Loughborough & District
Cycle Users' Campaign

Pedal Power

Issue 149
November 2020


Problems with A512 Cycle path

Local cyclists have been reporting problems with mud and gravel accumulating, particularly on the section from the M1 to Shepshed, as a result of work on the junction combined with Biffa building an incinerator very close to the A512. The problems are exacerbated by this being where the cycle track is at its narrowest and suffers from an adverse camber.

The contractors have responded and stated that they are going to increase their footpath sweeping operations and work with Biffa to ensure that the footpath is maintained for cyclists.

They have also undertaken to ensure that a cycleway will be maintained throughout their operations, although this may be on the existing carriageway whilst the diverted path is built on the new roundabout.

In the event of cyclists experiencing problems, they should contact A512improvements@morgansindall.com .

Cycling to School

There’s no doubt our politicians want children cycling to school. However, the amount they’re willing to spend to make it happen is less clear. Words like “encourage” and “promote” crop up repeatedly, but actual interventions to create safe space for cycling to and from schools are less forthcoming.

Cycling UK surveyed 175 parents from throughout the UK directly. Sixty-two percent of parents said that their children cycled more – or started cycling for the first time – during lockdown. When it comes to the school run, 24% of parents surveyed said that their child cycled to school at least once a week pre-lockdown, now 45% said they expect to do the school run by bike at least once a week.

Sadly, that’s where the good news ends. Although 89% of parents said they’d like their children to cycle to school, just 21% said they felt the roads were safe enough. The great majority of surveyed parents identified protected cycle routes to and from schools as the single most effective measure that would encourage their children to cycle to school.

Road policing review (England & Wales)

The Government is calling for evidence as part of the Road Policing Review. There is reason to be concerned at low confidence in the police’s ability to deal with evidenced reports of dangerous driving relating to cyclists. If you have had first-hand experience of dealing with roads police in England or Wales following a dangerous driving incident, please make a personal response here .

Reasons to build cycle lanes

Based on an article on the Cycling UK website

The myth that cycle lanes are bad for business, cause congestion, aren’t used and that nobody wants them isn’t based of evidence.

People often recognise the environmental and health benefits from getting more people walking and cycling, but don’t appreciate that enabling more people to get to and from their high street on foot or by bike also has huge benefits for the local economy.

Between them, people who travel actively tend to make more trips to the high street and evidence suggests that cyclists spend more in local shops than the users of most other modes of transport.

Change can be frightening, however, so local traders often fear that building cycle lanes and/or restricting car parking/access will damage business. But the evidence shows that:

  • Retailers typically overestimate how many of their customers travel by car by a factor of 100%.
  • Shop vacancy rates are five times higher on streets with high levels of traffic.
  • Retail turnover in pedestrianised areas generally outperforms non-pedestrianised areas.

The media gives the impression that before temporary cycle lanes were installed in response to coronavirus, traffic flowed freely through and between our towns and cities. The truth is that last year, congestion cost the UK economy £6.9 billion, with UK road users on average loosing 115 hours and £894 a year to congestion. Motor traffic in residential areas has increased by 36.4% in 15 years, with miles travelled by car and vehicle registration numbers still increasing annually, but some still believe the myth that cycle lanes cause congestion.

The complaint is that road space is being taken away and given to cyclists. However on London’s Blackfriars Bridge the cycle lanes take up 20% of the road space, but 70% of the people crossing the bridge at peak times do so within those lanes. That’s because a three-metre wide lane can move 700 to 1,100 people per hour in cars, but if used by people cycling or walking, that increases to 2,000 to 6,500, and it’s why, two weeks after opening, the cycle superhighway corridors in London were moving 5% more people per hour than they could without cycle lanes.

Of course, if a cycle lane is installed today it might not be full tomorrow, because behaviour change takes more than a day. But where good quality cycle lanes are built, people use them. Cycle lanes move more people more efficiently in less space, encouraging some motorists to cycle rather then drive, reducing car traffic.

Congestion in the UK has been increasing due to the inefficient use of road space caused by too many cars carrying only one or two people. Building cycle lanes to enable people to switch to active travel is the solution to congestion, not the cause, and provides great value for money.

The Department for Transport’s (DfT) £225 million emergency active travel fund announced in May for cycling and walking infrastructure is a fraction of the £27.4 billion allocated for roads investment. The average ‘Benefit Cost Ratio’ (BCR) for walking and cycling projects (UK and non-UK) is an incredible 13:1, which means that for every pound spent , £13 is returned to the economy. Returns do vary but the DfT’s calculations for such schemes show returns of between £4 and £19 for every pound spent. Cycling is one of the most cost-effective transport investments, with motorway upgrades and bypasses estimated to typically have lower BCRs of 3.1:1 and 3.7:1 respectively.

When road space is set aside for cycle lanes, there are sometimes complaints that cyclists aren’t using them. The evidence from across the world however has been that where separated cycle lanes have been built, many more people start to use them. Like the UK, Spain has low levels of utility cycling compared to northern European countries such as Holland and Denmark, with less than 2% of people indicating that a bicycle is their main means of transport. But Seville decided to build 80km of cycle lanes over a few years leading to an 11-fold increase in rider numbers (see https://youtu.be/rz20rAJ7oIg ).

In London, the total distance cycled increased by almost 5% in the year 2018/19; but where new cycle lanes had been installed, increases of up to 53% were recorded. An increase of up to 42% was recorded on in Enfield after the introduction of a traffic segregated and calmed “mini Holland scheme” and route improvements increased cyclist numbers by about a third. Over a million cycling trips were recorded along the Embankment in London within four months of opening the opening of the segregated cycle track in 2018.

In July, a YouGov survey carried out for #BikeisBest revealed that:

  • 77% of people support measures in their local area to encourage cycling and walking;
  • 80% of people who expressed a preference want the UK’s streets redesigned to protect pedestrians and cyclists from motorists;
  • 51% of people agree they would cycle more if these changes were made.
The data showed that 3.26 people support the view that ‘Britain would be better if more people cycled’ for every 1 person against. But when asked what they thought the opinion of their friends or the general public would be, many respondents drastically overestimated the negativity towards cycling.

In a YouGov survey in April, 36% per cent of people questioned agreed that they could rethink their travel habits in the future to use cars and motor vehicles less, but that to carry on cycling when the coronavirus crisis was over, they wanted to see:

  • Traffic free cycle tracks and paths to high streets and town centres (63%);
  • More designated cycle lanes on roads (53%);
  • Traffic restrictions in residential streets (30%).

Sceptics have always suggested cycling will never be popular in the UK because:

  • it’s too hilly;
  • the weather’s not good enough;
  • culturally it’s just not something a larger percentage of people will do.

But the coronavirus crisis proved them wrong, with cycling levels drastically increasing when people felt that it looked and felt safer for them to cycle. Temporary cycling and walking infrastructure has been installed as part of a coronavirus response (often without proper consultation, and poorly thought through). However this isn’t a good reason for opposing more (and better) cycle lanes and active travel infrastructure as this will result in:

  • better health
  • better air quality
  • economic benefit
  • reduction in production of greenhouse gases
  • friendlier, happier, healthier and liveable towns, cities and places.

For new schemes, however, local authorities across the UK are being asked to think longer term, which creates opportunities for better consultation, and for schemes to be trialled, tweaked where necessary, and with more time to think about network planning.

What’s abundantly clear from every survey about attitudes and travel choices, is that it is separated cycling infrastructure that would enable people to carry on cycling now that motor traffic has returned more or less to pre-coronavirus levels.

New guidelines for reporting road casualties

The Active Travel Academy is drawing up a new set of media reporting guidelines to help journalists, broadcasters and publishers improve the public debate around road safety. Research shows that how crashes are reported shapes how we think about and respond to them. The consultation is open until 8th November at https://www.rc-rg.com/ .

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