A recent letter appeared in the Echo under the headline “All cycling in pedestrian areas should be banned” containing the following paragraphs -
“I have followed the recent string of letters relating to the danger from cyclists in the Market Place and other pedestrianised areas (Market Street, Chuchgate etc.).
Quite clearly, in the interests of safety a complete ban on cyclists passing through these areas needs to be implemented.” “What is needed is a clear, unambiguous ban, probably for 24 hours a day, but certainly for longer than the current 10am to 4pm.”
“I have followed the recent string of letters relating to the danger from cyclists in the Market Place and other pedestrianised areas (Market Street, Chuchgate etc.). Quite clearly, in the interests of safety a complete ban on cyclists passing through these areas needs to be implemented.”
“What is needed is a clear, unambiguous ban, probably for 24 hours a day, but certainly for longer than the current 10am to 4pm.”
Such opinions are unfortunately fairly representative of a large proportion of the population who perceive cyclists to be a threatening nuisance rather than the solution to many of the problems of our modern day society.
Your editor responded along the lines that there was no evidence that cyclists over the last 20 years had caused “serious injuries or worse” and that the benefits to society far outweigh the minimal dangers posed by mixing cyclists and pedestrians.
However there are other points I might have included such as:
- We were originally assured both for the Market Place and Leicester Road that cyclists would have 24 hour access and this was withdrawn. Somewhat surreptitiously in the case of Leicester Road when cyclists were removed with the buses.
- Forcing cyclists out onto the one way system is not a good way to promote cycling as many would-be cyclists are deterred by what is perceived to be a dangerous road environment.
- Rogue cyclists use the pedestrianised areas anyway and are the most likely to pose a threat. Law abiding cyclists no longer cycling in the pedestrian areas are the least likely to pose a threat to pedestrians. Andy Selkeld, Cycling Co-ordinator at Leicester City Council, reports that the number of complaints about cyclists in the pedestrian area had remained constant after they started allowing cycling. This demonstrates that banning cyclists only removes the responsible cyclists while being ineffective in dealing with those causing problems. It is highly unlikely that a local authority or the police will waste resources strictly enforcing such bans as their time can be used to much better effect elsewhere so there is no point in having them.
- The evidence is that mixing cyclists and pedestrians does not impose unacceptable levels of risk - http://www.cyclinguk.org/sites/default/files/file_public/pedestrians4rbrf.pdf .
- Police and street wardens need to prioritise what really poses a threat to the well-being of people in Loughborough – motor vehicles.
- If cyclists are to be banned why not delivery vehicles and mobility scooters which also pose a small threat to pedestrians?
Deterring Close Overtaking
West Midlands Police its taking forward a programme 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 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.
We can only hope that Leicestershire’s Constabulary will choose to emulate this.
No change to County Road Safety Policy
The County Council's Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee met on 12th September 2016 and reviewed Road Safety in the County. The meeting papers and minutes can be read at goo.gl/avQUFx .
The officers, in preparing their recommendations, took a rather narrow view of casualty reduction. They ignore the casualties from diabetes, heart disease etc. that are caused by people driving rather than using an active form of transport. Then when looking at the economic case they ignore the cost of people running cars to ferry themselves and children about because they consider it too dangerous to walk or cycle.
Thus they conclude that “In terms of KSI’s the statistical evidence indicates that fewer accidents occur on 30 mph roads and more accidents occur on rural higher speed roads” and that “This suggests that our scarce resources should be targeted at these higher speed limit roads, rather than reducing speed limits in urban areas by having a blanket 20 mph speed limit policy at this time."
This is despite the fact that the document states "This contains six strategic transport goals, of which Goal 5 is to have a transport system that improves the safety, health and security of residents."
Simply frightening walkers and cyclists off the roads will certainly reduce road casualties, but life years lost through inactivity will exceed those lost due to traffic casualties.
Max Hunt, a County Councillor and member of the Campaign, made the point that “Unfortunately the report does not give sufficient weight to vulnerable groups who are more often the victims and does not sufficiently distinguish between the types of collision or accidents.” and “We need to increase protection for vulnerable groups, including elderly, young, pedestrians and cyclists, including routes to schools.”
Fix It First
Campaign for Better Transport have produced a briefing document (goo.gl/PcEyUQ) making the case that focusing transport spending on a small number of large infrastructure schemes is expensive with benefits not realised for many years. Local schemes are popular, better value and quicker to deliver. These are some of its suggestions:
- Local road maintenance - A new Road Repair and Renewals Fund to tackle the road and pavement maintenance backlog, with ring-fenced funding and incentives for investment and apprenticeships as in London.
- Transport measures to support local economies - Increasing the Access Fund would help more local authorities deliver packages of transport schemes to support their local economies. Raising both capital and revenue funding would make the fund more flexible and easier to use.
- Cycling and walking, and public realm schemes - New dedicated funding to support the Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy and further funding for existing programmes. The Government should also support regeneration of high streets and town centres through a public realm investment fund to improve public experience.
- Small scale rail schemes, including new/reopened stations and lines - Further new stations funding to improve reliability and journey times on rail lines. An enhanced fund could also support reopenings of rail lines.
- Green and community buses - Increased investment in the quality and extent of bus services with further rounds of the Green Bus Fund and the Community Minibus Fund.
One result of Brexit is likely to be a steep fall off in investment until private companies can see the way forward to profitable investments. This will result in spare capacity (unemployment) in the economy and during this period it will make sense for the government to invest in order to maintain economic activity.
However such investment usually focuses on large projects - a new runway, big road projects, high speed rail etc. which often take decades to plan and deliver. Even at the local level the emphasis of many councils tends to be on major road projects. These do not address the short term challenge to invest while there is temporary unemployed capacity. This document shows how a short term programme of local investment could be instituted with minimal delay.
Road casualty statistics 2015
Based on an article in Cycling UK Campaign News
Bearing well in mind that the health paybacks of cycling hugely outweigh the risks, there’s not much joy to be had from GB road casualty statistics in isolation.
With regard to cyclist fatalities, in statistical terms little has changed over the last nine years. The 100 cyclists killed in 2015 was the lowest number on record, but similar to the figures for each year since 2008.
On the other hand, by and large the number of seriously injured cyclists has been going up since 2004. Although 2015 saw a 5% drop from 2014 (3,239 down from 3,401), it is still the second highest year since 1997.
What’s more, while the number of cyclists killed per billion miles cycled has been falling on the whole since 2005, if you add in seriously injured cyclists, it’s another and very disturbing story. The KSI (killed or seriously injured) rate per billion miles has grown significantly over the last 10 years.
On the subject of casualties on 20 mph roads, the Department for Transport sensibly says that casualty increases aren't because they are less safe (as sceptics have tried to assert), but because there are now more roads where this limit applies.
Hundreds of local cyclists will meet at Belton Village Hall on Sunday 18th December 2016 (10.30am to 12-30pm), most having ridden from their home towns and cities for refreshments, a chinwag, and a warm. There is a raffle in aid of Rainbows Children's Hospice with lots of prizes. £440 was raised for the Hospice in 2015 plus £200 for the Cyclists’ Defence Fund.
All cyclists are welcome. More volunteers are still needed for this year’s event, so if you can help please let John Catt know.
New Cycling Club
Shepshed Cycling Club has been recently established and aims to enjoy riding on local scenic roads. Their Social Group attempts to restrict routes as much as possible to minor roads and lanes with less motorised road traffic. They meet on Sunday mornings at The Black Swan Pub at 9.15am, rides start at 9.30am throughout the year. All types of cyclists are welcome, young and old. More details at www.shepshedcyclingclub.co.uk .