Boris opens London’s first separated cycle superhighway

People on cycles now have a fully-protected route through one of London’s busiest gyratories and across Vauxhall Bridge after London Mayor Boris Johnson officially opened the new Oval to Pimlico cycle superhighway.

The new continuous two-way and separated cycle lane runs for as mile, providing a free-of-motors route for all ages and abilities through Vauxhall gyratory and across Vauxhall Bridge.

In the busiest peak hour, more than 750 cyclists are already using the new dedicated segregated lane which was opened three weeks ago. This is a 29 per cent increase to the total number crossing the Vauxhall bridge in the same hour before the segregated cycle tracks were installed.

The number of extra cyclists using the segregated route is already the equivalent of taking 113 cars an hour off Vauxhall Bridge.

It links with the existing Cycle Superhighway 8 at Millbank and provides a connection with Cycle Superhighway 7 at Oval, where substantial improvements for cyclists at the junction are now nearing completion. The new route also links into existing cycle routes through Kennington Oval and along Meadow Road by the Kia Oval, as well as the extensive network of back-street “Quietway” routes which are planned for Westminster and Lambeth.

Before the improvements, cyclists accounted for almost a quarter of rush-hour traffic through Vauxhall with around 580 in the busiest peak hour. With the opening of the new route, the proportion of rush-hour cycling traffic has already risen to almost 40 per cent.

Johnson, pictured on Vauxhall bridge earlier today, said: “With London’s population growing by 10,000 a month, there are only two ways to keep traffic moving – build more roads, which is for the most part physically impossible, or encourage the use of vehicles, such as bikes, which better use the space on the roads we’ve already got.”

Cambridge’s guided busway is getting people on bikes, finds study

A new study suggests that Cambridgeshire’s five-year-old guided busway is encouraging more cycling. The health study by the Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge is published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The guided busway, commissioned by Cambridgeshire County Council and opened in 2011 after much controversy, is a dedicated track that excludes other motorised vehicles, allowing high-speed buses to keep to their schedules even during rush hours. It runs from St Ives into Cambridge and out to Trumpington via the Biomedical Campus. The busway has a traffic-free cycleway for pedestrians and cyclists running beside it.

Researchers followed 469 commuters over time and assessed changes in their activity patterns before and after the opening of the busway. The latest results show that people living closer to the busway were more likely to increase the time they spent cycling on the commute than those living further away. These results follow others published earlier this year, in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, which showed a reduction in car use on the commute attributable to the busway. Interviews showed how commuters found the guided bus service convenient and accessible and appreciated the new traffic-free path.

It was found that the largest effect on physical activity on the journey to work was seen in those commuters who were least active before the busway opened. This suggests that the busway is shiftin activity patterns in the population at large, rather than just encouraging those who are already active to do a little more. The study found no evidence that people taking up more active commuting compensated by reducing their leisure-time physical activities.

Lead researcher Dr Jenna Panter, of Cambridge University’s Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, said: “These findings provide new evidence to support changes to our transport systems as part of a public health strategy to support a more active way of life. People might naturally think of cycle lanes as part of these changes – but this research suggests that we need to look at the wider infrastructure as well.”

Dr David Ogilvie, the principal investigator who led the overall study, also of the MRC Epidemiology Unit, added: “Although redesigning our towns and cities in this way may seem an obvious thing to do, the health benefits of doing this have rarely been tested in practice. Ours is one of the few studies to have done this, and it shows an effect of the busway even after taking account of a range of other factors that influence how people travel to work.”

The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research and was produced in collaboration with University College London and the University of East Anglia.


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Schools awarded for active travel efforts

On Tuesday, schools from across the South East, South West and East of England were recognised by Modeshift for their efforts to increase the numbers of pupils walking and cycling to school.

Notable amongst those schools were Godmanchester Primary School of Cambridgeshire, St Bede Church of England Primary School of Hampshire and Haydonleigh Primary School of Swindon, who were all recognised as the School of the Region for their respective Regions.

Godmanchester Primary School has worked hard to promote cycling to school which has resulted in an 50 percent increase in numbers cycling from 20 percent to 31 percent. Over 25 percent of pupils at Haydonleigh Primary School now cycle or scoot to school. Meanwhile, St Bede Church of England Primary is the first school to achieve the Gold level of Modeshift STARS in Hampshire and has recently added sustainable travel to part of their School Improvement Plan meaning that they are committed to sustainable travel for the long term.

The full list of schools rewarded for their efforts is:

• Godmanchester Primary School, Cambridgeshire, East of England School of the Region and STARS Award for Promoting Cycling

• Haydonleigh Primary School, Swindon, South West School of the Region and STARS Award for Pupil Involvement

• St Bede Church of England Primary School, Hampshire, South East School of the Region and STARS Award for Effective Partnerships

• St Bernadette’s Catholic Primary School, Hampshire, STARS Award for Reducing Car Use

• Stoke Mandeville Combined School, Buckinghamshire, STARS Award for Promoting Road Safety
• The Downley School, Buckinghamshire, STARS Award for Promoting Walking

Ross Butcher, Chair of Modeshift, the scheme coordinator, said: “Modeshift STARS presents a huge opportunity for us to collectively increase the number of children and young people that get more active on the journey to school. In a time of tight budgets and the government’s spending review just weeks away, it is vital that we recognise the efforts of our schools in making our communities happier, healthier places to live. The schools that have won awards this week are able to boast some fantastic achievements and have set an excellent example for others to follow.”

In 2015, 347 schools nationally have achieved Modeshift STARS accreditation in recognition of their efforts to encourage their pupils to travel to school in greener, healthier and safer ways. The STARS scheme recognises schools that have demonstrated excellence in supporting cycling, walking and other forms of sustainable travel.

Two further awards events will take place later this month, for the Midlands/North West Region in Stoke on the 15th October and for the North East/Yorkshire & The Humber Region in Leeds on the 22nd October.

Schools are able to achieve three levels of Modeshift STARS accreditation – Bronze, Silver and Gold – and are rewarded with the Modeshift STARS plaque and certificate to display in their school, use of the nationally recognised Modeshift STARS logo and the opportunity to be put forward for the Regional and National School of the Year Awards.

Free adult training sessions (so long as you live in West Yorkshire)

If you live in West Yorkshire you could get some free adult cycle training, thanks to go:cycling, a scheme co-ordinated by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority in partnership with the West Yorkshire’s districts and CTC.

Professional, qualified and friendly cycle instructors will be on hand in relaxed, traffic-free environments to offer tips, guidance and help building confidence for people who want to start cycling, or brush up on their existing skills.

Sessions will take place between 10am and 12 noon on Saturdays throughout the summer. They start at the OSCA Foundation in Halifax, Keighley University Academy, Huddersfield’s Leeds Road Sports Complex and the Fearnville Leisure Centre in Leeds on Saturday 9 May and at Wakefield’s Thornes Park Leisure Centre on Saturday 16 May.

There’s no need to book in advance and you don’t even need a bike to take part.