Problems with new Town Centre Scheme
Neil Garratt has written (slightly edited) about the new traffic scheme affecting Loughborough:
It is a real concern that the ill-thought(?)-out placement of a dropped kerb on the corner of High Street and Baxter Gate and the unsigned appearance of a "cycle lane"(?) is going to lead to a serious injury or fatality. I refer to the 90 degree turning from the High Street into Baxter Gate which is a blind corner. Buses and lorries regularly mount the kerb. I have witnessed a near fatality, where a disabled lady in a motorised scooter was attempting to cross into the Market Square. The view towards the Poundshop and the High Street bus stops is often obscured and vehicles frequently drive down the right hand side, turning sharp right. I saw a lady nearly wiped out by a van driver. There is no crossing marked out on the road. No pedestrian lights or anything to protect pedestrians or cyclists.
Cycling along Baxter Gate is more than perilous: it is used both ways by cyclists, but it appears most drivers think it is a one-way road. I've seen cyclists get to the end of the "lane" (white lines drawn on tarmac) only to be confronted by the side of a bus or truck speeding round the corner without any indication there might be a human being on two wheels coming the other way.
Finally, it's comical (but not funny, if you get my drift), that there is a sign by the blind corner, facing south down the High Street as another "lane" appears which indicates "Cyclists Only". Again, there is no indication to drivers that in fact the whole of Baxter Gate and round the corner into the High Street is 2 - way for cyclists. This is a dreadful situation and indicates the total disregard for cyclists and pedestrians by whoever planned this mess. Someone will be killed or seriously injured and I hope a Councillor sits up and takes note sooner not later.
I spoke to a Community Policeman in the Market Place about it and we stood watching traffic movements around that Baxter Gate / High Street turn. It really wasn't designed by someone who ever gets out of a car. My worse fear is for disabled people and pedestrians.
Roger Hill and John Catt have already walked the ring road with County Council officers and identified a number of situations where small changes could much improve the situation. Another meeting is to be arranged to review the cycling provision along Swan Street and in the town centre.
Based on an item in CTC Cycleclips
The long-awaited launch of Carlton Reid’s ‘Roads Were Not Built for Cars’ is finally here. The publication, which has taken four years to write, contains thousands of fascinating facts about the history of road building and the role cycling played in it. It is also lavishly illustrated. The first printing of the hardback book sold out in six hours, followed now by the softback version. It is still available on the Kindle and iPad. A further paper edition is to be produced.
Get everybody active every day
Public Health England (PHE) has published, ‘Everybody active, every day’, a framework for national and local action to address the national physical inactivity epidemic, responsible for 1 in 6 deaths and costing the country an estimated £7.4 billion a year.
PHE is calling for action in health services, social care, transportation, planning, education, sport and leisure, culture, the voluntary and community sector, as well as by public and private employers to make active lifestyles a reality for all, specifically to:
- change the social ‘norm’ to make physical activity the expectation;
- develop expertise and leadership among professionals and volunteers;
- create environments to support active lives;
- identify and up-scale successful programmes nationwide.
The framework paints a bleak picture of the current state of the nation’s health, citing that 1 in 6 deaths are inactivity related (the same as smoking), with 33 per cent of men and 45 per cent of women not active enough. PHE calculates that this costs the UK an estimated £7.4bn a year, and has the potential to destabilise public services if the current trend continues.
Unsurprisingly, PHE sees being active as central to both our physical and mental health. The framework spells out what it believes is necessary to turn around the burgeoning health crisis, including an aim for more adults to be active for at least 150 mins a week and to reduce the numbers who are currently active for less than 30 mins.
The creation of environments that support active living is seen as crucial to building more physical activity into everyday routines. PHE argues that pedestrians, cyclists and other active travel users need the highest priority in terms of road and urban development. Consequently, town and transport planners are seen as key, and PHE will look to encourage them to work with public health professionals at a strategic level.
Recognising the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommendations to promote cycling for transport and recreation, the framework also highlights NICE encouragement for primary care practitioners to identify inactive people and deliver programmes for their benefit.
Encouragingly for cyclists, the framework places the creation of attractive environments for cycling and walking high on its list of five steps which local areas should take to support change.
The UK population is now 20 per cent less active than we were in 1961, and current trends could see this increase to 35 per cent by 2030. The framework argues forcibly for a change in the public mindset from Westminster to local authorities to stem the rising tide of obesity.
No Cash on Cycling Delivery Plan
The timing of the draft Cycling Delivery Plan’s release (a year after it was first promised) was something of a surprise – it happened mere minutes before the House of Commons was due to debate the future of cycling in Britain, giving MPs little time to absorb its contents.
Unfortunately, its aspirations to increase cycling are not backed up by a firm funding commitment. Instead, it says: "working with local government and businesses, we can together explore how we can achieve a minimum funding packet equivalent to £10 per person each year by 2020-21."
Over 25 MPs made impassioned calls for a better deal for cycling and pointed out its benefits, expressing their dismay at the Plan’s funding deficit.
The Plan glosses over the most important recommendation of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s (APPCG) Get Britain Cycling report, i.e. the creation of a cycling budget of at least £10 per head per year, rising to £20 as cycle use increases. This should be enough to help Britain catch up with Germany, the Netherlands or Denmark. Set against the Government’s £24bn for road building and £40.6bn for HS2, such expenditure would be very good value. It also falls short of other Get Britain Cycling recommendations, especially on cycle use targets, consistent high design standards, guidance for cycle-friendly road infrastructure and action on lorry safety.
In response to the debate, cycling minister Robert Goodwill MP said: "This is the first time that the Government have included that £10 figure in a document, and I have to say that, having let the genie out of the bottle, I intend to do nothing to try to put it back."
From the Chair
Oops! You may have noticed I missed the September issue of Pedal Power. I had been expecting a quieter year than of late, with time to spend in my garret working on a new book, although I always accepted that the greater part of my life would continue to be devoted to home and family. But with one thing and another, by the end of the spring I had made zero progress on the book, so agreed to be co-opted onto the Committee of the East Midlands Branch of national rail campaigning organisation Railfuture, not least as a measure to buttress my own sanity!
These are currently exciting times for the railways in this country. Many aspects of the way the network is developed and run have been surrounded in controversy in recent years, the biggest being the planned high speed link between London and the North, HS2. To the casual observer, it seems as though as soon as you think you know what is happening, something new crops up. And there are evidently things being left unsaid.
Since the Year Dot, we cycle campaigners have been trumpeting the potential of the partnership between pedal power and rail, which uniquely has the ability to compete with the convenience of the private car at a fraction of the environmental cost and with the wider social benefits associated with both modes. Great progress has been made in getting the message across both to the authorities and the wider population, but provision on the ground has been of varied quality. Sometimes we have had to accept far less than we would prefer, a good example being the cycle access and egress pig's ear at Loughborough station.
Where we have an advantage over the highways and planning officers is in our diverse backgrounds and corresponding capacity for boundary-crossing thinking. For example, security for cycles at Loughborough station might appear to have improved with the introduction of CCTV. However, when my elder daughter Sophie's bike was stolen while she attended a university open day a few years ago, she was effectively asked by the Police, "Do you really expect one of our officers to sit through twelve hours of CCTV footage when there are murderers and rapists out there?" This strikes me as an obvious application for artificial intelligence. I am reasonably confident that even today a computer program could be written to 'watch' the footage and flag up the periods of time for which there was movement around a particular cycle stand. That would give a human police officer a smaller task which might be deemed by his or her superiors worthwhile. And once the thieves knew they had a reasonable chance of being caught, they would be correspondingly deterred.
Cycling and the Law
The Environmental Transport Association (ETA) has teamed up with leading law firm Shoosmiths Access Legal to provide advice about cycling and the law including “key tips” which can be accessed at http://goo.gl/gefHMN.
With the nights drawing in, it’s time to gen up on the subject so you know the best bike lights to choose. CTC’s technical guru Chris Juden has put together a handy guide, as well as information on what is and isn’t legal at http://goo.gl/UILVSt .