Pedal Power
Issue 90
January 2011

www.ldcuc.org.uk

Plans for Hathern “Improvements”

Plans have been published for a two phase improvement to the cycling facilities in Hathern.

Phase 1 of the plans should be implemented in 2011 and restore the old cycle track along the east side of the A6 through the village, but with some improvements. Campaign member Michael Forrest (from Hathern) has welcomed the proposals for phase 1 and has provided some suggestions for further improvements. He commented that “Apart from myself I don't believe any other cyclist has returned to the lethal and frightening A6, carrying on as before, and I welcome the new path, following the precise line of the old, with improvements and regret that the interim solution, promised before the clocks went back in 2009, was not implemented by leaving the imperfect, but practical original alone,for my life has been saved despite the machinations of many drivers together with the skill and forbearance of others who have seen developing situations and avoided them”.

However Michael has fundamental reservations about phase 2 for which no date has been set.

The proposals include cyclists crossing the A6 using Toucans and a cycle track traversing many private drives and multiple entrances to small cul-de-sac developments which will no doubt require cyclists to give way. Michael points out that “no matter how much you spend on sending cyclists via two Toucan crossings and an eventful ride over numerous private drives on the other side of the road, they will continue to use the obvious path” and makes the point that “ we are trying to encourage cyclists, not make cycling as difficult and onerous as possible. Nor do we want to turn innocent and unaware cyclists into criminals, for they will follow the obvious route, no matter what you devise, notices notwithstanding. The eastern side route has been followed illicitly for decades, even before the path was cleared for parked cars by provision of a dedicated parking strip on a section of the A6 previously declared to be too narrow to accommodate a cyclepath”.

Tea Shop News

The Tea Shop at Brooklea Nursery at Rothley has now re-opened as "the Rose Garden Tea Room".

You can find details of this and other tea places at here.

Comments on “Who Cycles?”

By Peter Hopkins

I found the article "Who Cycles?" (Pedal Power 89) particularly interesting. The opening paragraph's references to the education, income, shopping habits (Waitrose) etc., of "regular cyclists" confirm an impression I have now had for quite some time - that the middle classes have been taking up cycling in a way which would have been unimaginable in the past. This can only be good for cycling. For generations we were handicapped by what the cycling press sometimes called the "cloth cap image" of bike-riding, which meant that the Establishment viewed cyclists as an inferior species who were something of a nuisance. Of course, there were always a few genuinely committed middle-class cyclists, but these were very rare, so were seen as eccentrics rather than examples. Most magistrates, authority figures and professional people in general were invariably motorists, understanding little of the needs (and enthusiasms) of cyclists and unsympathetic to their interests - and it was people like this who had the influence and 'clout' when policy and law were made. With the benefit of hindsight, I would say this social change described in "Who Cycles?" began as early as the Seventies, when well-educated people with consciences started to become aware (simultaneously) of the dangers of pollution and the health benefits of exercise. What I find particularly encouraging about this development is that it has now persisted long enough not to be a mere passing fashion.

The second para, referring to "thirty-something" cyclists, partly explains an aspect of this change which has puzzled me in recent years. I regularly come across youngish men riding superb racing machines and kitted out fully in lycra, racing vests, helmets, track mitts, SPD shoes, designer sports sunglasses, etc. Their bikes and the whole outfit are trendy and have clearly cost a fortune - way beyond anything which even top riders could have afforded only a few decades ago. I have assumed them to be local racing clubmen and have sometimes engaged them in conversation, seeing them as fellow-cyclists. After a very short time, I realise that, despite their professional appearance, most of them are not cyclists in this sense at all and are completely unfamiliar with cycling terminology and the cycling world. I have usually begun by asking which club they are in, only to find that they don't even know what the local clubs are - and they're very unlikely to have heard of the CTC at all. Sometimes they go out for a hard thrash with similar riders, but they are not training for races - indeed, they do not race at all, in spite of their kit, and I almost invariably find that they know nothing about racing and its many facets in the UK. They are, however, familiar with the Tour de France and have followed it keenly on TV. Many of them also have sophisticated mountain bikes as expensive as their road machines. None use a bike as a means of transport for day-to-day utility purposes such as commuting or shopping. Instead, will they drive the mile to the town centre or supermarket. I suspect they consider that using a bike in such a way isn't cool.

I have been tempted to regard such cyclists as posers, but a (wiser) cycling friend has pointed out to me that such wealthy wannabees are actually beneficial to cycling. As well as helping to maintain a visible public profile for cycling, they are helping to keep our cycle shops open, because they buy loads of equipment; they always want the best and they keep on buying, because they want the latest gear. On top of that, they don't (or can't) service their own bikes in the traditional way of the club cyclist, so bring business to the bike workshops. Food for thought!

Finally, I am not surprised that almost 40% of people say they don't cycle because the roads are too dangerous (3rd para). That is the usual comment I get when I talk to people locally.

Cycling: Non-collision incident survey

Message from Rob Benington, Injury Prevention Manager, NHS Bristol

We are interested in non-collision incidents (NCI) because while the majority cause no injury at all, they do cause more hospital admissions than collisions between pedal cycles and moving vehicles. If we can reduce their number, it will help encourage more people to cycle.

Before we began the survey, people usually mentioned potholes, vehicles passing too close, alcohol, wet drain covers, slippy leaves and mechanical issues as being amongst the most common causes, so we were very surprised to find that slipping on ice was the single biggest cause reported in the study, accounting for 26% of all incidents. The next was slipping on wet roads - a long way back at 8%. We have published analysis of the results on Avonsafe's website. Respondents to our survey were mostly people of working age. Causes of NCIs occurring to children and retired people may be very different.

We want to increase the sample size, so if you have other incidents you can tell us about please visit http://www.betterbybike.info/non-collision-incidents and fill in the short survey to help us improve cycle safety and please pass the link on to your friends.

You might like to take a look at www.icebike.org - an American website dedicated to cycling in snow and ice that includes features on cycle clothing, bike handling skills and how to adapt bicycles to make them safer to use in these conditions by fitting studded tyres and extra wheels.

Cycle Parking Website

A new website that enables people to comment on cycle parking in their area has been set up at www.ParkThatBike.info. This will enable people to:

The site uses Google mapping and lets users mark the location precisely. People can comment on cycle parking both on-highway, in public spaces, and at key destinations such as railway stations, leisure centres, libraries, surgeries, etc.

All the comments and suggestions are collated and detailed reports submitted to the relevant local authority. The aim of www.ParkThatBike.info is to help local authorities set their priorities and to run effective cycle parking programmes.

Cyclenation supports stricter liability

Cyclenation (to which LDCUC is affiliated) proposes to make its support for the principle of stricter liability for motorists involved in collisions with vulnerable road users a key campaign issue for 2011. It is important to recognise the difference between liability and culpability, and it is also important that this principle also applies to cyclists who collide with pedestrians - for insurance purposes it would be assumed that the cyclist was at fault.

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