This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 18.

As predicted in Newsletter 17, the County Council asked us in April (among 50 or so others) to make comments on the Transport Policies and Programmes bid to the Government for funds for 1999-2000. This was the first time they have formally consulted on this very important document.

At about the same time, the Government Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions asked what people thought about reducing the blood alcohol limit for drivers from 80 mg per 100 ml to 50 mg per 100 ml, amongst other measures to further combat drink driving.

In a separate consultation, they also asked whether it should be compulsory for new bikes to be supplied with bells and lights.


We told the County Council that they should concentrate more on the National Cycling Strategy. We also said that we have many reservations about the way rural cycleways are dealt with, and that the cycle planning process should involve more focus, in particular on safe routes to school, commuter routes and Sustrans routes, these all benefiting the largest number of cyclists. We supported many aspects of the Council’s policy, especially the Cambridge Package Bid addressing the City, but said that much of the best work for cyclists came out of the accident remedial budget rather than the money specifically set aside for cycling.

We said that we wanted to see increased action on speeding and speed limits, and that speed reduction measures like traffic calming and Home Zones should be a priority.

We gave a long list of places where junctions are a problem: the ring road, for example, is a barrier because of the roundabouts sprinkled liberally along it. We also looked at solutions other than physical changes to the road environment: adult cycle training, for example, and further emphasis on the Travel for Work scheme incorporating Cycle Friendly Employers.

Some of our comments were recycled from last year, when we submitted a paper uninvited. In reviewing those comments we noticed a number of things that had been done from last year’s wish list. But it is an agonisingly slow process. We’ve stuck to our guns, though, on the importance of quality on cycle provision, despite the expense. We also asked for a little money from each year to be set aside to remedy some of the minor irritations for cyclists.

You can read our full response in PDF on the Cycling Campaign Web site.

Drink driving

We supported the principle of reducing the limit. However, the Government discussion paper made it clear that drink driving is no longer the major cause of casualties that it once was, accounting for less than 15% of road deaths.

Reduction to 50 mg per 100 ml would, they estimated, save 50 lives a year (and perhaps 250 seriously and 1200 slightly injured people). If you’re one of those 50, it’s 100% of your life, but in statistical terms, this is relatively few. Therefore, we said that we would like to see much more emphasis put on enforcement in general, and speeding in particular. This, we felt, could not only have a bigger effect, but would also deal with some of the drink drivers in the process.

The Government also asked whether penalties should be less for those caught with between 50 mg and 80 mg per 100 ml. We said no: make the penalty for 50 mg the same as it is for 80 mg at present. However, we said that it is also important to deal with offences more quickly, so that people guilty of drink driving are no longer allowed to drive for months before coming to trial.

You can read our full response in PDF on the Cycling Campaign Web site.

Bells and Lights

Sadly we missed on this one. It took so long to find out who was doing the consulting that the deadline had passed. Sorry, folks, sadly we can’t do everything!

The position we would have taken, agreed at April’s Campaign meeting, was that we would support the compulsory fitting of bells and lights on new bikes, but only if it was fitting, and not supply. In other words, I could bring the lights from my old bike or purchase new lights of my choice, and not be required to take the ones the shop or manufacturer preferred.

The Government seemed to be taking the line that bells should be fitted at the point of sale, but that the fitting of lights would be governed by a code of practice instead.

David Earl

Philip Lund’s solution to the nuisance of long dangly pannier straps: attach crocodile clips, 13p each from Tandy.
Image as decribed adjacent