Loughborough & District
Cycle Users' Campaign

Pedal Power

Issue 155
November 2021


Quorn to Old Woodhouse Bridleway

By Neil Parr

In the last Pedal Power I wrote an article about the potential to refurbish the Quorn to Old Woodhouse Bridleway to offer an alternative route between the communities, which avoids the busy B591.

I can report that at the moment we are having some success with the project. This year, Leicestershire County Council has been given additional central government funding to support cycling and walking and they have now included this bridleway on their list of potential projects. The funding must be spent before April 2022 or it will be lost and there is currently no guarantee of similar funding for next year.

We are currently in the process of obtaining costs for the work and establishing how to allocate the funds. In the short term there may be an improvement to the overgrown vegetation along the bridleway as it must be cut back before any work can start. This will be paid for from the normal maintenance fund.

It is a little early at this stage to predict complete success but we are confident that some improvements will be carried out. The outlook will be clearer by the end of November.

P.S. If there is a track near you that needs work then now is the time to contact your county councillor. There may still be some funding that has not been allocated and your councillor may not be aware of the possibilities. However, the clock is ticking..........April is only 4 months away.

Monster Lorries Roll-out

Next time you see a typical lorry trailer, imagine 2.05 metres (about 6.5 feet) extra on its tail-end. This is what the Government decision to permit longer semi-trailers (LSTs) entails. LSTs can carry four more pallets than a standard trailer, and it’s estimated that the introduction of such lorries could eliminate 1 in 12 trips.

From the cyclists’ point of view, this means being overtaken by a very long and very large vehicle which is extremely intimidating, and the sad fact is that the bigger and heavier the vehicle involved in a collision with a vulnerable human being, the smaller the odds are of surviving it.

Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) normally account for 3.4% of all motor traffic mileage on Great Britain’s non-motorway roads. But from 2015-19 these vehicles were involved in 15% of cyclist and 11% of pedestrian deaths.

As well as on motorways, HGVs travel extensively on 'A' roads c.38% of their mileage. These roads are often the only viable route but they are also vital routes for many cyclists. What’s more, the 'A' roads favoured by HGVs are predominately rural, a road class that carries only about 4% of cycle mileage, but is the scene of almost a quarter of cyclist fatalities.

Many urban and local roads in the UK are unlikely to be able to accommodate such large vehicles, requiring them to perform manouvers that put other, more vulnerable, road users at risk, such as mounting kerbs or traffic islands; swinging over kerbs, traffic islands or adjacent lanes, and entering adjacent lanes, parking bays or footways.

While only 2% of HGV mileage is on minor roads, this is also where they’re most likely to meet walkers or cyclists, footfall is high and about 83% of all cycling takes place on minor roads. Adding LSTs further threatens the safety and comfort of vulnerable road users. Projections suggest that in a decade’s time about 16,000 LSTs could be operating – approximately 8 to 10% of the UK’s domestic articulated lorries.

Local Councils can use their powers to restrict or ban LSTs from unsuitable streets, site depots responsibly, plan for onward delivery by friendlier vehicles, and not start redesigning junctions to accommodate such large vehicles.

Leicestershire County Council uses weight limits in an attempt to prevent Heavy Goods Vehicles from using roads that are unsuitable, the aim being to improve the environment for residents and encourage walking and cycling.

However, HGVs can legally enter a weight restricted area to access a premises or to load/unload, and once they have entered a zone they can legally exit that zone by any route. This results in HGVs (and presumably in the future LSTs) making trips along totally unsuitable roads as a direct delivery is more economical that offloading at a depot and transferring the goods to an appropriately sized vehicle. These regulations need to be changed to allow local authorities to ban deliveries by unsuitable vehicles. The motorways are the only suitable roads for LST’s that should be delivering only to depots with motorway access.

Tesco is setting an example as to how bulk deliveries should occur. It expects to be transporting 90,000 40ft containers of goods a year to its warehouses via trains by the end of 2021. Tesco’s rail service already includes five trains a week that bring fresh produce to the UK from Spain. It is adding two new UK food transport train services, including one that will link Spain with Scotland.

Cycle Advocacy Network

The Cycle Advocacy Network (CAN) is being sponsored by Cycling UK and brings together people with a shared interest in creating the conditions that enable more people to cycle, including better infrastructure for cycling and safer roads, to share information, support each other, and provide a louder and more effective voice for both those who cycle already and those who might, if it looked and felt safer to do so.

CAN aims to support a wide range of people to become even more effective in speaking up for cycling, and recognises that people come from widely varying contexts, with diverse experiences and with differing amounts of available time.

Anyone can access the network’s publicly available resources by visiting https://cyclinguk.org/cycle-advocacy-network. These include

  • Training events, webinars and group discussions
  • Access to ‘surgery’ consultations on specific local questions/issues
  • Suggested actions that support Cycling UK’s central campaigns
  • Campaigning Handbook – packed with suggestions for how to be effective in your locality
  • Toolkit of practical “how to” guides
  • Monthly e-mailings of Cycle Campaign News
  • All of Cycling UK’s policy briefings and views

Membership of Cycling UK is NOT a requirement.

Road casualty statistics

Figures released by the Department for Transport show -

  • a sharp rise in the rate of cyclist fatalities on rural A roads. In 2020 the rate of cyclist fatalities on rural A roads was 210 per billion miles cycled, an increase of 43% on 2019.
  • the death rate on urban roads continues to fall. The rate of cyclist fatalities on urban A roads fell 10%, from 48 to 43 per billion miles cycled.
  • the total number of cyclists killed on British roads in 2020 was 141 – up 41% from 100 in 2019 and the distance cycled across the UK rose 46% year on year to 5.03 billion miles.

These statistics raise questions about whether a default speed limit of 60mph on winding and often relatively narrow rural A roads is appropriate.

Targets for cycling and walking not being met

Based on an article from Cycling UK

The Chancellor's recent spending review produced no new funding for cycling and walking and the Department for Transport (DfT) is not on course to meet its target to double the number of trips made wholly or in part by cycling, from 2013 levels, by 2025

The Transport Decarbonisation Plan (TDP) contained a restatement of the aims of the Government's excellent 'Gear Change' vision document for cycling and walking. In particular a commitment to deliver "a world class cycling and walking network for England by 2040".

However it fails to make clear whether and when the aim is actually to reduce road traffic, or simply to substitute with electric vehicles (EVs). This is despite overwhelming evidence that relying on EVs cannot sufficiently reduce CO2 transport emissions to meet the 'net zero' target by 2050. Substitution would also fail to tackle the problems of congestion, particulate pollution (particularly from tyre dust), road danger, physical inactivity, and the many social inequalities which result from excessive car-dependence.

The failure of the Spending Review to deliver the funding needed to fulfil the 'Net Zero' vision, three days before the COP26 climate summit, seriously weakened the Prime Minister's aspirations to show "global leadership". There has been particular anger at the continued freezing of fuel duty. This has encouraged increases in traffic and in climate and pollutant emissions, as well as reductions in revenue to rail companies and the Treasury. It also undermines efforts to encourage more walking and cycling to replace unnecessary car trips.

If progress is to be made, the proposed new body Active Travel England needs to be set up quickly, with the powers, resources and independence it needs to do its job well. The 'Gear Change' vision document promised that Active Travel England would play a major role in both requiring and supporting local authorities to apply the Government's new Cycling Infrastructure Design standards (Local Transport Note LTN 1/20) consistently, not just when developing schemes specifically aimed at enabling walking and cycling, but in everything they do, including new road and traffic schemes, planned highway maintenance work and new developments.

The Netherlands have a 35,000km network of protected cycle lanes, amounting to almost exactly a quarter of the length of the Dutch road network. The equivalent for England would mean a network of around 76,000km (47,000 miles) of protected cycle lanes. This would probably require investment of around £36bn, or an average of about £2bn per year (i.e. not just £2bn over 5 years), between now and 2040.

The Government's promise that its £2bn of funding will provide "hundreds of miles of protected cycle lanes". But developing "a world class cycling network" will clearly require tens of thousands of miles. And that's going to require a lot more funding. However, reaching Dutch levels of cycle use could deliver nearly £250bn worth of benefits by 2050. That would be in line with Government estimates that cycling and walking investment delivers at least £5 of benefits for every £1 invested, representing "very high" value for money.

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