Loughborough & District
Cycle Users' Campaign

Pedal Power

Issue 72
January 2008



Cycle Routes improved

Work to revamp around 4 miles of Loughborough’s off-road cycle tracks is just about complete. Routes that benefited included:

  • Blackbrook Way, which runs along the ‘Black Brook’
  • Burleigh Way, which runs close to six Loughborough schools and joins Sustrans National Cycle Route 6 (Inverness to Dover)
  • Woodbrook Way, which runs from Valley Road to the Leisure Cente.

The upgrading included forestry work, improved lighting, resurfacing and signage. Whilst the work has undoubtedly improved these routes, in particular taking out some very uneven surfaces caused by tree roots on the Woodbrook way, certain aspects could have been better implemented. In particular black bollards in the centre of the track don't seem to be sensible to night time riders. These bollards do have some reflectors on them that show up brilliantly in car headlights, but nothing like so effectively when using cycle lighting.

Also a high steel fence has been put in beside a considerable length of the Wood Brook between Forest Road and the Leisure Centre car park. This must have cost a considerable sum and we are told this is required to meet "County Standards". However bearing in mind this is something very solid that you can now collide with, the safety gain is hard to appreciate, although it may reduce the points where they have to pull shopping trolleys out of the brook.

It is the County's ambition to continue to improve the environment for cyclists in Loughborough when and as resources allow. If members have any suggestions for improvements please let John Catt know. These may be as simple as road marking or drop down kerbs. We can then keep a "wish list" that we can ask the council to consider. If we don't ask, we certainly won't get.

Cambridge in the Spring

The Spring 2008 CCN/CTC Cycle Campaigns conference will be held in Cambridge on Saturday 10th May 2008. Theme for the conference is 'Cycle campaigning – the next 5 years', and will ask how do we respond to the challenges of the future?

AGM - Monday 10 March 2008

Members are reminded that the AGM takes place at 7-30pm on 10 March at John Storer House. If you have any resolutions you would like put, please send them to the Secretary, David Bentley, 144 Paget Street, Loughborough, LE11 5DU.

Xmas slating for cyclists

Matthew Parris in his column in the Times wrote (presumably while recovering from a very good party the night before) that "The lynching of a cyclist by a mob of mothers with pushchairs would be a joy to witness" and "as a festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists". Read it here.

It wouldn't have been so bad if the article had actually been funny, but this rant, from a well respected and normally moderate and tolerant columnist, was not, in the opinion of many. He has now issued an apology "I offended many with my Christmas attack on cyclists. It was meant humorously but so many cyclists have taken it seriously that I plainly misjudged. I am sorry."

However, he is far from alone. Commenting, Howard Peel has listed some of the recent press articles in a similar vein:

  • Emma Parker-Bowles, writing in The Sun in 2006, called for the "humane extermination" of cyclists;
  • Tony Parsons "I have always thought that it should be cyclists that are chained to lamp-posts, and not their bikes... Bicycles are like masturbation - something you should grow out of";
  • David Thomas of The Daily Mail "Why I really hate cyclists" being typical of his oeuvre;
  • Jeremy Clarkson who wrote in The Sun that cyclists should stop at red lights otherwise "if I'm coming the other way, I will run you down, for fun". On the other hand stopping would also seem to be a bad policy as he added that if any cyclists were to stop in front of him at lights he would "set off at normal speed and you will be crushed under my wheels" concluding "You are a guest on roads that are paid for by motorists so if we cut you up, shut up";
  • Bryan Appleyard whose "One day I'll kill a lycra lout" was yet another anti-cycling piece printed in The Times;
  • Kate Hoey M.P. "The real menace on our roads are selfish, aggressive, law breaking and infuriatingly smug lycra louts" was the Mail On Sunday headline which summarised her rant;
  • Jasper Gerard of The Daily Mail "With the possible exception of Osama Bin Laden, the greatest terrorist threat facing this country is from cyclists.";
  • Damian Whitworth motoring editor of The Times who described cyclists as "a common pestilence" and argued that the lycra-wearing cyclist should "pedal off to a shrink" in order to "explore the reasons for his perversion at his own leisure and expense";
  • Bonnie Greer who has said of cyclists "they are PESTS, they are RODENTS".
  • Richard Tomkins (the chief features writer of The Financial Times) wrote in the FT on 26 October 2007: "Some while ago I read a newspaper story saying male cyclists who rode a lot risked impotence because of the damaging effect of the saddle on their reproductive organs. It quite made my day. In my opinion, anything that stops cyclists breeding is to be welcomed as an unmitigated good."

In conclusion Howard adds: "In reality such comments are exactly the sort of material one would expect to see printed in the mass-media in a car-centric country dominated by right-wing hierarchical-authoritarian 'values', such as Britain".

It certainly shows that (as referred to in previous articles) we have a PR problem. Even the Loughborough Echo (4/1/08) chose to headline a letter, the real purpose of which was to highlight the responsibility parents have for ensuring their children's bicycles have lights, under the headline "Cyclists beginning to test patience".

As in many cases, perception and anecdotal evidence are not borne out by the facts. The "Road Casualties Great Britain: 2006 - Annual Report" (page 116) published by the Department for Transport shows a very different picture:

Pedestrians killed following collisions with cyclists:
Pedestrians killed following collisions with motor vehicles:
Pedestrians seriously injured following collisions with cyclists:
Pedestrians seriously injured following collisions with motor vehicles:
Pedestrians slightly injured following collisions with cyclists:
Pedestrians slightly injured following collisions with motor vehicles:

2006 was acknowledged as an odd year. In the preceding 3 years, there had only been 1 pedestrian fatality following a collision with a cyclist. And it should be noted that these figures are about the outcomes of collisions - they are not about who is to blame. See http://tinyurl.com/yrw2cf .

In the last five years only 2 cyclists have been proven to have been responsible for the deaths of a pedestrian.

A cyclist killed a pedestrian on a pavement in Cornwall in 2007. Peter Messen, who pleaded guilty to ‘causing bodily harm by wanton or furious cycling’, was sentenced to one year in prison suspended for two years and 300 hours community service. This is only the second incident of a cyclist killing a pedestrian on the pavement since 1999 but the case has received a lot more national media attention than the 80 or so pedestrians on the pavement that are killed every year by motorists.

Those interested in a more balanced view of cycling might like to watch this film from Cambridge about which one reviewer said "A brilliant campaign film re cycling in the City. I heartily endorse the points you make. All of the niggles that make daily cycling so frustrating are there. Thanks for the really positive image of good responsible cyclists - of which I hope I am one".

Cyclist Social Network on the Internet

Ben Ayres has launched an on-line social network for cyclists, intended to be the cycling version of Facebook. It allows people to share information and to create custom profiles about the type of cycling they do, the bikes they own and where they ride. You can add you r own photographs, videos and music.

Features planned for the future include a route sharing interface, 'how to' videos, classifieds and an 'ask the expert' feature which allows cyclists to pose their question to cycling experts. If you are interested go to www.meandmybicycle.com.

Connect2 - £50 million won

A Message from John Grimshaw of Sustrans

This is fantastic news, and thanks to everyone who voted for Sustrans’ Connect2 in the People’s £50 Million Lottery Giveaway, and for your help in winning £50 million of funding from the Big Lottery Fund for Sustrans to invest in walking and cycling UK-wide. This really is an amazing achievement for our charity and the many local authority and other partners with whom we will work on Connect2. We simply couldn’t have done it without you and your votes.

We start work on delivering Connect2 in January 2008. Our local authority partners are poised ready to go, and will be adding matched funding from their own transport and other budgets to the £50 million from the Big Lottery Fund. This is a five year project, and in total we have already identified nearly £100 million of local authority funding to support Connect2, and we are working hard to bring even more funding to the project so that we can ensure as many people as possible benefit from Connect2.

Landmark report targets health professionals

based on a report in CCN news

Primary care trusts and health professionals in England have been sent a new report detailing the health benefits of cycling. The report has been produced for Cycling England and is intended to address the undervaluing of cycling in some parts of the health sector.

In the introduction, Cycling England chairman Philip Darnton explains: "This publication sets out to review the evidence that supports cycling for health and provide a solid platform for action. We hope that it will deliver useful facts and figures on cycling and health, and present a concrete justification for promoting cycling on the basis of the strong health benefits.

Our intention is that this report will be used by anyone involved in cycling, to help make the case for cycling and persuade key stakeholders that an investment in cycling is an investment in the nation’s future health."

All cyclists will find this report an authoritative goldmine of information to use in their dealings with not only health professionals, but anyone else who needs convincing that cycling is good for you.

The report can be downloaded from http://tinyurl.com/yt6xbk

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