Pedal PowerIssue 134
Town Centre to remain closed to Cyclists
The proposal from Leicestershire County Council to open up the town centre to cyclists during shopping hours proved too good to be true. As soon as the proposal was reported by the Echo many local politicians took up a stance that they obviously perceived to be supported by the majority of electors and condemned the proposal.
Ample evidence of this was provided by the considerable opposition in the letters page of the Echo. From some of the comments made, you would think that the County Council had proposed to set up machine guns at either end of the Market Place and practice live firing during shopping hours.
It would seem that the current arrangements will stay in place for the indefinite future.
Leicestershire Consultation on Public Transport
Leicestershire County Council is consulting on a new passenger transport policy and strategy, which aims to ensure that they meet their statutory duties while achieving the best use of money in supporting local passenger transport services.
They want the views of the public to help shape this new passenger transport policy and strategy. The consultation webpage includes further information and a questionnaire.
Cycling and walking safety
As part of its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS), The Department for Transport (DfT) is calling for evidence for ‘an open and comprehensive review of how we can address the issues that cyclists and pedestrians face, or perceive, when using our road infrastructure, to support the Government’s aim of increasing cycling and walking.’ The consultation is open until 1st June 2018 and further details can be found here. Please respond to this. You can find suggestions from Cycling UK here.
Barriers to Women Cycling
Sustrans has published a report “Are we nearly there yet?”. It concludes that women are constrained by a number of barriers that affect how they travel. Women are aware of the benefits of active travel but are deterred from taking advantage of it. Urban areas need to be more inclusive of the needs of women and the focus needs to shift from expecting women to change their behaviour to ensuring practitioners consider experiences of women.
The evidence demonstrates that women’s experience of transport and travel is different to men and in particular lack of time and complex schedules, coupled with fears of personal safety, prevent women from walking or cycling as part of their daily routine. The report suggests that a well-used, defined cycle network that allows trip-chaining, and enables more women to cycle with children, will potentially improve perceptions of personal safety, save women time and help embed physical activity as an everyday event.
Dangerous and careless cycling
An independent report, written by legal expert Laura Thomas, finds there is a strong case for changing the law to tackle the issue of dangerous and careless cycling that causes injury or death. If this were to be introduced, it would bring cycling in line with serious driving offences. The report can be found at here.
Rationalising traffic law is to be welcomed, but amending the law to deal with half a dozen anomalous cases a year would be tackling the molehill and ignoring the mountain, so the suggestion that other vehicles and pedestrians are to be included in the review is to be welcomed.
Cycling UK's investigation into the scale of the pothole crisis analysed responses from 156 highway authorities. They spent at least £43.3 million between them compensating for pothole damage between 2013 and 2017.
It would be welcomed if government (national and local) would concentrate on fixing existing roads before building new ones and for councils to have adequate funding to adopt long-term plans for maintenance, rather than a patch-up approach. While the government has announced an extra £100m for local road maintenance following winter damage in England, it is almost certainly too little too late.
The Asphalt Industry Alliance (which admittedly has a vested interest) annual survey shows that road surfaces in England and Wales are getting worse. The latest estimates suggest that:
- 12% of local roads (24,500 miles) will need repairing in the next 12 months;
- At current rates it will take 14 years and £9.3bn to clear the backlog.
If you come across a large pothole in Leicestershire you can use an application on Leicestershire County Council’s website to report it.
‘Get on my Land’ campaign
The Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is currently considering reforms to agricultural subsidies following the UK’s prospective withdrawal from the EU.
Cycling UK and its allies are working to maximise this opportunity to ensure ‘public subsidies deliver public goods’. These ‘public goods’ could include enhancements to landscapes, habitats and biodiversity, but also public access so that people can engage with nature and value it. Hence their ‘Get on my Land!’ campaign.
The Commons Environment Committee has been scrutinising DEFRA’s proposals, so Cycling UK has highlighted the problems faced by off-road cycle users, and is calling for any new funding to be prioritised for:
- Plugging gaps and inconsistencies in the rights of way network;
- National Trails, disused railway lines and other promoted routes;
- The ‘urban fringe’ (where there is a huge need for better links between urban cycle networks and the rural rights of way network, both for day-to-day travel and leisure); and
- Maintaining all of the above.
Latest figures from the Active Lives Adult Survey show 27.7 million people – 61.8% of the 16+ population in England – are active.
That means they do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week, reducing their risk of dementia, depression, diabetes whilst also improving general fitness. However, 11.5m people (25.7%) are inactive, meaning they do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week.
The results, which are based on a sample of almost 200,000 survey respondents, show that activity levels in England are stable. However swimming and cycling have both decreased in popularity, with almost 283,000 fewer people swimming regularly, and 93,000 fewer people cycling.
Road Victims are Real Victims!
(based on content from www.cyclinguk.org)
Last year, the Ministry of Justice faced criticism for its proposals to raise the small claims limit for road traffic accident personal injury claims from £1000 to £5000, which would leave cyclists and pedestrians unable to claim legal expenses from a negligent driver (in reality usually the driver’s insurer) should they make a successful compensation claim valued within this band.
The proposals were withdrawn, but have been brought forward once again alongside the Civil Liabilities Bill. Although the Bill itself would not raise the small claims limit, the Government has been clear that it intends to do so through secondary legislation as part of these wider changes, which it claims are intended to “deliver on a manifesto commitment to tackle the issues behind the continued high number and cost of whiplash claims”.
Should the changes go ahead as planned, many cyclists and pedestrians who suffer injuries as a result of negligent driving would now have to cover their own legal expenses
However, this justification does nothing to explain why cyclists and pedestrians’ right to full compensation should be changed. It is almost unheard of for a cyclist or pedestrian to suffer whiplash following a collision. Rather the most common injuries suffered are broken collarbones, wrists and arms – all of which usually see compensation claims valued within this £1000-£5000 band.
Should the changes go ahead as planned, many cyclists and pedestrians who suffer injuries as a result of negligent driving would now have to cover their own expenses. This would make a significant dent in the actual value of any claim and, in some cases, could even cost the claimant more than they receive in compensation.
These changes would affect a staggering 70% of all cyclist compensation claims. The move therefore represents a clear-cut denial of access to justice – one which is not justified by any evidenced argument – cyclists are not even mentioned in the Bill’s 50-page impact assessment, which includes an assessment of the secondary legislation changes to the small claims limit.
To avoid risking legal fees, claimants’ only alternative would be to represent themselves, but compensation claims for moderate but non-life-changing injuries to cyclists and pedestrians are seldom simple and straightforward, and the Government’s own research has shown that self-representing claimants are less likely to be successful in court than their legally represented counterparts.
In road traffic accident claims, cyclists and pedestrians will often find themselves facing insurers’ lawyers, who will be highly experienced in defending potentially negligent drivers in a complex area of law. Furthermore, the claimant might be a child or elderly person who needs legal help to present their claim. Young, old or in-between, victims of negligent driving deserve full compensation, which they will not receive should they have to pay legal costs.
Cycling UK have prepared a draft editable letter, which you can send straight to your MP (and share with your friends!) to request that they sign an Early Day Motion submitted by Catherine West MP which would exclude cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians from the proposed changes.