Loughborough & District
Cycle Users' Campaign

Pedal Power

Issue 68
May 2007



New Highway Code ignores feedback from Cyclists
Based on an article in CCN News

Road safety minister Stephen Ladyman has laid a new Highway Code before Parliament. The new Code requires cyclists to use cycle facilities 'wherever possible', irrespective of the consequences for their safety. This has far-reaching consequences. Many cyclists are hurt as a result of using cycle lanes and other facilities that require them to ride where they are hard to see by drivers of motor vehicles and where they can do little to protect themselves. Research for Transport for London suggests that feeder lanes to advanced stop lines probably exacerbate the risk to cyclists caused by left-turning lorries, a leading cause of fatalities. Many cyclists face abuse from motorists for not using facilities and the police have refused to take action against drivers endangering cyclists where a cycle facility could have been used.

This no-win situation is often exploited by insurance companies. If you don't use a cycle facility and are hurt, that is used as an excuse to seek to reduce compensation. But if you do use a sub-standard facility and get hurt, then you should have been aware of its limitations and taken more care! With the toughening up of advice in the new Highway Code, the situation can only get worse.

Cycle trainers will also face a problem, as the advice on cycle facilities is contrary to the philosophy of the National Cycle Training Standard, which encourages cyclists to evaluate the safest route under the prevailing circumstances and to use facilities only where they are compatible with this assessment.

70% of the 4,000 public responses to the draft Code came from cyclists, and there were as many responses from cycling organisations (41 responses) as from local authorities and road safety organisations together. Despite this , the Government has chosen to ignore completely the clear concerns expressed about the impact of the new rules on cycling safety, and the almost certain increase in counter-claims of contributory negligence that will arise when cyclists are injured. Ladyman himself refused to meet with the cycling organisations to discuss the draft document.

In addition to the rules on facilities, the revised Highway Code retains the rule that cyclists 'should' wear a cycle helmet (a common cause of contributory negligence counter-claims) although the DfT seems now to accept that the evidence in support of this is weak. The option to ride around the outside of roundabouts has been amended, but still represents bad advice.

There is now a petition on the Prime Minister's website which reads "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Listen to cyclists and not approve the revised highway code." which can be found at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/roads4bikes. Please sign this and encourage your friends to do so.

CCN, CTC and other cycling organisations are now considering their options, but will need the support of cyclists throughout the UK to overturn this travesty, as we must. Members may wish to make a donation to the Cyclists Defence fund at www.cyclistsdefencefund.org.uk which will be leading the opposition to this imposition.

Help needed

The Campaign will again be running the sponsored ride across Garendon park on Sunday, 17th June and help will be needed with registration and marshalling from 16-30 to 20-00. Please mark this up in your diaries as we will be approaching members to help with the event.

We are also once again taking a stand at Picnic in the Park on 19th May and if you are able to help between 11am and 5pm please let John Catt know.

CTC Birthday Picnic

The Leicestershire and Rutland D.A. of the CTC will celebrate the 129th Birthday of the CTC (and the 110th year of the D.A.) with a Picnic at the Museum of Technology, Corporation Road, Leicester (on Route 6) on Sunday, August 5 starting at 1pm (Map). Everyone who enjoys cycling, whether member or not, is invited to come along and enjoy a piece of birthday cake. Given good weather it should be an enjoyable ride down in the morning and apart from spending some time at the picnic, you can visit the museum and shop, or even the Space Centre, which is next door.

Only 10 MP’s cycle in 2006
From James Daly: The Independent, 27 February 2007

It was disappointing to see only 10 MPs claiming for cycling on their annual expense forms - click here to read article.

Levels of Cycling (Dept. of Transport – Cycling Facts sheet)

The average number of trips by bicycle fell by just over a fifth (22%) between 1995/97 and 2005, from 18 to 14 trips per person per year.

Over the same period, the average distance travelled by bicycle fell by 16%, from 43 to 36 miles per person per year.

Click here for fact sheet

“We're not toast yet”

For those members who may be interested, the Camp for Climate Action, which aims to build a mass movement for urgent action on climate change, is holding another camp from 14th to 21st of August. Full details can be found at www.climatecamp.org.uk .

Pavement Cycling
by Peter Hopkins

With reference to Nicky Morgan & the 2 previous issues, I have had the opportunity to observe the behaviour of some cyclists on a completely safe, traffic-free route. For two weeks in February my stretch of Park Road was blissfully quiet: it was completely closed at Bowling Green Lane, 20 yards from my front gate, while Severn Trent undertook major civil engineering work, installing larger sewers. All vehicular traffic was diverted at Herrick Road and Beacon Road. There was therefore NO through traffic at all, and just the very occasional contractor's or resident's vehicle on one side of the barrier or the other.

Nevertheless, a large proportion of the younger cyclists who travelled past my house cycled rapidly along the pavement - even though the road was empty. They could get past the obstruction, because one footpath was left open for pedestrians - but that wasn't their reason for being on the footpath, as they arrived on it from one end of the road and stayed on it after they have passed the barrier. Older cyclists generally used the road, mounting the kerb only to pass the barrier.

Pavement-riding therefore seems to be a deeply-ingrained habit for many youngsters, and I am wondering whether the explanation could lie with parents who allow their children out on bikes on the understanding that they stay on the pavement and don't venture out into the road (a seriously-injured child seeming a much greater concern than a never-enforced minor law). I suppose that, once you have cycled unrebuked (or rarely rebuked) on the pavement, it becomes the natural thing to do - and so is done quite mechanically, irrespective of traffic conditions.

Cycling for Climate Change Week
Saturday 14th to Sunday 22nd July

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has awarded CTC a grant of almost £300,000 to raise awareness about climate change among cyclists. This is part of an overall Government campaign of over £3.5 million, involving over 50 separate organisations. The aim is to communicate Climate change issues to new audiences and help to increase awareness of and spark a “grass roots” debate about how we can all help individually and collectively to start to combat the causes of climate change.

The local programme has yet to be agreed.

Risking death by stopping at red?
from CTC Newsnet

It has been revealed that 86% of the women cyclists killed in London between 1999 and 2004 collided with a lorry. By contrast, lorries were involved in 47% of deaths of male cyclists. It’s a shocking statistic, and the Times went further this week reporting the conclusion of an unpublished report which stated: ‘Women cyclists are far more likely to be killed by a lorry because, unlike men, they tend to obey red lights and wait at junctions in the driver’s blind spot, according to a study.’ We don’t think there’s evidence to support this theory. But instead of positioning themselves out wide in the road where they can more easily see and be seen, novice cyclists – and perhaps particularly women novice cyclists - are more inclined to hug the kerb, a way of cycling that may feel safer but is in fact more risky.

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