Loughborough & District
Cycle Users' Campaign

Pedal Power

Issue 60
January 2006



Response on Town Centre Proposals

Set below is the Campaign's response to the proposals by Leicestershire County Council to pedestrianise the A6 at the bottom of Market Square (with many thanks for the efforts of Tim Birkinshaw).

We view the approach to the current transport proposals with considerable concern for a number of reasons; and while we cautiously welcome the proposal to pedestrianise the A6 Market Place we cannot endorse the current proposals. Our preference, of the alternatives on offer, is for buses one way, but wonder whether the opposite flow would be better.

Particular Aspects

  1. The town centre must be considered as a whole for the purposes of cycle access (as well as bus, taxi, disabled and pedestrian access); both to the centre and around it (in particular access to the railway station). It is unclear what taxi and disabled access is proposed. Piecemeal consultations such as this do not allow a proper analysis of the benefits or otherwise of any scheme.
  2. We have been led to believe that it is LCC’s intention to allow unrestricted cycling through the pedestrianised area. While we welcome this we believe that a proper, suggested cycle route, marked by colour, is a much better, safer option that will reduce pedestrian/cyclist conflicts. The recent pedestrianisation at the bottom of Biggin St., where there is no marked cycle route, is an example of the unsatisfactory nature of this ‘free-for-all’ arrangement. Key Proposal 12 of County’s Walking and Cycling Strategy highlights the need to reduce pedestrian/cyclist conflicts.
  3. If buses one way is the preferred choice, it is essential that there is a marked contraflow cycle lane, with adequate room for buses and cycles to pass to ensure that cyclists are not forced out of the space by intimidatory bus driving. As the length of pedestrianisation is quite short two-way buses would be quite feasible, even on the narrow roadway shown in the illustration.
  4. We do not see a particular conflict between cyclists and buses on Market Place and Swan St. if a proper marked route is laid out. Buses both ways along this route may well be better than just one way, or none at all, as the presence of other traffic apart from cycles will serve to encourage some awareness, in pedestrians, of wheeled traffic.
  5. The diagrams in the consultation leaflet show the flow of buses one way along Baxtergate in both options, and one way on High St in Option A. The ‘Atkins’ report produced for the County Council envisaged two way bus traffic along both roads. If the maps are accurate depictions of the scheme what will the situation be for cyclists on Baxtergate? Will it be open to two-way cycling (with a contra-flow lane, or will an alternative route be provided, and if so what)? There are also serious implications for bus routes and delivery vehicles, not covered in the Atkins report if the diagrams are accurate.
  6. The current Market Place scheme must be integrated into this one (i.e. restrictions on cycling will need to be removed, except for market days).
  7. The consultation pre-empts, by only a few weeks, the Core Strategy of Charnwood Borough Council’s Local Development Framework, which will have a major impact on the town centre. Inner Relief Road

The consultation assumes (by the second question) that the Inner Relief Road (IRR) will be built, and its line is already decided (despite protestations to the contrary). It is not possible to judge from the information released at this stage whether this will be of benefit to cyclists and how it will affect access to and from the station. The road may be an even bigger and more divisive barrier than the current A6 is. A faster road, with freer flowing traffic, is a bigger danger to slower moving cyclists than the current arrangements where traffic speeds are low; and so may represent a big disincentive to cycle. Our main concern is that the road is safe and easy to cross (in particular the Baxtergate/Lemyngton St junction), and that there are quiet routes from the main residential areas to the station. Recent provision of cycle facilities around Loughborough do not give us confidence in Leicestershire County Council’s ability to provide safe, comfortable and usable cycle facilities that meets even the County’s own standards.

Cycle Lanes to Germany

by Tim Birkinshaw

An article in the latest CCN News highlighted some research done by Warrington Cycle Campaign on cycle lanes, which came to the conclusion that cycle lanes can make things worse for cyclists by encouraging motorists to drive closer to cycles when there is a marked cycle lane.

The suggestion is that motorists think that the marked lane is adequate space for cyclists, and so pass closer than they would if no lane were marked. WCC recommend that cycle lanes be 2m wide to ensure that cyclists do get adequate room. Cycle lanes are usually 1.5m wide by common practice, although many local ones are much narrower. Personally, cycle lanes are of most use in busy places to persuade queuing motorists to leave space for cyclists to pass up the inside. There are also some pertinent comments on advanced stop lines under ‘good practice’. http://www.17beechroad.freeserve.co.uk/WarringtonCycleCampaign/report/cycle-lanes.pdf

I took the opportunity to look at Warrington Cycle Campaign’s website to see what another town faces. Warrington itself is over twice the size of Loughborough, and has the advantage of being a Unitary Authority, so highways (including cycling) is catered for locally by the same council that deals with everything else.

A report about a visit to Warrington’s twin town, Hilden, in Germany caught my eye. Hilden is a similar size to Loughborough but 24% of within-town journeys are made by bike (I doubt if anyone knows the equivalent figure in Loughborough, but I suspect it is only a tenth of that). A key factor has been to reduce road speeds to 30kph (18.6mph). The cost; only 120,000euros (£70,000); a pittance compared to what has been sqandered on some of our local ‘improvements’. I suspect Hilden does not have a county highways department running thing for them. The report is well worth a look at. http://www.17beechroad.freeserve.co.uk/WarringtonCycleCampaign/report/Hilden.pdf

Assessment of helmets by Children's Bureau
from CCN Website

The National Children's Bureau has published a very comprehensive report about children and cycling. As an organisation directly concerned with the health and welfare of children, its report will carry weight and it is therefore very pleasing that its treatment of the subject is thorough, free of emotion and clearly written by someone knowledgeable about cycling. Many of the conclusions are at odds with those normally put forward as being in children's 'best interests'. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the appendix with looks in depth at the debate about cycle helmets.

Though based almost entirely on peer-reviewed papers, which numerically are strongly biased pro-helmet, the helmet review gives proper consideration to helmet-sceptic papers that have been published and agrees with the argument that the evidence in favour of helmet effectiveness is very weak. Full credit is given to the safeness of cycling compared with other common child activities, such as being a pedestrian. Also the ramifications of a reduction in cycling by children as a consequence of helmet promotion or legislation are fully assessed.

The helmet review concludes: "Those of us who cycle should be under no illusion that helmets offer reliable protection in crash situations where our lives may be in danger. Neither should we believe that widespread adoption of helmet wearing would see many fewer cyclists killed or permanently disabled. The evidence so far suggests otherwise."

This is a landmark report which makes a very clear case for more cycling by children, a prerequisite to which is putting danger when cycling into perspective and less emphasis on helmets as a necessary or effective accessory.

It is also the third UK report in a few months to find no evidence that cycle helmets are effective against serious or fatal injury. Previous reports were a survey for the Scottish Executive that found that wearing a helmet makes no detectable difference to head injuries requiring admission to hospital (see January 2006 CCN News), and an analysis of road crashes (see below).

See full report at :- http://www.ncb.org.uk/resources/cyclingreport_timgill.pdf

… and no evidence of helmet benefit in UK road crashes

An analysis of traffic casualty data based on police records concludes that there is no evidence that helmets have a significant safety benefit at the population level for cyclists using the roads in the UK. Although injury rates are decreasing all the time, and for pedestrians as well as for cyclists, these changes do not correspond in any way to helmet wearing rates. Among children, reductions in head injuries have been slightly greater for pedestrians than for cyclists, and this is very little difference in change of risk between boy and girl cyclists although there are big differences in helmet use between these groups.

Although the police data is subject to under-reporting, all fatal and almost all of the most serious injuries are reported. Similarly, although the data comprises predominantly on-road casualties involving a motor vehicle, these are associated with the great majority of serious injuries.

Cycle Helmets and Road Casualties in the UK - Paul J Hewson
Traffic Injury Prevention, 2005;6:127-134.

Choosing Cycling: Choosing Health?

The University of Nottingham will be hosting a conference on the health benefits of cycling on Tuesday 4 April 2006. It aims to look at:

  • how current health policy can be used to promote cycling;
  • the links between cycling, transport policy and health promotion;
  • the relevance of cycling to a variety of government targets;
  • demonstrating through case studies how policy is turned into action.

There are a limited number of places (20) available at a concessionary rate of £35 for members of Cycling groups. A pdf file containing a application form can obtained from:- http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/sbe/general/conf_cycling.php

Sponsored Ride – 18 June 2006

The main event for Bike Week this year will again be the sponsored Bike Ride across Garendon Park. Please mark out in your diaries for between 16-00 and 20-00 if possible as we will need help on the day. Both Holywell and Mountfields have confirmed that they will be supporting the event again and we are hoping to get at least another school to promote the event.

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