PlusBike seeks info on your bike-enabled rail journeys

Cycle-rail information provider PlusBike is currently running an online survey seeking more data on rail users who either cycle to and from stations or who travel with folding bikes. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete, and ends on 31st January. Four of those who complete the survey will win £25 each in Amazon vouchers.

Whether you are parking your bike at the station, taking it on board or wanting to hire one at the other end of your journey, PlusBike provides info on the level of facilities on trains, at the station, and whether stations have any cycle hire schemes.

PlusBike is an initiative of the Association of Train Operating Companies.

Government infographic spells out cycling’s economic benefits

Highways England, a government-owned company, has produced an infographic that lists cycling’s many health, social, economic and congestion-busting benefits. The graphic was included in a new Cycling Strategy document released on Friday. Highways England manages the strategic road network in England, or about 4,400 miles of roads, half of which are motorways.

The infographic – viewable in hi-res on Flickr – within the Cycling Strategy from Highways England majors on the economic benefits of cycling, including the fact that Danish levels of cycling would save the NHS £17 billion over the next 20 years. It also stresses the benefits to retailers of being sited near cycleways. “Bike lanes can increase retail sales by a quarter,” promises the graphic, which also states that more people cycling would reduce congestion on England’s roads.

Highways England plans to spend £100 million on “cycle proofing” 200 road schemes. These cycling schemes  include creating cycleways beside A-roads, such as the multi-user track to be created when the A556 in Cheshire is “de-trunked”.

Significantly, Highways England says its about “more than just supporting the millions of cars, vans and motorcycles that use our roads every day. Our network also plays a key role in supporting the needs of vulnerable road users, including cyclists.”

The agency is seeking to develop an “integrated, safe, comprehensive and high quality cycling network.” It defines safe as “separate from traffic and that enable users of all abilities to cycle …”

Additional infrastructure will be needed, says the agency, because “cycling is prohibited on our motorways and incompatible with major parts of our network.”

The Government infographic has been adapted from one produced for British Cycling in 2013. Many of the health benefit stats on the infographic were first contained in “Claiming the Health Dividend” published for the Department for Transport in 2014. Despite the Government being well aware of the health, social, economic and congestion-busting benefits of cycling it continues to subsidise and mainly provide for motoring. The Government has plans to spend £15.2 billion on building new roads but, over the next five years has only pledged to spend £300 million on cycling.



Map shows that car-ownership in cities is less than politicians might think

A new map-and-data merge vividly demonstrates that many urban areas in England and Wales have electoral wards where the majority of people don’t own cars. Some wards in London, Newcastle and other cities have car-ownership of less than 30 percent yet local and national governments continue to plough money mainly into facilities for motorists.

The new map has been created by Tom Forth of Imactivate, a data consultancy based in Leeds. The map uses information from the 2011 Census and the Office for National Statistics, and by plotting this often obtuse data on Google Maps it shows how car ownership in towns and cities in England and Wales is perhaps not as prevalent as politicians and planners seem to believe.

The map also shows that rural areas are highly car dependent, which isn’t surprising considering how public transport to such areas has been cut back over many years, including the Beeching-induced cuts to Britain’s rail network and the politically-motivated bus deregulation of the 1980s.

Forth says Imactivate works with data to “tell stories in a digital world.” He created BusStart, a smartphone app that evaluates bus routes and suggests changes that would better connect people with jobs. Last year Imactivate also used Google’s flight data to discover that Britain’s hub airport isn’t Heathrow but Schiphol, a finding that was reported on BBC Radio 4.

Urban cycle advocates will no doubt use the car-ownership map to show businesses and local politicians that providing facilities that encourages more cycling and walking is economically and socially sound.

Gravel-bike owners will be disappointed with smooth upgrade for cycle route beside a New Forest road

A cycle route through the heart of the New Forest has been upgraded with a smooth asphalt surface. The work was paid for with £325,000 from the New Forest National Park Authority’s £2m cycling fund from the Department for Transport. Earlier in the year there were fears that the “cycling” money would be spent on a scheme that widened the road for the convenience mainly of motorists. However, one of the leading campaigners for improved cycling in the New Forest has welcomed the resurfacing work.

The 3.5km route alongside the A35 links Southampton, Totton and Ashurst in the New Forest National Park.

“Replacing the former gravel surface on the path next to the busy A35 with the smooth tarmac surface means commuters, students and people cycling for pleasure are now able to use the popular route away from the danger of traffic,” says a statement from the New Forest National Park Authority.

New Forest National Park Authority member and New Forest District Councillor for Lyndhurst Pat Wyeth said she had been campaigning to improve the route for years.

“Only people with tough mountain-bike tyres were able to use the gravel surface previously so people commuting or using road bikes with thinner tyres had to either risk a puncture on the path or dodge the many lorries and cars in the road.

“The upgraded path is already well-used as different sections have been opened. We’re keen to get more people out of their cars and using bikes as it’s better for the New Forest environment, as well as [bringing] health benefits.”

Photo: New Forest National Park Authority member and New Forest District Councillor for Lyndhurst Pat Wyeth officially opens the Ashurst to Lyndhurst route with locals and (front left to right) NPA member David Harrison; Hampshire County Councillor and NPA member Keith Mans; HCC Highway Engineer Steve Eleftheriou; NPA member Sally Arnold; NPA Chairman Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre.

Cycle campaigner @forestcyclist told BikeHub he welcomed the upgrade.

“The previous gravel surface which was actively avoided by most cyclists. It appears that in places there’s been a bit of a ‘land grab’ to facilitate the new 2m wide tarmac path, something which I very much welcome.”

He added: “The legal arguments between Verderers and Highways have been resolved and, in effect, have laid the foundations for proposals of more new tarmac cycle paths alongside the A337 from Cadnam to Lymington, as it’s now clear that within the fenced roads of the New Forest that the highway authority are the sole regulatory body.”

Trainee footballer rides reconditioned bike to and from training and work

Trainee footballer Gerard Duarte Dos Santos has kicked-off his apprenticeship with a reconditioned bike and cycling accessories from West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Travel2Train scheme.

Dos Santos is a winger for Brighouse’s Expro Academy. He has played in friendly games against Huddersfield Town and Rotherham United. He travels to the town’s Dual Seal Stadium for training four times a week from his home near Huddersfield’s Greenhead Park. He also cycles home after late finishes at the Huddersfield restaurant in which he works at weekends.

After finding out about Travel2Train from one of WYCA’s roadside displays, Dos Santos applied to the scheme, which provided him with a reconditioned bike, helmet, lights, and lock.

Dos Santos who now cycles 80 miles per week to and from his workplaces.

“Cycling has been brilliant for my overall fitness on and off the pitch. It’s low cost, so means I can use my wage for other things.”

Travel2Train helps apprentices in West Yorkshire with travel to their apprenticeship. People who can travel by bus or train can apply for a free Student Plus Monthly MetroCard, valid on buses and trains in West Yorkshire, for their first month of travel.

Those unable to use public transport or who prefer to cycle can apply for a free reconditioned bike and equipment. Travel2Train works with cycle recyclers that give life to old bikes.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Chair, Cllr Keith Wakefield said:

“Improving young people’s access to apprenticeships, training and good quality jobs is one of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s key ambitions.”

Polly Webber from Cycle:recycle, the community bike provider for the Calderdale District, said:

“We think this is a really great scheme. People seem to be grateful for their bikes and it is good to see how it has such a positive effect on people’s lives”

Cllr Peter McBride, Kirklees Cabinet Member for Investment and Regeneration said:

“Apprenticeships are vital as we aim to match people’s skills to the needs of the local economy. It is great that Gerard is now able to get to his place of work, but the real message here is that we will do all we can to make a difference to the lives of young people as they take their first steps on the career ladder.”