It’s great the APPCG renewed its call for a high level of ambition and funding for cycling, as well as national design standards to ensure public money is spent well. Parliament, as it has in the recent past, should get behind this important report.”
Cycling UK’s Policy Director Roger Geffen MBE, who gave evidence at the APPCG’s inquiry

Altogether, the APPCG makes eight recommendations:

  • Strong ambition to see a cycling revolution
  • Greater investment in cycling
  • Clear direction that cycling is a national priority
  • Robust measures to gauge progress nationally and locally
  • Improving quality of cycle infrastructure design
  • Deregulation of street design
  • An updated Highway Code
  • Action to improve enforcement of traffic laws
  • Full story from Cycling UK
  • APPCG news release and report 

The APPCG’s report was released on the day of this year’s Parliamentary cycle ride for MPs, Lords and a mass of others who work or volunteer for cycling. The ride set off from the Dutch Embassy in London following the breakfast launch of Bike Week 2016.

Funding boost for Big Bike Revival in Scotland

Cycling UK has been awarded £450,000 by the Scottish Government, through Transport Scotland, to run a Big Bike Revival (BBR) in Scotland.

BBR gives people the chance to revive their bikes and get pedalling again. Over 50 centres across Scotland will host events over four weeks this summer, offering the public a chance to:

  • Fix a cycle and learn how to maintain it;
  • Trade a cycle for one better suited to individual needs and donate surplus cycles;
  • Experience cycling in their local area, utilising the National Cycle Network, and discover local cycling networks;
  • Take part in a variety of cycle training activities to become confident and competent cycling on the road.

The BBR programme has already proved a success in England in 2015.

Bike Week doesn’t stop at Bike Week … there’s time yet to get involved!

Bike Week officially spanned 11 – 19 June, but you can still celebrate with the half a million plus people who took part in events all over the country, and take the Bike Week pledge. You could be in with a chance of winning some amazing prizes including a Genesis Bike worth £900, a set of Park tools, a Shimano HD camera … and much more! Entries close midnight 31 July 2016.

Bike Week, delivered by Cycling UK, is an annual opportunity to promote cycling, and show how easily it can become part of everyday life.

  • Bike Week pledge    
  • In the build-up to Bike Week, Cycling UK commissioned polling agency ComRes to examine how much cycling is actually part of everyday life in Britain. One in five of the adults questioned said that they cycled in the last week, similar to the proportion who said they went running (21%) or to a gym/fitness class (24%), and significantly higher than those who reported going swimming (16%) or playing golf (8%). For this and further results (e.g. the top three things what would make cycle-commuting more appealing), see our full news story.

Other stories

Cycle spend in England = still not much


In answer to a recent parliamentary question, cycling minister Robert Goodwill MP said that the 2015/16 spend on cycling, from local as well as national funding sources, was as follows:

  • Bikeability: £11.7m
  • Cycle Rail: £14.0m (plus matched funding of £2.10m)
  • Cycle Ambition Cities: £15.0m (plus matched funding of £5.10m)
  • Highways England: £16.7m
  • Local Sustainable Transport Fund: £64.50m
  • Local Growth Fund: £60.80m
  • Integrated Transport Block: £28.40m
  • Transport for London: £145m
  • TOTAL = £363.3m, or £7 per head in 2015/16.

£7 per head sounds more impressive than it actually is because it includes the allocation for London, which on its own comes to £18 per London resident. To Get Britain Cycling, we believe that at least £10 per year per head needs to be spent on cycling - not just in a few lucky places, but everywhere. Once cycling levels start increasing, this sum should rise to £20. 

Cycling UK urges the Government to take good note of the APPCG's recent report, 'Stuck in First Gear', on its inquiry into the draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) - see headlines. 

2016/17 - 2020/21

The answer to another recent parliamentary question on 'real terms' spending on cycling programmes suggests that the prospects for 2020/21 don't look much brighter:


= around £1 per head in 2020/21

This sum may prove larger, the Government says, because some Local Growth Fund money has yet to be allocated and might be spent on cycling through Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). Cycling UK believes the Government needs to do more than simply rely on LEPs, most of whom have been seriously uninterested in cycling so far. 

Tiding over for some

Twenty-three councils in England (outside London) now have £20.6m to share as a result of successful bids to the Government’s ‘Sustainable Travel Transition Year revenue competition for 2016 to 2017’.

The money, which is designed to support authorities in the switch from the now closed ‘Local Sustainable Transport Fund’ (LSTF), will go towards a variety of schemes, some of which are intended to boost cycling.

While it’s good to see such initiatives attract financial support, the allocation is tiny when compared with the £15bn allocated for highways and trunk roads. As we said at the time the Transition Fund was announced, bidding wars for nothing much more than spare change perpetuate the ‘postcode lottery’ effect and won’t get Britain cycling.

Latest cycle traffic stats: end of a trend (or not)? 

When first published, estimates for pedal cycle traffic in Great Britain for 2014 quoted a figure of 3.2 billion vehicle miles overall, but the latest statistical release from the Government has revised this upwards to 3.5 bn.

This suggests a very healthy c.13% increase on 2013 (3.1 bn), but makes the 3.2 billion miles for 2015 look less reassuring than they might have been. It remains to be seen, though, whether these figures will be revised too at some point, and if this a reversal of the previous upward trend since 2008.

Estimates for motorised traffic, published at the same time, show an alarming increase:

  • Car traffic grew by 1.1% from 2014, to 247.7 billion vehicle miles - a new record;
  • Van traffic continued to grow more quickly than any other vehicle type, rising 4.2% from 2014 levels;
  • Lorry traffic saw the largest year-on-year increase since the 1980s, growing by 3.7% from 2014;
  • Rural roads saw a 2% rise in traffic from 2014, with traffic on both ‘A’ roads and minor roads reaching record levels, although urban roads saw little change in traffic from 2014
  • Road traffic estimates Great Britain 2015

UK economy reaps £millions from Cycle to Work scheme

A new study shows that the Cycle to Work scheme, an incentive that allows employers to buy cycles and loan them to their employees in return for a regular tax-free payment, generates at least £72 million in terms of physical fitness and associated health benefits. 

The study also found that: on modest estimates, the scheme generates 9,200 new cyclists every year and has a cost benefit ratio of more than 2:1; and, on average, participants cycle 18 miles more per week than before they joined, translating to 30 minutes extra physical activity per day.

The research was conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) for the Cycle to Work Alliance, a group of the leading providers of the scheme. 

Side-steps and buck-passing: the Government’s response to the Commons Transport Committee’s report on traffic law enforcement

Last month the Government published its response to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee report on its inquiry into traffic law enforcement. Cycling UK gave evidence at the inquiry, and the Committee’s resultant report included a number of our recommendations.

Unfortunately, the Government’s response is somewhat dismissive, not least regarding the widespread concerns about the falling number of roads police officers. The Committee concluded that the reduction in the number of road traffic offences detected was directly linked to decreasing roads police officers, and not indicative of fewer offences being committed. Abdicating any leadership responsibility for this, the Government has passed the buck to Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constable of individual forces, adding that it was not police numbers that matters but how they are deployed.

Cycling UK was delighted when the Committee  recognised the dangers faced by cyclists from ‘near miss’ incidents, the problems concerning how reports of near misses are handled by different police forces, and the potential for this to impact upon the proportion of people who believe that it is too dangerous to cycle on the road. Pointing out that this perceived failure to enforce the law was inconsistent with the Government’s aim to promote cycling, and that it must be addressed, the Committee recommended that the Home Office consider further the problems of near miss investigation. Again, as with traffic police numbers, the Government side-stepped this as an “operational matter for the police”.

There was better news on certain lorry safety and enforcement issues, with the Government undertaking to consider Transport for London’s Safer Lorry Scheme and broadly making positive noises regarding safer lorry initiatives. Similarly, it was supportive of Cycling UK’s suggestion that the lessons from targeted and intelligence-led enforcement by the London Freight Enforcement Partnership should be more broadly applied on a wider national level to target rogue operators.

Overall, however, the apparent reluctance to take on board the Committee’s recommendations is disappointing. Cycling UK is raising various aspects of their response directly with the Government, endeavouring to meet the Committee Chair, and will update via Campaign News shortly.  

Cycling UK’s Road Safety and Legal Officer, Duncan Dollimore

Restrictions on young drivers gather popular support

Research commissioned by Brake, the road safety charity, suggests that nine out of ten people in Britain would be in favour of the type of conditions that 'Graduated Driver Licencing' (GDL) imposes on learner drivers and those who have not long passed their test (e.g. extending the time it takes to train, and putting restrictions on them once newly qualified).

In the interests of road safety, Cycling UK supports GDL, and in particular advocates: a 12-month pre-test learning period; an intermediate stage; and raising the period during which a new driver’s licence is revoked if they accumulate six or more points from two to three years after passing their test. See our new campaigns briefing on driver training, testing and licensing for more.

London pedicab rules

The Government has released plans to bring in regulations for London pedicab drivers.

The aim, it says, is to ensure that drivers are only allowed to charge reasonable fares and meet minimum safety standards, at the same time as protecting “… hard-working drivers who already charge reasonable fares and ensure their vehicles are safe.” Primary legislation is needed to give the Mayor of London the powers to introduce any licensing scheme for pedicabs.

Cycling UK is in favour of a fair regime that would enable responsible operators to continue to trade, while weeding out any irresponsible operators/riders who might give the rest of the sector a bad name.

We do, however, agree with the London Pedicab Operators Association (LPOA) that there is a tendency for the authorities to exaggerate the ‘dangers’ of pedicabs and take a disproportionately punitive approach simply to satisfy the operators of other type of taxi and public transport services who seem to want to drive all pedicabs off the road, not just the irresponsible ones.  

Government against compulsory 3rd party insurance for cyclists

Asked in Parliament whether the Government has plans to make third party insurance compulsory for all cyclists working for Deliveroo and other commercial bicycle delivery companies, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport) said:

“We have no plans to make insurance compulsory for cyclists. We encourage all cyclists to take out some form of insurance. In fact, many cyclists do through membership of cycling organisations, such as Cycling UK.

“Bicycle couriers who work for Deliveroo are self-employed and therefore are still personally liable and responsible for choosing whether or not to have insurance and for ensuring that the insurance is appropriate for them.”

Not only were we pleased to get a mention, but also delighted by a response that aligns so perfectly with our own policy on third party insurance for cyclists. 

Safer lorries win awards

Initiatives to reduce the risk that lorries pose to cyclists attracted the popular vote in London Cycling Campaign’s 2016 awards, with the Mercedes-Benz Econic ‘direct vision’ lorry, and the Construction Logistics and Cyclist Safety (CLOCS) scheme both winning their categories. Other winners included the East-West Cycle Superhighway.

UK Government back in dock over air pollution

Activist lawyers ClientEarth’s case against the UK government for illegal levels of air pollution has been fast-tracked by a High Court judge. The case, to be heard on 18 and 19 October, centres on illegal levels (under EU law) of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a harmful gas emitted mainly by diesel vehicles.

This is the second time that ClientEarth has taken the UK Government to court. In April 2015, it won a five-year battle that resulted in a requirement for the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to come up with plans that would bring air pollution within legal levels as soon as possible. The plans accordingly appeared in December 2015, but ClientEarth has condemned them as inadequate, so is putting the Government in the dock again.

What’s more, ClientEarth has recently expressed dismay at the UK’s refusal - along with several other countries including France, Italy and Poland - to agree to reductions in key pollutants as part of negotiations on a revised ‘National Emissions Ceilings Directive’. “Our governments have a duty to protect our health,” says ClientEarth, “but instead they have protected the polluters.”

Positive Spin 

A London-based scheme to introduce people with dementia and their families and/or carers to free, fun and friendly cycle sessions is proving both popular and effective.

A case study and report from last year’s sessions in Lambeth, delivered by Cycle Training UK instructors assisted by a psychotherapist, found that they helped participants socially, validated existing skills, gave them a chance to move independently and remember happy times (not necessarily to do with cycling).  

New publications

Ranking EU Progress on Road Safety: 10th Road Safety Performance Index report (ETSC)

Report, with recommendations, on road safety progress in 32 countries.

Says that, overall, “2015 was the second consecutive poor year for road safety; 26,300 people lost their lives on EU roads in 2015 compared to 25,970 in 2014”. 22 of the countries monitored, including the UK, saw an increase in the absolute number of road deaths; one saw no change; and only nine others registered a drop. Norway is given a special mention for having decreased fatalities between 2014-15 by 20%, followed by Estonia and Ireland, both at 14%.

Suggests that poor progress reflects a lack of political will in some member states, particularly in terms of the levels of police enforcement, a failure to invest in safer infrastructure and limited action on tackling speed and drink driving. The authors also point to ‘distinct lack of action’ at EU level on revisions to vehicle safety, pedestrian protection and infrastructure safety rules, as well as a new target and measures to reduce serious road injuries.

In 2010, the European Union set a target to reduce road deaths by 50% by 2020 compared to 2010 levels. 

How Traffic Law Enforcement Can Contribute to Safer Roads (ETSC)

Report explaining why traffic law enforcement by the police throughout the EU is so important. Says that drivers are more willing to comply with the rules if they feel that they are likely to be caught and punished if they don’t, and thus recommends that police controls should be sufficiently publicised, regular and long-term, unpredictable and difficult to avoid, and combine both highly visible and less visible activities.

With chapters on speeding, drink driving, seat belt use and mobile phones. Also supplies useful tables giving the (all too often declining) number of tickets for speeding and illegal mobile phone use by country from 2010-2015, along with incidents of breath testing (where data are available).

Cycling UK has long been seriously concerned by declining numbers of roads police officers, and pressing the authorities to reverse the trend in the interests of road safety for everyone.  

Driver training, testing and licensing (Cycling UK)

New campaigns policy briefing covering drivers’ attitudes; who’s at fault in collisions between cyclists and drivers; the current system and how to improve it in the interests of cyclists’ safety through cycle awareness training, graduated licencing for young drivers and tougher measures to make sure that established and older drivers are fit to keep driving. The briefing also looks at dealing with offenders.

Our headline messages are that:

  • All road users share a social responsibility to respect the rules of the road and one another’s safety.
  • Many drivers also cycle, but those who don’t may not know what kind of driving behaviour puts cyclists at risk, or makes them feel unsafe. Making cycle awareness integral to the driver training and testing process would help tackle this.
  • On-road, practical cycle training not only helps drivers understand cyclists’ needs, but is also a good head-start for driving test candidates. For example, it might help them learn more quickly and produce safer drivers.

With key facts, Cycling UK’s formal policy views and background information.

Cycling Cities: The European Experience - Hundred Years of Policy and Practice

Editors: Ruth Oldenziel, Martin Emanuel, Adri Albert de la Bruhèze, Frank Veraart

A 256-page book analysing 100 years of urban cycling policy, use and practice, covering 14 European cities in nine countries. Considers why some grew into cycling cities and others didn’t, and traces the influence of policy-makers, engineers, cyclists and campaigners.

Looks at: The Netherlands (Amsterdam, Utrecht, Enschede, Eindhoven, South-Limburg); Belgium (Antwerp); Denmark (Copenhagen); Germany (Hannover); Sweden (Stockholm, Malmö); Switzerland (Basel); UK (Manchester); Hungary (Budapest); France (Lyon).

Full colour, with 100 illustrations.

Published by the Foundation for the History of Technology and Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

Moving cycling forward: A coordinated approach to cycling for local and regional authorities in the EU (European Parliament ThinkTank)

This report examines the challenges faced by those working to make cycling a regular transport mode and looks at how the problems are being solved across the EU. Whilst recognising that main responsibility for delivering cycling policy lies at national and local level, the report concludes that the EU could help strengthen these efforts with a single strategic document. 27 pages.

Cycle-Rail Toolkit 2 (Rail Delivery Group)

Building on the original Toolkit published in 2012, and drawing on the experience of projects delivered by individual train operating companies and others in the interim, this updated version sets out best practice on encouraging more people to choose cycle-rail and supporting those who do. 

Cycle hubs, hire and storage are all covered, together with more comprehensive advice on cycle carriage for those commissioning new rolling stock or refurbishing existing carriages. ‘Encouraging cyclists by meeting their needs’ (the title of chapter 3) is a key theme.

Aimed primarily at network and station operators, as well as organisations bidding for rail franchises, PTEs, local authorities and those involved in community rail projects.

Fit for Life (Sustrans)

Outlines the headline findings from research into the physical activity impact of UK walking and cycling routes built between 2009 and 2013. Having looked at specific examples, design and planning, usage and impact, the report suggests that:

  • Routes need to run close to where people live to have the most impact (and, probably, will attract even more use if they are highly visible and dramatic);
  • Schemes do increase cycling and walking, that benefits build up over time, and networks need to grow and connect to optimise impact;
  • More research needs to be done to understand the transition from recreational to functional trip-making;
  • Increases in physical activity are observed throughout the community.

A Transport Journey to a Healthier Life (CIHT/Peter Brett Associates)

Report discussing how transport policy and procedure can contribute to the health (including mental health) and wellbeing agenda. Finds that:

•    There are opportunities to improve links between transport, health and wellbeing, but progress is being hampered by a lack of strategic integration nationally and joint working locally;
•    The health and wellbeing benefits of transport investment need to be measured in terms of cost and non-monetary values to better influence funding decisions;
•    The local planning system should take more account of health and wellbeing in decision-making;
•    The influence of transport choices on people’s mental health and wellbeing should be emphasised more in policy and practice;
•    The transport sector is failing to take full account of the health and wellbeing benefits of walking.

Imagery-inducing distraction leads to cognitive tunnelling and deteriorated driving performance

By Gemma F Briggs, Graham J Hole, Michael F Land

Academic study by Sussex University psychologists of the effect of imagery-induced distraction on hazard perception and eye movements when driving.

Finds that drivers having conversations which sparked their visual imagination detected fewer road hazards than those who didn’t. Such drivers also focused on a smaller area of the road ahead of them and failed to see hazards, even when they looked directly at them. As a result, the authors conclude that driving while talking on a hands-free phone can be as distracting as talking on a hand-held mobile.

Published in Transportation Research journal

The impact of cycle proficiency training on cycle-related behaviours and accidents in adolescence: findings from ALSPAC, a UK longitudinal cohort

Paper by researchers from ‘Children of the 90s’ (University of Bristol) on the results of a large-scale UK study of cycling and related safety behaviours.

Finds that children who took part in the National Cycle Proficiency Scheme (the predecessor of ‘Bikeability’) in primary school were more likely to cycle to school at age 14 and 16 than those who didn’t.

When examining ‘safety related behaviours’, the researchers focused on cycle helmets and high-vis clothing, clearly assuming that levels of use were a good measure of ‘safe cycling’ amongst teenagers. Finding that, regardless of training, many children wore neither, lead researcher Dr Alison Teyhan says in the press release announcing the survey that: “There is therefore great potential to increase cycling, and safe cycling behaviours, in young people.”

Nevertheless, Dr Teyhan also rightly acknowledges (somewhat contradicting her study’s premise) that: “In countries with high rates of cycling like Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, the use of protective equipment is low because the safety focus lies elsewhere. Wearing a helmet or hi-vis clothing does not automatically make cyclists safer, as there are lots of factors involved in cycling safety, including driver behaviour, the physical separation of bikes and vehicles, and traffic-calming measures in residential areas.”

Published in BMJ Public Health.

Diary dates

Cycling@teatime, London

A series of (approximately) monthly seminars organised by experts in the cycling field, in association with UCL. They usually take place on a Wednesday from 5.15pm for about an hour.

If you’re interested, you need to sign up in advance via Eventbrite.

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