COMMUNITY TRANSPORT DEVELOPMENT WORKER TO ADDRESS NOVEMBER CAMPAIGN MEETING
Kelly Swann, Community Transport Development Worker at Charnwood CVS (formerly Charnwood Community Council, the umbrella group for local voluntary organisations based at John Storer House) has agreed to be the guest speaker at our meeting on Monday 12th November (7:30pm at John Storer House, as usual).
Kelly is one member of a team of development workers at Charnwood CVS. Her brief is to identify gaps in transport provision and work with community groups to bridge those gaps. She is also very interested in the environmental agenda, and hence in the stimulation of cycling and walking within the Borough.
At the meeting she will speak about her work and join us in a discussion to identify any ways in which she and the Campaign can work together.
We would like a good turnout for Kelly, so if you are one of those members who only occasionally attends the meetings, please do put this one in your diary. If you have never been to a meeting before, it could be a stimulating one to start with.
And whether or not you make the meeting, you might be interested in taking part in the cycle event for One World Week which is being masterminded by Kelly...
THE 'PEACE RALEIGH' - SUNDAY 21ST OCTOBER
It was a typographical or maybe even a Freudian error in an early memorandum, but what could be a more apposite name for a peace rally on bicycles? In the wake of recent world events it seems more relevant still.
With this newsletter you will find a leaflet which tells you all you need to know to take part together with another about One World Week. There should be some additional copies for friends.
THEN PARTY, PARTY...
After a while the struggle for world peace and a sustainable environment can get very exhausting; but luckily the festive season is approaching and with it, in what has become quite a tradition itself, the Loughborough and District Cycle Users' Campaign Christmas Party.
Monday 10th December, usual time, usual place. Bring food and drink to share. There is always a convivial atmosphere and some chat about cycling but precisely what happens is moulded to the wishes of the company present (scope for Charades? Karaoke?). Children are particularly welcome. See you there.
For once, this is not a tale of our family travels, but a five-year experiment in which Gloucester was given a special Government grant to implement a whole range of measures intended to improve road safety.
The overall results look great. A 38% fall in serious injuries and deaths. Only an 8% fall in slight injuries but this contrasts with a national average of a 7% rise. (Any data relating to slight injuries needs to be treated with some care anyway because many, if not most, are never reported.)
The improvement in pedestrian safety must have been keenly felt on the ground, because the proportion of parents allowing children to travel to school alone rose from 32% to 49% over the project period.
But for cyclists alone there was no success. Adult cyclist casualties rose 2% and child cyclist casualties rose by 16% whilst cycle use fell.
So what did they do for cyclists? Mostly, it seems, they installed on-road cycle lanes; but also a length of shared footway. Apparently these facilities attracted criticism from local cyclists, who argued that they made it more dangerous to use the roads. Interestingly the greatest beneficiaries overall from the project were the motorcyclists. They share the vulnerability of pedal cyclists, but had not been segregated.
Once again (this is getting really boring and frustrating) local cyclists have been proved to know better than do-gooders and civil servants blindly following manuals. As all of us know, road positioning is the key to optimising safety when cycling on the public highway. It makes us visible and predictable to other road users, particularly those surrounded by a ton or more of steel who could do us real damage. But all too often, cycle lanes painted on the road destroy good road positioning and lure cyclists into dangerous blind spots. The hazards associated with off-road paths are also well documented in academic research and much discussed in pubs and cafes by users.
On one occasion a reporter from the Loughborough Echo, phoning me for cycling-related comments (as they do), asked me what I considered to be the most important safety advice that could be given to cyclists. I said: be really aware of what is going on around you; ensure your road positioning is good and make big clear hand signals.
That advice was never printed. A few years earlier I had written a letter to the same Loughborough Echo explaining the hazards of cycle lanes and paths, especially to child cyclists. It became a rare example of a letter which they did not print.
Why this conspiracy of silence, which must be repeated across the country judging by the mushrooming of appallingly dangerous cycle 'facilities'? My personal hypothesis is this. There is a motorists' freedom-fantasy which holds that they would be able to go everywhere they wanted as fast as they wanted, if only cyclists were removed from the roads, or at least confined to a small special section of road. As most do-gooders and civil servants are motorists, this fantasy affects their actions at a sub-conscious level. Hence their enthusiasm for the promotion of segregated cycle facilities in the name of 'safety' and their reluctance to acknowledge any evidence that 'safety' is not what is achieved.
US Government agency 'mystified' by cyclist head injuries rise
According to the New York Times, figures from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission show that head injuries to cyclists have increased by 10 per cent since 1991, despite both a sharp rise in cycle helmet use and a fall in the number of people cycling. Pro rata the number of cyclists, the risk of head injury has risen by 51 per cent as helmet use has become more widespread.
THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT CARR LANE
If you have heard rumours about plans to close Carr Lane between Shepshed and Belton and you are not a fit young man with a stripped-down mountainbike, you may, as I was, be extremely concerned that what has up until now effectively been a hassle-free addition to the country lanes network might become one of those dreadful cycle paths festooned with gates, boxes and miscellaneous other obstructions. John Catt took this up with Ray Clay of the Cyclists' Touring Club who received an assurance from Patrick Davis of Sustrans. I quote in full:
"Any closure will also have to allow for horses and wheelchairs so I doubt that there will be any trouble for trikes. Incidentally, 1.2m between bollards is the figure to which I always work and which I'll be using very soon at Grace Dieu. If there is any problem with this, please let me know."
Two cheers for Patrick! To get the third he'll have to retrofit this sort of closure on the other Sustrans paths in the area. But if any Campaign members do have a problem with 1.2m gaps between bollards, please let a Committee Member know and we will take it up with Sustrans.
UK signs car-free pledge
The UK Government has at last signed in support of EuropeanCar-Free Day, the last member of the EU to do so. However, it is suggesting that in future UK events should be held at weekends rather than necessarily on 22nd September itself (the designated day), in order to minimise disruption to motorists and business.
Local Government Minister Alan Whitehead told the Local Government Association: "Our view is that the main purpose of the event should be to create a less polluted, quiet part of urban space for a day and should aim to encourage all of us to think about the way we travel into town centres". He said that it will continue to be for individual councils to decide whether or not to participate, recognising the potential political sensitivity of the event. "This initiative is not an anti-car one and should not be portrayed as such. It was essential that local authorities ensure that any initiatives they take will not cause unacceptable inconvenience to motorists". Councils should consult widely on their plans.
As it happens, in 2002 European Car-Free Day will be on a Sunday.
(Information from Local Transport Today)
Cycling to school
The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has issued legal advice to schools to clarify their position with regard to children cycling to school. The DfES notes that the Government is keen to encourage children to walk or cycle to school.
Schools cannot prohibit cycling to school, but they can prevent cycles being taken onto school premises. Schools are not liable for bicycles left on their premises, nor are they liable for crashes or injuries suffered on the way to school, unless the school has specifically arranged the transport.
The advice says nothing about schools requiring pupils to wear cycle helmets, but interpretation of the advice suggests that they cannot require these to be worn for the journey, but they may have some discretion in deciding who may use cycle parking facilities on the premises.