Cycle Campaign News October 2015

Zero Stars for Eurostar [Photo: Evan Bench, Flickr Creative Commons]

Cycle Campaign News October 2015

CTC's monthly round-up of cycle campaigning news:

As one online campaign closes, so another opens: swiftly following 'Trails for Wales', our call for more off-road cycling access in Wales (we now await the Welsh Government’s response), comes ‘Zero Stars for Eurostar’.

Who wants to dismantle their bike and box it up before using one of their trains? We don’t! Nor do thousands of other cyclists, it seems (see 'Headlines').  

If that’s fired your campaigning zeal, come along to the best annual airing of topical issues and mingle with like-minded activists and professionals at this Saturday’s (24 October) CTC/Cyclenation 2015 campaigns conference in Liverpool. Booking is still open!

Cherry Allan

CTC Campaign News

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Zero cycling stars for Eurostar

The unwelcome news that Eurostar plans to make customers dismantle and box their bikes before using its services led CTC to team up with European partners to write a letter of protest to the company’s CEO, Nicolas Petrovic. We’ve also set up an easy online tool for members of the public to express their concern too.

So far, Eurostar has refused to back down. They say that padded boxes will be available to customers who want one, and staff will be trained to ensure a “seamless experience”. They also claim that the arrangement means that they’ll be looking at carrying more bikes than before.

Cyclists should not be treated as third-class passengers and we urge Eurostar to reverse their planned policy.”
Paul Tuohy, CTC Chief Exec

Nevertheless, CTC believes that the changes don’t sit well with Eurostar’s sponsorship of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Travel, and that they’ll hit novice cycle-rail travellers and those who use their cycles as mobility aids particularly hard.

We have now contacted Eurostar directly to ask for a face-to-face meeting, while members of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group have released a statement criticising the company's “anti-cyclist” stance.

  • Please add your voice to the thousands of people (6,500 within the first day) who have already taken action. You’ll be in fine company: the campaign has inspired London Mayor Boris Johnson to announce that he’s going to protest in writing too.
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Cycle funding hangs off cliff

According to minister for cycling Robert Goodwill MP, in the five years 2011/12 to 2015/16, the Department for Transport (DfT) “increased its spend on cycling in England from £1 per head to £3 per head”. Mr Goodwill also said that local authorities spent “significant amounts on cycling”, up from a total spend of £2 to £6 per head, with £10 per head in the eight Cycle Ambition Cities and London.[Photo: Robert Goodwill, MP]

What the Minister did not mention, however, is the fact that the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), which financed numerous cycling projects around England, runs out in April next year. On top of this, even the eight cities that are now receiving Cycling Cities Ambition Grant money are set to lose it in 2018. Mr Goodwill did not mention this either.

CTC is seriously concerned about this looming funding cliff-edge, so is pressing the Government to keep up the cycling momentum through a monetary boost in the forthcoming Autumn Statement and Spending Review; and by fulfilling its legal duty to set a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) diligently, but without delay.

Spending review provisions will be announced in November, and a 'Confirmation of Statement of Funds Available', setting out the financial provision for cycling and walking, in December.  A decision on future funding for the Bikeability cycle training programme specifically, will also follow the outcome of the Review.

If politicians are worried that investing in cycling is something that the public isn't happy about, they certainly needn't worry. According to a survey just published by Sustrans - hailed as the biggest ever on attitudes to cycling in the UK - three quarters of the respondents (75%) supported more investment in cycling, with £26 per head a year as the ideal spend.

Sign up for this year's 'Near Miss' One-Day Diary!

We hope you don’t have any near misses when you’re out cycling, but if you do, the Near Miss Project’s One-Day Diary is currently collecting reports. All you have to do is choose a day from now until 1 November, and record what happens.

The project organised a similar survey last year and the results have since appeared in a paper (see ‘New publications’). The 2015 diary will inform further very useful research into incidents that don’t result in injuries, but which may profoundly influence people’s experience and behaviours.

Other stories

UK backs EU action to Get Europe Cycling

At an informal ‘European Cycling Summit’ in Luxembourg on 7 October, transport ministers from around the EU officially backed a new EU 'Declaration on Cycling'. To the disappointment of campaigners in the UK, however, Robert Goodwill MP, the minister responsible for cycling here, was missing from the delegate list, presumably because the event clashed with the last day of the Conservative Party Conference. Thankfully, other UK officials were there instead to back the declaration.

The declaration commits ministers to promoting cycling as a climate-friendly and efficient transport mode. It also calls on the EU to: integrate cycling into multi-modal transport policy; develop an EU-level strategic document on cycling; and set up a European focal point to facilitate monitoring and the exchange of best practice, notably on cyclists’ road safety. Member States, it says, can contribute likewise by designating a national focal point for cycling. 

The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), which has long been lobbying for just such a policy framework, heralded the declaration as “a big milestone, if not historic event, for cycling advocacy and making ECF’s vision of doubling cycling in Europe come true.”

In a brief statement to Parliament, the UK’s Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin, confirmed the Government’s support for the declaration. However, he somewhat diluted this by choosing to highlight the declaration's respect for the principle of ‘subsidiary’ and reminding everybody that “cycling is a devolved matter and so is best managed on a national and regional level.”

'Space for Cycling' parties at conferences

Countless subjects are on politicians’ minds at party conferences, but campaigners still made sure that ‘Space for Cycling’ was not lost amongst them.

At the Labour Conference, CTC and Bricycles, the Brighton and Hove group, gathered in the morning sun by the sea for an address by the party’s champions of cycling.

Having promised to “hold Ministers to their promise to produce a meaningful Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy that sets out clear, long-term funding - as well as pressing the case for restoring national safety targets", Lilian Greenwood MP (new shadow Secretary of State for Transport) led the peloton to the pier and back, accompanied by Becky Reynolds (Bricycles campaigner).

About a week later, CTC and Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign (GMCC) took in the Conservatives’ chosen conference venue during an evening ride.

In her address, Chair of the Commons Select Committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, said: “Cycling’s benefits in terms of health and the economy are well documented, and I will continue to campaign for conditions which will make cycling a safe and a viable transport option for all people, no matter their age or ability.”

We walk, we cycle, we vote: campaigners put active travel on Scotland’s political agenda

Party conference cycle rides are also a feature of 'We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote', an umbrella campaign asking Scottish politicians to sign up to three pledges on investment in active travel, better infrastructure and safer roads. It is supported by a range of cycling and other active travel organisations, with funding from CTC.

Suzanne Forup, CTC Assistant Head of Development in Scotland, said:

"There is remarkable consensus about what it will take to make this happen: sustained investment in the sort of infrastructure that makes walking and cycling the obvious choice for everyone, not just the fit and the brave, and safer conditions on our streets and roads.

"And yet, there doesn't seem to be the political consensus to achieve this. The next Holyrood elections offer us the chance to make Scotland a healthier, wealthier and happier country. We want to encourage all parties to seize that opportunity."

Sustainable transport advocates debate Scotland's Transport Strategy 'refresh'

With the Scottish Government carrying out a “refresh” of the National Transport Strategy, Transform Scotland has been asking some of its member groups to debate how the strategy could be improved, and what the next Scottish Government administration can do to place sustainable transport at its heart.

What’s it like riding the Glasgow Colleges Route? Find out from a recent recce by Space for Cycling campaigners there:

A draft of Glasgow’s Strategic Plan for Cycling 2015-2025 is currently being processed by the City Council.

Record numbers sign up to support Trails for Wales

It’s too soon to celebrate at such an early stage in the consultation process, but CTC is confident we can achieve our collective goal of opening Trails for Wales for everyone’s enjoyment.”
Gwenda Owen, CTC Trails for Wales Campaigner

Trails for Wales, CTC and Open MTB’s campaign for Wales to adopt the same open access approach that Scotland enjoys as a result of the Land Reform Act 2003, has attracted the support of the cycle industry and thousands of individuals.

The campaign alerted the cycling community to the Welsh Government’s consultation “Improving opportunities to access the outdoors for responsible recreation”, and over 3,600 people responded by the 2 October deadline.

Cardiff car-free day is just the recipe for Cook

Much cleaner air and the quieter environment enjoyed in Paris during a recent ‘car-free’ day has inspired Cardiff County Councillor and CTC member Richard Cook to call for a similar event in the Welsh capital.

Having one day a year when traffic is banned from the city centre will encourage residents to come into the city centre to shop, eat, and enjoy the castle and parks – all in a pollution-free environment."
Cllr Richard Cook

Speaking ahead of the full council meeting (22 October) at which a decision on a car-free day for Cardiff is to be made, Cllr Cook said he had every confidence that the proposal would get a 'yes' vote. 

In Paris, cyclists and pedestrians thronged the eight lanes of the Champs-Élysées on Sunday 27 September while cars were banned from 30% of the city. Nitrogen dioxide levels dropped in some parts by up to 40%, and the mayor’s office now plans more car-free events.

Similar schemes have proved popular in Bogota and Jakarta.

CTC tells politicians that traffic law enforcement needs to up its profile

The Commons’ Transport Committee Inquiry into Road Traffic Enforcement has been the latest opportunity for CTC to tell politicians that roads policing should be more visible, and that other enforcement agencies (i.e. Health & Safety Executive and Traffic Commissioners) should also be better resourced and their roles strengthened.

To give chief constables the incentive to prioritise traffic policing, we think that the Government should make it clear that road crime is as serious as other crimes. We also think that the Government would be more inclined to do this were it to incorporate casualty targets into the national road safety strategy.

In our submission, we also pressed the point that the overuse of driver retraining courses as an alternative to prosecution is not only watering down the seriousness of careless driving as an offence, but also undermining the deterrent effect of the fear of prosecution. Equally, sending drivers on courses seems to be contributing to an alarming reduction in driving disqualifications – the most effective way of keeping dangerous drivers off the roads.

CTC believes that declining resources for traffic law enforcement at least partly explains why previous positive road safety trends have gone into reverse in recent years, especially for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

London partnership tackles unsafe HGVs

CTC has welcomed the London Freight Enforcement Partnership, a new, joint intelligence-led scheme to eliminate rogue freight operators. Through the partnership, Transport for London (TfL), the DVSA and London’s policing agencies want to build on existing initiatives (e.g. the Industrial HGV Task Force) that have already been carrying out targeted inspections of identified, non-compliant vehicles and operating firms.

Earlier this year, CTC highlighted the failings in the system for regulating goods vehicle operators. This followed the tragic death of three cyclists in two separate incidents involving lorry drivers who should never have been behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle, and whose employers displayed scant, if any, regard to basic health and safety and employer diligence requirements.

CTC believes that Traffic Commissioners and the Health and Safety Executive should make much stronger efforts to crack down on rogue operators, and would like to see TfL’s new partnership create the impetus for national change.

'Hidden victims' counted at last

RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, reports that the Ministry of Justice has published statistics on inquests for the first time. These include coroners’ use of the new 'road traffic collision' verdict, which they recorded 602 times in 2014. However, RoadPeace reckons that this is less than half as often as it should have been.

RoadPeace says: “For too long people killed in road crashes have been the 'hidden victims' - not counted or included in government statistics. The use of the new road death verdict is a step change towards ensuring the government acknowledges the scale of road death. We'll be monitoring its use and publishing our findings.”

Regent's Park cycle campaigners protest against speed platform plans

Regent’s Park Cyclists, whose mission is to promote and develop the continued growth of all types of cycling in one of London’s most iconic green spaces, have not welcomed the news that The Royal Parks want speed platforms installed along Cycling Superhighway CS11. Concerned that the measure, if introduced, would make cycling uncomfortable and compromise safety, they’ve set up a petition on the parliamentary website.

What do you think about physical infrastructure to reduce traffic speed in Regent’s Park – or elsewhere? Let us know.

Cyclist to chair new National Infrastructure Commission

The appointment of Labour peer Lord Adonis as first chair of the new National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) could, we hope, mean that cycling won’t be ignored in its “unbiased analysis of the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs.” Lord Adonis, who served as Transport Secretary under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, is a cyclist and known advocate of cycling.

Although cycling infrastructure isn't formally within his remit, we hope that Lord Adonis may informally use his position to ensure high standards of cycle-friendly design for all new roads (and, indeed, for access routes to new airports!).

Electric bikes charge ahead

To help people who are keen to cycle but put off by inexperience and/or hills, the Government is putting £700,000 into supplying hundreds of electric bikes to hire schemes across England. The money, which is being distributed to the winners of a competition, will go towards a number of initiatives, including rail station cycle-hubs, park & rides, a hilly campus university, and a tourist hire scheme for cycle-getaways on the Isle of Wight.

Operators officially encouraged to fit bike racks on buses

In answer to a Parliamentary question from Ben Howlett MP (Con, Bath) about bike racks on buses, Andrew Jones, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (DfT) said: “The Government is keen to promote cycling, and I am aware that bike racks on buses are commonplace in some countries. Whilst we have not conducted any assessments on their role in increasing overall bus patronage, I would encourage bus operators to consider fitting such equipment where it is safe and legal to do so.”

There are a number of services in the UK that already offer bike carriage on external, rear-mounted racks, and it is good to know that the Government is encouraging more of them. Questions remain, however, about the impact of front-mounted racks on pedestrian safety, and their compliance with EU regulations.

CTC is backing Modeshift Stars, a national award programme recognising schools in England that have demonstrated excellence in supporting sustainable forms of travel, including cycling. The scheme encourages schools to join a major effort to increase active travel for the sake of young people’s health and well-being. Participation is free and over 52 organisations representing just over 11,000 schools have signed up so far.

October is EcoMobility World Festival month

Johannesburg, South Africa, is currently the scene of the month-long ‘EcoMobility’ World Festival, the idea of a leading network of over 1,000 cities, towns and metropolises, in 86 countries, who are committed to building a sustainable future. Cycling features heavily, of course. Check out what’s happening.

Watch …

… a New Yorker’s view of the 20’s Plenty campaign for safer speeds in the UK. The video was made by Streetfilms, an organisation that produces short films showing how smart transportation design and policy can result in better places to live, work and play.

Act now!

Call on Eurostar not to make cyclists dismantle and box up their bikes before using its services!


New publications

Investigating the rates and impacts of near misses and related incidents among UK cyclists

Rachel Aldred and Sian Crosweller

A paper analysing the results of last year’s 'Near Miss' survey, which invited cyclists to record any non-injury near misses via ‘one-day diaries’. The researchers’ key finding were:

  • Fear of injury is a barrier to cycling and experiencing non-injury incidents (near miss) may contribute to this;
  • UK cyclists experience very high rates of non-injury incidents, by comparison with any reported injury rates;
  • The most frightening incidents involve moving motor vehicles, particularly larger vehicle;
  • Problematic passing manoeuvres are especially frequent and frightening;
  • Higher rates are experienced in the morning peak and by slower cyclists.

Roger Geffen, CTC’s Policy Director, was particularly interested in the researchers’ findings about women and/or slower cyclists:

Although several factors affected the rate of reported near-miss or collision incidents per mile (e.g. women reported more incidents per mile than men, and the rate was higher for weekday cycling than for cycling at the weekend), the strongest factor affecting the reported incident-rate was the cyclist’s average speed. A 1 mph increase in speed was associated with a 9.6% decrease in incident rate per mile cycled.

From this, it is clear that cycling on shared roads is more intimidating and/or dangerous for slower cyclists than those who ride faster. This is consistent with the findings from a study of cyclists in Oxford and Cambridge, published in 2005 by Dr Ian Walker of Bath University (the researcher who later found that drivers leave more space when overtaking cyclists without helmets than those with them – and who co-authored the paper mentioned below). He found that female cyclists were more likely than men to be hit from behind (male cyclists were more likely to be hit from the side), and were also more likely to report that they found it hard to look over their shoulder. 

Walker hypothesised that this may be because, on average, women cyclists ride more slowly, meaning that there is a greater difference in speed between them and any motor vehicles coming up behind them. Therefore, if they want to look over their shoulder to see if it is safe to pull out (e.g. to turn right or pass a parked car), they have to look further over their shoulder to see if it is safe – whereas a faster cyclist may need only a quick sideways glance. Moreover, their lower speed means they are also less stable when looking round. This difference may make it easier for faster cyclists to feel confident about pulling out into the traffic stream or changing lanes, whereas slower cyclists may feel more inclined to stay close to the kerb. It is even possible that this difference could also explain why women cyclists are more likely to be hit by left-turning lorries at junctions in central London.

However the solution to the problem isn’t to try and speed up the slower cyclists! If we want cycling to be a safe and normal activity for people of all ages and abilities, we either need to reduce the speed and dominance of the motor vehicles (in order to reduce the speed difference between the two groups) or, where this is considered impractical, to separate the two groups by providing high-quality segregated infrastructure.  This needs to have decent widths and surfaces and, crucially, a high level of safety and priority at junctions.

Published in the Journal of Transport & Health, Volume 2, Issue 3, September 2015, Pages 379–393

The Near Miss project is inviting cyclists to take part in another one-day diary – on now until November 1!

Bike Life (Sustrans)

The results of the “biggest survey ever” on attitudes to cycling in the UK, conducted in collaboration with seven cities. The survey offers some very encouraging findings. It makes it clear, for example, that there is substantial public support for investment in cycling; that many people are fully persuaded of cycling's benefits; and that a good number of those who don't cycle at the moment, would like to take it up: 

  • Nearly eight in ten (79%) people say they want improved safety for people riding bikes;
  • Three quarters (75%) support more investment in cycling, with £26/person a year the average amount people want governments to be investing;
  • Nearly a third (28%) of people say that whilst they don't currently ride a bike, they'd like to;
  • Bike ownership is common across the seven cities, with nearly half of people (49%) living in households owning at least one adult bike;
  • Relative to the number of bikes owned, usage is low, although nearly a quarter (24%) of people say they usually ride a bike once a month or more;
  • 73% of people agreed that things would be better if people in general rode bikes more;
  • 66% of people agreed that more people riding bikes would make the area a better place to live and work;
  • 61% of people agreed that things would be better if friends and family rode bikes more;
  • 54% of people agreed that they themselves should ride a bike more;
  • Whilst about four in ten (44%) people think their city is a good place to ride a bike overall, only 29% of people say that safety for riding a bike where they live is good or very good;
  • Support is high for all measures to encourage cycling. Amongst occasional bike riders, and those who don’t currently ride a bike but would like to, protected bike lanes and traffic-free cycle routes are what they would like.

The seven cities are: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and Newcastle. Full reports are available for each of them.

Bicycling campaigns promoting health versus campaigns promoting safety: A randomized controlled online study of ‘dangerization’

By Tim Gamble, Ian Walker and Aleksandra Laketa

An academic study testing the idea that promoting bicycle safety might inadvertently discourage bicycling by having negative effects on how it’s perceived. It also looked at whether stressing cycling’s health benefits has a positive effect on how people view cycling, and whether they decide to take part or not.

Having measured the influences of safety-focused, health-focused, or control publicity materials on 228 adults, the researchers found that:

  • health- focused materials significantly increased bicycling's perceived health benefits amongst non-bicyclists and had no influence on perceived risk;
  • the safety-focused campaign had no effect on either perceived risks or health benefits for either group;
  • neither campaign measurably changed intentions to bicycle nor the perceived enjoyment of bicycling, both of which were clearly higher amongst bicyclists than non- bicyclists.

The authors conclude that: “… safety-focused campaigns are unlikely to have any immediate effect on people's perceptions and intentions to cycle, whether positive or negative; health-focused campaigns, on the other hand, make bicycling appear more beneficial to those who do not currently do it. In addition, although the possibility exists that current bicyclists are a qualitatively different sub- population, able to enjoy bicycling in non-conducive environments, their rating bicycling as more enjoyable than non-bicyclists hints that new campaigns might usefully emphasise the enjoyment of bicycling to encourage its uptake.”

The scope of the study, however, meant that it did not look at whether non-cyclists have grown immune to the proliferation of images showing cycling as an activity requiring hi-viz and helmets - an immunity that could, arguably, make such images irrelevant when it comes to their reluctance to cycle. It is clear, though, that campaigns highlighting the enjoyment of cycling have a particularly positive impact.

Published in the Journal of Transport and Health (2015) 369-378

Towards changing the default urban speed limit to 20 mph (Brake)

Research report calling on the Government to remove the unnecessary barriers that local councils face over implementing 20 mph speed limits. Finds that moving to 20 mph limits across built-up areas would deliver significant safety benefits, especially for pedestrians and cyclists, and suggests that cost, red tape and a lack of strong national government leadership – obvious in the official guidance - is at fault.

CTC is a member of Brake’s GO 20 coalition of organisations calling for more local authorities to adopt widespread 20 mph limits, and for the government to make 20 mph the national urban default.

A Bumpy Ride (Passenger Transport Executive Group)

Report revealing a growing gap between spending on road maintenance on national roads when compared with local roads. The authors found that, although 98% of the road network is managed by local highways authorities and carries two thirds of all motorised traffic, the 2% of the road network managed by Highways England received 2.7 times as much maintenance spend per km as local authority managed A roads and motorways; and 15.9 times as much as local authority unclassified roads.

How much do road crashes cost where you live? (Road Safety Foundation)

Annual report that maps and tracks the changing risks on motorways and the ‘A’ road network outside urban cores - the 10% of roads where the majority of British road deaths happen.

This year, the research found that:

  • travel on single carriageway ‘A’ roads has become eight times more risky than on motorways;
  • the ‘most improved’ roads show just how effective small infrastructure safety improvements can be;
  • but that still just 2% of the network shows material reduction in risk.

On economic loss, the report says: “The authorities bearing the highest costs are larger ones with significant volumes of travel within their boundaries. These are all located in England, particularly in the South East. The economic burden of serious road crashes in Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire and Essex each exceeds £0.5bn over the three-year data period [2011-2013].”

Diary dates

CTC/Cyclenation Campaigns Conference, hosted by Merseyside Cycling Campaign, Liverpool

This Saturday, 24 October - book now!

As cycling rises up the political agenda across all four UK nations, CTC and Cyclenation’s annual conference for campaigners will explore opportunities for improving cycling conditions in your local area.

The event is a unique chance for people interested in cycle campaigning to interact with like-minded people from all over the country, and with professionals. You will be able to ask questions and discuss the most topical issues in the world of cycling. 

Amongst the speakers headlining the conference programme are: Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the House of Commons Transport Committee, Isabelle Clement, Director, Wheels for Wellbeing, Brian Deegan, Principal Technical Specialist at Transport for London (TfL), Prof John Ashton CBE, President, Faculty of Public Health, Julian Huppert, Former Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG).

Topics include:

  • Political leadership
  • The role of public health
  • Cycle-friendly planning and design
  • Inclusive cycling
  • Effective local campaigning
  • Business engagement and funding

CTC Scotland AGM and Gathering (Glasgow)

7 November

CTC Scotland invites CTC members to its AGM and annual gathering. Come along to update yourself on CTC’s activities, and listen to guest speaker round-the-world cyclist, Julian Sayarer, on ‘World Politics by Bicycle’.  

Free, but a small donation to cover the costs of catering for the event will be welcome. 

Cycling Scotland Conference 2015

Wednesday 11 & Thursday 12 November

Two days of study tours, events, workshops, exhibitions and top speakers, including Derek Mackay MSP, Minister for Transport and Islands

World Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims

15 November

Services around the UK and beyond to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims, including London, Liverpool, Thame, Durham, Bristol and at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Climate, Transport and Cycling (Edinburgh)

17 November

Spokes’ (Lothian Cycle Campaign), autumn public meeting offering a range of excellent speakers, followed by audience Q&A/speakers’ panel discussion.


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