Loughborough & District
Cycle Users' Campaign

Pedal Power

Issue 96
January 2012


Loughborough Station Redevelopment – the good & the bad

First the good news, the new cycle parking is excellent, with most under shelter and proper spacing that both allows access and maximises capacity. In addition, the new path through the old sidings, in front of the new houses, links the station and Glebe St, allowing a low-traffic & traffic-light free section towards the canal, then via Cartwright Street to Meadow Lane/Toothill Road and the town centre.

Campaign member, Brian Goss, said “I think the route between the station and the canal would be worthy of highlighting with some blue cycle route signs, since it offers a low traffic alternative to all the other routes which are very busy”.

However there is some bad news, as you will see from the photo on the right.

Dave Holladay, a long term campaigner for integrating trains and cycles, called it "dire and dangerous" after seeing photos. I quote below some of his other comments: "Am I to believe what I see? How on earth did this pass any safety audit?

Either everyone will cycle to & from the station safely by ignoring this daft and dangerous arrangement, or someone will get hurt badly in the first months of operation.

From Roger Hill's pictures it would appear that inbound cyclists are directed to ride head on towards the traffic coming out of the station and directly into the path of those vehicles turning left to head east over the railway bridge. Presumably the 'reversed' orientation of inbound and outbound traffic flows (passing left to left either side of the island) will mean that a complex traffic signal sequence is required to work this layout. Given the traffic levels I've noted there in the past, the solution might have been better delivered by a mini roundabout with queue detection on the car park exit from the station to interrupt the traffic coming from the town centre, to get buses and other traffic out when flows are high. A zebra crossing for the car park exit would then suffice. Tight radii would keep motor vehicle speeds down, and experienced riders would have no problems in using the junction in either direction.

At least when Glasgow butted a cycle lane onto the end of a traffic island they made the connection directly square on to the end with a dropped kerb. Someone might also realise that cycles are vehicles with wheels that cannot turn through 90 degrees on the spot when being ridden.

The placing of the cycle route signage is also a bit incongruous - someone has obviously felt it necessary to stick with the 2.3 metre standard for the minimum clearance between the underside of any sign and the footway which has placed these direction signs with small print, designed to be read at eye level atop a huge pole."

Biggest ever cycling protest

London Cycling Campaign (LCC) is issuing an invitation to the 'biggest ever cycling protest' on 28th April 2012 in central London .

LCC is seeking a commitment from the mayoral candidates to "make London a more liveable city by making our streets as safe and inviting for cycling as they are in Holland." Further details will be announced in January following the conclusion of discussions with the authorities.

What drivers can do to be more cyclist aware

The Carbuzz website, which helps motorist choose cars, featured an excellent article with this title in November by Chris Gidney and Alex Margolis. Amongst the points made were
  • As much as drivers need to be more cyclist aware, follow road rules and drive safely, vice versa also applies!
  • As a car driver you may think the road belongs to you, but nobody owns the road. Everyone has a right to pass and re-pass on public highways. By law, a bicycle is a vehicle, so treat it like one.
  • Counter-intuitive to what you may believe, cyclists actually reduce congestion on the roads by not driving cars. They‘re reducing the time you spend in traffic jams as they’re taking up so much less space.
  • Don’t open any doors without checking there aren’t any cyclists behind you.
  • Realise cyclists are vulnerable - You’re driving a vehicle hugely heavier and more powerful than theirs. In any impact, they will be the losers.
  • Helmets don’t equal guaranteed safety
  • 90% of cyclist casualties in recent years were caused by careless inattention, firstly by drivers, secondly by cyclists (nidirect.gov.uk) It’s your responsibility to avoid hitting the cyclist, not the responsibility of the cyclist to avoid getting hit by you.
  • Pay attention and be on the lookout for cyclists at all times, especially when reversing.
  • When overtaking a cyclist you’re required to give them as much room as you would a car. They may need to swerve to avoid hazards.
  • Don’t drive too close behind a cyclist as you may not be able to stop in time if they come off their bike or do something abruptly. Unless you have an entire clear, empty lane in which to pass, slow down and wait until there is room to pass.
  • You can’t see ahead of hills and curves, slow down as you don’t know what’s on the other side.
  • Cyclists have a right to claim the lane. They have as much right as you do to take up the entire lane. You may think they’re being utterly selfish by doing so, but in fact they’re preventing having an accident. They really aren’t trying to slow you down, it’s just the safest way for them to cycle.
  • Cyclists should never cycle in the gutter as it gives no room for avoiding obstacles and leaves them no room to fall if an accident occurs, meaning they could go straight under your wheels.
  • Cyclists can be careless, but it usually ends in them getting hurt, not you!

New mapping tool for road casualties

You can see the road casualties by mode over the last 10 years at http://map.itoworld.com/road-casualties-uk.

Cyclescape Progress

Cyclescape, which has received a grant to develop a comprehensive online campaigning toolkit to assist cycle campaign groups around the UK, has been reporting good progress. The project is now in its “beta” phase and you can see more details of progress and evolution of the project at http://blog.cyclescape.org.

Roads Were Not Built For Cars

Many motorists assume roads were built for them; that asphalt is a relatively recent creation designed to speed them along; and that non-motorised road users have lesser rights. None of this is true. ‘Roads Were Not Built For Cars’ http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com is a free history e-book exploration of the fascinating history of roads and the part that cyclists helped in saving them.

The coming of the railways killed off the coaching trade and almost all rural roads reverted to low-level local use. Cyclists were the first group in a generation to use roads and were the first to push for high-quality sealed surfaces and were the first to lobby for national funding and leadership for roads. Without cyclists, motorists wouldn’t have hit the ground running when it came to places to drive this new form of transport.

The book focusses on the 1880s and 1890s, a time when cyclists had political clout, in the UK and especially in America. The book researches the Road Improvements Association – a lobbying group created by the CTC in the 1880s – and the Good Roads movement organised by the League of American Wheelmen in the same period.

Loughborough Wednesday Cyclists

If you have any spare time midweek you may be interested in this group who enjoy cycling, but for one reason or another, like to keep the mileage/speed low and the infusion of tea high. Providing the weather looks as if it will be kind, they gather at the Outwoods Drive roundabout at 9-30 am on Wednesdays. Details at https://sites.google.com/site/wcyclists.

Reduce road speed to increase cycle safety

Reducing motorised traffic speed is the single most effective way of increasing the safety of cyclists on British roads according to a report “Infrastructure and Cyclist Safety” produced by Transport Research Laboratory for the Department of Transport (available at http://goo.gl/6Pihl).

The report includes an analysis of previously published data relating to cycle safety on road networks in Britain and on the continent. In particular it looks at the effectiveness of cycle paths, traffic calming and integration/segregation methods. "Of all interventions to increase cycle safety, the greatest benefits come from reducing motor vehicle speeds. Interventions that achieve this are also likely to result in casualty reductions for all classes of road user," the report states. It also noted that high vehicle speed wasn't always a contributing factor as slow-moving lorries also posed a problem.

The report records that most injuries to cyclists occurred at road junctions - and that junctions where cycle paths meet the highway presented a very high risk to cyclists.

Two effective methods of increasing cycle safety at busy junctions were outlined: the continuation of cycle lane markings across a junction and the use of signals that allow cyclists through junctions before motorised traffic.

Controversially, the review found that "there is little evidence in the UK that marked cycle lanes provide a safety benefit, although they may achieve other objectives". It was recorded that cycle lanes often ended abruptly, were poorly maintained, frequently included drains, were used by other traffic including parked cars, and sometimes required the cyclist to stop frequently where they were intersected by side roads.

The most significant risk factors to cyclists involved in single-vehicle incidents were slippery road surfaces due to wet weather and defective road surfaces. In multi-vehicle incidents, speed and encounters with vehicles at junctions posed the greatest risk.

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