CycleDigest November 2013

Lorries pose a serious risk to cyclists in urban areas

CycleDigest November 2013

CTC's monthly round-up of cycle campaigning news

From the Editor

The number of cyclists and pedestrians who have died in collisions with large vehicles in London over the past few weeks is shocking. And when the media publish the names and ages of the people involved, each death turns even more poignantly into the human tragedy that it is. It's got to stop.

If you'd like to write to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, asking him to take urgent action, we've set up a letter-writing facility that we hope will help.

We want to see improvements in road infrastructure, cycle-friendly lorry design and restrictions on HGVs at the busiest times. CTC has also written to Transport Minister Robert Goodwill calling on him to hold hauliers to account whenever a lorry is involved in a cyclist's fatality.

Please join us in asking the Mayor to apply the most fundamental principle of safety management to this dreadful situation and tackle the danger at source.

Cherry Allan
CTC Campaigns

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Action on lorries needed now, says CTC

Cyclists and non-cyclists alike have been appalled by the number of cycling fatalities in London over recent weeks – six cyclists have died since 5 November, three of whom were involved in collisions with lorries.

CTC believes that the first thing to tackle is the source of the danger, in accordance with the fundamental principles of safety management. In other words, major roads and junctions should be designed to optimise safety for cyclists and other road users, rather than the flow of motor traffic; hauliers should operate vehicles of the most cycle-friendly design; and there should be restrictions to reduce the number of lorries on the busiest roads at the busiest times.

Training and awareness activities, both for lorry drivers and for cyclists, come next and their purpose should be to minimise whatever risks cannot be eliminated at source by the measures listed above.

CTC also believes that the Government should hold the haulage industry to account whenever a cyclist dies or is seriously injured in a crash with an HGV, and we have written to transport minister Robert Goodwill urging him to do this.


Planning to fail?

While the Get Britain Cycling report, published in April, calls on the Government to aim for 10% of trips by 2025 and 25% of trips by 2050 to be cycled, Department for Transport (DfT) technicians are forecasting that cycling will fall for decades to come. The average person, they predict, will be cycling 12% fewer miles in 2040 than in 2010, while motor vehicle mileage will go up by 43%.

The DfT insists its National Transport Model (NTM) is simply a prediction based on current policy - not a statement of the aims it wants to achieve. Yet its predictions tend to be self-fulfilling, providing a justification for road building while undermining the case for cycle provision.

This means that instead of saying 'Build it and they'll come', the Government is effectively saying, 'Assume the cars will come but no cyclists, so don't build anything for cyclists.' CTC is concerned that this could have a serious impact on funding, and has highlighted some flaws in the NTM and is asking the DfT to re-think the assumptions on which it is based.

  • A blog from CTC's Chris Peck explains more.


Road Justice and the Police: map shows which forces support CTC's campaign

The Road Justice campaign, led by CTC and sponsored by Slater & Gordon Lawyers, has published a map showing which police forces in England and Wales are committed to improving road safety for cyclists.

When the map was first published, most areas were coloured red, meaning that either the force had not yet responded or disagreed with what Road Justice is calling for. However, several police forces have since responded positively, prompted in some cases by local campaigners - thank you to those who have been involved.

The map shows that over a third of forces support at least one of the campaign’s recommendations, which focus on three areas of roads policing: road collision investigations; resources and training; and victim support.

We are continuing to press police forces and Commissioners to sign up, as well as preparing to put the spotlight on prosecutors and the courts in the New Year.

Other Stories

House of Commons Committee calls for views on cycle safety

In the light of the recent cyclist fatalities in London, the House of Commons Transport Select Committee has announced a follow-up inquiry on cycling safety. The Committee, which last considered the subject in 2012 as part of its inquiry into road safety, is asking for views on:

  • Whether cycling is safe, particularly in towns and cities;
  • What central and local Government could do to improve cycling safety;
  • Whether it would be desirable and feasible to segregate cyclists from other road users, including, for example, by prohibiting HGVs from entering city centres at peak hours.

Other ideas for improving cycling safety would also be welcomed.

Evidence has to be submitted in a hurry - by next Tuesday (26 November).

Signing regs need to keep pace with cycle-proofing promise

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said that his department will do all it can to let councils introduce Dutch-style segregated cycle provision. Further good news is the Highways Agency's undertaking to review the cycling sections of its design guidance.

This will necessitate revisions to the UK's traffic signing regulations so that segregated cycle tracks have the same priority at junctions as in continental countries like the Netherlands. With an update to the traffic regulations already scheduled for consultation in 2014, CTC is urging the DfT to move quickly to ensure that cycle priority measures are included. 

Scottish Parliament debates 'presumed liability'

At the end of October, the Scottish Parliament debated proposals for 'presumed liability'. Also known as ‘stricter liability’, this system would mean that motorists involved in collisions with cyclists or pedestrians would be presumed liable in a civil law claim for damages, unless they can prove otherwise.

Of the 14 MSPs who made speeches during the debate, four supported presumed liability (whilst recognising the need for further debate); six held no clear position and felt that more debate was needed; and four were against - including, unfortunately, Minister for Transport Keith Brown. However, the Minister did agree to keep the debate open.

Cycling Scotland Conference report

If you didn’t get to the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow to witness broadcaster and CTC President Jon Snow chairing the ninth Cycling Scotland Conference earlier this month, read Chris Oliver’s report of the day. Not only was the range of speakers impressive, but Jon Snow also unveiled Cycling Scotland’s 'National Assessment of Cycling Policy' (see 'New Publications'). Photo: Jon Snow with CTC's Chris Oliver in Glasgow.

TdF 2014 and beyond for Yorkshire

'Cycle Yorkshire' is already thinking ahead to welcoming the Tour de France (TdF) Grand Départ next year. Not only that, but they're also looking beyond it to the legacy they want such a high profile race to leave long after the banners have been taken down.

Keen to ensure that TdF 2014 inspires more people to cycle, they have produced a resource pack for schools aimed at encouraging 7-14 year-olds to cycle more often. Teachers and pupils at Kettlethorpe High School were given the first look at the pack earlier this month, and also enjoyed a chat with professional riders, brothers Dean and Russell Downing.

CTC’s Development Officer Ginny Leonard is part of the Tour de France legacy team in Yorkshire. 

Hazardous level crossing improved for cyclists

For any cyclist thinking of following the TdF route in Wensleydale next year, there is good news from our local campaigner Ron Healey.

Ron reports that work has recently begun to replace the decking at Aiskew railway level crossing, where many cyclists have come to grief over the past 20 years or so, with a fatality in 2007.  CTC activists have been working since 1995 to persuade highway and rail authorities to do something about this hazard.

Various factors contributed to the crossing's poor safety record, but it was mainly due to the rubber deck transitions that led to loss of control, commonly with wheels being trapped in flange gaps. New rubber inserts, which train wheels will depress when passing, will eliminate the gaps.

The railway is currently leased from Network Rail to Wensleydale Railway who have been keen to improve their many crossings.

CTC launches iPhone app for recording cycling incidents

A new, free iPhone app from CTC is now available to help if you’re ever involved in or witness a crash whilst out riding.  The app allows you to record all necessary information about witnesses, vehicles involved, the weather, injuries, equipment damage, time, date and location etc., with photos. You can then email the report directly to CTC’s solicitors Slater & Gordon Lawyers. 

  • Search the app store for ‘CTC’s Crash Kit’.

Lots of brilliant lights, but still illegal!

Want to know the legal ins and outs of those twinkly winky things that light up bike shop windows, catalogues and web pages at this time of year? CTC’s Technical Officer, Chris Juden explains bike lights, approved or otherwise.

Act Now!


In the past two weeks, six cyclists and three pedestrians have been killed on London's roads by large vehicles, four of which were lorries.

Please support CTC's call for the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to deal with the source of the danger as a matter of urgency. You can send the Mayor an email outlining the actions we believe he needs to take. Thank you.

New Publications

Report on demonstration of longer semi-trailers and risks to vulnerable road users

By Philippa Edmunds for Campaign for Better Transport (CBT)

A trial of longer semi-trailer lorries is currently under way on UK roads and, this summer, the Department for Transport (DfT) invited concerned parties to see them in use at a testing ground. CBT went along and concluded that: the safety, road damage and congestion effects were not fully addressed in the DfT’s research before their trial; the vehicles are unsuitable for general use in urban areas and on local roads; and their manoeuvres (e.g. rear out-swing) could increase the risk of death or serious injury to cyclists and pedestrians. This report details their findings.

CTC opposes the introduction of longer lorries on Britain’s roads. See our 'No Longer Lorries' campaign page.


Effectiveness and equity impacts of town-wide cycling initiatives in England: A longitudinal, controlled natural experimental study

Goodman A, et al

Study that looks at how England’s Cycling Cities and Towns, which all received government funding for cycling initiatives between 2005-11, fared in comparison with unfunded towns. Using Census data, the authors found that cycle commuting rose significantly in the funded towns relative to the others – and so did walking – while driving decreased. Published in Social Science and Medicine.


National Assessment of Local Authority Cycling Policy 2013

Cycling Scotland

Report on how each of the 32 Scottish local authorities are performing on cycling policy. The results vary - some councils, the report says, are performing very well and delivering on local cycle strategies, but others demonstrate a need for a more focused approach. The report finds that the best local authorities are Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife, Clackmannanshire and Aberdeenshire.




Cycling safety - what Copenhagen can teach global cities (video)

Till Koglin, Lund University

Sweet and pithy video explaining how and why Copenhagen treats cyclists better than many European cities do.

The film was made as part of a study comparing Copenhagen and Stockholm in terms of urban cycling and transport planning. Copenhagen comes out top, partly for historical reasons and partly because of its conscious cycling strategies. However, Till Koglin, the researcher behind the study, said:  “This thesis indicates that even in cities that are very good for cycling, like Copenhagen, the motorised modes of transport create many problems and are still dominating urban space.”

Diary Dates

Die-In and Vigil

29 November 2013, 17.00 – 18.30, outside the offices of Transport for London, London

A peaceful protest following the shocking number of cycling fatalities in London in recent weeks. This is not a CTC event and we accept no responsibility for the possible legal or safety consequences of attending. However, in the current circumstances, we feel it may be of interest to some of our readers. More details on the event's Facebook page.

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