Modeshift STARS schools can win one of five signed British Cycling jerseys

To celebrate Bike Week schools which take part in the Modeshift STARS programme can enter a competition to win one of five signed cycle jerseys supplied by British Cycling.

To be in with a chance the school just has to retweet this tweet:

Training is not an alternative to good infrastructure, confirms trade body

TABS, the Association of Bikeability Schemes, has issued a statement confirming that it does not believe cycle training takes the place of good cycling infrastructure, such as cycleways. This topic is often controversial on social media, with some cycle advocates stating that the money pumped into Bikeability by the Department for Transport would be better spent on protected bicycle infrastructure.

Bikeability is “cycling proficiency for the 21st century”, designed to give the next generation the skills and confidence to ride their bikes on and away from roads. TABS is a body set up to represent the cycle training industry.

The TABS statement is short and to the point:

“Training is not an alternative to good infrastructure but one of many measures that encourage cycling.”

On social media it is sometimes mentioned that Dutch children don’t need cycle training because they can get to and from school on protected cycling infrastructure. In fact, Dutch children do receive cycle training, partly because they sometimes have to share roads with motor vehicles.

Tej Mistry, the CTC representative on the TABS board, said:

“The importance of infrastructure is clear, as is the continued requirement for improved conditions, facilities, and engineering advancements.”

Mistry added: “Fundamentally, cycling is a safe activity whether for leisure, recreation or transport. Encouraging people to cycle brings an array of wider benefits.

“A key element to increasing levels of cycling is education through cycle training to support the development of new cyclists through confidence-building and skills development. Training, especially for young people through Bikeability, will drive long-term health and social benefits for society.”

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.

Bikeability secures £50m in funding from Department for Transport

The Department for Transport has today announced it is to secure the future of Bikeability cycle training. £50m is to be provided, enabling the delivery of Bikeabilty for the next four years.

A statement from the DfT said:

“This funding will help to increase children’s road awareness, encourage children to be healthy and active. Since its inception, more than 1.5m school children have received training through Bikeability. We expect to train 275,000 children during 2015/16.”

In 2016, Bikeability will have been running for 10 years.

Isobel Stoddart, development manager The Association of Bikeability Schemes, or TABS, said

“We look forward to working with the Government over the next four years to support the cycle training industry to maintain high standards and professionalism. Bikeability training can teach children not only how to cycle more safely on the road, but also offers many other personal attributes such as independence, confidence, decision making and general co-ordination.”

She added: “TABS would like to see cycle training as part of the national curriculum so every child in the country has the chance to benefit from this essential life-skill.”

Phillip Darnton, executive director of the Bicycle Association, welcomed the cash guarantee:

“The announcement is particularly significant, given the Government’s decision in the Spending Review to cut investment in the future of cycling by, effectively, two-thirds over the coming five years. In this respect it is a striking recognition of the continuing importance of teaching youngsters to ride cycles, at the very age that they really want to learn.”

He added: “It’s a pity that there isn’t funding to offer Bikeability to every child.”

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.


Pic credit.