Monday, 22 July 2013

If you can't cycle it, then it ain't a cycling route

I've been reading the local council's published proposal and funding bid for a local "pinch point" along the A194  which is a busy 70 MPH dual carriageway which also happens to one of the main routes into the town.

There is bugger all about improvements for cycling, apart from a mention about signing some of the slip road crossings, apart from the following

All well and good, but the bridge which is marked on the official map as being advisory specifically prohibits cycles from being ridden. The actual signs at either end of the bridge are below.

South side of the footbridge
North side of the footbridge
Now colour me pedantic, but a cycle route where you are only allowed to push your bicycle, is NOT a cycle route, advisory or otherwise, it is a footpath. I have been across and appreciate why they stop you from riding a cycle, but to mention it as a cycling facility in a bid to show that cyclists are catered for is nothing more than a bare faced lie.

The A194 route is popular with commuting cyclists, not that there is that many as the conditions are so hostile, as it is a direct link in and out of the town and links several residential and industrial areas as well as schools. The current cycling provision is frankly zero.

This bid goes into lots of detail about car movements and into fantasy about how it will create more jobs cos more people will be able to drive there once the congestion caused by the "pinch point" is removed, which kinda seems like a self defeating prophecy to me.

Any congestion reduction will only come from reducing the number of cars, The bid actually hints that it would INCREASE traffic volume. This is madness.

As I mentioned above the bid makes virtually zero provision for improved walking and cycling apart from putting in better crossings on the A19 sliproads. That's out of £3.4 million, and as it has now gone public, it can be assumed that it has been given the green light from the DfT. Below is the section explaining the paltry amount of consideration given to pedestrians and cyclists as part of the bid

What should have been done, was to provide a wide 2 way cycleway from Whitemare pool along the A194. As well as very wide grassed verges, there are various sections of the old road (Roman Road and Hadrian road) which run parallel to the A194 which could be linked in to reduce the overall cost.

This would have provided people with a real alternative to driving, but it seems that South Tyneside council is stuck in the 1970s still.

This is why national mandatory high quality designs and guidance is urgently needed to force local authorities like South Tyneside Council to provide good quality and safe environments for pedestrians and cyclists

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Get Britain Cycling - I've written to my MP, you should too

Below is the letter I have sent to my MP via They work For You asking him to attend the Get Britain Cycling debate on the 2nd of September.

Please also write to your MP asking them to attend. Feel free to steal, plagiarise and use the text below as you wish

Dear Stephen Hepburn,

I am writing to ask you to attend the Get Britain Cycling debate in Parliament on the 2nd of September, and represent the best interests of your constituents.

This was the focus of a parliamentary enquiry earlier this year, and has been in the media spotlight for the last 18 months. The report from the enquiry can be read here if you have not already done so.

Cycling has witnessed a large boom in recent years, and is one of the best forms of transport especially for the short journeys which make up the overwhelming majority of car trips in the UK.

Now is an ideal time to prioritise and promote cycling as it is still benefiting from the Olympic "effect" and Bradley Wiggins' historic first British Tour De France win for Britain  which looks set to have another British winner this year. The Tour is also due to start in Leeds in 2014, which is not too far away & certain to increase cycling's profile even further.

More importantly, increasing cycling provision by providing safe infrastructure and road environments  would provide several key benefits within the constituency which would help alleviate some of the issues faced by people living here.

As you are aware, South Tyneside and Jarrow have a significant obesity problem causing other long term health issues such as diabetes and heart disease. You have previously raised this issue requesting numbers.  The local paper has previously reported obesity and related conditions costing £50 Million a year in the borough.

Making cycling a safe and attractive option for people to integrate into their daily lives as a transport mode will make for a healthier population, as it is an excellent way of increasing & integrating activity into everyday life.

As you are also undoubtedly aware, the area is quite deprived, and lots of households are struggling with ever increasing bills.

Cycling could help people reduce fuel and other motoring costs by switching to bicycles. Also areas of the constituency have nearly 50% of households which do not have vehicles.

Prioritising the vast majority of transport policy on cars & other road vehicles negatively impacts these households which do not have cars & rely on public transport, & cycling and walking.

In these times of austerity, building cycling infrastructure has a very high return on investment from short term savings in reducing congestion & fuel costs to long term savings in health costs

I would appreciate your support in this matter on the 2nd of September and would be more than happy to engage in ongoing discussions with yourself about cycling in the constituency.

Yours sincerely,

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

"I hate cyclists. They never...." "road tax. They don't have insurance or pass a test" Go the cyclist haters on Twitter, the Daily Mail and localnews sites. "Ban 'em from the roads" until they do go the shouts from the baying mob.

As we all know this is a complete load of codswallop spouted from ignorant loons who don't frankly have a clue.

So lets quickly debunk these one by one,with a little bit of Google-Fu...

Tax (VED) - 2.1 Million vehicles untaxed according to this report published by Autocar in 2009. Also based on data from What Car there are over 230 models on sale that are legally VED free and pay the same amount as bicycles.

Insurance - 1.3 Million cars (1 in 25) without insurance -

Driver testing - It was not possible to get any accurate figure of unlicenced drivers, which includes disqualified and people who have never taken or passed a test, but estimates range from 1 million to 5 million+.

In addition, although bicycles are not subject to maintenance checks, cars are and 4.5 million MOT renewals are missed every year according to this report from uswitch So that is 4.5 million cars that are on the road illegally at some point during the year.

So to all drivers. STFU and sort your own house out, as you are all one and all guilty of the above

At least until you treat cyclists as individuals and not some delinquent hive mind!