AGM – Monday 8th March 2021
This year’s AGM will take place at 7-30pm on Monday 8th March 2021 using Google Meet (due to coronavirus precautions) which provides free access for up to 100 attendees for 1 hour. The link is https://meet.google.com/wwf-uutr-rbi - you don't need a Google Account to participate. However, if you are not signed into a Google account, you cannot join using a mobile device. The AGM papers can be downloaded here and include proposed changes to the rules.
Leicestershire Cycling and Walking Survey
Leicestershire County Council is starting the process of drafting a Cycling and Walking Strategy for Leicestershire. The Council want to find out how you usually travel and what the barriers are to active travel. They have created a short survey to capture views on what they can do to make it easier for you to cycle in Leicestershire and would be very grateful if you could please spare a few minutes to complete it by going to this web page . If you don’t have internet access telephone 0116 305 0002 to obtain a paper copy for completion. Your views will be used to develop the County's Cycling and Walking Strategy, which is due to be published in summer 2021. This consultation runs until 14th March 2021.
Pot Hole Watch
Cycling UK is drawing attention to the sorry state of many of our roads and the risk that potholes can pose to cyclists. They are asking the nations governments to focus on fixing the local roads that we all use every day, rather than spending huge sums of money building new roads. You can help by using the Fill That Hole app or website www.fillthathole.org.uk to report potholes you spot while out for your exercise or essential journeys.
Electric Car Gains Wiped Out
The Government has set an ambitious target for almost all cars to emit zero carbon by 2050. It has made progress in increasing the number of ultra-low emission cars and charge-points in the UK to support this, but it has a long way to go to achieve its aims, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).
Transport is the UK’s largest source of carbon emissions, with most emissions coming from cars. By the end of September 2020, sales of new ultra-low emission cars accounted for 8% of the market, beating the Government’s target. However, since 2011, total carbon emissions from passenger cars have reduced by only 1%. Average emissions from new cars in Great Britain fell year on year between 2011 and 2016, but increased by 6% between 2016 and 2019. This increase has been attributed to a rise in the sale of sports utility vehicles (SUVs), increased road traffic/travel by car, and revised methods for estimating carbon emissions.
Legal Action Against Removal of Cycle Lane
Cycling UK has confirmed it is to take legal action against West Sussex County Council’s decision to remove a popular cycle lane introduced during lockdown in Shoreham-by-Sea which clocked up over 30,000 bike journeys during its short lifetime.
The cycle lane was removed after just two months in response to a small number of complaints claiming it had increased congestion, despite the council’s own data showing there had been no negative impact on journey times or increase in air pollution during that time.
The legal challenge is based on the council’s failure to carry out an equality impact assessment before making the decision to remove the cycle lane.
Ambulances Not Delayed
Cycling UK has found widespread support from ambulance trusts for new cycle lanes introduced across the UK during the pandemic. A Freedom of Information investigation of all ambulance trusts in England, Scotland and Wales showed no trust was against the new cycle lanes, with a third of all trusts showing strong support for them because of their public health and road safety benefits.
Despite claims by some national newspapers that the new cycle lanes had been responsible for delaying or holding up ambulances on critical blue light emergencies, Cycling UK’s research found no evidence of any cases where this had occurred. (Ed. Traffic congestion is much more likely to delay the emergency services and if necessary the width provided by cycle/pedestrian lanes will allow such vehicles to bypass stationery traffic.)
Rural Transport Problems
The Government has been taking soundings on an outline of a rural transport strategy for England .The initial analysis identifies four key issues facing rural areas:
- dependence on the private car;
- access to key services;
- access to employment;
- social isolation;
It correctly states that "In many smaller towns, residents have few options for convenient and affordable public transport and risk being cut off from basic services if they don't have access to a car". It then adds: "There also tends to be a lack of active travel infrastructure, including safe walking and cycling routes between towns and villages, increasing the reliance on the private car."
Yet instead of addressing these problems, it goes straight into a section entitled "Developments in innovation for rural transport" noting that "E-bikes can be particularly effective in semi-rural areas for last-mile trips connecting to mass transit." It states that the responses indicate that the introduction of such bikes in Cornwall would alone take cycling from 2% of trips to c.20%, but these assumed Dutch quality cycling conditions.
The current Environment Bill could provide the funding needed to extend and improve the rights of way network, enabling school pupils in rural communities to walk or cycle safely to schools, as well as allowing families to get out for weekend walks or bike rides without having to jump in the car.
Cycling increases four-fold the distance from which people can reach train stations or even bus stops. Not only does this reduce car-dependence for rural dwellers, it also boosts the economic viability of the public transport that their communities depend on and bring recreational cyclists into the countryside, giving a further boost to local economies.
50% Target for Active Travel
In response to a question from Labour MP Lillian Greenwood (former chair of the House of Commons transport committee) the secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps, announced: “We want 50 per cent of all journeys in towns and cities to be cycled or walked by 2030.” This answer was consistent with his introduction to the Government’s Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge, where he wrote: “Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities. We will use our cars less and be able to rely on a convenient, cost-effective and coherent public transport network”.
The response to these radical policies has been rather muted. Those who have campaigned for such a commitment for decades have heard this before and take an “I’ll believe it when I start to see it” somewhat cynical approach. They point out that such statements were difficult to reconcile with the largest part of the transport budget being directed at providing for an increase in car traffic, not a reduction in it. The spending on local improvements to walking, cycling and public transport being typically measured in £ millions, not £ billions. The motor lobby showed not the slightest sign that this might imply a reduction in the scale of their industry. The statements had little or no traction in the general population, or in the news media, after a day or two.
To be taken seriously, the Government needs to identify the orders of magnitude of change these policies would imply, an initial assessment of their fundamental credibility, and then the application of demand analysis, modelling, marketing, policy coherence, design, appraisal and planning to enable them to assess what would need to be done, when, and at what cost. This would all need to be open to scrutiny and challenge in order to gain momentum, to become embedded and real.
In round terms (pre covid)
Conurbations and large cities had average shares of
- walking and cycling 30% per cent
- public transport trips 15%
- car 54%.
- walking and cycling shares 29%
- public transport only 5%
- car 63%.
- walking and cycling 35%
- public transport 27%
- car 25%
It follows that to reach the targets, in each year until 2030 about 3% of car trips in towns and cities would need to be transferred to walking and cycling. This would seem to be “doable”.
Public transport, walking and cycling would need to be relatively more attractive than taking the car, and with adequate capacity. The associated increase in public transport demand, and better traffic conditions, would help to make it more acceptable. The figures are not unprecedented. The number of car trips per head nationally has been reducing anyway in the 2000s, so it would mean accelerating an existing trend, not reversing it.
However, reducing carbon dioxide emissions requires a reduction in car mileage, not just trips. The effects of more electric vehicles will not suffice and emissions in the early years have to be offset by proportionally greater reductions later, so the speed of change is crucial.
Orthodox modelling indicates that if all travel is becoming more expensive, there will be more short trips and fewer long ones. Thus policy interventions necessary to increase the walking share of trips will also increase the number of journeys to nearby destinations and reduce those to distant destinations, reducing overall mileage more than any reduction in the number of trips. Conversely, a reduction in the costs of car use due to electrification will do the opposite, undermining the walking and cycling targets. Road user charges on all vehicles would offset this, as well as solving other problems of revenue and congestion.
The walking and cycling targets are not unrealistic but have deep ramifications. They won’t implement themselves, and they demand detailed and committed work. The status and resources available to those doing that work ought to make it a key career track, and one that sees the presence of campaigners as supportive. Taking such targets seriously is not shown by reports on glossy paper and coloured photos, which nowadays have come to symbolise marketing rather than expertise.