Issue 50
May 2004

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National Bike Week 12 - 20 June 2004

We want this year's Bike Week to be the most popular ever. A Poster advertising the Pedalling Picnic is attached. Please would you try and arrange for it to be displayed somewhere suitable such as school, shop or library.

The arrangements for the sponsored ride between Gorse Covert and Shepshed across Garendon Park, on the evening of 13 June, are well in hand. We still need some more marshals so I hope you will forgive me if I phone up asking for assistance.

John Catt

Picnic in the Park

We will have a stand at the 2004 "Picnic in the Park" that will be in Queens Park on Saturday 22nd May from noon through to 5pm. If you can spare some time to help please let Ariadne know. If not we hope to see you if you are passing.

Dragon slain on St George's Day

Eric Martlew's Bill, which would have made it illegal for under-16-year-olds to cycle anywhere without a helmet failed due to the small number of Members in the house. This means that it is unlikely that there will be parliamentary time for it to make further progress, but this cannot be guaranteed at this stage. Reading the remarks of MPs taking part in the debate it is apparent that more work will need to be done by the cycling organisations to make them fully aware of all the issues.

The Hansard transcript of the debate can be read at http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200304/cmhansrd/cm040423/debtext/40423-01.htm#40423-01_head1 .

It was apparent from this that the greatest ally of those opposing legislation was Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh, North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op) who had become a sceptic. To quote: "I generally supported the Bill's objectives; like most people who are interested in road safety, including those in the Chamber today, my gut reaction was that the Bill must be a sensible idea. However, as I have had information sent to me, and as I have tried to investigate the subject in more detail, I have swung from being generally supportive to being extremely sceptical—certainly about the breadth of its proposals. I am not saying that I would oppose the Bill in its entirety, but I would have to be convinced strongly that it would be right to take it forward.

Like him [Sir George Young], I was somewhat amused that the letter inviting me to express my opinions did not give me an address to which I could respond. I was also struck by the way in which the post card featured a picture of a happy family cycling in summer on a rural path, with, stamped across it, the word "criminals". I wondered whether that was really the content of the Bill.

On issues of this nature, I am aware that when people try to lobby MPs, they put their case in the strongest possible terms, and, like the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young), I am aware that in this field in particular emotions and simplifications of the argument can be the order of the day. I was therefore dubious about whether the Bill would make this happy cycling family into criminals. I therefore studied the Bill, and it is true that it would make that family, apparently doing no harm to anyone by cycling along a rural off-road path, into criminals."

Mr. Martlew's view of the law and how it should be enforced is interesting. To quote " I know that my hon. Friend is a sensible person, and I believe common sense will prevail. If, for example, one let a three-year-old ride a tricycle along the pavement, one would be committing an offence because that would be against the law. In reality, however, no action would be taken, because common sense would come into it. I can give two further examples of laws that are sometimes not enforced. We see few prosecutions of adults or children for riding bicycles on the pavement. Some of my constituents say there are not enough prosecutions for that. As another example, my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Brown) told me that he was in Whitehall last night and watched the number of cyclists go by without lights on their bikes. Apparently, they were wearing helmets, but they had no lights on their bikes. If my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, North and Leith (Mr. Lazarowicz) takes the measure to the extreme, yes, he would be prosecuted, but in reality common sense will prevail."

He seems to be implying that the fairly draconian punishments set out in the bill would be applied in a somewhat whimsical fashion. A somewhat dangerous basis for law. I was always taught that in a free society you had the freedom to act as you wished within the law and if you broke it you had to accept the consequences (if caught). Whilst in an authoritarian society you only have the right to do what the authorities care to tolerate. Whilst in practice what Mr. Martlew says is correct, passing additional law with the intention that it will be enforced on a discretionary basis is in my opinion dangerous. It is quite easy to anticipate that a middle class white family will be ignored or get off with a mild warning whilst the families of teenagers from a less acceptable background might be prosecuted.

John Catt

Next Moves for ERCDT(selectively quoted from an article in the CTC CycleDigest)

The English Regions Cycling Development Team (ERCDT), appointed by the National Cycling Strategy (NCS) Board in 2002, has completed its assessments of each English Highway Authority. These evaluated performance against ten key criteria, using a structured methodology and scoring system, in order to identify examples of successful schemes and strategies or highlight problems and barriers. In some instances, they note cases where councils unfortunately ignore cycling or even appear to be hostile to it.

In their reports the Coordinators also made recommendations on how they thought each authority could improve and they are returning to discuss forward action plans with each of them. Their recommendations most frequently advise such measures as: better promotion and marketing; improved cycle friendly infrastructure, speed management and traffic restraint; better cycle training especially in schools; workplace and school travel plans; and better professional training for relevant council staff. The NCS Board itself is working with the Department for Transport (DfT) at a national level to help local authorities progress many of these recommendations.

The ERCDT assessments have ramified yet further and already fed into a vital government process. In their 'LTP settlement letters' of December, which include scored assessments of each authority's Annual Progress Report (APR) on their LTP (Local Transport Plan), the relevant Government Office states: "…we have also been studying the valuable secondary evidence of cycling delivery provided by the English Regional Cycling Development Teams (ERCDTs) and have been comparing this information with evidence reported in the APRs. We will discuss our findings further with ERCDTs and local authorities in the New Year and would like to ensure that any problems identified are investigated and appropriately addressed." Through the APR/LTP process, top performing councils were rewarded with additional finance or their local transport provision, while the poorest performers had part of their allocations held back until they are able to demonstrate they can improve. The overall funding amounted to £1.9 billion.

The ERCDT assessments are available at: www.nationalcyclingstrategy.org.uk (news 16/12/03)

Full details of individual LocalAuthority LTP settlements andtheir APR scoring throughout England are available at: www.dft.gov.uk (Local Transport - LTP Processes and Initiatives).

CTC says 'Cycling is safe'(quoted for an article in the CTC CycleDigest)

Road safety officials sometimes fear that more cycling would lead to more casualties, but figures show that motor vehicles pose a far more serious and disproportionately high level of danger to all vulnerable road users. The 2002 figures indicate that although a pedestrian in collision with a cycle is c4.5 times more likely to be injured than the cyclist, a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle is c25 times more likely to be injured than the vehicle occupants and c57 more likely to be seriously or fatally injured. Moreover, 192 times as many pedestrians are injured in collision with motor vehicles than with cycles, even though only 45 times as many trips are made by this mode of transport.

…and it gets safer the more we do it!
As well as representing a low risk to other road users, cycling conditions are becoming safer. Department for Transport statistics (www.dft.gov.uk.transport statistics.route to data) recently revealed that cycle use in the UK has increased by around 10 per cent between 1993 and 2002, yet the number of reported pedal casualties has decreased by 34 per cent over the same period. Figures from London, York, Germany and Holland concur with this and a Europe-wide comparison also shows an inverse relationship between cycling levels and fatalities:

… and there's more…
For anyone requiring further convincing that it is possible to increase cycle use and decrease cycle casualties, see Don Mathew's (Sustrans) 'Safety in Numbers' note submitted to the National Cycling Board's January meeting. This highlights recent figures that support this argument and looks at research carried out by P.L.Jacobsen in 'Injury Prevention' volume 9 (published by the British Medical Journal) which concludes that: 'The likelihood that a given person walking or bicycling will be struck by a motorist varies inversely with the amount of walking or bicycling.'

For more information see:-
www.nationalcyclingstrategy.org.uk/fileuploads/ncsb/NCS-B_077.pdf


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