Loughborough & District
Cycle Users' Campaign

Pedal Power
Issue 111
July 2014


Buses and Cyclists excluded from Swan Street?

Leicestershire County Council have given notice that when the construction work is completed in the autumn, this section of road is to be pedestrianised and an experimental traffic order will be placed on the roads in the Town Centre for a trial period of 18 months. This will stop all traffic using Swan Street from George Yard through to Baxter Gate between 10am and 4pm. Outside of this time only vehicles making deliveries, and cyclists, will be able to access it.

This appears to mean that cyclists as well as buses will be excluded, something that was not highlighted during the consultation. Our understanding was that cyclists would be allowed to cross the town centre via this route at all times of day.

We will be raising this issue with the County's officials. It would appear that cyclists are expected to have to take a longer route around the ring roads, where the facilities are patchy to say the least, and disappear in many places (usually where you most need them). Please contact your County Councillor about this issue.

Nottingham Pedals' 35th Birthday

As part of the celebrations for Pedals' 35th birthday this year they are hosting the next East Midlands Cyclists’ Forum on Saturday 18th October (please mark it in your diary). This will be in the upstairs room of the Trent Bridge Inn, West Bridgford, just south of Trent Bridge and about 1 mile from Nottingham Station, and will start at 10.00 with tea / coffee.

The programme will follow the same kind of structure as at previous such events, i.e. with a couple of speakers to start us off, followed by questions and discussion, and the rest of the morning then devoted to brief local campaigning updates both from groups and individual campaigners, etc.

Gwyneth McMinn, who last year joined Sustrans as their Network Development Manager for the East Midlands, has already agreed to be one of the speakers, and Pedals are endeavouring to find another to talk about the ambitious plans for developing cycling in the Peak District National Park, following the successful bid last year to the DfT for Cycling Ambition grant funding.

After lunch there will be a guided bike ride, intended to show some of the ups and downs of Pedals' recent campaigning experience. This will include looking at the arrangements relating to the two new (NET) tram lines, due for completion in December, and the new (expanded) Cycle Hub at Nottingham Station, due to be built later this summer.

There will be a small charge for refreshments and more information about this event will be available in September, when you will be able to book a place.

New website on cycling for transport

Loughborough born Alex Bailey has launched a website cyclingfortransport.com with the strap line “Everything you wanted to know about cycling but were afraid to ask”. This offers a free consumer guide to utility cycling and provides a source of information on using a bicycle for commuting, shopping and other day-to-day transport. Alongside impartial information on bikes and bike accessories, it gives practical tips on integrating cycling into everyday life. The site has information on the various types of bike and how to store a bike at home. It also has pointers on cycle security and maintenance.

The site aims to demystify the world of cycling, using non-technical language where possible and explaining cycle terminology in an illustrated glossary.

Alex Bailey, a writer and life-long cyclist now living in Manchester say “Bikes are such an important part of my life, I have a marginally unhealthy obsession with them! So I've decided it's time to do something useful with all the bike information I've gathered over the years”. Alex believes that most advice about cycling is skewed by the sports-oriented cycle industry, which results in bike shops selling racers and mountain bikes to people who actually just want to cycle two miles to work.

However, when consumers know what to look for, they choose something more suitable. So people need information about practical bikes. Alex has created a site where solutions are presented clearly and without unnecessary technical detail. The site also contains the kind of information people might be afraid to ask an “expert”, such as which clothing helps you avoid getting sweaty while cycling to work, or how to book a bike on a train.

From the Chair, for the Beach:

The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien

If you have ever possessed, or otherwise had access to, one of those collections of 'cycle clips', ie. passages from literature pertaining to bicycles (sometimes tricycles) and cycling, you will be familiar with The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien. I suspect O'Brien is one of the most quoted authors in such collections, along with Jerome K Jerome and H G Wells. I recently got around to reading The Third Policeman, and, with the holiday season approaching, thought I would use my Chair's piece this time to review it.

It is often said that the Irish tell the best Irish jokes. The Third Policeman is a novel-length joke by its Irish author. The joke centres around the scholarly naivety of its hero and narrator, whose name we readers never learn. This naivety is played out in his responses to the increasingly strange things which happen in the course of his own journey, and to the increasingly outrageous ideas and antics of the 'savant' de Selby and de Selby's assorted admirers and detractors; indexing these characters' works has been the life's work of our hero.

And the bicycles? The first of the three policemen whom our hero meets along the way is completely obsessed with bicycles. This is a reflection both of their central role in the crime of the area and of his jealous fears for the morality of his own, sensuously female, bicycle, about whom we hear a lot more, quite delightfully, later on in the story. Underlying his fears is the 'atomic theory' much quoted in the cycle clip collections: specifically that people who spend much of their lives riding bicycles get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycles due to the interchanging of atoms between them, with the result that the people eventually become half bicycle and the bicycles half human.

I have already mentioned the strangeness of the proceedings in this story, and indeed it has been compared to Alice in Wonderland. From a particular point things are just so odd that you cannot help but realise that something really weird is going on, but I was still profoundly shocked when I learned the truth about where the hero is and how he got there. However, the Irish are not a dark people, and I found the ending highly satisfying, feeling that it represented a victory for our hero on more than one level.

Reading the various documentary notes in the book afterwards, I was saddened to learn that The Third Policeman was published posthumously; during O'Brien's lifetime it was rejected and lost by so many publishers that eventually he feigned having lost the manuscript himself. However, he did recycle some of the material in The Dalkey Archive, which promises plenty more bicycles, policemen and de Selby. That one is now on my reading list for sure. If you need more than two books for your summer holiday and have not read it already, the third one, I suggest, could be the totally awesome Automatic Lover by Ariadne Tampion...

Ariadne Tampion

Sentencing guidelines for driving offences

The Government has committed to reviewing driving offences and penalties as well as sentencing guidelines for serious driving offences.

Please urge the Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, to use this opportunity to end the complacency towards bad driving and ensure drivers who endanger others on the roads receive appropriate punishments.

You can use a facility to email him prepared by the CTC at http://goo.gl/pAIhd1. This takes you to a form which your complete and click 'send'. You will then be taken to a page with the draft email to which you can add your own comments.

Cycle hub at Sheffield Station

A new £850,000 cycle hub has been opened in Sheffield providing 415 bike spaces alongside changing rooms and repair facilities at the city's station. It was unveiled the day before the start of the Tour de France in Yorkshire when it was also announced that a £15m fund is being made available to improve cycle parking facilities at railway stations across England in 2015-16. This is the first announcement of any substantial funding for cycling in almost a year.

Minimal spend on Active Travel

Meanwhile the Department for Transport has announced a £2bn spending programme for new roads, bigger junctions and business parks - with almost none on cycling. Very little of the 'local growth deal' cash will go to cycling or walking schemes.

Local Enterprise Partnerships were responsible for bidding for funding through a process which replaced the previous regional planning structure, which was dismantled by the coalition government. The current funding is out to 2016, with an additional £6bn of unallocated funding up for negotiation over the next 5 years.

The Department for Transport had provided some incentives for bids to include 'sustainable transport packages' with the offer of matched revenue funding; however, only around 5% of the total resources (£100m) in the deals appear to meet the criteria. This is a far lower figure than went to sustainable transport under the current funding round.

Whither Cyclenation?

At the recent Cyclenation AGM there was a full review of the groups strategy. A way forward was outlined and the Board will be looking at:

  1. a much clearer and more compelling Vision statement that sets out what CN is about, and why groups should be members;
  2. reviewing communications so that we are effective internally and externally;
  3. setting up and supporting clusters of groups so they can be better co-ordinated and stronger regionally and through devolved nations;
  4. reaching a new understanding with CTC so that Cyclenation incorporates Right to Ride interests and energies into a single voice for local cycle campaigning. This must be reciprocal and offer clear benefits to both parties as well as maintaining the independence of local groups;
  5. work on a Shared Campaigns programme driven by larger groups providing an national framework for local work. The reciprocal role of larger groups in driving this must be understood and the benefits and commitments agree
  6. developing the range of benefits and services that can be available to member organisations where there is an advantage in working together. Examples might include, discounts, insurance, fundraising, publications.

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