All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group Study Tour to Cambridge
On 11th February 2010 I took part in a cycling tour of Cambridge,
which is one of Cycling Englands
Cycling Demonstration Towns. Here is the link to a short film about our tour: http://www.vimeo.com/9870477
As I've repeatedly stated, Birmingham
Council should be doing far more to improve the opportunities for cycling in the city and
I hope to use some of the lessons learned in Cambridge to promote the interests of
cyclists in my local area.
I have signed a number of Early Day Motions on this issue and one of the most recent is
EDM 1009: CYCLING AND THE VOTE BIKE MANIFESTO CAMPAIGN
That this House notes the benefits of cycling to health and to communities, streets and
the environment; welcomes the substantial recent increases in cycle use in London and
other parts of Britain including several of the Cycle Towns; and supports the aims of the
Vote Bike manifesto to make cycling mainstream by strengthening the political and resource
commitments made to cycling by Government departments, local authorities, health and other
relevant bodies, improving the training and skills of planners and engineers required to
deliver quality cycle-friendly planning and design, tackling the risks faced by cyclists
through training and awareness campaigns for both drivers and cyclists through lower speed
limits and through strengthened road traffic law and enforcement, enhancing provision for
combining cycling with public transport by ensuring good access to stations and
interchanges, providing secure parking including cycle hubs at major stations and sensibly
managed provision for carrying cycles on public transport, providing encouragement,
incentives and opportunities to try out cycling in schools and workplaces and for key
target groups such as health patients and disadvantaged groups, plus tax incentives to
support the use, purchase and repair of cycles and related accessories, and creating new
and improved opportunities for recreational and off-road cycling including the appropriate
opening up of green spaces, forest land, rights of way, waterways and sections of
Britain's coast in order to deliver substantial increases in cycle use while halving the
risks of cycling within 10 years.
I have received a number of emails from concerned constituents about
the impact of the revised Highway Code on cyclists. I share their concerns and
recently asked Parliamentary questions and wrote to the relevant Minister as follows:
Letter to the Minister:
Stephen Ladyman MP
Minister of State
URGENT by fax
Comment on the revised Highway
Code - due to be published Monday 7 May 2007
Firstly, I apologise for writing to you so close to the publication
of the revised Highway Code but I hope that you are able to consider this letter.
I am writing further to my letter to you last year of 16 March 2006
and your reply of 29 March 2006 (your ref: SL/008561/06) regarding the consultation on the
draft Highway Code, I have recently received the enclosed email from my constituent, xxx
xxx expressing his concerns that the final draft, still has a rule that could be to the
detriment of cyclists. As you will note he
points out that Rule 61 says: "Use cycle routes ... wherever possible," whereas
the original draft said "Use cycle routes where practicable" but there are many
cycle routes that are "possible" to use but are not as safe to use as the road.
On reading the consultation response on this point, it seems that
your Department did actually accept this argument over cycle facilities:
A large number of respondents also
felt that other road users believed cyclists were legally obliged to use these facilities
at all times, and therefore expected cyclists to use them wherever available, rather than
by free choice, dependent on conditions. This
then raised the issue of liability if cyclists did not use the facilities and a road
traffic incident occurred.
It was felt that other road users
needed to be made aware that the choice is to use these facilities remains with the
cyclist, and there is no law forcing their use. The
phasing of the rule has therefore been amended to take this into account. The standard of cycle routes remains the
responsibility of the relevant highway authorities and so falls outside the remit of The Highway Code.
I should be grateful for your comments on why the
revised wording apparently takes less account of the view that it remains a choice for
cyclists to use cycling facilities. As I
stated in my original letter to you, I agree that cyclists often have good reason for not
using cycling facilities. I am concerned that
the new phrase 'wherever possible' could be interpreted as less flexible than 'wherever
practicable'. For example, the latter allows
an argument against using a cycle lane in an underpass at night as this not practicable on
safety grounds but it would still be 'possible'.
concern, the purpose of this letter is to ask that you do not implement the Code in its
present form and that wording that better reflects the Governments intentions as
described in the consultation response is devised.
LYNNE JONES MP
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 10th May 2007,
Official Report, column 452W, on cycling: Highway Code, for what reasons the wording was
changed from "where practicable" to "where possible".
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for
Transport what account is taken in the revised Highway Code of the statement in the
10 May 2007 : Column 452W
Consultation Report of March 2007 that road users other than cyclists need to be made
aware that the choice to use cycle facilities remains with the cyclist and there is no law
compelling their use. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Highway Code states that
where possible cyclists should use cycle lanes. This means that while they are
encouraged to do so, they are not compelled. The difference between legal requirements and
advisory rules is made clear in the introduction to the code.
In response to the views raised by respondents to the
consultation, the rules for cyclists were amended. Some 30 other rules throughout the
Highway Code were revised to add emphasis to the need for consideration of cyclists by
other road users.
The Highway Code as a whole draws more attention to
vulnerable road users, including cyclists, than previous versions. It also specifically
instructs drivers to pay attention to bus and cycle lanes, as cyclists may be pulling out
of them, or using roads alongside.
WANTED A BETTER DEAL FOR CYCLISTS IN BIRMINGHAM
Cycling to my Westminster office
Since I started cycling to work in London (I'm
pictured opposite), I have become aware just how poor facilities for cycling are in Birmingham
compared to the Capital. On my way to work at Westminster, all major junctions and
traffic lights have cycle priority lanes and Transport for London is spending £100
million over the next 6 years on a 500 mile network of continuous cycle routes.
Although Birmingham City Councils Transportation Department spends over £70M a year
on highways, far less than 1% of this goes on improving facilities for cyclists. It
is particularly noticeable that, even when new road surfaces are being applied or
junctions redesigned, it is rare for cyclists needs to even be considered.
Birmingham is supposed to have a cycling strategy but it is now over five years old and
largely unimplemented. Yet if more people could be encouraged to take to their
bikes, they would not only be much healthier and the environment less polluted but we
could solve many of our traffic congestion problems.
The National Cycling Strategy Board (NCSB) assessments of local
authority provision do not mention Birmingham as setting good parctice in any of the
categories of their review.
For more information, click here for NCSB press release issued when the assessments
of local authority on cycling were published.
Over the course of the last two years, cyclists groups
have approached me to raise their concerns at the seemingly limited role that the Council
and organisations such as Centro, the executive of the West Midlands Passenger Transport
Authority (WMPTA) consider cycling can play in the improvement of the transport system in
One of the issues of particular interest was
the desire to allow the carriage of cycles on the Midland Metro as well as on the local
rail network (only folding cycles are currently allowed on the Metro). Associated with
this is the perceived lack of security at Metro stops and inconvenience if a further cycle
journey is required after using the Metro.
Since this issue was raised, I have been in touch with Centro on
a number of occasions to request serious consideration of the proposal to require all new
rolling stock to make provision for cycle carriage. Following the more
enlightened approach taken by other authorities, WMPTA reviewed their original
refusal and have agreed that they will wait for the results of detailed studies on this
issue being carried out by Nottingham University and Manchester Passenger Transport
Authority. The research project is to assess the potential for the integration of bikes
and Light Rapid Transit (LRT). This is especially important for Birmingham because
of the planned extension of the Midland Metro to Five Ways and then on to other routes.
The project will examine LRT safety measures (such as speed restrictions in pedestrianised
areas, audible and visual warnings, signs and road markings; cycle parking measures at
interchanges and tram stops and the pros and cons of cycle provision on board LRT
services. Once the results of the research are available, Centro will carry out a
further review to allow an informed decision on better provision for cyclists.
However, it is disappointing to note that the only mention of carriage of bicycles on the
Metro in WMPTAs 2004 policy statement is that Her Majestys Railway
Inspectorate (HMRI) excludes the carriage of bicycles on Metro Line One hardly a
Cycling quick, cheap and healthy
In these days of increasing traffic congestion, cycling is just
about the cheapest and quickest mode of transport in a city like Birmingham. The
associated gentle exercise is a health giving by-product. I am therefore keen to see
those in charge of transport policies giving greater priority to making cycling safe and
easy. This is not just about special provision like cycleways but about making all
routes cyclist/pedestrian-friendly and encouraging complementarity with public transport.
As indicated above, progress has been very slow due to the low priority being given
to walking and cycling.
A recent British Medical Association report said that the risk
of death or serious injury from cycling was outweighed 20 times over by the risk of
suffering heart disease, strokes and diabetes through inactivity. However, many
people are put off cycling because of the perception that this is dangerous and there has
been a decline in the numbers of children cycling because parents are convinced that it is
too dangerous to allow their children to cycle to school. This trend can only be
reversed by the provision of safe routes for cyclists. Birmingham City Council must
give cycling safety measures a higher priority!
In a survey carried out by
Sport England of more than 3,000 children and young people aged 6-16, it was found that
swimming is the most popular sport but cycling comes a close second. This shows there is
enormous potential to get more of our children on their bikes.
Encouraging pedal power in Birmingham
Parliamentary Cycling Group
In 2000, the Deputy Prime Minister pledged to bring about a 200%
increase in cycling trips by the end of the decade but, at present rate of progress, this
target is a long way off being met. The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, of
which I am a member, tries to keep these matters on the political agenda. Annual
Parliamentary Bike rides are organised and the Grouphas recently responded to the
Strategic Rail Authoritys consultation on rolling stock stating that all new rolling
stock should be built to provide space for the carriage of cycles.
in Birmingham Selly Oak Relief Road
A number of constituents have been in touch
with me to raise concerns about the proposed relief road and I now have some news from the
Councils Highways section on the provision which will be made available for
cyclists. David Pywell, informs me that:
As far as the new road and Hospital link road are
concerned, there will be segregated cycle and pedestrian paths alongside the routes for
their entire length. In combination with a
safer environment on the old (Bristol)
road, this should provide a good choice for cyclists to access most of the local
Finally some good news for cyclists in Selly
Cycle carriage on Midland Metro
November 2006 Update
As detailed above, I have
been pressing Centro to allow cycles to be taken on the Midland
Metro. Centro are now preparing
specifications for new trams and have now agreed to consider cycle carriage
after I drew attention to the study being undertaken in Manchester, whose own
Passenger Transport Authority (PTA) has agreed in principle to allow cycle
carriage on its trams during off-peak hours.
Push Bikes (the Birmingham Area Cycling Campaign) have met
with the West Midlands PTA and they advise me they are reasonably
confident of cycle carriage receiving a positive recommendation.
Unfortunately, the new rolling stock wont be in service for a number of years but at
least some progress now seems to be being made!
You can read more about this on the Push Bikes website. Click here to
go to the relevant web page
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