Monthly Archives: September 2013

Leicester Infrastructure Safari

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain are coming to Leicester on 12th October for an Infrastructure Safari starting at 11am from Leicester Railway Station. There is already a Facebook Event for this and everyone is welcome to join us.

On Monday evening a group from the Leicester Cycle Campaign Group met to plan the route.

You can view the draft plan on Strava. Comments are welcome.

The route consists of 5 “loops”. Each has possible short-cuts which allow not just a shorter route but also allow you to avoid hills or particularly scary roads. Most of the loops bring us into or close to the city centre for a choice of lunch and/or coffee stops as desired.

The loops are:

Loop 1 (South and Leicester University)

3.2 Miles

Start Railway Station front Entrance

Head South on the A6 London Road (heading for University student accommodation)
At Clarendon Park Road turn right to start loop back to city centre.
Turn right onto Queens Road (popular student housing area).
Cross Victoria park on main Leicester University route
Continue into the City Centre past the Prison.
Use King St (recently closed to through traffic) and Market St (pedestrianised) to get to the Bike Park.

Possible short cut along Victoria Park Road between London Rd and Queens Rd

Loop 2 (East towards Leicester General Hospital)

4 miles (7.2 cumulative)

From the Bike Park head for the Curve.
Then through the Churchyard to St Georges St (Strava map incorrectly shows using Queen St)
Left then right to cross St Georges Way
Route passes Spinney Hill Park on way to Gwendolen Road (the route to the General Hospital).
Cut north to the A47 Humberstone Rd to use it’s cycle facilities to head back to the City.
Cross the Central Ring and head through Humberstone Gate to the Clock Tower.

Possible short cut (saving distance and hills) from Sparkenhoe St to Humberstone Rd via Maidstone Rd and Kent St.

Loop 3 (West to the Hinckley Rd)

3.2miles (10.4 cumulative)

From the Clock Tower
High St to new Jubilee Sq and then new Southgates.
Past Magazine Sq on The Newarke to Braunstone Gate and then the Hinkley Rd
South on Fosse Rd S to Upperton Rd
Loop round Wilberforce Rd, Stuart St and Western Rd
The Wilberforce Rd to Briton St
Through Bede Park and then De Montfort University (Mill Ln, The Gateway).
From Magazine Sq use new Newarke St facility if open, otherwise Friar Ln, Berridge St, Millstone ln, Market St, Welford Pl.
Loop ends at junction of Newarke St and Welford Rd

Possible short cut from junction of Western Blvd and Braunstone Gate to Bede Park

Loop 4 (South to Tigers and then North to Frog Island)

4.2miles (14.6 cumulative)

This loop includes the busiest roads, see short-cut to avoid them.

From junction of Newarke St and Welford Rd head south on Welford Rd
Turn right into Almond Rd
At the end turn right onto Aylestone Rd using the cycle track on the right hand side.
Turn left into Jarrom St
At the end of Jarrom St go anti clockwise round the roundabout using the cycle facility
Along Upperton Rd to see the Grand Central Way, but turn right for Bede Park
Follow cycle route to junction of Western Blvd and Braunstone Gate and then onto crossing of A47 at Duns Ln
Richard III Rd and then the first part of Forest Way to the junction with Fosse Ln
Return to Soar Ln and to the A50 at Frog Island

Possible short-cut. From the beginning heading straight for the Leicester Royal Infirmary using the cycle routes (they are confusing!).

Loop 5 (North past the Space Centre and then returning to the railway station)

5.2miles (19.8 cumulative)

Start at the Soar Ln, A50 junction.
Follow the cycle route to the A6 crossing above Friday St
Follow the cycle route through Abbey Park,
Go past the Space Centre to Thurcaston Rd
Loughborough Rd then Checketts Rd to the Golden Mile.
Use the marked cycle route that runs parallel along Harrison Rd
Rejoin the A607 Belgrave Gate using Britannia Street
Head for the Clock Tower past the proposed location of the new bus station.
Use Gallowtree Gate and Granby Street to return to the Railway Station.

Possible short cut after Abbey Park along Abbey Park Rd to the Belgrave Rd, Turn right to where the longer route joins Belgrave Gate.


How can Sustrans and the CTC win back my respect and support

After many years of support I recently had to tell both Sustrans and the CTC that I would probably be stopping my support over their endorsement of the disastrous NicewayCode campaign in Scotland.

I was pleased (and somewhat surprised) that both Sustrans and the CTC engaged with me over the campaign, including several emails and a phone call with Gordon Seabright the Chief Executive of the CTC.

Fortunately, it seems that campaign is now coming to an abrupt end, albeit not soon enough, so this seems a good time to followup on how Sustrans and the CTC can rebuild our relationship.

To regain my full support will require visible change from both organisations. It has to be visible so that it can be scrutinised and be accountable, in a democracy I do not support arguments about what can be achieved behind closed doors or out of public sight.

Yesterday @Katsdecker wrote an excellent blog post about the same sort of problem with Sustrans and the CTC: Eyetest: Collaboration beyond a 20/20 vision

Sustrans and the CTC got it badly wrong by putting their names to a campaign that turned cyclists into victims and indulged in the odious sport of victim blaming. In doing so they highlighted that they still do not properly and publicly “get” people like myself. They do not represent people who believe that we need a radical transformation of our transport system to make cycling and walking as means of everyday transport safe (both statistically and subjectively), convenient and normal.

I have said many times that we need to do this for lots of reasons. We are facing multiple crises all of which can be reduced by a dramatic shift in our means of transport, these include: the death toll on our roads, obesity, congestion, air pollution, oil dependency, climate change, our economy, childrens freedom and our health care.

So what is needed for Sustrans and CTC to find me an enthusiastic supporter?

1. A formal, public, high profile adoption of the need for full Dutch standard infrastructure everywhere in the UK.

  • By this I absolutely do not include the adoption of slightly better than typical but not Dutch standard infrastructure as being accepted by the London Cycle Campaign.
  • By this I mean much much more than we see in The Times newspaper campaign.
  • By this I mean orders of magnitude more than the All Party Cycling Group in Parliament are calling for.

All these fall short of what normal Dutch infrastructure is like. If you don’t know what I mean then see my posts from our summer holiday there, but more importantly go and read A view from the cycle path and Bicycle Dutch.

Pressure for, education about and building of full Dutch Infrastructure needs to become a top priority policy focus for both CTC and Sustrans.

We urgently need a legally binding British standard for cycle infrastructure design that meets the latest Dutch standards and a commitment to improve it further.

Oh and when I say everywhere I mean that you should be able to get (safely, conveniently and without extra complex planning) from any A to any B. To/from every home, every school, every public building, every shop, every workplace, every park, every beach etc.

2. Honesty

Sustrans and the CTC need to start being honest with their supporters, with the government and local councils. They need to admit that they have been building and asking for infrastructure that is not good enough.

I am appalled that Sustrans still promote their work in Watermead Park on the North side of Leicester as amazing and award winning. There are numerous safety issues, it brings pedestrians, cyclists and dog walkers into frequent conflict, it is flooded for much of the year, it increases the distance to Leicester for commuters from Syston from 5 miles to 8, it is slow, narrow and bumpy, it includes sharp and blind corners, it includes steep cobbles, it includes unsurfaced sections, it includes barriers that are narrower than most bike handlebars. The County Council like to claim that they are doing a great job encouraging cycling and the endorsement by Sustrans of low quality infrastructure designed for leisure use in daylight in good weather by confident riders is not helpful.

3. Ban the John’s

The CTC in particular still suffers from being associated with Cyclecraft author John Franklin and John Forester the inventor of “Vehicular Cycling”. Both John’s, Cyclecraft and Vehicular Cycling need to be never again mentioned in a positive light by the CTC or Sustrans nor in any campaign they endorse (just recently the appalling Niceway Code justified one of it’s particularly dangerous campaign elements by referring to Cyclecraft author John Franklin).

This needs to be done clearly and publicly. For example the type of thing I want to see is “The CTC believes that Vehicular Cycling has no part to play in the development of cycling in the UK, it’s demands exclude nearly everyone looking to get around on a bike and puts people in vulnerable places with fast moving vehicles. The CTC will no longer lend it’s name to any initiative or design that mentions or assumes Vehicular Cycling.”

4. Set targets

The government are running away from targets and commitments. The CTC and Sustrans should be setting out clear expectations of what is possible. I suggest the following as a starter for discussion (and I would hope that the CTC and Sustrans would enter an open public debate before agreeing in public what the targets they will demand are).

  • An annual national target for increases in cycling (and walking) as a mode of travel. We are basically starting from almost zero, with maybe 1 or 2% of all journeys are by bike. I suggest a target of a 1% increase in total share per year for the next 50 years. That means after 10 years 10% of all journeys in the whole country will be by bike. It means it will take us some 30 years to get to Dutch levels but it would at least give more feedback on progress than targets of x% by year y.
  • Within 5 years every new road building project must demonstrate how it meets Dutch standards and how it will cope with the increasing modal share of cycling in the future.
  • Within 5 years no road resurfacing or other change to the road network beyond filling a pothole be permitted without full provision of Dutch cycle infrastructure standards.
  • School targets. To reach higher levels in the future we need to make rapid progress with children at school. This needs a range of multiple targets. I suggest:
    • Within 1 year every school to publish a Cycling Plan that details how they are going to encourage cycling to school.
    • Within 2 years every school to have an entrance that has been made safe for students to cycle into the school grounds. This will include enforced restrictions on vehicle access and parking.
    • Within 2 years every school have some secure bike parking for pupils. This must come with a commitment to expand it as needed to ensure that every child who cycles to school will always have a space for their bike.
    • Within 5 years there must be Dutch standard safe routes to every school for at least a 1/2 mile radius of the school.
    • Within 10 years there must be Dutch standard safe routes to every school for at least a 1 mile radius of the school.
    • Every school to publicly report the number of children cycling to school every day and demonstrate a continuous year on year increase.
  • Within 2 years every new home built must meet the higher standard of the Code for Sustainable Housing for cycle parking (ie one secure bike parking space for every bedroom).
  • No new industrial estate, business park or shopping centre may be built without providing suitable cycle parking. For staff that means secure and dry. For everyone it means lit and accessible.
  • Over the entire rail network secure, accessible cycle parking must be available at every station for everyone wishing to travel.
  • Within 5 years there needs to be convenient cycle parking for every existing shop, workplace and public building.

What do you think?



Bike convenience

I don’t like walking too far to get my fuel 😉



Why Leicester is building new cycle tracks

Well at least the pubs think they know what the new cycle track along Southgates is for!



Berridge Street, Leicester an abused design

This is Berridge street, Leicester after new contra flow cycle lane and improved pavement installed.
Notice there are not just double yellow lines but also the yellow flashes showing no loading (anyway they were simply parked not loading or unloading).

The cycle lane should have been mandatory (as you can’t park no vehicle needs to cross it) and it should have been protected by a barrier (eg armadillos or bollards or planters ) which would have stopped these vans getting to the pedestrian area.

Barriers protecting the cycle track would have also made entry and exit much safer as drivers tend to cut straight across the cycle track without looking.



I want smarter cars, vans and trucks!

As I cycled along the lawless length of the Melton Road yesterday evening I decided I want to see smarter cars.

A smarter car would have a black box recorder. It would record position using gps, speed, steering angle, pedal pressure etc.

In the event of a crash this would make it clear whether a driver was speeding but it could have other benefits to.

Why not connect a Driving License reader to the ignition and black box? Harder for Chris Huhne to lie about who is driving a car. It could prevent people from driving with too many points on their license or without insurance. It might help reduce theft and joyriding.

If it were implemented then suddenly it becomes possible to enforce a driving ban for driving offenses, including a lifetime ban for those who kill by dangerous driving.

If you couple this with a law change on insurance then the Insurance companies might be willing to give discounts for cars fitted with black boxes knowing that if I crash my car while speeding they won’t have to payout.

The black box could sound a loud buzzer continuously whenever the driver breaks the speed limit.

It would be wonderful if there were some kind of radio signal at traffic lights so the black box could record anytime you go through a red light (and play a loud sound)

What do you think?


Why not change insurance for law breaking drivers who crash

I’m just wondering if a simple law change would help make our roads safer.

If you are breaking the law then your insurance should automatically become 3rd party insurance only.

  • If your car is stolen or damaged when illegally parked you will not be able to make a claim
  • If you are breaking the speed limit and are involved in a crash then you will not be able to make a claim for car repairs or a new car
  • If you are drunk and involved in a crash then you will not be able to make a claim for car repairs or a new car
  • If you are running a red light or fail to stop at a stop sign or whatever then you will not be able to make a claim for car repairs or a new car

This will not affect 3rd parties so if you damage someone else or their car or bike they will still get an insurance payout.




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