Pedal Power
Issue 83
November 2009

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Cycling and Loughborough University

The local pressure group, Swamped by Cars, has succeeded in getting Charnwood Borough Council to set up an Investigation Panel into the problems caused by cars associated with the University.

We were asked to make a submission which appears below:

The failure of the University to control and contract the use of cars associated with its operation represents a lost opportunity to mitigate the environmental and traffic impacts associated with its growth. It is also a failure to provide a leading example of how society can develop without reliance on the car and the detrimental environmental impact involved in the production, use and scrapping of these vehicles.

Rather than spend money on additional car parking we would advocate the University restricting car use and using the resource to encourage forms of travel that have a much lower impact on the environment.

The University should be aiming for almost all people needing to access its facilities to be able to travel on foot, by cycle or using public transport rather than a car.

We advocate the University emulating Oxford and Cambridge, making it a condition of enrolment that students do not keep or use cars within say a 5 mile radius of the town (unless given specific dispensation for disabilities). Such a policy would need to be enforced, and we would advocate the University employing a special Pro-Proctor and supporting staff to detect any transgressors and fine them. Cambridge University already pursues such a policy – see http://tr.im/CYZh .

In addition to this, when new staff are appointed and assistance is provided for a house move, this should only be granted if the member of staff moves to within 5 miles of the university (cycling distance).

The introduction of restrictions on car use should be off-set for both students and staff with support and incentives to walk or cycle for shorter distances and for the use of public transport for longer journeys.

Such policies could drastically reduce both on street parking and traffic congestion in the area, bringing car usage back within the capacity of the local road system.

The policies implemented by Oxford and Cambridge to encourage walking and cycling among their students and staff have in turn encouraged higher levels of both (particularly cycling) by local residents. In part this can be attributed to the fact that cycling becomes safer the more people do it. See http://www.ctc.org.uk/resources/Campaigns/CTC_Safety_in_Numbers.pdf .

Loughborough University has put in some provision for bicycle parking, but a considerable proportion is of poor quality and/or inadequate in some areas, with bicycles being padlocked to railings and trees. If bicycle use is to increase these facilities must be improved and expanded.

We advocate the University providing bicycles to all able students, including the cost and maintenance within the fees charged. The bicycles would remain the property of the university but would be either allocated to students or provided on a pool basis. The bicycles would have electronic chip identity tags glued into the frame. This company might be able to assist - www.studentbikeloans.com and Leeds University has some experience of this http://tr.im/CZ7f .

Latest Advice: No Need For Guardrailing

from cyclenation news

The Department for Transport has published Local Transport Note 2/09 Pedestrian Guardrailing.

The circular challenges the popular presumption that pedestrian guard-railing (PGR) makes things safer for pedestrians. It shares research findings that "there is no conclusive evidence that the inclusion of pedestrian guard-railing at any type of pedestrian crossing or junction has any statistically significant effect on the safety record".

Local Transport Today columnist John Dales gives a potted history of PGR: "Putting PGR into our streets is something we in the UK started doing in the 1930s and really got into our stride with in the 1940s... Since then the PGR safety myth for it's never been much more than that - has been effectively promulgated through the twin perils of habit and lack of critical thought."

Transport for London removed 1.1km of guard rail from the road network during June and has identified 10km more for removal, transport commissioner Peter Hendy has told TfL's board.

Pedalling against the flow

Based on an article in the lifecycleuk newsletter

Lots of cyclists zip down one-way streets against the traffic flow. It's unlawful to do so in the UK, although in many European countries it's been the norm for many years.

Now the Department for Transport is authorising a trial in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea in West London, in which a small plate saying “Except cyclists” will be attached to poles carrying no-entry signs. If the trial is successful, the department intends to extend the policy to the rest of Britain and permit thousands of one-way streets to become two-way for bikes.

The city of Munich recently made 20% of its one-way streets two-way for cyclists. In Germany and elsewhere in Europe such exemptions have proved to be safe to use as well, and they provide valuable short-cuts for cyclists.

There are several locations in Loughborough where such exemptions would be very useful.

Cycle to Work Guarantee

The Government has launched the Cycle to Work Guarantee. It’s a plan to encourage more people to commute by bike and so far over 70 major public and private sector employers have pledged to implement the new plan.

Employers who sign up are committing to providing their staff with safe bike storage, changing and bike repair facilities, cycle training and the ‘Cycle to Work scheme’. Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis said: “If proper facilities were more widely available, I believe far more people would cycle to work. At present only 3 per cent do so. We could double or treble that figure with proper bike storage and changing facilities and safe cycle routes.”

To sign or not to sign

Nottingham Pedals had been asking for clearer signs for cyclists who want to negotiate the centre of Nottingham. Apart from anything else, cyclists are accused of cycling when and where they shouldn't by pedestrians, when in fact they have the right to do so. (A similar situation pertains with the signs for Market Square in Loughborough).

Nottingham City Council policy in the city centre is to presume against signing on environmental grounds. Detailed cycle maps are available but may not be available if a cyclist is stopped and the facts are subject to dispute. More details can be found at http://tr.im/Ej1u.

3 feet is not enough

Tom Amos’s petition on Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s official site advocates a three foot passing rule when cars overtake cyclists.

The Highway Code says to give as much space as you would do when overtaking a car which should often be a higher standard, even if honoured in the breach. While it is very important that drivers give sufficient space when overtaking cyclists, the distance depends on how fast the driver and the cyclist are going together with road conditions.

The problem is that this is a subjective measure and it suggests that three feet or not, there is a need in the UK to have a minimum passing distance clarified so that all road users know where they stand and so that questions of liability can be more easily settled when cyclists are 'clipped' by motorists.

In Europe there are minimum passing distances set in a number of countries, in France the rule is that motorists need to give cyclists a minimum of 1m in towns (just over 3ft) and 1.5m (just under 5ft) on other roads, Germany and Spain go for 1.5m. As an alternative to the petition a “Stop ‘Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You’” (Stop SMIDSY) campaign has been set up www.stop-smidsy.org.uk .

Stop SMIDSY will address how the police, prosecutors, the courts, and the law itself could all do a better job at encouraging people to use the roads in safer and more considerate ways.

In order to lobby these institutions effectively, they need evidence of the need to improve. Most of us have experienced bad driving. By creating a place to collect and share these stories, Stop SMIDSY aims to build the political will to change how society deals with bad driving.

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