Archive | advocacy

The real cost of cheap motoring


Other the past two decades, the real cost of motoring has fallen. Despite increases in petrol tax, motoring is getting cheaper – whilst other forms of transport, bus and train have been increasing faster than inflation. With the political popularity of freezing petrol tax, we are likely to see motoring continue to be relatively cheaper. But, although cheaper motoring seems attractive, the drawback is that it will contribute to a marked rise in congestion and very different costs to motorists and society.

Even a study by the RAC also shows that the real cost of motoring has fallen. – Even though you frequently hear about hard pressed motorists.

Cost of travel since 1988.

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Spot the hard pressed motorist.


The RAC state:

  • 28% cheaper to buy and run a car, excluding fuel costs, in 2008 than 1988. (RAC)
  • However, motorists do pay £45bn in fuel duty, VAT, new car tax and the road fund licence.

Continue Reading →


Cycling rates 2012/13

Cycling UK

According to the Department of Transport, The prevalence of cycling in England (at least once a month) reduced from 15.3% to 14.7% in the year to October 2013.

This decline in reported cycling rates is disappointing given cycling’s relatively high profile in the past couple of years. The fall in cycle rates could be attributed to several factors.

  • High profile accidents reported in media


Cycling casualties per bn km cycled have been increasing since 2008

  • Little change in cycling provision
  • End of recession and relatively lower petrol prices.


Most popular boroughs for cycling

Oxford is the second most popular borough for cycling, despite having no co-ordinated cycling infrastructure.

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Refresher for drivers

This letter to the Manchester Evening News, puts it quite well.


Not too much to add. But, always good to see a bit of un-emotional common sense.

Deserves to be shared because it can make a big difference in reducing unnecessary stress, anger and accidents on the road.

Would be nice to see something like this as part of Driving test / learning to drive



Jeremy Clarkson tries cycling

Whenever I hear Jeremy Clarkson make an irritating comment about cyclists (like why are they in middle of lane?) My instinctive reaction is to think –  why don’t you try cycle through London? It might give a very different perspective.

To be fair to the great controverst (1) yesterday, finally saw Jeremy Clarkson get on a bicycle, (dressed up in suitably ridiculously looking yellow spandex with labels still showing). Top Gear is a mildly, tongue in check comedy – relying on the ‘cheeky chappy’ humour of three ageing men. It was never going to be a balanced investigation into the world of sustainable transport in London. It was never going to be a sympathetic look at the difficulties cyclists face – you can always get a few more laughs by talking about putting toothpaste (chamois cream) in your nether regions than you can talking about the optimal space to give people on a bike. But, overall, I thought it was good, even if some parts were rather cringeworthy.

Some of the public service videos they made, warning of the dangers of cycling where wickedly funny. The video with martin Luther King, Gandhi and John Lennon getting assassinated with the end motto ‘righteousness is no guarantee of safety’ appealed to a black sense of humour, though I felt suitably guilty for laughing at the same time.


Clarkson didn’t like being squeezed by buses

Amidst all the usual generalisations of cyclists and cringe worthy characterisations, it was still kind of cathartic to see Jeremy Clarkson cycling squeezed precariously between two big buses and having great difficulty turning right. This is the real reality of cycling in London.

On a serious point, if you’re having difficulty turning right – trying taking a more central position in the lane. You can’t always ride in the gutter and rely on your bright yellow jacket to get in the best position.

He might not have admitted it in the video, but a few hours cycling around London, must have given some insight into the difficulties faced by cyclists. And it’s something I wish other people would do (especially those newspaper columnists from the Daily Mail et al.)  The best way to promote better road manners is to have greater empathy and concern for the well being of other road users. If you see cyclists as an alien species who only annoy people by going through red lights, you won’t be inclined to give them space or time. But, when you’ve struggled to turn right yourself, you might just have a little more patience with a cyclist moving away from the gutter trying to turn right.

Clarkson made a claim he was given plenty of room by all taxis, vans and cars (which I don’t believe for a moment). But, you know with Clarkson there would have to be a new group to blame. Yes, buses are hard.

(1) (I think I might have just made up this word, but it means – he who enjoys being controversial)



The cost of congestion in the UK


Congestion in Oxford encourages people to take an alternative. Cycling into the centre is significantly quicker at rush hour. Will the forecast increase in congestion lead to a rise in cycling rates in the UK?


No one likes sitting in a traffic jam, cycle lanes help avoid the worst of the congestion.


Traffic congestion costs include:

  • time lost
  • increased vehicle operating costs (brakes, fuel costs)
  • Stress of sitting in traffic jams
  • There are both internal costs (to driver) plus external costs to other road users and society.

The CBI estimate that traffic congestion costs the UK economy £20 billion a year. (link) Other estimates of the costs of congestion widely significantly, but you don’t need to be an economist to realise traffic jams going nowhere are an inefficient use of resources.

The big concern is that congestion is expected to increase over the next 20 years, due to rising population and increased use of cars.

Road use and time lost due to congestion


CBI – UK Road congestion

In 2010, an estimated 19 seconds per mile were lost due to congestion.

By 2035, this is estimated to rise to 32 seconds per mile. This is a 68% increase in congestion from today’s levels.

Solutions to congestion

1. Build more roads. This has been the primary objective of government transport policy from the 1960s to 2000s. The number of roads has increased. But, the limitations of this approach include: Continue Reading →


10 things that annoy the cyclist

A random selection of 10 things that can make life difficult for cycling on the roads.

1. Mobile phone user


You better not be using a mobile phone when you get to end of road

Last Saturday, I was feeling in a good mood, so pulled over to let a van drive on a narrow road passed many parked cars. He was driving on wrong side of road, but, sometimes it’s good to give way. After waiting for him to pass down the wrong side of the road, I looked into the van to see if he might acknowledge my action. I’m not desperate for thanks, but a brief wave is a nice gesture. Alas, the driver was completely oblivious of my presence on the road, being more interested in his mobile phone call. It’s probably a good job I did wait on the pavement as he had no concentration on the road.

2. The slam dunk



Another thing that annoy me is when a car overtakes you and then turns left (or slams on the brakes going down hill) You have to be pretty alert for things like that. Bicycle brakes are not always as powerful as advanced car brakes.

3. The cycle path to nowhere

This cycle path could easily be continued straight on. Instead you’re force onto a road with cars coming off a dual carriageway roundabout at over 30mph.cycle-paths-to-nowhere


Integrated transport is a buzzword rarely applied to British cycle paths.

4. Give us room


When big vehicles get too close breathing down your back, tailgating is the technical term. Give us space to brake

5. Passing too close



This happens everyday, all the time. It’s worse when the vehicle is fast moving and large. What happens if the cyclist needs to swerve to avoid a pothole? Continue Reading →


Cyclists in the First world war – and don’t forget your helmet

I was looking through some photos from World War One. There were quite a few showing soldiers using bicycles. The British army even had a specific bicycle corps.


And I thought Oxford roads were bad at the moment..

Soldiers were given bicycles to help faster troop movement, but it looks this roads was too muddy to cycle on.


These cyclists don’t even seem to be wearing a cycle helmet. Talks about socially irresponsibility! I don’t see many hi viz jersey amongst the platoon either. I don’t know how they managed to avoid being run over by tanks!

And don’t get me on to their position in the middle of the road.

Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but it was too depressing to say anything serious about this cycling ad, which got banned for being socially irresponsible.


Funny or not, around 50% of Premiership sides are sponsored by gambling companies. Continue Reading →


Cycling on pavements – problems and solutions

I have been reliably informed that if there is any discussion of cycling on internet, it is inevitable that, some poster (or several) will bring the conversation around to the stock comment – that cyclists use the pavement and are a real nuisance. It can be about any topic related to transport, such as improving road safety, the dangers of using mobile phones. But, the fact that some cyclists use the pavement is used ad nauseam – as a sweeping statement to tarnish all cyclists and negate any sensible discussion. I’m sure that somewhere in the Bacchanalian depths of the Daily Mail comment section there is the logic that since some teenagers cycle aggressively on the pavement we should ban all cycling on the road.


I have no idea why the guy on a foldup is using the pavement. There’s hardly any traffic on this road.

The law on pavement cycling

Firstly, it is against the law to cycle on the pavement, unless it is a shared footpath

It is illegal to cycle on the pavement, unless there is a sign indicating a shared use cycle path. Cycling on footways (a pavement by side of a carriageway) is prohibited by Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835, amended by Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888.(Highway Code)

This includes children. Children are not allowed to cycle on the pavement. Though the police are generally advised to use their discretion and not prosecute in this instance.

Why do people cycle on the pavement?

  1. Safety. Many roads and junctions are dangerous to cycle on. Cycling on the pavement can be a way to make a journey safer for the cyclist and avoid dangerous roads / junctions.
  2. Ignorance of the law. A study by researchers at Lancaster University found many people (especially children) were not aware that cycling on the pavement is illegal.
  3. Laziness / impatience. Sometimes you see people cycling on the pavement because they want to get their quicker and are too impatient to wait at a light or they see the pavement as a short-cut. This motive may be mixed in with the first motive about safety. Also, you get the impression with some road users that they just don’t care if they inconvenience other people.

Problem of cycling on the pavement

  1. Cycling on the pavement is one of the most frequently raised local issues to the police. Many people really dislike having the pavement space threatened by fast moving cyclists. Even if there is no accident, old people can feel uncomfortable when a bicycle passes by at close speed.
  2. Accidents. Accidents can happen when fast moving cyclists collide with pedestrians. In rare cases it can be fatal or lead to serious injury. Very roughly, on average one pedestrian is killed by a cyclist per year.
  3. It creates ill feeling towards other cyclists. When a drunk driver kills a pedestrian because he is speeding and loses control, we don’t go around hating other drivers. But, it does happen with cycling on pavements and it is a problem because it exacerbates tension between different road users and makes non-cyclists less sympathetic to any cyclists.

Sense of Perspective

In terms of fatalities and serious injuries, it seems that the threat posed by cyclists is exaggerated. Pedestrian and motorists are quick to complain about nuisance cyclists, but it is motor vehicles which are responsible for the vast majority of serious accidents. In 2011, there were 480 pedestrian fatalities. (cycle stats) These were not caused by cyclists on the pavement. It’s not just cyclists which invade pedestrian areas, but also parked cars and cars which lose control.

Continue Reading →


Patience is a virtue on the road

One thing about being a British road user is that it teaches you patience. Well, it’s either you learn to be patient, or you become really quite angry and irritable. I was dropping my bike off at Beeline this morning to re-fit a power meter. It took a long time to drive the one mile during rush hour; it’s so much slower than cycling. I realised now why I never drive in Oxford, unless I can avoid it. It takes considerable patience to drive the one mile down Cowley Road. The problem is that most of the roads around here were not designed for two rows of parked cars and heavy traffic.


They were designed in the halycon days of the 1930s, when everything was in black and white and people couldn’t afford a motor car.


The good old 1930s. Workers leaving factory. What happened when all these workers bought a motor car?

But, if you start off with the mindset of being patient and expecting it to be slow, it’s much easier to retain some equanimity. If you can’t enjoy the drive into town, and least at doesn’t leave you agitated.

As a cyclist, you often have to be patient. You could look at the top picture and get annoyed. Why are cars taking up so much space? If the other person was on a bicycle, there would be no delay.  “Why can’t you be nice and thin like me?” But, if you start thinking like that, you don’t end up in a good place. A little patience goes a long way; sometimes you have to wait a few seconds for a 4WD to carry its great hulk through the road. But, that’s fine, we all share the road – even Chelsea Tractors.  Continue Reading →


Cycling in Leeds


Recently I was in Leeds during the rush hour. I took a few photos of cyclists and the basic cycle infrastructure.

Leeds has a fairly low % of residents who cycle once a month. According to the Department of transport just 11% of residents cycle at least once a month. It’s not the lowest rate in the UK, but it lags behind other cities.


Leeds cycle facilities

In the city centre there are some dedicated cycle facilities. It’s not much, but they seemed to be well used during rush hour.


Dedicated cycle pathcyclist-path

A temporary brake in the cycle path. The cyclists I saw used their common sense and were cycling at low speed to avoid any problems with pedestrians. But, it does seem to sum up the patchy cycle lane provision.

Leeds cycling campaign.

The Leeds cycling campaign is working with the city council to try and improve facilities for cyclists and make the city more attractive place for cycling. (Leeds Cycling Campaign)


Proposals for better cycling facilities.  Cycle vision for Leeds

Continue Reading →