SUSTRANS to provide "Unobstructed" routes in Charnwood
Following considerable debate at the Charnwood Cycle Consultative Committee meetings, the Leicestershire SUSTRANS representative has conceded that "motor-cycle obstructions" will not be built on any of the tracks through the district unless, after completion, experience shows them to be necessary. As anyone who has used the Sustrans tracks from Derby will know, these obstructions make it impossible to use the tracks if you use a tricyle, a trailer bike, a tandem, a trailer or are heavily laden with panniers.
Your editor, having been forced to use the somewhat hazardous Swarkestone Causeway, when out for family rides including a tricycle and trailer bike, rather than the Trent crossing on the Sustrans route, hopes that the removal of these obstacles will become policy throughout the network.
The Long Lane Gates
Many of you will have read of the minor controversy surrounding the gating of this lane at Kegworth to prevent its use as a "rat run". Having cycled along it a couple of times at the weekend it is apparent that the gates are normally only closed on weekdays and the gaps at the sides are sufficient to accommodate a tricycle although this involves the navigation of an irregular, often muddy verge.
Burleigh Way shared use path
The improvement to this track to "bring it in to the network" is to proceed shortly and after much debate it has been accepted that it is too narrow for segregation and so there will be no line down the middle (saving some unnecessary cost).
Red Flag Day
On Saturday 23 November Campaign Members together with members of Friends of the Earth demonstated at the Pedestrian Crossing outside Tylersjwith Red Flags to commemorate the fact that the law requiring cars to be preceded by a man waving a Red Flag was abolished 100 years ago. Since then it is estimated that 400,000 people have died on the roads as a result of "unfettered" car use.
The demonstration was deemed a success and it is hoped that we will find similar issues on which we can ally with the local Friends of the Earth group in future.
Frame Builder sets up business in Loughborough
Sean Kerslake, who may be known to some members, is offering manufacturing, prototyping and design services in all aspects of cycling, human powered vehicles and alternative transport methods. He can work in most materials, steel through aluminium to titanium, so here's your chance to develop that titanium framed shopping trailer youv'e always yearned for. Tel. 01509 268223
Comments from our International Correspondent - Anthony Kay
Beijing really brought home to me what a people-friendly form of transport bicycles and other HPVs are. Although motor traffic is increasing, the thousands of cyclists act as a wonderful traffic-calming system. It is easy for pedestrians to cross the road: you just stroll out and wade through the flood of vehicles. The whole atmosphere of the streets is friendly and non-threatening. The only exception to this is on the few really big roads on which cyclists are segregated f rom motor vehicles: it's easy to cross the cycling lanes, but the motoring lanes are another matter (there are too few cars to create congestion to slow them down).
Russian cities are a complete contrast. Although cycles are used in the countryside, cyclists seem to be extinct in central Moscow and endangered in Irkutsk. They have either been killed as a result of the dreadful standards of driving, or else their machines have been wrecked by the enormous potholes in the roads. For pedestrians, the technique for crossing the road is - run as fast as possible! Actually, it's not just the fault of the drivers, it's partly the highway engineers. Traffic management is non-existent: one can see horrors such as roads wide enough for 4 lanes of traffic (two each way) with not a white line in sight, not even down the middle. The only good thing about urban transport in Russia is that public transport is still excellent, even though many of the vehicles are looking rather decrepit.
Finally to Singapore. They have a carrot-and-stick approach to limiting car use. The carrots are excellent, but the stick isn't working. First the carrots: Mass Rapid Transit (undergound railway), completely integrated with buses. A single smart-card can be used for journeys on the MRT and both rival bus companies, and when a journey consists of two or more stages it gives you a discount on the fare on the second and subsequent stages. (Privatised public transport as it should be!)
Now the stick: unfortunately, the exorbitant cost of owning a car in Singapore has simply elevated cars as even bigger status-symbols than here. Singapore is prosperous enough for there to be plenty of people willing and able to fork out 50,000 quid for a car. Having done so, they obviously feel justified in using the car for every journey. There needs to be a drastic move of taxation away from capital cost to running cost. The traffic moves quite freely, but only because Singapore has given over vast acres of its precious land area to highways and car-parking. As for cycling, it is totally marginalised. Pedestrians are not all that well looked after, either: one can still find narrow residential streets with no pavement on either side.