Not Such Active Lives in Charnwood
The Active Lives Survey (ALS), which drills down to the habits of the adult population at local level, has now been issued for 2016-17. The Charnwood figures are interesting in that only 75% of the population do exercise equivalent to walking continuously for 10 minutes once a month (compared to 80% nationally). On this measure Charnwood is consistently below the national average with only 28% of the population undertaking this much exercise at least 5 times per week compared to the national average of 35%.
Charnwood shows a much greater propensity to cycle with 23% of the population cycling at least once a month compared to the national figure of 17%. However, compared to the cycling levels seen in some countries on the continent, having only 2.5% of the population cycling 5 times a week is still very poor.
Among English local authorities:
- The proportion of people cycling at least once a week has stayed the same at 12%;
- 96% saw less than 20% cycling at least once a week;
- Only 13 had more than 20% cycling at least once a week;
- Cambridge has the highest level for cycling at least once a week 54% (Charnwood 15%).
A tale of two crashes
Earlier this year, two similar collisions on the same day drew radically different responses from the press. On 28th August, at around 2:30pm, a driver and a cyclist collided in Merseyside. A witness said the car was “purposely driven into the bloke on the bike” leaving him “badly injured”. The driver left the scene, later abandoning the car and, as far as we can tell, has still not been found.
On the same day, about two and a half hours later, a cyclist and a pedestrian collided in London. So far, there has been no public evidence to suggest the cyclist was riding irresponsibly. Both parties were injured, but the pedestrian sadly died from her injuries a number of weeks later. The cyclist left the scene, later abandoning the bicycle, but handed himself into police the next day.
There was a stark contrast in the media’s response to these two cases. Despite the apparently deliberate nature of the attack on the cyclist, the news was reported only in a local paper.
The press reaction to the London collision is a rather different story with reports featuring on the BBC and in all the major news outlets. This gave the impression that the nation was under threat from lawless cyclists.
The Conservative Party rapidly put out a tweet proudly proclaiming that they were looking to protect “our most vulnerable road users” by “cracking down on dangerous cycling”, accompanied by a photo of a bunch of cyclists appearing to cycle in a perfectly safe manner. All completely ignore the fact that of around 400 pedestrians killed in collisions in the UK each year, about 2.5 involve a bicycle.
The media and the Government ignore the worrying statistic that 4% of fatal collisions on UK roads see the driver flee the scene in a ‘hit-and-run’ – which jumps up to a staggering 12% of all collisions causing injury. Despite these figures exposing a serious national problem, the Government is instead reviewing cycling offences, despite the latter only affecting a handful of cases each year.
Cycling UK, RoadPeace and Brake are promoting a full review of road traffic offences and highlight the problem of hit-and-run drivers. Failing to stop at the scene of the accident currently holds a maximum custodial sentence of six months which fails to address serious hit-and-runs where a victim is left on the roadside with potentially fatal injuries and nobody else aware of the collision.
This item is based on a full article on the Cycling UK website with links to the campaign for a wider review of road traffic laws.
PACTS (The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) has written to the roads minister setting out what the Government’s priorities should be when they refresh the 2015 British Road Safety Statement.
It backs the ‘Safe Systems’ approach which, they say, “… gets away from interventions based on scaring young people, forlorn marketing campaigns attempting to change deep-seated attitudes, ad hoc engineering schemes and placing the main responsibility on the road user.”
Some other quotes include:
- we would urge you to start it with a clear, unambiguous and ambitious commitment to bring down the total annual number of road deaths and serious injuries as quickly as possible.
- International good practice is now to adopt road safety performance indicators, as the road safety management capacity review recommended. These would sit beneath the casualty reduction targets. These provide a better measure of the safety of the system and the success of the agencies in delivering it than headline casualty figures.
- Rural roads. Even marginally lower speeds can lead to substantial casualty reductions, particularly on single carriageway roads. Average speed cameras are gaining public acceptance and “psychological” traffic calming can achieve worthwhile speed reductions.
This year's Cyclenation Conference will be on Saturday 24th November 10:00 to 17:30 at the Birmingham & Midland Institute (BMI) cost £10.
The main theme will be to look at 'low-traffic neighbourhoods' and examine the argument for good quality segregated cycle tracks on main roads together with the merit in restricting through motor-traffic and pushing it back onto main roads.
Other topics may include:
- Manchester Bee Lines - What is going on? How will they be developed? What’s the public engagement?
- Tackling physical barriers to cycling on green routes - what are the reasons given for their presence, and how can we respond?
- How to engage political parties in the cycling agenda?
- Taking cycle routes across large junctions - evaluating current best practice in the UK.
The BMI is located in the centre of Birmingham, a short stroll from Snow Hill and New Street train stations - 9 Margaret Street, B3 3BS. All welcome.
Cycle safety: make it simple
This is a report produced by Cycling UK as very little progress has been made towards the Government’s ambitions to double cycling levels and improve road safety.
There is no substantial change in the number of people cycling, with many citing safety fears as the reason they don’t; and, unless people think and feel that cycling is safe, they’re unlikely to embrace it as a natural means of both transport and recreation.
Cycling has huge benefits, both for individuals and society.
- For individuals, it’s fun, fast, virtually free, keeps you fit and burns food instead of fuel. It’s healthy, green and saves money and time; and all thanks to the simple act of pedalling.
- For society, it helps reduce congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gases and the costs of ill health to employers,individuals and our health services.
- The health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks – by a factor of around 20:1, even in the UK where cycle safety is relatively poor compared with some other European countries. So, it is ironic that fear puts so many people off.
Cycling should be a normal activity for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, as it is in countries like Denmark and the Netherlands.
Cycling UK and its allies share the belief that more and safer walking and cycling can and should go hand-in-hand. Walking and cycling are known to benefit from the ’safety in numbers’ effect, i.e. these activities are safest in places where they reach high levels. Yet to get to high levels of both walking and cycling, the dangers and fears which deter people must be overcome by tackling dangerous road conditions.
The main proposals in the report are:Safe roads and junctions
- Establish consistent design standards to ensure cycle and pedestrian-friendliness is designed-in from the outset into all highway and traffic schemes, new developments and planned highway maintenance work.
- Adopt new rules for junctions, affording greater safety and priority for cyclists and pedestrians at both signalised and unsignalised junctions.
- Strengthen driver training, testing and awareness campaigns; and link awareness campaigns to enforcement activity.
- Strengthen roads policing, both to deter irresponsible road user behaviour and to improve the quality of road crash investigations.
- Carry out a comprehensive review of road traffic offences and penalties.
- Revise the Highway Code.
- Make 20mph the default speed limit for most streets in built-up areas, with 30mph (or higher) limits being the exception that requires signing, not the other way round.
- Improve lorry safety, focussing on safe lorry design and equipment, and enforcement of rules covering driver, vehicle and fleet safety.
- Ensure that the development of autonomous vehicles, and the legislation governing them, takes account of cycle and pedestrian safety.