Cycling England among 177 public bodies to be abolished, says Telegraph

One week before the Comprehensive Spending Review watch out for soapy babies. A lot of them will be thrown out with bathwaters in what is billed as the ‘bonfire of the quangos’. Cycling-related bodies facing the chop, apart from Cycling England, include British Waterways and the Commission for Integrated Transport. Even the Forestry Commission is at risk.

The Daily Telegraph claims to have seen a list of at-risk quangos. According to the Tory newspaper, Cycling England is on a list of 177 quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations which will be definitely scrapped.

UPDATE: The BBC has obtained the leaked Cabinet Officer letter in question. It’s in PDF form here. The letter says Cycling England is to be abolished but “transfer of functions to be confirmed.” In theory, this could mean some of the (few) staff employed by Cycling England could be absorbed by the Department for Transport.

The Forestry Commission is on a 94-strong list of public bodies “still under review” by the Coalition Government.

Whitehall insiders predict that the slash-and-burn policies will play well to those who wish for less state control but many of the functions currently carried out by quangos will not be replicated by central Government and will be too national in scope to be handled by local authorities. Once the experts on bodies such as Cycling England move on to other contracts, their skills and know-how will have to replaced, and this replication will likely cost much more to implement than simply keeping key quangos in the first place.

CTC is worried that the loss of Cycling England could put Bikeability at risk, too.

CTC Chief Executive Kevin Mayne, who also sits on the Cycling England board, said:

“Details are only emerging slowly, but there is real concern for the future of cycle training funding. It is likely that cycle training schemes will have to compete with other local sustainable transport initiatives such as walking and public transport, as there will no longer be a ring-fenced central pot.”

By local sustainable transport initiatives, Mayne meant the Government’s announcement earlier this week of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

Sustrans is being positive about the new fund but is also worried it could be a smokescreen for wider cuts. Sustrans hopes the fund will incentivise local transport authorities to prioritise funding for sustainable transport schemes that enable more local journeys to be made on foot, bike and public transport in their Local Transport Plans. 

Peter Lipman, Sustrans’ Policy Director, said:

“The new fund must not be a smokescreen for wider cuts to sustainable transport investment. Given the current funding constraints government now has a historic opportunity to deliver smarter travel choices to millions of people.  Local authorities need to focus investment in low cost sustainable transport solutions that have proven health, environmental and economic benefits.

“We read continued reports of the potential disbanding of Cycling England and wait for details of the transfer of its functions. We believe the new fund should be designed to ensure that the benefits of Cycling England’s successful work are not lost.”

Earlier this month, transport journalist and Cycling England board member Christian Wolmar wrote a scathing open letter to Norman Baker, the minister responsible for cycling, urging him to save Cycling England. Cambridge Cycling Campaing created a website of the same name. And, today, Colchester Cycling Campaign has pitched in.

Will Bramhill, chairman of the Colchester Cycling Campaign, said:

“Without the funding that Colchester receives via Cycling England – which is carefully spent, and the results monitored – fewer people would be cycling, less safely, less often. In short, Cycling England works well and gives good value.

“The Cycling England money has put some towns in England on a par with the Netherlands on spending on cycling – for the first time. However, the Dutch expenditure has been nationwide and sustained over decades, helping them to maintain high levels of cycling. England is only just beginning to address a situation caused by 50 years of chronic neglect, caused in part by successive governments cow-towing to the motor lobby and spending accordingly.

“The team at Cycling England now has massive experience in their roles. Breaking up this group when it is working so well would be a tragedy.”

Babies. Bathwater. Bike funding. All at risk of going down the plughole.

DfT announces new sustainable transport fund…

…but fails to quash rumours it is to squish Cycling England.

Plans for a new Local Sustainable Transport Fund have been announced today by Local Transport minister Norman Baker.

The proposed fund will challenge local transport authorities outside London to develop packages of measures that support economic growth and reduce carbon in their communities as well as delivering cleaner environments, improved safety and increased levels of physical activity.  

The fund is rumoured to be the sop which will be wheeled out when the Coalition Government scraps a host of national schemes and quangos, such as Cycling England.

There’s no cash figure for the fund yet.

“Measures could include encouraging walking and cycling, initiatives to improve integration between travel modes and end-to-end journey experiences, better public transport and improved traffic management schemes,” said a statement from the Department for Transport.

The DfT also announced that, in line with its ‘localism agenda’, it intends to pool the centrally funded local transport grants to create fewer but larger funding streams.

If Cycling England is lost in the ‘bonfire of the quangos’ expected before the Comprehensive Spending Review, it’s expected Baker will say cycling schemes have to be funded locally, not nationally.

It’s believed Bikeability will continue to be supported by the Department for Transport.

Announcing the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Baker said:

“It is at a local level that most can be done to change patterns of behaviour and encourage more sustainable travel, especially for short journeys. 

“And in an environment of tighter budgets and greater local flexibility, the Government is determined to reduce bureaucracy and make local transport funding more efficient.

“That is why we intend to pool the myriad of centrally funded local transport grants, to create fewer but larger funding streams, largely formula based, and a new Local Sustainable Transport Fund.”

It will be for local partnerships – local transport authorities working with their communities – to identify the right solutions for their areas which are financially robust and sustainable in the long term, said the DfT.

Funding for the Local Sustainable Transport Fund will be set aside from within the Department’s overall funding allocation following conclusion of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Details about the new Fund, including the resources available and how it will operate, will be announced later in the year.

Norman Baker is the minister in charge of cycling within the DfT.

Drivers don’t think cyclists should be on the road, says DfT report

Share the Road, Ketchum, Idaho 2

A new report commissioned by the UK Department for Transport paints a bleak picture of how cyclists are perceived by motorists in the UK. ‘Cycling, Safety and Sharing the Road: Qualitative Research with Cyclists and Other Road Users’ was released to little fanfare yesterday. It’s a 75-page document consisting of condensed interviews with cyclists and motorists, which the report calls Other Road Users, ORUs.

In its own words, the report says…

ROADS
The evidence suggests a failure in the culture of road sharing, with a lack of consensus about whether, and how, cyclists belong on the roads.

HELMETS
When it comes to encouraging cyclists to make themselves safer, it may be easier to promote visibility than helmet wearing. Promoting visibility could also be linked to the promotion of safer road-sharing.

STEREOTYPES
There was higher empathy for car drivers across all types of road user than for minority road users such as cyclists. There was also evidence of a stereotype of cyclists, characterised by failures of attitude and competence.

SMIDSY
Look-but-failed-to-see (LBFTS) did not seem to feature as an explanatory concept in the workshop. However, the correct interpretation of this finding is not clear: people may be insufficiently aware of the limitations of their own perceptual systems; LBFTS claims may be driven by the need to justify behaviour after making an error; and the finding may be an artefact of the research process.

EMPATHY
There are higher levels of empathy for car drivers across all groups of road users than there are for minority road users – such as cyclists, heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers, or bus drivers. This reflects patterns of experience: most people can empathise with car drivers because they drive a car themselves.

Driving while distracted with cellphone

Probably as a result, no stereotype of car drivers in general exists (although stereotypes of types of car driver do). By contrast, a stereotype of cyclists in general does appear to exist among ORUs. This stereotype is characterised by: serious failures of attitude, including a generalised disregard for the law and a more specific lack of concern for the needs of other drivers; and serious failures of competence and knowledge of the rules of the road.

This stereotype of cyclists is also linked to the fact that cyclists do not need to undertake training, are unlicensed and uninsured, and do not pay road taxes (at least not by virtue of the fact that they cycle). [The DfT report does not point out that roads are funded by all tax-payers, not simply ORUs and that ‘road tax’ was abolished in 1937. Nor does it point out that many cyclists are insured, via clubs and organisations.].

SHARING THE ROAD
There is evidence of a deeper failure in the culture of road sharing on English roads, which may have important implications for different road-users’ interpretations of, and responses to, each other’s behaviour and, hence, for road safety:

Whatever the law may say on the matter, the norms of road sharing, on roads with lane widths and speeds designed around cars, mean that cyclists are treated as anomalies.

There is a lack of consensus, even among cyclists, about whether and how cycling should be accommodated on the roads.

Some ORUs question whether cyclists belong on the roads at all.

From the perspective of ORUs, the principal benefit of cycling lanes is that they get cyclists out of their way. When cycle lanes are provided, then there is an expectation that cyclists should not be on the road.

CYCLE PATHS
There is concern among some ORUs about cycle facilities which make life harder for ORUs, for example by ‘taking away’ some of their space, or allowing cyclists already passed to get back in front again.

From the cyclist’s perspective, inadequate cycle facilities can diminish the legitimacy of bicycles on the road even further without actually providing a viable alternative.

Cyclists themselves have differing and potentially conflicting needs from infrastructure: cyclists opting for ‘Assertion’ want infrastructure that helps to establish their right to be on the road and that clarifies how the road is to be shared; and cyclists opting for ‘Avoidance’ want infrastructure that gives them more opportunities to avoid traffic.

IMPATIENCE
Cyclists as well as drivers can be described as impatient, for instance when they filter, but, for obvious reasons, impatience was more often associated with drivers trying to get past cyclists. ORUs were more likely to accuse cyclists of what may be seen as the reverse form of selfishness: going too slowly and not getting out of the way.

These findings chime with work by Basford and Reid (2002), which showed that motorists perceive that there is a ‘social norm’ for motorists to pass cyclists even if they do not think it is safe to do so, presumably related to a pressure from motorists behind to ‘make progress’.

As a result of these failings, the stereotypical cyclist emerges as a character who breaks the fundamental rules of road sharing – by not looking before moving, by not signalling their intentions, and by not caring when they obstruct the flow of traffic. Indeed, on this account, the stereotypical cyclist emerges as a kind of lawless free-rider in the highly constrained and heavily taxed world of the driver.

“I have nothing against cyclists whatsoever, everyone has a right to the use of the road, but when you think of the amount of accidents they do cause, there’s no registration, they don’t pay anything at all to use the roads, they’ve not paid to have a cycle lane fitted, all the car drivers pay for that.” (M, 55, ORU, London)

ALL CYCLISTS ARE THE SAME
Participants in our workshops, even those with very negative views of cyclists, were quite sophisticated enough to recognise that cyclists are a diverse population, and not all the same.

On the last point, however, it was striking that, when asked how many cyclists did conform to this kind of negative characterisation, the percentages could be quite high. In London, for instance, a number of responses were in the 70–80% range.

Knog Party  13298

Moreover, these qualitative findings mirror previous research, which has found negative attitudes toward cyclists among motorists, based on a resentment of cycles taking up space on the roads and blocking motorists’ progress. For example, Basford and Reid (2002) showed that motorists exhibit in-group and out-group biases in terms of their opinions of transgressions by other motorists and by cyclists. In short, motorist transgressions were more readily justified by motorists than cyclist transgressions.

“They don’t pay road tax, they block the road, they are inconsiderate, they overtake, they are bloody slow . . . I pay road tax, so I should have priority. (M, 50, ORU, Birmingham)

“The common complaint that I hear when I’m in a car with a driver is that because cyclists don’t pay any road tax, they feel that the cyclists have kind of less right to be on the road with them.” (F, 18, Cyclist, Bristol)

“I don’t think that drivers really accept cyclists on the road.” (F, 30, Cyclist, London)

ROAD SHARING. AGAIN.
It is worth pausing to spell out, albeit rather crudely, that [there’s] what we might call (at the risk of stereotyping drivers) a ‘driver logic’:

1. Bikes are anomalous and really do not belong on the road.
2. They should be given somewhere else to go.
3. Having been given somewhere else, they should not then be on the road.
4. Nothing should be taken away from drivers in the process.

A PDF of the report is available here. The pic above is from the US, where some motorists think ‘share the road’ means cyclists should give roadspace to cars.

Drivers don't think cyclists should be on the road, says DfT report

Share the Road, Ketchum, Idaho 2

A new report commissioned by the UK Department for Transport paints a bleak picture of how cyclists are perceived by motorists in the UK. ‘Cycling, Safety and Sharing the Road: Qualitative Research with Cyclists and Other Road Users’ was released to little fanfare yesterday. It’s a 75-page document consisting of condensed interviews with cyclists and motorists, which the report calls Other Road Users, ORUs.

In its own words, the report says…

ROADS
The evidence suggests a failure in the culture of road sharing, with a lack of consensus about whether, and how, cyclists belong on the roads.

HELMETS
When it comes to encouraging cyclists to make themselves safer, it may be easier to promote visibility than helmet wearing. Promoting visibility could also be linked to the promotion of safer road-sharing.

STEREOTYPES
There was higher empathy for car drivers across all types of road user than for minority road users such as cyclists. There was also evidence of a stereotype of cyclists, characterised by failures of attitude and competence.

SMIDSY
Look-but-failed-to-see (LBFTS) did not seem to feature as an explanatory concept in the workshop. However, the correct interpretation of this finding is not clear: people may be insufficiently aware of the limitations of their own perceptual systems; LBFTS claims may be driven by the need to justify behaviour after making an error; and the finding may be an artefact of the research process.

EMPATHY
There are higher levels of empathy for car drivers across all groups of road users than there are for minority road users – such as cyclists, heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers, or bus drivers. This reflects patterns of experience: most people can empathise with car drivers because they drive a car themselves.

Driving while distracted with cellphone

Probably as a result, no stereotype of car drivers in general exists (although stereotypes of types of car driver do). By contrast, a stereotype of cyclists in general does appear to exist among ORUs. This stereotype is characterised by: serious failures of attitude, including a generalised disregard for the law and a more specific lack of concern for the needs of other drivers; and serious failures of competence and knowledge of the rules of the road.

This stereotype of cyclists is also linked to the fact that cyclists do not need to undertake training, are unlicensed and uninsured, and do not pay road taxes (at least not by virtue of the fact that they cycle). [The DfT report does not point out that roads are funded by all tax-payers, not simply ORUs and that ‘road tax’ was abolished in 1937. Nor does it point out that many cyclists are insured, via clubs and organisations.].

SHARING THE ROAD
There is evidence of a deeper failure in the culture of road sharing on English roads, which may have important implications for different road-users’ interpretations of, and responses to, each other’s behaviour and, hence, for road safety:

Whatever the law may say on the matter, the norms of road sharing, on roads with lane widths and speeds designed around cars, mean that cyclists are treated as anomalies.

There is a lack of consensus, even among cyclists, about whether and how cycling should be accommodated on the roads.

Some ORUs question whether cyclists belong on the roads at all.

From the perspective of ORUs, the principal benefit of cycling lanes is that they get cyclists out of their way. When cycle lanes are provided, then there is an expectation that cyclists should not be on the road.

CYCLE PATHS
There is concern among some ORUs about cycle facilities which make life harder for ORUs, for example by ‘taking away’ some of their space, or allowing cyclists already passed to get back in front again.

From the cyclist’s perspective, inadequate cycle facilities can diminish the legitimacy of bicycles on the road even further without actually providing a viable alternative.

Cyclists themselves have differing and potentially conflicting needs from infrastructure: cyclists opting for ‘Assertion’ want infrastructure that helps to establish their right to be on the road and that clarifies how the road is to be shared; and cyclists opting for ‘Avoidance’ want infrastructure that gives them more opportunities to avoid traffic.

IMPATIENCE
Cyclists as well as drivers can be described as impatient, for instance when they filter, but, for obvious reasons, impatience was more often associated with drivers trying to get past cyclists. ORUs were more likely to accuse cyclists of what may be seen as the reverse form of selfishness: going too slowly and not getting out of the way.

These findings chime with work by Basford and Reid (2002), which showed that motorists perceive that there is a ‘social norm’ for motorists to pass cyclists even if they do not think it is safe to do so, presumably related to a pressure from motorists behind to ‘make progress’.

As a result of these failings, the stereotypical cyclist emerges as a character who breaks the fundamental rules of road sharing – by not looking before moving, by not signalling their intentions, and by not caring when they obstruct the flow of traffic. Indeed, on this account, the stereotypical cyclist emerges as a kind of lawless free-rider in the highly constrained and heavily taxed world of the driver.

“I have nothing against cyclists whatsoever, everyone has a right to the use of the road, but when you think of the amount of accidents they do cause, there’s no registration, they don’t pay anything at all to use the roads, they’ve not paid to have a cycle lane fitted, all the car drivers pay for that.” (M, 55, ORU, London)

ALL CYCLISTS ARE THE SAME
Participants in our workshops, even those with very negative views of cyclists, were quite sophisticated enough to recognise that cyclists are a diverse population, and not all the same.

On the last point, however, it was striking that, when asked how many cyclists did conform to this kind of negative characterisation, the percentages could be quite high. In London, for instance, a number of responses were in the 70–80% range.

Knog Party  13298

Moreover, these qualitative findings mirror previous research, which has found negative attitudes toward cyclists among motorists, based on a resentment of cycles taking up space on the roads and blocking motorists’ progress. For example, Basford and Reid (2002) showed that motorists exhibit in-group and out-group biases in terms of their opinions of transgressions by other motorists and by cyclists. In short, motorist transgressions were more readily justified by motorists than cyclist transgressions.

“They don’t pay road tax, they block the road, they are inconsiderate, they overtake, they are bloody slow . . . I pay road tax, so I should have priority. (M, 50, ORU, Birmingham)

“The common complaint that I hear when I’m in a car with a driver is that because cyclists don’t pay any road tax, they feel that the cyclists have kind of less right to be on the road with them.” (F, 18, Cyclist, Bristol)

“I don’t think that drivers really accept cyclists on the road.” (F, 30, Cyclist, London)

ROAD SHARING. AGAIN.
It is worth pausing to spell out, albeit rather crudely, that [there’s] what we might call (at the risk of stereotyping drivers) a ‘driver logic’:

1. Bikes are anomalous and really do not belong on the road.
2. They should be given somewhere else to go.
3. Having been given somewhere else, they should not then be on the road.
4. Nothing should be taken away from drivers in the process.

A PDF of the report is available here. The pic above is from the US, where some motorists think ‘share the road’ means cyclists should give roadspace to cars.

Cambridge is third best cycling city in England, says Campaign for Better Transport

In a new report from the Campaign for Better Transport, Nottingham and Manchester are, oddly, rated as better cycling cities than Cambridge.

The organisation’s Car Dependency Scorecard report used data from 17 different sources to rank the main 19 cities in England. A city’s cycle friendliness is one of the measurements used by the Campaign for Better Transport.

Nottingham is the least car-dependent city in England, closely followed by London and Brighton and Hove. The worst for dependency on the car are Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Luton.

The report is published as the Government considers massive cuts to local transport funding and is rumoured to be ready to abolish Cycling England, actions which could harm the ability of cities to reduce dependency on the car.

Ten years ago John Prescott launched Labour’s Transport 2010 strategy for transport which aimed to help local authorities to provide better and more integrated transport options. The Car Dependency Scorecard gives an indication of which local transport authorities have used the powers and funding effectively to improve transport in their city.

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said:

“Our report shows that for many people, car use is not a matter of choice but is due to other options just not being available. Factors such as lack of local facilities, poor public transport or bad conditions for cyclists and pedestrians can mean that people are reliant on a car, with congestion and pollution the result.

“There have been improvements in many cities, but cuts in government spending could harm these. City authorities must make sure that they prioritise their remaining funding on sustainable forms of transport and ensure that planning policies protect local shops and services.”


The Car Dependency Scorecard said: “Walking and cycling have many benefits which should make them popular options. Journeys undertaken are free, convenient, carbon-neutral and healthy, but despite this they are still underrepresented in our transport plans. As almost a quarter of all our journeys are under a mile, these could easily be walked or cycled rather than driven.

“Our attitude to the bike could be changing. Positive results from the National Travel Survey show that people are starting to see cycling as a serious alternative. The number of miles cycled on average last year increased by 10 per cent and bike sales have risen by more than 25 per cent in the past three years.

“City size also seems to be influential with smaller cities having a tendency for higher cycling and walking participation. People could be put off walking or cycling by regular longer commutes. The results showed that Cambridge, Nottingham and Manchester were the cities where the options of walking and cycling were best.

The Campaign for Better Transport praised the work of Cycling England, which created Cycling Demonstration Towns:

“Cycling Demonstration Towns have achieved significant results by promoting the benefits of cycling. As well as helping uptake by improving facilities, investment in promoting the ease and benefits of walking and cycling is also key to getting people interested.”

Cambridge came third in the report’s best cities for cycling because of plans for a hugely expensive new road, which will increase car dependency in Cambridge, predicted the Campaign for Better Transport:

“Cambridge has positive levels of cycling, matching European cities, making sure that most people in the city can get about without a car. However, Highways Agency plans for the A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton, opposed by Cambridge City Council, would substantially increase traffic around the north of Cambridge, with a knock-on effect on walking and cycling levels.”

Campaign for Better Transport Ltd. is funded by bus companies, train operating companies, unions, councils and other such groups and organisations.