Posts by Laura

Cyclists and HGVs

Cyclists and HGVs

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In 2011 HGVs amounted to only 4% of the traffic on London’s roads yet were involved in 53% of all cycle fatalities. The relative size of bicycles compared to HGVs means the potential for serious injury and loss of life in a collision between the two is significant. Transport for London calculated that a cyclist is 78 times more likely to be killed in an accident involving a HGV than one involving a car. HGVs seem to pose an ever increasing risk to the nation’s cyclists.

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Parliamentary Debate

Parliamentary Debate

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On September 2nd 2013, MPs met to debate the subject of cycling. Organised by Dr Julian Huppert, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, it was designed to propose that Parliament formally welcomes the recommendations of the Group’s“Get Britain Cycling” campaign. Although Dr Huppert and other MPs claimed that the debate was extremely well-attended, the number of empty seats in the chamber suggested otherwise. Nevertheless, it was still a very important milestone for the campaign and cycling as a whole. In his opening address, Dr Huppert set out the key recommendations of the report. The All Party Group wanted to see the number of trips made by bike in the UK rise from 2% to 10% by 2025 and then again to 25% by 2050. He claimed this would be entirely possible and is still well below what the Dutch achieve. Funding was also a big issue in the debate, with the Group recommending that it is set initially at £10 per person, hopefully rising to £20 in the future. Also included in the report were requests to reduce traffic speeds in residential areas to 20mph, making Bikeability training available at all schools and making roads and cities across the country fit for cycling. Following on from Dr Huppert, Ian Austin started his address by calling for tougher sentences to be handed down to drivers who kill or injure cyclists. Mr Austin, who is the other co-chair of the Group, provoked outrage within the chamber when he read out the sentence given to the HGV driver convicted of seriously injuring Times journalist Mary Bowers. One MP could be heard describing the sentence as “disgraceful. Mr Austin then attacked the Government’s apparent commitment to turning Britain into a cycling nation, stating that out of a highways budget of £15bn, only £159m is spent on cycling. He pointed out that the Department of Health was only planning to commit £1m to cycling out of a budget of £1bn and also the fact that there was no dedicated funding stream, meaning local councils would not be able to plan ahead for more than 2 years. Boris Johnson was widely praised throughout the debate for his efforts to promote cycling in the capital....

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Cycling Champion

Cycling Champion

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The Government’s decision not to install a National Cycling Champion is seen by some a missed opportunity. Although it is true that all relevant Ministers have a responsibility to make sure that cycling is promoted, the existence of a cycling ambassador with no links to a political party was seen by many as desirable. A way to ensure that the needs of cyclists are met and that improvements are achieved, without the individual being accused of political bias. The idea of a Cycling Champion was floated by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group as part of its ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report. Ian Austin MP, co-chair of the APPCG, believes that it is important to have somebody to raise the profile of cycling and to get everybody working together in order to achieve this. “I think anything which would give prominence to issues relating to cycling safety and to encourage people to cycle would be a good thing,” he said. “I also think that cycling is not just about the Department of Transport, but local councils, and other government departments such as the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, the department for Education and the NHS. You need someone with authority and clout to get them all working together.” The role would potentially mirror that of Andrew Gilligan who was appointed Cycling Commissioner for the Greater London Authority. Gilligan has been widely praised in his efforts in this role, which involves overseeing the development of Transport for London’s cycling policy, whilst also acting as an advocate for cycling in the capital. There have been a few names mentioned as potential candidates for the position, most notable Sir Chris Hoy and Chris Boardman. Either one of these legends would be an ideal choice. Their entire focus in this role would be to look after the needs of cyclists. It would also enable cycle users to feel confident that they will be listened to, rather than feeling sceptical about a politician’s true motives. A figurehead from the world of sport would be an ideal way to capitalise on the impact the Olympics and Tour De France had on the British Public. Sir Chris himself states that “we are at the peak...

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Child Cyclist Injuries

Child Cyclist Injuries

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311 children were seriously injured whilst riding their bikes on Britain’s roads in 2012, according to statistics obtained from the Department of Transport. This represents a fall of 21% on the previous year. Although this is an encouraging statistic, more alarming is that the amount of children killed whilst on their bikes rose sharply to 13. This is a massive 117% increase on 2011. Any accident involving the death of a child is tragic, but for the numbers to dramatically increase in that way is truly shocking. It is clear that more needs to be done to improve road safety for children. The THINK! road safety website have published a set of guidelines and advice to keep children safe on their bikes: Make sure your brakes and tyres should be working well. Make sure your front and back lights work well and your back reflector is clean If you have to carry anything on your cycle, use a bike bag or basket Make sure you don’t wear any loose clothing so that nothing can get caught in the wheels Always wear cycle helmet that is the correct size and securely fastened Wear light coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight and at dusk, wear something reflective at night Do not ride a bike that is too big or small as your balance may become affected Do not cycle at night without a white front light, a red back light and a red reflector at the back Make sure that you can always see and hear well Additionally, the Department for Transport has developed the Bikeability scheme, designed to give children the skills and confidence to cycle in modern road conditions. For further information, you can visit the Bikeability website on http://www.dft.gov.uk/bikeability. As a nation, we are cycling more and more and it is important that road safety remains a high priority. Education is vital so that every cyclist is given the information they need to keep them safe.  If the appropriate resources are used properly it can help reduce the number of lives that are tragically ended way before their time.   Expert legal advice and exceptional client care: The specialist cycle team at Macks have significant experience and expertise...

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Cycle Helmet Debate

Cycle Helmet Debate

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The question of whether cycle helmets should be made compulsory is a divisive subject. One side of the argument is that in the interest of safety it should be mandatory for cyclists to wear the protective headgear. Some hold a different view and highlight the potential pitfalls if helmets became compulsory. The safety argument is really quite a simple one. Better to have a helmet hit the ground first, rather than your head. Various studies have been undertaken to highlight this fact, with one group of researchers in Sydney finding that cyclists who crashed without helmets were five times more likely to sustain severe head injuries than those wearing a helmet. Firmly in the pro-helmet camp is former Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell, who argues that wearing a helmet saved his life. Cracknell, who was seriously injured in an accident involving a fuel truck, took to Youtube to get his messages across. The video itself is extremely emotive and details the catastrophic injuries he suffered, whilst also looking at the effects they had on him and his family. Moreover, he details the fact that the truck was travelling at around 70mph when it hit the back of his head, demonstrating a helmet’s potential effectiveness at high velocity. The British Medical Association have also adopted a pro-helmet stance in 2004, reversing its initial view made 5 years earlier. Dr Paul Darragh, Chairman of the BMA’s Council in Northern Ireland stated that cycle helmets “have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury and its severity should it occur in non-fatal collisions.” Other studies also support the campaign for legislation. In 2009, an extensive investigation in the USA found that helmets did in fact make a big difference. It showed that the risk of head and brain injury reduced by between 63 and 88 per cent for all cyclists wearing helmets. Meanwhile in New Zealand, where wearing a helmet is compulsory, research undertaken in 2000 estimated that the legislation had averted a total of 139 head injuries over 3 years. This equated to a reduction of 19 per cent. The pro-helmet wearing lobby seem to have a strong argument but many don’t agree. They offer a number of reasons why...

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