Loughborough & District
Cycle Users' Campaign

Pedal Power

Issue 59
November 2005



What makes a bad driver?

Frank Mackey, a long time member of the campaign, took advantage of the “Voice Box” of the Loughborough Echo (18/11/2005) to produce an excellent piece on the irrational approach taken to safety and car driving. The following quote shows Frank's approach to road safety :-

“Ten unnecessary deaths every day bear witness to the fact that we allow people to drive who for whatever reason are unable to do so safely.

But because the right to drive is effectively sacrosanct, as a society we refuse to face this unbearable reality.... So, vroom, vroom, we enter the world of motoring fantasy. A world full of animated cars that skid, roll over, get out of control, run into the vehicle in front, collide with lamp-posts, hit cyclists, kill pedestrians, fail to take the corner, run off the road etc. and so on. The capabilities of the fantasy animated car are virtually unlimited and regularly reported in the press.

Reality, of course, is that cars remain stationary and do nothing that is not the direct result of actions of the driver”.

Click here to read full article

First class to bike class

The French are currently making some moves towards making it easier to take bicycles by train.. In September, French Railways SNCF revealed the first of 183 TGV high-speed train sets to be refurbished, a programme to continue over the next 5 years. At one end, the former Le Salon first class compartment, originally aimed at business passengers holding meetings, has been converted to a second class compartment specially for people travelling with bikes.

There are 12 seats arranged face-to-face around three tables plus four other seats which are folded up to make room for four bikes (Ed. Is this really adequate?)

Twenty's plenty! – from CCN News

Transport 2000 has launched a new campaign calling on Government to make it easier for 20mph speed limits to be designated on roads where people live, shop, work and play.

Road crashes are the leading cause of mortality in children, and child pedestrians are most at risk from traffic, but little action has so far been taken to reduce traffic speed in urban areas. Lowering the speed limit has many benefits, including making streets safer, reducing road casualties, encouraging people to walk and cycle, reducing social exclusion, and improving traffic flow. Additionally, a report by the Health Development Agency has shown that children's deaths and injuries would fall by 67 per cent if 20mph were the speed limit on residential roads.

At present, Government regulations make introducing 20mph speed limits a long and expensive process. 20's Plenty! calls on Government to change the rules to make it easier for local authorities to designate streets as 20mph zones, and presents an opportunity to influence the Road Safety Bill as it passes through Parliament. Proposed amendments include:

  • Making it easier for local authorities to introduce area-wide 20 mph limits in the majority of residential streets, shopping streets, on roads to schools, and to places where children play;
  • Providing increased resources to enable the police to enforce the 20mph speed limit on residential streets;
  • Amending the regliations for traffic calming to encourage more innovative measures, which enhance the environment and also slow down traffic.
  • More information can be obtained from T2000's website:- www.transport2000.org.uk

    Why cycle promotion isn't working

    A presentation by Dr Peter Cox of the University of Chester at the recent CTC/CCN Autumn Conference in Warrington made some interesting points regarding the failure of cycle promotion to increase the level of cycling and in particular to get people to cycle rather than use the car.

    Dr. Cox makes the point that many arms of government are attempting to promote cycling for health, environmental, traffic reduction, tourism and community regeneration. He believes the main problem is that these bodies treat cyclists as a generic rather than a diverse group. He believes the cyclists can be divided into at least 4 different groups :

    1. Cycling for Play (largely children)
    2. Cycling as an active pastime (leisure rides)
    3. Cycling as Organised Sport (racing)
    4. Cycling as transport (commuting, shopping etc.)

    Whilst cyclists can belong to all four categories, each has very different requirements ,so that the need of the racing cyclist for good quality fast roads may be the complete opposite of a family with small children wishing to go for a leisure ride.

    Within these groups the bicycle can be seen in different ways and he suggests:


    These are not necessarily exclusive. A racing cyclist my commute to work when he will regard the bicycle as a mundane tool, whilst when it comes to his racing cycle it becomes a fetish.

    Understanding what aspect of cycling attracts people and their attitude towards it are crucial if we are to begin to attract them onto bicycles much more often.

    To quote Dr. Wood: “Importantly, these understandings of cycling, and of the purpose and value of the cycle itself are not necessarily transferable. For example, many who ride on a regular basis understand their activity as play, and the bicycle as a toy associated with their pursuit of leisure, therefore to encourage the same user to use the cycle for mundane transport purposes is not simply asking them to extend their cycling but to take up an entirely new activity, one that requires application to a degree of discipline and rules (necessary for survival on the roads). This may even be seen as risking the joyous playfulness associated with their existing riding. Likewise, even though a rider may have considerable skills and experience as an active pastime rider, these skills may not correlate with those needed to navigate urban commuter routes in mixed traffic. It must be acknowledged that transport cycling has its own unique skills set that cannot simply be assumed from other uses of the bike.”

    Thus, while mixed use cycle paths may appeal to leisure cyclists with children they are likely to make utility cycling less attractive by reducing speeds. It's interesting to note that speeds on Dutch cycle paths are much higher than those on cycle paths in the UK, since cyclists there are viewed as traffic not as pedestrians.

    Dr. Wood concludes: “Modal shift requires transport users to change the modes of transport employed. The cycle may be the ideal form of transport for the majority of short-distance journeys, but it is far more than that. Simply encouraging people to ride, may well lead to new cyclists enjoying the varied pleasures and benefits of one or another forms of cycling, but it is unlikely to make them alter their primary modes of transport. The evidence points towards modal shift requiring focused attention to the whole area of mobility, with emphasis on making existing transport networks more cycle-friendly."

    The full academic research paper from which these ideas are drawn is available clicking here.

    Mince Pie Run

    The Loughborough section of the CTC will again be holding its “Mince Pie Run” on Sunday 18th December. Around 300 cyclists from a radius of up to 50 miles converge on at Belton Village Hall between 11am and 1pm for refreshment and chat. All cyclists are welcome so using what is now a very old phase: “Be there or be square”.

    Tax Free Cycling Benefits

    To promote cycling, the 1999 Finance Act introduced an annual tax exemption, which allows employers to loan cycles and cyclists' safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit. The Department of Transport has now published “Cycle to Work schemes” which sets out guidelines clarifying how organisations can take advantage of the tax exemptions for Cycle to Work schemes that encourages employees to cycle to work. This document can be downloaded at http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_susttravel/documents/downloadable/dft_susttravel_038229.pdf .

    Local group affiliation to Living Streets (formerly the Pedestrians Association)

    During his presentation to the CCN/CTC Conference in Warrington, Director Tom Franklin mentioned that Living Streets has started an affiliation scheme to enable local groups to join in their campaigning for better streets and public spaces and suggested that CCN groups may like to consider affiliating as a local campaigning group.

    The cost of affiliation is £15 a year. Do members think we should affiliate? If you have any views please write or E Mail John Catt and we will publish your views in the next “Pedal Power”.

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