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UK cycling news 2013

The UK cycling news from HedgehogCycling in 2013.

Fourth Carbon Budget review report underlines benefits of cycling

14th December 2013

Carbon budgets graphic

The Climate Change Committee has produced a report underlining the health benefits of cycling, and the contribution it can make to reducing congestion. It estimates the monetary value of active travel at £2bn a year, in terms of improved health, and £8bn a year in reduced congestion.

The report gives recommendations in advance of the government's review of the Fourth Carbon Budget, to take place in 2014. Read more on the Fourth Carbon Budget review...

Transport Select Committee inquiry into cycling safety

5th December 2013

The Transport Select Committee held two sessions on cycling safety, on 2nd and 4th December 2013, following the recent spate of cyclist deaths in London. 

Witnesses at the first session (2nd December 2013) included cycle campaigners, a representative of Transport for London, a commander from the Met Police, and representatives of the road haulage industry. The witnesses were knowledgeable, and made sensible contributions. The MPs on the committee asked a mixture of sensible and idiotic questions. The worst offender was Jim Dobbin MP - instead of asking questions about the subject, cycling safety, he told two personal anecdotes in order to vent private grievances in relation to two altercations he has had with cyclists, while driving in London. 

Andrew Gilligan, the London Mayor's representative on cycling, also appeared. Read more about the first session of the Transport Select Committee's Inquiry on cycling safety...

In the second session (4th December 2013), Robert Goodwill, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Transport with responsibility for cycling, was asked a wide range of questions about cycling safety. Importantly, he is an experienced cyclist, and his approach to cycle infrastructure fact-finding is to get on his bike, and try it out. Read our report on Robert Goodwill's appearance before the Transport Select Committee...

Shadow transport secretary promises to promote cycling

1st December 2013

The shadow transport secretary, Labour's Mary Creagh, has promised to promote cycling should Labour be elected to government in 2015. At a speech to the Public Leaders Network, reported on 18th November 2013 in the Guardian, she said, 'Getting a cycle safety audit into the mainstream of transport planning is very high on our agenda for the next manifesto so that cyclists and pedestrians are not added in as afterthoughts but planned from the start.' 

In broader comments, in an article for the Guardian's bike blog on 25th November 2013, she wrote about moving cycling from the margins to the mainstream. She pointed out that a quarter of car journeys are less than a mile, and many of these could be undertaken by bike. She sees a need for long-term funding and planning for cycling, and this is mentioned in Labour's manifesto for cycling (prepared by Mary Creagh's predecessor, Maria Eagle).

Mary Creagh's priorities for investment would be:

  • redesigning dangerous junctions
  • separated cycle lanes, not just paint
  • a cycle safety assessement before approving new road schemes
  • an HGV action plan

Five cyclist deaths in nine days in London

15th November 2013

Five cyclists have died in London in nine days, it was widely reported yesterday. That takes to the total to thirteen deaths in London in 2013. In all the cases, the cyclists were hit by buses or lorries, and some of the incidents happened on London's 'cycle superhighways' (which are largely unsegregated from the traffic, but marked with blue paint).

British Cycling campaign on 'cycle-proofing'

1st November 2013

British Cycling report that they have obtained a commitment from the government and Highways Agency on the design standards needed to 'cycle-proof' Britain's roads.

'Cycle-proofing' is British Cycling's term for making sure cycling is designed into new roads. In a meeting with British Cycling representatives on Monday 28th October 2013, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin agreed to update design standards and regulations. 

The problem is with the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, aimed at trunk roads, but which often influences local roads too. Its road profiles section needs updating, to show roads with segregated cycle lanes and separate cycle tracks. Currently, it does not, and roads are often built too narrow to accommodate cycling facilities. 

The Traffic Signs Regulations also create problems, and are blamed for not allowing cycle paths to cross side roads satisfactorily, nor to run up to zebra crossings. 

It is feared that the Cycle City Ambition money could be wasted, if local authorities are prevented by current guidance and regulations from building usable infrastructure. 

Patrick McLoughlin committed his department to being as helpful as possible in allowing the Cycle Cities to build coherent and desirable cycle facilities. The timetable for altering the guidance and regulations is not yet clear, though. British Cycling's Policy Advisor, Chris Boardman, said:

'I'm pleased we're now seeing the government begin to implement the commitments made by the Prime Minister on 12th August. The scale of the task to make cycle proofing happen is significant, however that does not excuse the need to move fast on pushing through change. We cannot be waiting more than six months for these regulations to appear. The time to transform cycling in this country is - as the government has said - now.'

Think! campaign extended to five English cities

26th October 2013

Let's Look out for Each Other

The Think! cycle safety campaign, which TfL began in London, has been extended by the DfT to five other English cities - Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, and Cambridge. The campaign runs for four weeks from 21st October 2013.

This has been prompted by higher numbers of casualties amongst cyclists. The number killed rose from 107 in 2011, to 118 in 2012; and the number seriously injured rose from 3,085 in 2011, to 3,222 in 2012. Cyclist traffic levels are estimated to have risen by 1.2% over this period.

The Think! website gives six 'tips' for drivers, and six for cyclists, which were developed by TfL. The drivers' tips are (in brief summary):

  • look out for cyclists, especially when turning
  • use your indicators, so cyclists know your intentions
  • give cyclists space - at least half a car's width; hold back if there's not space to pass
  • check for cyclists before opening your car door
  • avoid driving over advanced stop lines
  • follow the Highway Code

Those for cyclists are:

  • ride positively and well clear of the kerb, and signal your intentions to drivers, with eye contact
  • don't ride up the inside of buses or lorries
  • use lights after dark or in poor visibility
  • wearing light coloured or reflective clothing in the day increases visibility
  • follow the Highway Code, including stopping at traffic lights
  • it is recommended to wear a helmet

There are posters, which carry the slogan, 'Let's look out for each other.' Some of them try to reduce the artificial divisions between 'motorists' and 'cyclists', by pointing out that they are often the same people. So one poster shows the same person with a bike, and by his car, and the words, 'Drivers and cyclists are more alike than you think.' Another points out that 80% of cyclists hold a driving licence, and 1 in 5 drivers cycles at least once a month.

British Cycling's women's strategy on track

20th October 2013

British Cycling announced on Thursday that their strategy to get a million more women cycling by 2020 is on track. 

In the first of the promised 6-monthly updates, British Cycling said it had so far attracted 106,000 women to its programmes, including:

  • 23,000 joining the Breeze programme of women-only rides
  • 37,000 women taking part in the traffic-free city centre Sky Rides
  • 24,000 women doing personal challenge (sportive) rides with British Cycling
  • 10,000 women or girls taking part  in the Go-Ride development programme for the young
Making the UK's roads safer is one of the keys to encouraging more women to cycle. British Cycling's announcement makes a reference to the DfT's plan to 'cycle-proof' new roads.

Women's Tour of Britain 2014 gets 2.1 status

12th October 2013

The inaugural women's Tour of Britain is being given 2.1 status by the UCI - equal to the men's race. This will help it attract top riders. 

There are four categories of stage race - WT (world tour), the top classification, which includes the Tour de France; then 2.HC (the HC standing for Hors Catégorie, in French); 2.1; and 2.2. 

The decision could be seen as evidence of the new UCI President, Brian Cookson, beginning to fulfil his promise to promote women's cycling. Together with action against doping, this was central to his election campaign.

The women's Tour of Britain takes place between Wednesday 7th and Sunday 11th May 2014. This is arguably a better time of year than the men's race, which is in September. The organisers of the Tour of Britain were disappointed at the UCI's recent decision not to upgrade the men's tour to 2.HC.

Cycling minister Norman Baker leaves Department for Transport

8th October 2013

The former cycling minister was moved out of the Department for Transport in yesterday's government reshuffle. He has been promoted to Minister of State in the Home Office. The new LibDem minister in the DfT is Susan Kramer, but it is not yet certain that she will have responsibility for cycling. (Update: Conservative Robert Goodwill, an experienced cyclist, has ended up with responsibility for cycling).

The ministers in the DfT are Patrick McLoughlin (Con), still Secretary of State; Susan Kramer (LibDem), new Minister of State, replacing Simon Burns (Con), who is thought to want to become deputy Speaker; Robert Goodwill (Con, Scarborough & Whitby), new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State; and Stephen Hammond (Con, Wimbledon), still Parliamentary Under Secretary of State. Wikipedia gives a useful table showing the ministerial structure in the department, although as of this morning it had not been updated.

Although there has so far been no official announcement, there are indications that Susan Kramer will be responsible for cycling. British Cycling tweeted, 'Susan Kramer is now a [transport] Minister and we look forward to working with her on cycling.' Similarly, LibDem MP for Cambridge Julian Huppert tweeted, 'Norman Baker's [Home Office] move v good news for civil liberties, but bad for cycling, buses, & pedestrians. Sue Kramer should be good!' It seems likely that British Cycling and Huppert would be informed about the division of responsibilities in the department. 

Susan Kramer studied PPE at Oxford, and worked in finance and banking. She was MP for Richmond Park from 2005-10, until she was defeated by Conservative Zac Goldsmith. She was then made Baroness Kramer. It is not clear what her views are on cycling. 

Meanwhile, there has been a change in the Labour shadow transport secretary. Maria Eagle recently accepted most of the findings of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group report at Labour's party conference. (The report was also adopted by the Lib Dems at their party conference in Glasgow in September). Maria Eagle has now been replaced by Mary Creagh, who is a cyclist (and was hit from behind by a mini-cab last year while cycling).

Cycling minister interviewed by Guardian

17th September 2013

The Cycling Minister, Lib Dem Norman Baker, gave a video interview to Peter Walker of The Guardian today.

Walker suggested to the Minister that, while everyone thinks he does a good job, he is fighting a losing battle in a government which is not that interested in cycling. Baker replied that the Prime Minister himself had made a recent announcement on cycling funding, showing commitment from the top.

On the Department for Transport response to the Parliamentary  report on cycling, Baker denied that it was disappointing. He said there was no need for a cycling champion.

Perhaps the key moment of the interview came when Peter Walker asked if Mr Baker and the government are bold enough, and have the vision, to dramatically improve and increase cycling in the UK. 

Mr Baker said that he and the government do have vision, and has made progress. 'Yes, we've got to go further, we intend to do so,' he said as his closing comment. That's pretty uninspiring. He does not appear to have the ambition to make the big changes which would be required to make the UK genuinely cycling-friendly, nor the drive to see the changes through.

Increasing success of cycle to work scheme

11th September 2013

Cycle commuter in Ilkely

The number of employees taking advantage of the 'cycle to work' scheme is up 22.5% in the last year, reported The Express yesterday. 

The figures also showed that in the first six months of 2013, 44,000 people joined the scheme, which can reduce the cost of a new bike by 42%. 

British Cycling and Paralympian Sarah Storey are helping to promote cycling to work tomorrow, Thursday 12th September 2013, which is designated as national Cycle to Work day.