Cycling on Swan Street
Following the traffic order excluding cyclists from the old A6 route at the bottom of Market Square, an explanation has been received from Infrastructure Planning of Leicestershire County Council which states:
“The County Council is very aware of the importance of providing adequate cycling facilities in Loughborough and the need to encourage safe and healthy transport solutions. Cycle facilities have been provided wherever possible as part of the project. Referring back to the early stages of the project in 2006, a transport proposal for the town centre was developed that would allow a limited amount of transport movement along Swan Street ie buses, service vehicles and cyclists. It was also agreed that this arrangement would be tested over a future 18 month trial period. Since several years have now elapsed since that time, Members decided in 2013 that further consultation was needed to reaffirm the position. As a consequence, further public consultation was undertaken last year to reconsider the best transport option for the town centre.
Based on the results of the consultation, the consensus amongst local elected representatives and local businesses, excluding bus companies, the County Cabinet resolved in April 2014, to adopt Option C ie full pedestrianisation of the Market Place. This prohibits all traffic including cyclists from using Swan Street at the Market Place at busy times, ie between 10am and 4pm. However, outside these hours loading and cycling only will be allowed into this area.
To pass through this part of Swan Street between 10 am and 4pm, cyclists will have to dismount. This is consistent with the current TRO for the remainder of the Market Place with the exception of the controls imposed during market days.
This transport arrangement will be implemented under an experimental traffic regulation order to come into effect during the 18 month trial period commencing in November 2014. The outcome of the trial will be reviewed at the appropriate time and where necessary changes to the order or road layout may be made.”
The previous suggestions, discussed with local cycling groups, for Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs), irrespective of whether or not buses were allowed through, all indicated unrestricted cycling along the route of the A6. An assurance was given that this was the intention when the latest consultation took place. There was no mention of restrictions on cycling in the consultation.
By a narrow majority the consultation was in favour of banning buses. Sixteen people commented on cycling, some for and some against. We now have cycling banned without consultation.
How can this fit with the stated ambition of both Charnwood and Leicestershire Councils to promote active travel?
The alternative cycling route is to use what is effectively "the ring road", incorporating the inner relief road (IRR). Where there are cycle lanes, these are often filled with (legally) parked vehicles. The routes along the pavement are disjointed to say the least.
Can the pinch point on Bridge Street at the exit from the Rushes car park be regarded as safe?
How do you get onto the contraflow cycle lane along Baxter Gate?
Is the drainage channel along the cycle lane in the Rushes after the Bridge Street junction regarded as acceptable?
Can Frederick Street and Browns Lane, which buses are now squeezing down much more frequently, regarded as “safe” routes for cyclists?
What about the shortage of cycle parking in the town centre?
Do these Councils really intend to promote cycling, or are they just making false promises to put themselves in a good light while doing very little?
Country roads treated like racetracks
Based on a press release from Brake
Drivers are being urged to slow down on country roads this summer to enable people outside of cars to enjoy the British countryside. A survey from road safety charity Brake and Digby Brown solicitors reveals that a huge proportion treat them like racetracks. One in three drivers (33%) admit driving too fast for safety on country roads, by speeding, taking bends fast or overtaking.
Since there is less traffic on country roads, some drivers feel a false sense of security and are prone to take risks like speeding, overtaking, and not slowing down for brows and bends. In fact, per mile travelled, country roads are the most dangerous for all types of road user. Car occupants and motorcyclists are twice as likely, and cyclists more than three times as likely, to be killed as on main roads.
Brake and Digby Brown's survey of 1,000 UK drivers also found:
- One in five (19%) admit breaking speed limits on country roads in the past year
- Three in 20 (15%) admit taking corners or brows too fast
- One in 20 (5%) admit overtaking when it isn't safe
- Three in 10 (28%) have been a passenger with a driver who broke the limit, one in five (19%) with a driver who took corners or brows too fast, and one in 12 (8%) with a driver who overtook when it wasn't safe.
To cut crashes and empower people to enjoy the countryside, Brake is calling on government to lower limits on rural roads to a maximum of 50mph, and require authorities to implement lower limits where there are particular risks. The survey found widespread support for lower limits, with seven in 10 (72%) in favour of more 50, 40 and 30mph limits on country roads, and two thirds (65%) in favour of a 40mph default in national parks.
Brake is urging all drivers to stay well under current limits - bearing in mind 60mph is generally far too fast for safety on these roads - and slow right down for villages, bends, brows and bad weather, and avoid overtaking. Drivers should always assume that someone, or something, could be around any corner.
Infrastructure bill needs ‘cycle-proofing’
Based on an article on British Cycling Website
The Infrastructure Bill sets out various provisions for the funding of land transport schemes including the creation of a more independent national Highways Agency. As it stands, the Bill is focused on fixing long-term planning and funding for roads. The government will secure long-term funding for roads and rail but current funding for utility cycling will come to an end in 2016. British Cycling, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Campaign for Better Transport, CTC, Living Streets and Sustrans have come together to propose a new law to fund walking and cycling.
Lords Berkeley and Judd are due to propose an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill which would make the government plan for greater investment into cycling and walking. This would result in the Government being required to publish a binding cycling & walking investment strategy and answer to Parliament if the ambitions in it were not met.
- The strategy would be divided into four parts, setting out:
- a long-term vision to increase walking and cycling rates across the whole population, in rural as well as urban areas;
- a ‘Statement of Funds Available’ for the next five years that would be spent specifically on cycling and walking;
- a detailed Investment Plan of programmes and schemes, e.g. to improve cycle-rail integration, retrofit safe walking and cycling paths along busy roads and give provincial towns and cities London-style cycling measures and exemplary public spaces;
- a performance specification of measures and targets, e.g. increases in cycling and walking levels, improvements in safety, and the proportion of schools and stations with safe routes to them.
Bogus analysis of casualty figures
Based on an article on www.20splentyforus.org.uk
An analysis of DfT casualty figures for 2013 by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) purports to show that as the total number of 20mph roads increases, so do the total number of casualties. However their conclusion that this is evidence of increased danger shows a woeful lack of understanding of statistics.
If you measured the number of casualties in two adjacent towns (say A and B) in 2012 and 2013 then you can compare how their roads became safer over that time . However if during the comparison period the boundary between A and B changed, so that now many of the roads were in A rather than B, you would expect the casualties in town A to have increased. But if you kept no records of how many roads were in A or B, or when they were transferred, then it would be difficult to conclude anything from the figures.
Around the country most of our iconic towns and cities are changing the limit on roads from 30mph to 20mph. Hence the total length of 20mph roads is increasing and 30mph decreasing. It therefore comes as no surprise to find that the total casualties on 20mph roads increased (by 20%) in 2013 and decreased on 30mph roads (by 7%) . In fact with 20% of the UK now in local authorities currently making most roads 20mph this is entirely expected.
DfT record no statistics on the total length of 20mph or 30mph roads and hence any conclusion that this increase reflects any increased danger would not have any foundation.
The IAM have issued a press release that concludes from these statistics that “20mph roads are not delivering fewer casualties”. A similar conclusion was made by the Sun in August 2012 from the 2011 DfT casualty report.
The BBC “More or Less” program then felt that this was such a blatant misrepresentation that they featured the story in a programme. Their conclusion was that the claims were “phonus ballonus”. Without a consideration of how the number and length of 20/30mph roads had changed no conclusions could be made as to whether setting a 20mph limit made the roads more dangerous.
One valid statistic that can be gleaned from the 2013 casualty figures is the risk of death for casualties in 20mph and 30mph roads. On 20mph roads in 2013 there were 6 deaths out of 3,164 casualties ( 0.2% ) whilst on 30mph roads there were 538 deaths out of 111,186 casualties (0.5%). Hence on a 30mph road any casualty is 2.5 times more likely to result in a fatality than on a 20mph road.
The next conference is scheduled for the 29th November at Lambeth Town Hall. More details will be provided in our next edition.