CycleDigest September 2013

Parliament - scene of a four hour debate on cycling on 2 September

CycleDigest September 2013

CTC's monthly round-up of campaigning news

From the editor

The 'Get Britain Cycling' report, published in April and informed by evidence from expert witnesses including CTC, was aired very positively in Parliament on 2 September.

Cycling has been debated in the House before, but this time it attracted more MPs than ever. What's more, they unanimously welcomed the report's recommendations, so political leadership has the momentum now, we hope, to make things better for cycling.

Political leadership is something that we'll never be ticking off our list, though. It - and enough funding to back it up - needs to keep going or we'll never meet the national target proposed by 'Get Britain Cycling' (the target, that is, that the Government says it would rather not have...).

Cherry Allan

CTC Campaigns

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MPs vote to ‘Get Britain Cycling’

A four-hour House of Commons debate on cycling on 2 September attracted over 100 MPs from across the political spectrum  –  and ended with a unanimous vote to welcome the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s report, 'Get Britain Cycling'.

While MP after MP spoke, a visible reminder of the strength of feeling outside Parliament was hard to miss, as 5,000 people circled the building in support of London Cycling Campaign’s ‘Space for Cycling’ ride.

It's time to end the stop-start approach that is getting in the way of progress and agree a cross-party, long-term commitment to cycling.”

Maria Eagle,
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, who set out an 8-point plan for cycling at the debate

Amongst its 18 recommendations, 'Get Britain Cycling' asks for a target to boost cycle use from 2% of trips at present to 10% by 2025 and 25% by 2050. It also calls for sustained funding for cycling of at least £10 per person annually, rising to £20.

For a sense of the spirit and focus of the debate as it unfolded – read CTC's Roger Geffen's live blog

See also:

DfT responds to 'Get Britain Cycling'

A few days before the debate, the Government/Department for Transport (DfT) published their official response to the 18 recommendations of the 'Get Britain Cycling' report. Much of it simply recapped what the Government's already done for cycling without making firm promises, but it did make a couple of encouraging announcements.

On road safety, for example, it said that the Sentencing Council (England and Wales) will review sentencing guidelines for the offences of causing death by careless driving and causing death or serious injury by dangerous driving. CTC believes that this is a good opportunity to make lenient sentencing a thing of the past and to ensure that dangerous drivers are banned from the roads. 

The Government also said that the DfT is updating its guidance on quiet out-of-hours deliveries by HGVs to reduce the number of goods vehicles on the busiest urban streets at the busiest times.

Although constructive about most of 'Get Britain Cycling’s' recommendations, the Government rejected the idea of a national target for cycling, saying that local authorities should set their own. The national target, however, stood the test of the subsequent Parliamentary debate, and MPs voted to endorse it.

The Government was also not keen on the appointment of a single national champion for cycling. When questioned about it at the debate, Transport Minister Norman Baker said that championing cycling needed to be “owned across Government by all Departments”.

Talking of ‘cycling czars,’ London’s ‘Cycling Commissioner’ Andrew Gilligan seems to have benefited personally from the activity.

Timely lorry safety crackdown for London

A tougher approach on lorries in London and elsewhere is long overdue, so CTC has welcomed official moves to tackle the disproportionate risk that these vehicles pose to cyclists in the capital.

The commitments cover lorry design and safety equipment, driver training and taking direct action on dangerous vehicles.

When the Freight Transport Association reacted by stating that “Tougher standards for cyclists' behaviour” were needed, CTC wrote to them pointing out that HGV drivers are more often the party at fault in collisions with cyclists.

Other measures that CTC would like to see seriously considered include bans on lorry traffic in busy urban areas. This, and other options, are discussed in our briefing on Goods Vehicles.


Other stories

20 mph news

During the recent parliamentary debate on cycling (see 'Headlines'), Transport Minister Norman Baker announced that the roads policing lead for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO, England & Wales) has agreed to rewrite the Association’s guidance on the enforcement of 20 mph limits. All too often, the police seem reluctant to enforce these limits, so CTC awaits the revision with interest.
The City of London’s Court of Common Council has voted in favour of a 20 mph limit for all of its roads. The move is part of the Council’s Road Danger Reduction Plan and could reduce casualties by almost 10%. Lower speeds help create a more pleasant environment for walking and cycling, and all but one of the surrounding boroughs have already adopted a 20 mph limit.


Cyclist challenges FPN

The Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF) is supporting the case of a cyclist who was issued with a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for failing to stop at a red light, when all he was doing was positioning himself, for his own safety, in front of a car which had illegally occupied the advanced stop box. Over £2,000 has already been raised to help with the costs. See Rhia Weston's blog for more.

CDF is an independent charity set up in 2001 by CTC to fight significant legal cases involving cycling and cyclists. Since its inception, its remit has expanded to cover all aspects of cycling and the law.

Dangers of sat navs

At the end of August, two drivers were both sentenced in the same week for killing cyclists whilst distracted by their sat navs. One driver, who relied heavily on the device, ploughed through a crossroads after failing to notice a stop line; and the other effectively drove blind for 18 seconds whilst zooming in on her sat nav. For commentary on the sentences they were given and the need for more research on in-car distractions, see CTC news item.

CTC offers Oxford freshers free cycle training

"Would another point of transition for introducing cycling proficiency be when young people go to university, when they often get back on bikes having not been on them since they were young children?" asked Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood at the recent parliamentary debate on cycling (see Headlines). 

CTC was listening and, at Oxford University Freshers' Fair in October, 25 students can sign up for free, high quality cycle training from expert CTC National Standard instructors on the city's streets.

This autumn, CTC will also be providing cycle training to students at Plymouth, Reading and Leeds universities.

Brentford businesses test out cargo bikes

Brentford Bikes is an innovative project aiming to increase the number of businesses in the area using cargo bikes to deliver goods and services. For a three-month pilot phase, three Christiania cargo bikes will be available to local businesses free of charge and also be used to deliver arts and cultural events throughout the borough. The bikes are being funded by CTC as part of a wider CycleLogistics European project.

Researchers to study later life cycling

A team of researchers from Oxford Brookes University is embarking on a £1.4m study to investigate ways in which people can be encouraged and helped to cycle in older age and the benefits it could bring to them. One of the planned outcomes will be a short video and toolkit for policy makers and practitioners on how the built environment and technology could be designed to support and encourage cycling in later life.

'Promoting Independent Cycling for Enhancing Later Life Experience and Social Synergy through Design' or 'PrICELESS Design' is a collaborative project also involving academics at the universities of Reading, West of England and Cardiff.

Act now!

Please add your name to a petition calling on police forces in England and Wales to improve roads policing in their area and implement the recommendations of CTC's Road Justice report on the role of the police in bringing dangerous drivers to justice.


New publications

Walking, Cycling and Driving to Work in the English and Welsh 2011 Census: Trends, Socio-Economic Patterning and Relevance to Travel Behaviour in General

Anna Goodman (Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

Using data gathered from the 2011 Census in England and Wales, this paper examines levels and trends in commuting modes.

The author found that, for their usual main commute to work, 3.1% of commuters cycled (+0.1% change since 2001) and concludes that:“England and Wales remain car-dependent, but the trends are slightly more encouraging. Unlike many health behaviours, it is more common for socio-economically disadvantaged groups to commute using physically active modes. This association is, however, weakening and may soon reverse for cycling."

Also concludes that, at population level, the modal share for commuting  serves as reasonable proxy for broader travel patterns.

See also:

Short journeys, big savings


Four-page report explaining how much British motorists and the economy could save by walking, cycling or using public transport as alternatives to driving for short trips. Not using a car for four out of five short trips, for example, could save each driver up to £279 a year, while the economy would be better off to the tune of  £14.6 billion per year.


How active are our children? Findings from the Millennium Cohort Study

Dr Lucy Griffiths et al, published in BMJ,  21 August 2013

Results of a study of 6,497 children aged 7-8 showing that only half of 7-year-olds in the UK achieve the recommended levels of physical activity. Says that “…population-wide efforts to boost physical activity among young people are needed which are likely to require a broad range of policy interventions.” Cycling is a good one, CTC thinks!

Diary dates

Ride for Hope

Saturday 21 September 2013, Birmingham

A procession, from Highbury Park, in the name of 13-year-old Hope Fennell, who was run over and killed by a lorry driver as she pushed her bike over a pedestrian crossing in 2011. The HGV driver was convicted of dangerous driving but wasn’t charged with Hope’s death.

Join the procession by foot or by bike to send the message to Birmingham City Council and the courts that children's lives are worth much more than a few months in prison. 


Local and national: making the links (CTC/Cyclenation National Conference, 2013)

Saturday 5 October 2013, Leeds

Find out how to use the current political buzz around cycling and make a real impact in your local area.

Hosted by Leeds Cycling Campaign, this conference brings together local and national cycle campaigners for talks, workshops and to share best practice.

Workshops and plenary sessions will cover:

  • Get Britain Cycling: mobilising the cycling vote
  • Cyclescape: a tool for coordinating and organising campaigns
  • Understanding your local authority        
  • Using the media
  • Revitalising your local campaign group
  • Reaching out to health and other partners
  • Explaining quality infrastructure
  • Strengthening campaigning
  • CTC’s new campaign, Road Justice

As usual there will be social events and rides, including dinners on Friday and Saturday nights and the opportunity to join Leeds Cycling Campaign’s social rides on Sunday 6 October.
Early bird booking fee of £20 per person online until end of September, (£22 per person by post and cheque).

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