100+ Riders on Garendon ride
Some 110 riders cycled across Garendon Park at the end of National Bike Week on 19 June. Among the riders were 62 sponsored pupils from Holywell and Mountfields Lodge Schools raising funds for their respective Parent Staff Associations and children less fortunate than themselves. We don't yet know how much Holywell School pupils raised for Njabini Primary School in Kenya or Mountfields Lodge School pupils raised for the National Children's Home (NCH) but are hopeful that it will run to several hundred pounds. Thank you to all who helped with the event.
We are putting together some notes on “learnings” from this year so if you have any suggestions please let John Catt have them.
Cycle Faclities – Past, Present and Future
Based on an edited letter from Michael Forrest
On 30th June I met Ian Vears of the County Highways Department in Hathern to discuss various cycling matters precipitated by being knocked off my bicycle twice in recent years, both times on a facility provided for cyclists. Once on a rural cyclepath by a fool driver rushing out of a private entrance with eyes only for the approaching gap in the A6 traffic on her right. Another on one of the lethal advanced stop lines when a psychopathic driver deliberately pushed me out of the way as I had presumed to trespass on that curious bit of green road in front of him. All that after 70 years on the roads of the world without ever being knocked over. As with pedestrian crossings, cycle paths are perhaps best avoided. At least when making ones own arrangements, there is the accurate assumption that no-one is going to give any quarter, no concessions granted.
My persistent nagging of the Director -- largely ignored initially, eventually paid off, if only because my regular letters telling him he had not replied to the previous dozen or so caused him acute embarrassment. If you do not know of Ian Vears, he is the one given the task of sorting out the pathetic mess allegedly supplied to encourage cyclists. He is bright, young(ish), astute, on our side but well aware of the practicalities of what can be done, and limitations imposed. His direct line is 0116 2657215.
We spent much of the morning riding the cycle network, starting on the Kegworth end of Hathern. This section, alongside the dual carriageway between Kegworth and Hathern, while encroached upon by grass in places and heavily strewn with debris from trees alongside and never swept, is perhaps the best part of the cycle network. But then it was built in about 1935 by a far sighted authority, to a high standard, relatively free from undulations and excavations and especially the numerous 'give way' signs and crashing changes of levels where private drives carve across it.
It is a tragedy that the foresight of seventy years ago has been allowed to wither and die, so that now the traffic network cannot be made to accommodate cyclists adequately without demolishing all our roads and starting again, My first memories, little legs in a blur on my minuscule bicycle, behind dedicated cycling parents, is cycling along this cycle path in the 1930s to sample this dawning of a new era.
What would the architects of that cyclepath make of the crude obstacle courses and indignities masquerading as cycle paths provided by their successors four generations on?
Lest any of you think that dragging a small child on a fairy cycle all the way from Loughborough to Kegworth and back was a bit hard - we didn't. We went from Leicester to Kegworth and back, stopping coincidentally at a little tearoom at the top of Wide Street in Hathern for a bottle of Tizer. No childhood obesity in those days.
But I digress. Ian explained that the County had been given (by cyclepath standards) a large sum. Wisely, instead of dissipating it over the whole of the County, they are proposing to concentrate it on two areas - Leicester City, and Loughborough, with the aim of showing how a relatively small sum spent can radically improve cycling provision. This is partly because Loughborough already has a good cycling record, partly because towns the size of Loughborough yield the best results per capita invested on cycling.
Apparently, the per capita car ownership in Loughborough is one of the lowest in the country, cycle use amongst the highest. And one of the most heavily used cyclepaths in Loughborough is the rural Hathern-Loughborough one. The distance for a round trip is about right, ideal for commuters, and of course we are all poor in Hathern, and can only afford bicycles. Not quite true, of course. I have one Heavy Goods Bicycle (HGB) circa 1930 by Gundle, one Ordinary by Joseph Cox of (King's) Lynn c. 1881, and half a bicycle circa 2004 as a Muni unicycle by Pashley. Cheaper than a bicycle and don't the drivers keep out of the way of those flailing arms!
Despite my grandiose schemes for putting all cars in tunnels and returning all roads to cyclists and pedestrians, Ian made it clear that schemes are likely to be a refining of existing provision, resolving of anomalies, elimination of dangerous features, resurfacing and improvement of crossings and elimination of irregularities. Major engineering changes were unlikely, although some may take place.
They have to go away, decide on overall priorities, try to persuade the highways people that much of the required work should be covered by maintenance, and not new money (e.g. resurfacing, repairs, cutting back of encroaching grass - in places up to two feet).
I was unaware, still being in the steam age, that traffic monitoring, including cyelepaths, is carried out by sneaky underground means. The big rubber tube and counter padlocked to a lampost is out, apart from temporary use, now replaced by underground counters given away only by lozenge shaped sawcuts in the surface.
In this hard nosed world, the gate which squeaks the loudest gets the oil, and the squeaks are registered by the counter on a cyclepath near you. So the less you use your cyclepath, the less likely is your cyclepath to be uprated. So get on your bikes, and ride backwards and forwards over those telltale lozenges on the cycle paths for half an hour every day. Big Brother is watching you.
In case of Emergency (ICE) campaign
East Anglian Ambulance Service have launched a national "In case of Emergency (ICE)" campaign with the support of Falklands war hero Simon Weston and in association with Vodafone's annual life savers award. The idea is that you store the word "ICE" in your mobile phone address book, and against it enter the number of the person you would want to be contacted "In Case of Emergency". In an emergency situation ambulance and hospital staff will then be able to quickly find out who your next of kin are and be able to contact them. It's so simple that everyone can do it. For more than one contact name ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 etc
Road Casualties 2004
The number of people killed in road accidents was 3,221, a fall of 8 per cent from 2003. 34,351 people were killed or seriously injured, 8 per cent fewer than in 2003. The total number of road casualties was 280,840, 3 per cent less than in 2003.
Pedestrian casualties were 34,881 in 2004, 4 per cent lower than 2003. There were 671 pedestrian deaths, 13 per cent less than in 2003. Serious injuries fell by 5 per cent to 6,807.
The number of cyclists killed rose by 18 per cent to 134, back to 2002 levels. The number of seriously injured fell by 5 per cent to 2,174. Total casualties among cyclists fell by 2 per cent to 16,648.
Child casualties fell by 3 per cent. The number of children killed or seriously injured was 3,905 (down 5 per cent on 2003). Of those, 2,339 were pedestrians, 2 per cent down on 2003. 166 children died, 3 per cent less than in 2003.
Road traffic levels went up by 2 per cent. Link to the full DfT press release: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pns/displaypn.cgi?pn_id=2005_0073
BMA Votes for Compulsory Helmets
(based on an edited summary from CCN news).
The British Medical Association (BMA) has voted at its Annual Representative Meeting (ARM):
"That this Meeting supports the compulsory wearing of cycle helmets when cycling: (i) for children (ii) for adults".
In a debate scheduled to last only 5 minutes, in which just two doctors were able to speak for and against, a sizeable majority approved a motion from Fife Division. Reports of the debate say that the arguments used in favour of compulsion were emotionally charged and factually incorrect. The Chairman of the Board of Science, Sir Charles George, spoke in favour and the summing up by the conference chair, Dr Sam Everington, was not impartial (a transcript is available on the CCN website showing the low level of intellectual debate).
The ARM decision confirms the U-turn in policy on helmets taken by the BMA's Board of Science at the end of 2004. That decision has been widely criticised as based on information that was very selective and in large measure wrong. Unlike the more extensive review of evidence carried out by the BMA in 1999 (which came out strongly against compulsion), the organisation seems no longer to be willing to consider the wider evidence that shows more harm than benefit from helmet laws.