Loughborough & District
Cycle Users' Campaign

Pedal Power

Issue 75
July 2008



Walk-In Centre move proposed

Leicestershire County and Rutland Primary Care Trust is developing plans for the future provision of healthcare in the area, details of which can be read here. Amongst the proposals they are consulting on is the transfer of the Walk-In Centre to the Hospital site on Epinal Way.

Whilst this would improve the availability of clinicians for complex cases and improve access by car, it would move the facility from a central location accessible to public transport hubs and accessible for walking and cycling to the periphery. Whilst the proposal is to put in a bus link to the Hospital, this would make the journey much longer and more complex for those, particularly the old, forced to use public transport.

You can comment on the proposals on the website or in writing. There will also be an opportunity to discuss the plans at Loughborough Town Hall (Beacon Room) on 24 September 2008 (2pm - 7pm)

Cycle Campaign Network Strategy Review

The CCN is carrying out a review of its strategy and has published a development plan that can be read on its website www.cyclenetwork.org.uk.

As cycling has entered the political agenda as a sustainable, healthy, empowering and economic form of transport, CCN has recognised that new times call for new ideas and methods by which it can spread its message and achieve its aims.

The plan highlights that whilst cycling is gaining in popularity within the UK there is an important distinction between increased cycling for leisure, sport, fitness or utility. Cyclists are not a homogeneous group and the attitudes, lifestyles and reasons for cycling can vary enormously between different groups. There is the continuing debate between cycling as “sustainable transport” but equally as “unsustainable recreation” if it is accompanied by any additional travel by motor vehicle.

Co-ordination and encouragement of campaigning for cycling therefore requires work with disparate groups, who may all be trying to encourage cycling, yet have differing objectives. How CCN and its affiliated groups (including ourselves) should take this forward is the subject of debate.

As part of the plan a number of key objectives have been agreed, including being represented in every town with a population larger than 50,000, having clear policies and agenda, and increasing the skills and effectiveness of campaigners.

In addition the emergence of organisations such as Safe Speed and the Association of British Drivers, which, whilst not overtly anti-cyclists are inherently anti-cycling, poses challenges to the CCN message that cycling should co-exists on our roads with appropriate safeguards to the vulnerability of cyclists. CCN recognises that new times call for new ideas and methods for advocating cycling.

High Oil Prices - Get used to it Warns MP

The recent spike in Oil prices may be here to stay and we need to get used to it, says Andy Reed.

"Instead of hoping for a fall in oil prices and therefore a fall in petrol prices at the pumps we should be using this reality check to finally start to plan for our post oil world.

At times like this it is too easy to try to be popular by reassuring people that things will be alright. The truth is that oil is a finite resource and there is increasing demand across the globe. As we have seen in recent weeks not even the most powerful countries individually have any control over oil prices.

We should use this opportunity to move Britain away from its reliance on oil and petrol. It will take a couple of decades so we need to start sooner rather than later. Sticking our heads in the sand is not an option.

What has been interesting is the reported fall in petrol sales - up to 20% - as a consequence of rising prices. This finally does show that we are willing to make some other choices if the price is high enough. Price is a factor in making greener decisions.

I am hoping that we will use this difficult period to explain the relationship between our petrol prices and a global reliance on oil. Whilst it is right for Gordon Brown to show he understands how hard it is for people to manage - I urge him not to then go on to explain how in the long run things will just return to normal. This is a wake up call to us all and we need to heed the warning.”

Principles of cycle planning

At the Cycle Campaign Network conference in October 2007 John Franklin presented an excellent paper on this subject which can be read here. Some of the points he makes include:

  • The bicycle is the most efficient form of transport known to man, and one of the most versatile. But that doesn't mean it's perfect! It's important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the combination of a bicycle and its rider when planning for cycling.
  • It has been shown that every time a cyclist has to stop and then re-start, it uses up as much energy as is required to ride an additional 100 metres. There doesn't have to be much stopping, or slowing to give way, for that to add up to significant extra effort. So back-street routes or cycle paths that repeatedly require cyclists to give way are never going to create popular cycling environments. Similarly, one-way systems that involve detours increase the energy demands and make cycling less attractive.
  • In the great majority of places, the road network accommodates the range of cycling speeds very easily. If separate infrastructure does not do likewise, cycling will be less pleasant and some people, especially younger people, will ride at speeds that are unsafe for the circumstances.
  • Rough or uneven surfaces destroy momentum, and they also have important consequences for comfort and safety. Indeed, poor surfaces lead to more injuries to cyclists than collisions with other vehicles. Cycle tyres are narrow, pressures may be twice those of cars and bikes have minimal suspension.
  • When planning for cycling, don't assume that cyclists have eyes in the back of their heads, or on stalks to see round sharp corners or over vegetation.
  • Motorists often drive up to a cycle lane line when otherwise they might keep further out. This means they will often pass more closely than if no provision were made, leaving the cyclist with inadequate personal space, and research suggests that they often overtake faster too. Consequently cycle lanes need to be at least 2 metres wide.
  • An important fact to recognise is that cycling is a very safe mode of transport. The fact that people who cycle regularly live longer and healthier lives than those who don't says it all. Whatever risks there are in cycling, there are clearly more in not doing so.
  • The number one cause of cycling casualties is not motor traffic but bad surfaces, probably accounting for at least 80% of injuries.
  • The greatest error you can make in planning for cycling is to assume that cycle facilities are inherently safer than cycling on the roads, for while the hazards may sometimes be different, they are often less predictable and can be just as life threatening.
  • Cyclists have very little in common with pedestrians and facilities designed for pedestrians are rarely suitable for cycling. It is time to relegate the shared footway to history.
  • Alas, we are awash in this country with facilities that have been introduced in a desire to 'do something', but which have made cycling more difficult and led to hostility and aggression towards the many cyclists who are not prepared to use them.

Cambridge Cycle Campaign Documents

Cambridge Cycling Campaign (in conjunction with the local authority) have produced two excellent documents, the first setting out its vision for cycling in 2020 and the second providing guidance on Cycling in New Developments.

Its vision is for "a world-class cycling city. A city which genuinely values cycling and the contribution it makes. A city which wants to see even higher levels of cycling, where cycling becomes a real alternative that even children and the infirm could safely use without the sort of dangers, or perceived dangers, that is an asset to a city which would otherwise be even further choked with traffic".

With regard to the new development guidance, although it makes a lot of specific references to Cambridge, the advice is valid anywhere. One good thing about it is that it explains why current advice may differ from that given in the 1980's or 1990's (we have learnt from our mistakes!).

Most British cycling infrastructure is poor quality, because it is not designed with cyclists’ actual needs in mind and it makes the point that developers need to make space for cycling, preferably on the road. Also, whatever seems daft to a car driver is equally silly to a cyclist. Yet in the UK, poles in cycle paths, constant give ways, etc., are the norm. This approach must be avoided in the new developments. Cyclists really want the same as car drivers want: convenience, directness and speed.

Station Plan Pilot Scheme launched

This scheme, which is being led by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), involving train companies, local authorities, Network Rail, Passenger Focus,the Railway Safety and Standards Board and the Campaign for Better Transport, includes Loughborough station. The aim of the initiative is to encourage rail users to use environmentally friendly forms of transport when travelling to and from stations. Greater use of public transport, cycling and walking will also help to reduce traffic congestion around stations. Each station travel plan will include a series of measures to encourage non-car access to the station. These can include improved cycle storage facilities, better bus interchange and more passenger information.

Over the next nine months, extensive passenger research will be carried out to understand how and why passengers choose particular modes of transport to access them. Specific travel plans will then be developed and implemented during 2009. Further research to evaluate the effectiveness of the plans will be undertaken in 2011.

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