Highway Code: no gain
Based on an article in CCN News
Whilst the Department for Transport (DfT) has proposed amendments to its previous proposals for rules 61 and 63 of the new Highway Code, they do not address the main causes of complaint that there is no evidence that cycle facilities and cycle lanes generally improve cycling safety and that there should not be a presumption that cyclists should use them. The rules are also very badly worded and contradictory.
The new rules
61 Cycle Routes and Other Facilities. Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.
63 Cycle Lanes. These are marked by a white line (which may be broken) along the carriageway (see Rule 140). When using a cycle lane, keep within the lane when practicable. When leaving a cycle lane check before pulling out that it is safe to do so and signal your intention clearly to other road users. Use of cycle lanes is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.
The main change made by the DfT has been to explicitly state that facilities are not mandatory. However, cases of contributory negligence with regard to facilities and helmets are not based on legal requirements, but on what a prudent cyclist might be expected to do. The Highway Code is accepted as a statement of prudent behaviour. The default position of rule 61 remains that it is to be expected that cyclists will normally use cycle facilities. It will be up to them, if challenged, to show that the circumstances at the particular time and place justified doing otherwise, and in particular that at the time it was unsafe to use them.
The rules are so badly worded that they will provide a feast for lawyers, but it is unlikely that there will be any practical benefit to cyclists compared with the DfT's original rules that so many cyclists found unacceptable. Worse, the rules continue to promote bad practice and assume that less skilled cyclists will be better able to handle the problems inherent in many facilities than more skilled riders. This could mislead some people to ride in places where they might be less, rather than more, safe.
In the view of CCN, cyclists must be free to use their own judgement to decide how best to maximise their safety in the prevailing circumstances. The role of the Highway Code is to inform, not to restrict, those judgements.
However what can be welcomed is that the DfT has announced that it is to commission new research into cycling safety, including the use of cycle facilities, plus over 40 rules in the Highway Code have been changed to the benefit of cyclists.
The full response of CCN to the DfT can be found here.
Cogz - Loughborough University Bike Shop
Loughborough University has ventured into cycling with Cogz, a new bike shop located in the centre of the campus. The shop has been created in partnership with Cyclelife which operates over 50 Raleigh franchises across the UK. Cogz aims to make affordable bikes, hire bikes and a full range of accessories available to students, staff and the general public.
Cogz also offers a bicycle hire scheme and Loughborough is one of the first in the UK to offer this service. Hire customers pay £5 per week plus a deposit of £40. Each bike is fully serviced and comes ready to ride, with lights and a D-lock. The hire bikes are provided by Bikes4All (see below) in Leicester, the social enterprise which recycles bikes and provides cycle skills and maintenance classes. Although it is early days for the bike hire scheme, the first bike went out on the morning the scheme was launched.
It is hoped that Cogz will be able to expand the shop's range of services to include "Bikeability", the new Government-approved National Standard for cycle training. There is also a potential market in re-selling bikes not wanted by graduating students. Cogz could provide a full safety check and make these bikes available to new students arriving each autumn.
Cogz is located opposite the Telford Common Room, in the centre of the Loughborough campus .
Opening Hours: Term time: Monday - Friday, 11:00 to 6:00 (Lunch 2:00 - 2:30).
Vacation hours will vary.
phone 01509 223887
Based on an article in Leicestershire Matters
Rather than going to landfill bicycles left at the Leicestershire County Council Recycling sites are all recycled and many are refurbished by Bikes4All and then sold back to local residents. The bikes are revamped by people who are long term unemployed, asylum seekers, refugees and socially excluded young people.
You can buy a reconditioned child's bike from just £10 and an adult bike from £30. The charity run project is based at 92 Roseberry Street, Leicester. If you are interested in buying a bike you can call in Monday-Friday, 9am -4.30pm and from 9am-1pm on the first Saturday of every month. More details are available at www.gwll.org.uk
or telephone 0116 2460048.
WHY MPS DON'T CLAIM CYCLE ALLOWANCE
Campaign Member Michael Forrest wrote to Andy Reed MP expressing concern that only 10 MPs appeared to be doing any cycling based on their expenses claims (see May newsletter - "Only 10 MPs cycle in 2006").
Andy's response was :
"As you probably know, I cycle regularly - at home in and around Quorn, and in Loughborough. I don't cycle in London as I walk to work every day, I have taken my 'carbon footprint' seriously for years - not just since it became fashionable. I have only ever not walked to work on 3 occasions in 10 years!
However I have never claimed a cycle allowance - as this is open to ridicule in the press and by letter writers such as yourself. I therefore forego the allowance to prevent bad headlines - and I am sure some of my colleagues do the same. You are also wrong to suggest that cycling to and from work to home would be a claimable expense. Only duties carried out and travel associated with official duties would be allowable - just as in any other walk of life. I really get sick and tired of having to clear up the mess caused by lazy journalism and snide reporting - I know many MPs who cycle every day to work who are not mentioned in this ridiculous story."
Ed. Whilst I can certainly sympathise with Andy's dilemma, it is both sad and frustrating that the environmental and cycling lobbies would not be seen as powerful enough allies to see off the likes of the Daily Mail and Express. As someone who tried to promote a cyclists' mileage rate with my previous employers, I know how this can be perceived as money for nothing. However good bicycles cost money and involve wear and tear, for both the machine and the clothing of the rider. The rate (20p per mile) is considerable lower for the bicycle than if making the same short journey by car.
Nostalgic train travel
It is more than 50 years since a film was made of a CTC Sunday ride that started with a train journey from London to Rugby. Those were the days when British Rail routinely catered for large groups of cyclists and laid on special extra carriages to carry their bikes. Click here to watch ‘Cyclists’ Special’.
Reporting Parking Problems
Leicestershire has now taken over the role of enforcing parking restrictions. A ‘hot line’ has been set up for people to report problem areas where cars are parked illegally, the number is 08458 450 450 or alternatively firstname.lastname@example.org. An electronic copy of the pamphlet giving details of this change can be found within the discussion forum http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ldcuc/join .
Murder Most Foul
RoadPeace has reprinted the 1947 book, 'Murder Most Foul: A study of the road deaths problem', written by J.S. Dean, the then President of the Pedestrians Association. The book was a comprehensive attack on the expectation that vulnerable road users - pedestrians and cyclists - should assume more responsibility for their safety than the drivers of motor vehicles who actually posed them harm. Much of what Dean highlighted in 1947 is still relevant today, six decades and over a quarter of a million road deaths later. Murder Most Foul can be ordered from RoadPeace on 020 8838 5102, or email@example.com for £6 incl p&p
Stagecoach due in Loughborough
Stagecoach has won the franchise to operate the Midland Mainline and local Central Trains services from November. We are working with the East Midlands Cycle Campaign Group to try and ensure that they promote the cycle/train options. More details are available within the internet discussion forum.
Drivers' Ten Commandments
Based on an article in CCN News
The Vatican has produced a document on ethics and morality aimed squarely at motorists. Entitled 'The Pastoral Care of Road Users', the document examines the benefits and consequences of road and rail transport and in particular the impact of motoring.
According to the papal treatise,
"When driving a vehicle, special circumstances may lead us to behave in an unsatisfactory and even barely human manner".It also notes that
"Driving a car provides an easy opportunity to dominate others"and that
"Cars tend to bring out the primitive side of human beings, thereby producing rather unpleasant results".
Whilst the Vatican recognises that motoring has enriched life and brought many benefits, it is adamant that care on the roads, thinking of others and a lack of haste are the characteristics of a Christian driver. Cyclists are one of the groups to be shown consideration.
Naturally the document is peppered with biblical references to support its pronouncements, and this is extended to include a Drivers' Ten Commandments. These include 'You shall not kill'; 'On the road protect the more vulnerable party'; and 'Feel responsible towards others'.
Children need to take risks
Based on an article in CCN News
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has criticised parents who are too risk averse and suggested that children should be allowed to take more risks for their own good. An inquiry for the Children's Society found that 43% of adults thought that children should not be allowed out with friends until they were 14. Experts told the inquiry of the importance of letting children have the freedom to play independently and make friends. For more details click here.