Cycle Campaign News September 2016

West Midlands Police tackle close overtaking

Cycle Campaign News September 2016

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

From the Editor

This month, we congratulate West Midlands Police for taking a strong line on drivers who overtake cyclists too closely. We've been supporting the development of this initiative, and hope to see other forces adopting it.

With little change in England's active travel levels in 2015, every project designed to make the roads more inviting for cyclists is welcome, of course. We think spending some of the Government's 'sugar tax' money on cycling and walking to school would be another good idea (see 'Headlines').

Happily, the Big Bike Revival, developed by Cycling UK, has just arrived in Scotland. The target is to reach 20,000 people, revive bikes and encourage their owners to get back into the saddle -  see 'Other Stories' for more. 

And, if you want more Space for Cycling, come along to one of our roadshows. First stop is Cambridge (22 October), with the chance to meet current local MP Daniel Zeichner (Labour shadow transport minister), and former MP and cycling advocate Dr Julian Huppert.

Cherry Allan
​Cycle Campaign News

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In this issue:

Headlines: Cycling UK welcomes best cyclist safety initiative by any police force, ever; England's travel habits - was 2015 déjà vu​ for cycling? Sweeten the idea of cycling to school, says Cycling UK.
Other stories:​Big Bike Revival starts reviving bikes in Scotland; driver privately prosecuted for death of cyclist Mick Mason; TV airing for tram-track danger for cyclists; more work needed on impact of longer lorries in urban areas; rural tourism needs cyclists; town centre bans update; Cycling UK defends radio presenter cyclist on radio.
Act now: Love off-road cycling, but wish it could be better? Fill in our survey.
New publications: Welsh national default 20 mph (20's Plenty for Us): Health in a hurry (RSPH); Met Office online advice for cyclists and drivers on sharing the road in bad weather.
Diary dates: Transforming London Streets (23 September, London); Bike Share Conference (4-5 October, Oxford); Cycling UK's annual members' Get Together (8 October, Manchester); Our Future London - an urban fabric ensuring cleaner air and better connections (13 October, London); East Midland Cycle Forum (15 October, Chesterfield); Space for Cycling Roadshows (22 October onwards); National air quality conference & awards (10 November, London); Benefiting Business through Cycling (10 November, Edinburgh).


Cycling UK welcomes best cyclist safety initiative by any police force, ever

Cycling UK is supporting a ground-breaking initiative from West Midlands Police to stop drivers defying the Highway Code and overtaking cyclists too closely.

Although Rule 163 clearly states that drivers should allow vulnerable road users as least as much room as they would when overtaking a car, many people either seem to be unaware of this, or ignore it altogether.

West Midlands Police cyclists, however, will now be radioing the details of close-pass drivers to in-car colleagues to intercept. These drivers will then be offered ‘road-side educational input’, while repeat offenders or anyone who’s driven dangerously close can expect to be prosecuted and taken to court.

This is the first time a police force has come forward with a plan to prioritise enforcement against close pass drivers. It is a simple but effective way to combat a long-standing concern and we hope other police forces around the country will follow their ingenious lead.”
Duncan Dollimore
Senior Road Safety and Legal Campaigner

England's travel habits: was 2015 déjà vu for cycling?

People in England made fewer trips by any means on average than ever recorded in 2015, according to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) annual travel habit survey, but it’s largely déjà vu for cycling.

The latest annual National Travel Survey (NTS) reveals that on average individuals made 914 trips each in 2015, 180 fewer than in 1995/97. This is the lowest on record.

Cycling’s share of these trips, however, has been dancing around the 2% mark throughout and, on the whole, cycle use habits – e.g. who cycles (men, mostly), why (commuting and leisure), where (mainly roads), for how long (three miles on average) – are much the same as they have been for years.

Normalising cycling still seems to be a challenge, and it’s hard to see any sign of a ‘cycling revolution’ in these figures. Hence the emphasis we’re always putting on the need for adequate investment through the final Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (due soon, we understand).

  • Full story
  • The collaborative national Space for Cycling campaign, led by Cycling UK, is also urging local politicians to create the conditions where anyone can cycle anywhere. Do come along to one of our roadshows and make things happen at last!  

Sweeten the idea of cycling to school, says Cycling UK

The Guardian has published a joint letter from Cycling UK and six other health or active travel groups calling on the Government to spend some of the money raised by its proposed 'sugar tax' on encouraging more children to walk and cycle for the school journey. This, we say, will help to tackle obesity.

The letter, initiated by Cycling UK, was inspired both by the start of the new school term and by the Government’s plans to fund an extra half-hour of physical exercise a day through a soft drinks industry levy.

Along with diet, physical activity is a key solution to the growing problem of obesity amongst children: almost a third of two to 15-year-olds are overweight or obese; while the latest official travel habit figures show that, once again, only about 2% of five to 16-year-olds usually cycle and 41% walk to school (see story above). 

Other stories

​Big Bike Revival starts reviving bikes in Scotland

Launched on 19 September in Stirling, the Big Bike Revival, an award-winning programme developed by Cycling UK, is bringing bikes back to life, and encouraging their owners back into the saddle for everyday journeys. [Photo: Bruce Crawford MSP, Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf MSP, young riders & Michelle McManus (L to R) all turned up for the launch].

Partnered by fifty community groups and bicycle recycling centres across the country, the project aims to reach 20,000 people across Scotland.

Events include: led rides, puncture repair workshops, basic bike maintenance, cycle health-checks, cycle skills sessions and route planning, all of which are free to access. As well as this, local community clubs will be set up and supported to provide ongoing encouragement and opportunities for those new or returning to cycling.

The Scottish Government's vision is for 10% of everyday journeys to be made by cycle by 2020.

Driver privately prosecuted for death of cyclist Mick Mason

As a result of a private prosecution launched by Cycling UK’s Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF), Gail Purcell (58) of St Albans has appeared in Westminster Magistrates’ Court for causing death by careless driving.

London teacher Michael Mason was cycling north on Regent Street from Oxford Circus in London on 25 February 2014, when he was hit from behind by a black Nissan Juke driven by Ms Purcell. As a consequence, he sustained a fatal injury to his brain.

Ms Purcell pleaded not guilty at the hearing, and the case will now be transferred to the Crown Court, where it is due to be heard in October.

CDF is pursuing this case because the police declined to do so. It is the first private prosecution brought by CDF for any offence involving the death of a cyclist, and the first private prosecution for causing death by careless or dangerous driving that we are aware of.

This action would not have been possible without donations from over 1,600 supporters who helped raise nearly £64,000 towards costs. Thanks again if you were amongst them.

TV airing for tram-track danger for cyclists

The subject of cyclists’ safety and tram-tracks was aired by the BBC on 'Inside Out East Midlands' on 12 September.

Focusing on an incident that left a cyclist in Nottingham critically injured when his wheel got caught in a track, the programme makers also interviewed Hugh McClintock, chair of the local campaign group Pedals, and expert on light rail. Hugh explained that the main problem was lack of space around the tracks, but pressure from tram drivers on cyclists to ride quickly didn’t help either.

In response, Nottingham City Council said that they’ve produced educational films for cyclists on how to ride alongside and over tracks, and are looking at infrastructure too.

Also filmed were campaigners from Sheffield and Edinburgh, where trams are also a serious safety issue for cyclists. In fact, a solicitor in Edinburgh is pursuing numerous compensation claims.

Local MP Anna Soubry (Con, Broxtowe) not only appeared on the programme, but also later raised the question of cyclists’ safety in a House of Commons ‘business without debate’ on the Nottingham Express Transit Extension on 14 September. She said: “It is a crying shame that cyclists have found that the tram tracks are dangerous. I do not think there is any doubt about that, but if there is, we will have another debate about it, and I look forward to that.”

Magistrates allowed texting driver to keep his licence - and Lee lost his life

Our Senior Road Safety and Legal Campaigner, Duncan Dollimore, has been looking at the appalling case of thirty-year-old Christopher Gard, who drove into and killed cyclist Lee Martin whilst texting. He’d already been caught eight times for driving whilst on his mobile phone, but was allowed by a magistrates' court to carry on driving lest the loss of his licence might cause his family hardship.

Lee, a father of two, was an experienced cyclist and there was no criticism of his riding. Gard has just been sentenced to nine years in prison.

  • Which did the magistrates think was more important, Gard's need to drive or the safety of other road users? Read Duncan's news article

Further work needs doing on impact of longer lorries in urban areas, says DfT

The DfT has just published its fourth annual evaluation of its longer semi-trailers trial (i.e. lorry trailers up to 2.05m longer than the standard 13.6m units commonly seen on the roads).

Cycling UK has previously opposed longer lorries, principally on the grounds that their wider tail swing presents hazards to cyclists at junctions in urban environments. On motorways, of course, this isn’t a problem, but it is by no means unknown for drivers to be diverted onto other roads where cyclists are likely to be.

We are not reassured by the DfT’s reckoning that: “On a per kilometre basis, nationally, LSTs have been involved in around 70% fewer personal injury collisions and casualties, in comparison to the average for standard articulated HGVs”. This finding only seems to apply to arterial roads, given that the DfT also states: “We do not yet have sufficient data regarding the safety risk performance of LSTs specifically in urban operations”, and says it needs to undertake further work.

Rural tourism needs cyclists!

Urban England is, it seems, enjoying a tourism boom, but rural areas are missing out. Cycling UK believes that one way to re-balance this is to open up rural areas so that cycle tourism can flourish and, on top of this, contribute to local economies.

This is the point we’ve made in our response to the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee’s inquiry into rural tourism. Our main call is for England to follow the example of Scotland, where the Land Reform Act 2003 lets people out and about into most of the countryside as long as they act responsibly.

Town centre cycling bans update

As reported in the last issue of Campaign News, Cycling UK has been investigating and objecting to restrictions on cycling in the centres of Mansfield and Newport.

Since then, Newport Council has accepted CDF's argument that, even if there were a valid order banning cycling (which CDF is still contesting), it could only last from 11.00am to 5.00pm, and not until midnight as they originally believed, and which Gwent Police intended to enforce. There's news on Mansfield due very shortly - watch out for it on our 'latest news' page.

Cycling UK defends radio presenter cyclist on radio

When Jeremy Vine, avid cyclist and Radio 2 presenter, went public with his footage of a motorist abusing him verbally because she wanted to get past him in her car, Cycling UK’s Duncan Dollimore was soon on the radio himself, explaining that Jeremy was simply trying to avoid being ‘doored’ and, in any case, there wasn’t enough room for the car driver to overtake him anyway.

Duncan also pressed home the point that in the interests of road safety overall, the police need to take cyclists’ reports of bad driving seriously, whether or not they involve personal injury. The fact that more and more cyclists are fitting themselves with cameras is entirely understandable, he said.


Act now

Love off-road, but wish it could be better?

Cycling UK, working in partnership with OpenMTB, invite you to complete our off-road cycling survey.

We plan to use the results to inform and direct our campaigning efforts to make mountain biking and off-road cycling better in England and Wales.


New publications

Welsh National Default 20 mph Limit Estimated Cost £2m: Up to 8 times (£10m) cheaper than authority by authority (20’s Plenty for Us)

New briefing setting out the economic argument for a blanket 20 mph default speed limit for built-up roads in Wales, as opposed to each local authority implementing the limit independently. It’s eight times cheaper, they calculate.

Health in a hurry (RSPH)

Report highlighting the adverse impacts of commuting passively by rail, bus and car on the public’s health and wellbeing. The authors say that the benefits of active travel are well-established, while longer passive commute times are linked to stress, raised blood pressure and higher BMI, and less time for health-promoting activities such as cooking, exercising and sleeping. Commuters spend an average of 56 minutes travelling to and from work each day.

Met Office online advice on cycling in bad weather

The Met Office has a new web-page offering advice for both cyclists and drivers on sharing the road as the seasons change, thanks to joint, negotiated input from Cycling UK and the RAC.


Diary dates

Transforming London Streets

23 September, Southwark Cathedral

Transforming London Streets (the new name for the London Cycling Show) will celebrate and showcase the positive impact that walking and cycling has on creating better places.

Offers both a conference and exhibition, with a range of workshops, cycle tours and site visits across Southwark.  

Bike Share Conference (Carplus Bikeplus)

4-5 October, Oxford

The first event (4 October), mainly designed for those involved in delivering electric bike share schemes as part of the Bikeplus Shared Electric Bike Programme, will review the experience and research findings so far.

5 October is a full day of presentations and discussion of the issues around creating and developing successful public bike share schemes. The programme explores strategies for increasing rider numbers, creating successful funding models and latest innovations.

Cycling UK’s Annual Members’ Get Together

8 October, Manchester

Join us in Manchester for Cycling UK’s second ever members’ conference, where we’ll celebrate our members’ and volunteers’ colossal efforts to Get Britain Cycling over the last year.

There will be seminars geared towards Member Groups, inclusive cycling, and campaigning, as well as presentations for our award-winning members. Guest speakers include bike designer Isla Rowntree, world cycle tourers Stephen Fabes and Julian Sayarer, and transport campaigner Caroline Russell.

Our Future London – An urban fabric ensuring cleaner air and better connections

13 October, London

The third in a series of evening seminars organised by LSx (London Sustainability Exchange) in conjunction with Siemens. Looking at Mayor Sadiq Khan's first six months, the series aims to help develop and inform the vision, bringing together a high level collaboration of the public, private and voluntary sectors.

This particular event will cover public realm design, cycling infrastructure and pollution​.

East Midland Cycle Forum (EMCF)

15 October, Chesterfield

The EMCF meets annually, bringing together cycle campaign groups from all over the East Midlands. There will be a range of speakers in the morning session, and a networking lunch followed by a ride exploring some of Chesterfield’s recently completed cycling infrastructure.

A led ride from Chesterfield railway station to the venue is on offer for delegates arriving by train, and the afternoon ride will return to the station.

Space for Cycling Roadshows

​From 22 October onwards

Cycling UK’s Space for Cycling campaign wants to transform Great Britain’s roads so that anyone can cycle anywhere. Local pressure is crucial to success, so we’re taking to the road throughout this winter with a series of workshops across the country.

The aim is to engage with local campaign groups, councils and the wider public to expand the reach of the campaign, share ideas and expertise, and develop a coordinated national strategy.

National Air Quality Conference and Awards

10 November, London

Expert speakers from organisations including ClientEarth, Volvo and Public Health England will deliver an essential mix of advice and guidance, and champion innovation throughout the air quality sector.

Benefiting Business through Cycling (Spokes public meeting)

10 November, Edinburgh

With Edinburgh’s economy, business, employees and the population at large all increasingly benefiting from cycling, this is a chance to hear and debate the issues with experts from the council, business, bike trade and bike user group.

The organisers, the Lothian cycle campaign Spokes, hope the talks, questions, discussion and networking will result in new ideas, opportunities and link-ups.


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