Pedal Power
Issue 141
July 2019

Cycle path to Grange Park

Campaign member Anthony Kay has written to local councillors about the cycle path from Knox Road on the Grange Park estate to Magnolia Avenue on the Fairmeadows estate. The developers of Grange Park have built most of it, but there is a short stretch before reaching Magnolia Avenue where it has been left as an informal, roughly-surfaced cut-through. It is believed that this is because of a land ownership issue: the Grange Park developer does not own this piece of land.

Anthony has suggested that the local authority should make a Compulsory Purchase Order to obtain this small piece of land to enable the cycle path to be completed as the route provides a safe route to school from Grange Park to Outwoods Edge Primary School. It is also the most direct route from a large part of the Grange Park estate to the University (via Hazel Road and Cross Hill Lane), and indeed to the town centre. It is hoped the work can be done before next winter, when heavy use is bound to make the cut-through muddy.

Grange Park Ma

A response from Charnwood District Council is awaited with interest.

USA Revelation - Cycle Infrastructure improve road safety

A major study of road safety has found that installing physically protected bike lanes reduces deaths not only for cyclists but also for drivers. (Painted lines on the road, however, do not produce this benefit.) It was found that in cities which invested in high-quality protected space for bikes, there was a dramatic reduction in fatalities among all road users. The report from the University of Colorado Denver and the University of New Mexico found that in areas that had extensive cycling infrastructure, drivers were more aware of their surroundings and more willing to slow down.

The researchers were both surprised and encouraged by the results; having assumed cycling to be one of the riskiest modes of travel, they expected a city (or country) with a lot of cycling to be the least safe. However, the places with a lot of cycling turned out to be some of the safest places for all road users. Researchers looked at road fatality rates in 12 large US cities with high rates of cycling. In Portland, Oregon, they found that as the number of people using a bike to get around rose from 1.2% to 6% between 1990 and 2010, the road fatality rate dropped by 75%. With added bike lanes, fatal crash rates dropped in Seattle (by 61%), San Francisco (by 49%), Denver (by 40%) and Chicago (by 38%).

Poor Image of Cycling and Walking in the Media

New research by Sustrans Scotland has revealed that despite well-documented health and environmental benefits, active travel continues to be portrayed in the media as risky and unsafe.

The researchers analysed 600 articles over a 12-month period from online news outlets and papers across the UK and Scotland to explore how walking and cycling is represented, and how people who walk and cycle are portrayed to the general public.

Researchers analysed articles from four perspectives: “thematic”, looking at the broad news angle; “sentiment”, understanding whether the news article or feature is broadly positive or negative; “discourse, which looks in more detail about how walking and cycling are represented. The team also did a visual analysis, examining what types of images were used of people walking and cycling.

They found that news articles seem to zone in on ‘Criminal Acts’ – where a crime is committed by or against a cyclist or person walking, or a person walking or cycling witnesses a crime, or ‘safety’ – reporting an incident or event which results in injury or harm.

The majority of articles (61%) about walking and cycling are bro adly negative. UK National papers have a greater percentage of positive articles about walking, whereas both the Scottish National and regional papers have a much higher percentage of articles that are positive towards cycling.

There were positive themes too. ‘Infrastructure’ is a theme featured in 64% of positive articles about active travel and ‘Health’ is featured in over 93% of articles providing a positive view of active travel.

One of the key findings was in the visual analysis. Images of active travel in general, and cycling in particular, were predominantly of white males.

Of those portrayed actively walking or cycling, 50% of images contained only men, while 27% showed only women. This gap widens when looking exclusively at cycling images (63% male and 18% female). Active travel articles significantly over-represent images of white individuals (96%) in comparison to BAME individuals (4%), highlighting the lack of diversity.

According to the research, images can often make people walking and cycling look vulnerable, or less than human “through the use of isolated or car-dominated locations, a ‘voyeuristic’ camera angle, and content such as showing only someone’s feet, which makes it difficult for readers to connect and relate to the individual pictured.”

Open Letter to Government on Active Travel

Chris Boardman and other senior local government appointees responsible for promoting active travel in their localities have welcomed the government’s ambition “to make cycling and walking the choice for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer journey” in an open letter.

They have identified five key areas for action nationwide

  1. Commit to long-term devolved funding
    In the last decade there has been a succession of initiatives that have helped make progress to-wards getting more people cycling and walking. Whilst these initiatives are welcome, their short-term nature does not enable councils to invest in the specialist expertise necessary to develop and deliver high quality ‘active travel’ schemes. Numerous international examples demonstrate that the growth of walking and cycling depends on a long term programme of investment.
  2. A political commitment to minimum quality levels
    The lack of national minimum safety standards for walking and cycling infrastructure results in poor practices that waste public money by failing to persuade people to change their travel habits. Funding for walking and cycling infrastructure should be contingent on meeting defined safety standards.
  3. Enable the local retention of revenue from fixed penalty notices to fund road danger reduction measures
    Significant cuts to road policing budgets have led to a dramatic reduction in operations and a marked increase in road danger and casualties. These traffic offences could be more effectively enforced, if revenue from fixed penalty notices from road offences were kept locally, and reinvested in road safety activity in the community where the offences are taking place.

    This approach would not only give local police forces the means to improve road safety, but it would generate public support for such activity, where funds generated can be seen to be invested back into their community. Ultimately, the aim would be to remove the need for major enforcement activity when casualty rates are drastically reduced through the provision of self-enforcing road infrastructure and road user behaviour.

  4. Enable innovatation by keeping road traffic regulations under review
    If more people are to be encouraged to walk and cycle, then a framework is needed that enables the exploration of new solutions and does not hinder progressive thinking. This should include looking at ways to improve pedestrian crossing provision such as simple zebra crossings at side roads, or reviewing guidance on walking speeds to help local authorities make the case for extending pedestrian crossing times at signalised junctions.
  5. Transport investment decisions should account for the true cost of car use to society
    Currently, economic appraisal models do not take full account of the negative consequences of making private car use easier, nor do they take full account of the benefits of walking and cycling on our health, wellbeing and environment. This approach to appraising the value of transport investment has led to systemic undervaluation and underinvestment in sustainable transport. If the full impact of developing for private car use, particularly in urban areas, is factored into transport investment decisions, sustainable modes would return far greater levels of public benefits.

The Department for Transport need to change their appraisal methods to focus on efficient use of road space and total people movement, rather than being based around capacity and journey times for vehicles.

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