I am afraid there has definitely been a lull since we all met on the Isle of Wight. The National Cycle Forum still awaits its new Chair. New Ministers arrived, none with much knowledge of Transport. The latest round of Local Transport Plans has gone in, but full Government analysis of these bids has yet to be done.
Meanwhile, on the theme of Cyclists and Pedestrians working together, which I was pressing last time, I feel we still have not grasped this. The Pedestrians' Association has cleverly re-launched itself as 'Living Streets', and I urge cycle activists to get revolved in this debate and make sure any such schemes come out in a cycle-friendly way. One of the strong messages emerging from the VeloCity conference, I thought, is that it is easier to achieve results as part of 'regeneration' or 'sustainable transport' rather than just 'cycling'. This is something we need to think about.
CTC and Sustrans are among five NGOs contributing to a critique of the Government's Ten-Year Plan for Transport. This will include examining the methodology of the current Plans and suggesting ways of less bias in favour of 'big projects'.
The Cabinet Office is currently consultmg on this and Richard Thomas is handling it for CTC. Available on www.socialexclusionunit.gov uk. Comments must be in by 26 October, but a few pithy remarks about the availability of cycling, access to local facilities, children's independent mobility and cost effectiveness of bflce use all very welcome.
The powered two-wheeler lobby continues to try to muscle its way into Advanced Stop Lines, bus lanes and even cycle lanes. Please be vigilant and ensure they are kept firmly out!
The CTC's training programme for cycle campaigners continues its peripatetic tour of the country. Next stop Ipswich, 10 November. More details from Julia Samson at HQ.
These are now being renewed at local level after their firstthree years. ACPO have said that speeding and anti-social dnvmg CAN be included in these important police priorities, so do raise this in community discussions.
Sustans have been awarded £200,000 from the Lottery Charities Board 'Community Involvement' programme to expand their advice here. Meanwhile I do commend their 'Schools Cycle Parking' leaflet: excellent in itself, but ideal to give school chiefs, officers and councillors (FS19 is free on their hot fine, 0117 929 0888).
There are grants for local cycle projects available under the New Opportunities Fund SEED programme - though you need to be in a disadvantaged area. Ask about their 'green routes' programme, on 0870 036 1000.
a) English local authorities can now apply for extra money in exchange for meeting Public Service Agreements. Transport is one of the main topic areas, and this includes meeting the targets in the National Road Safety Strategy, and trebling cycle trips over the next ten years.
Authorities qualifying for PSAs get a pump-priming grant and additional borrowing approval For more info, check on www.local-regions.dtlr.gov.uk/lpsa.
b) As part of its review of 'Best Value', the DTLR is likely to allow local authorities to borrow money for transport improvements. Watch out for a White Paper on this in 2-3 months' time.
The latest National Travel Survey report is out, and makes very mixed reading. As a society we are actually making fewer journeys than ten years ago - but they keep getting longer, with the average trip length now 6.6 miles. Only 8% of the population cycle 3 or more times a week, but the figure for surface rail is only 3%. Meanwhile, cyclists nationally make twice as many journeys as on that national asset, the London underground.
Where do people cycle? The East Midlands comes out tops, followed by the East and then the South-East of England. Depressingly, London has the lowest level of cycle use.
The long-lasting decline in cycling may have bottomed out, partly because adult males are actually cycling a little more than ten years ago. The worrying decline is in female cycling, especially teenagers. Teenage girls now cycle one-sixth that of boys, and there are clear cultural issues at stake here. Trips to school also fared very badly during the 90s, though there are signs that recent efforts here are halting the trend.
Meanwhile, on the question of increasing usage, I have just written the enclosed for CTC Digest:
Go for Growth
The perpetual question asked by policy makers tends to be - 'Can we increase levels of cycling?'
The answer from VeloCity is 'Yes - and in widely different circumstances'. Here are some examples:
Kesgrave school, Suffolk: Constant increase Over last ten years, 70% of pupils now cycle.
Discussions about whether we can meet the targets of the National Strategy prompted me to write the attached discussion paper. 1 have explained the NTS data above. 5 should read Local Transport Plans. I may be wrong about a lack of Quick Wins d would welcome help. The Travel Smart programme covered 35,000 people in South Perth, Western Australia - with active involvement from Colin Graham (ex-CTC HQ).
I wrote this before going to VeloCity, but the conference there did confirm that there is no one single answer. 'Hard' and 'soft' measures are both fundamentally important. Whether we are talking about 'cycle facilities, 'safe routes' or the normal highway, the general cycle public expect quality, comfort, directness and perceived safety.
Some Of these suggestions obviously have implications for our allied organisations, and are part of a wider discussion about Transport policy under New Labour. Here, effective presentation of our message will be vital Thoughts on all of this are most welcome.