Bike imports

This article was published in 2006, in Newsletter 66.

These items are from other cycling groups’ newsletters.

Local shopping

Photo: bike racks near a shop.

A survey by Sustrans of 840 shoppers and 126 retailers on two neighbourhood shopping streets on bus routes in Bristol has found that retailers overestimate the importance of the car and how far their customers travel. Retailers estimated that 41% of their customers arrived by car, whereas only 22% had done so. Also the traders assumed that just 12% of customers lived within half a mile and 40% more than two miles away. In reality, 42% has travelled less than half a mile and 88% had travelled less than two miles. Most customers are local.

‘retailers overestimate the importance of the car and how far their customers travel.’

CCN: newsletter of the Cycle Campaign Network

The National Children’s Bureau has published a very comprehensive report about children and cycling. Many of the conclusions are at odds with those normally put forward as being in children’s ‘best interests’. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the appendix which looks in depth at the debate about cycle helmets. The helmet review concludes: ‘Those of us who cycle should be under no illusion that helmets offer reliable protection in crash situations where our lives may be in danger. Neither should we believe that widespread adoption of helmet wearing would see many fewer cyclists killed or permanently disabled. The evidence so far suggests otherwise.’ This is the fourth UK report in just a few months to find no evidence that cycle helmets are effective against serious or fatal injury.

In 2002, Malcolm Wardlaw had an article published in Traffic Engineering + Control, in which he analysed the risks involved in cycling in a way not previously attempted. He concluded that cycling is a low risk activity that gets safer as more people cycle; that on a direct comparison cycling is much safer than being a pedestrian; that weighing in the health benefits, cycling is safer than driving anywhere; and that there has been no known example in recent decades when an increase in cycling has led to more cyclist fatalities. The audience for TE+C is mainly traffic engineers. However, late last year it came to the notice of the Institute of Road Safety Officers when an editor of its journal, InRoads, sought permission to publish a summary of the article. So local road safety officers should now be aware that cycling is, indeed, a safe and benign activity, and that the best way to make it even safer is not through fear-based campaigns and segregation, but through positive promotion and cycle training.

SPOKES: The Lothian Cycle Campaign

Safely in the red.
Photo: Safely in the red.

In Edinburgh very many people wrote individual letters or emails to councillors over the threat to coloured surfaces for cycle lanes in the city. Spokes state that there was clearly inadequate joined-up thinking in the City Development Department, with the visual allowed wholly to subordinate both road safety and the council’s own aim to increase cycling. There are good technical reasons to use colour – see SpokesWorker 27 Nov 05 at Spokes.

Here are a few examples from letters:

My son immediately wanted to start cycling when the red lanes appeared – surely this is to be encouraged!’ – ‘When I moved to Edinburgh I was instantly alerted to the possibility of cycle commuting by these coloured lanes’ –

‘When I began cycling I … was extremely nervous using the road. I doubt I would have found the confidence without the strong message of the coloured lanes’ – ‘I believe I am safest where drivers are constantly being reminded of my potential presence.’ – ‘The red lanes show the city as a modern progressive centre, in which transport problems are being actively tackled.’

The article also mentions that a new Napier University study shows coloured bus lanes keep up to eight times as many cars out as white lines only. (Bradley, S, 2006, The Effect of Surfacing on Bus Lane Compliance.)

Lisa Woodburn

Children and cycling (NCB).
Most customers are local (Sustrans).