Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Where the hell are the robust defenders of the EU?

*This blog post is not about cycling!*

This post has been a while in gestation, prompted initially by the low key campaigning  for the recent elections for Members of the European Parliament, and the uniformly dreadful quality of the electioneering pamphlets put through the door.

I'm damn certain that being within the EU  must bring benefits as well as downsides and I am astounded at the way that the press uniformly bangs on about 'Brussels bullies' without correspondingly strong and emotive articles and quotes praising its achievements and challenging the attacks made on it.

Just look at the current media storm about limiting the power of vacuum cleaners.

The genesis of this appears to be Which? advising that many of its current best buys are above the new EU 1600 watt limit from September, so people wishing to purchase these should do so while they can.

Cue rants from the press starting on the 21st August:

Daily Express headline: After light bulbs and TVs... now EU officials BAN our vacuum cleaners. THEY have forced us to change our light bulbs and banned our power-hungry plasma TVs.
(followed by a full on Comment rant the following day)

Daily Mail: ..thanks to a ruling by bureaucrats in Brussels, domestic goddesses among us may soon be robbed of the most vital tool in our arsenal..... Worse is to come. From 2017, the maximum wattage will be lowered still further, to just 900watts, sounding the death knell for some of the most popular vacuum cleaners.

Daily Mirror: Brussels busybodies are set to pull the plug on vacuum cleaners with motors bigger than 1,600 watts.

Independent Comment: News last week that an EU ban on cleaners with motors above 1,600W comes into force within days had even the most diffident householder dashing protectively towards the bear-slayer in the understairs cupboard. No more, the comforting tug of roller brush on carpet once the high-powered appliance has become extinct: in its place, a sluggish, futile skimming and a posse of fat, happy mothlings, dancing all the way to your only cashmere jumper. Basic hygiene must give way...

On the political front, UKIP unsurprisingly jumped in
"This is being done in the name of tackling climate change but the reality is it will do nothing to help and just make life harder for house-proud Brits," said Ms Bours, UKIP Euro-MP. "The reality is this EU legislation just sucks and is another reminder of why we need to leave the European Union."

as did Vauxhall's eurosceptic Labour/Independent MP Kate Hoey who tweeted,
Just got my high powered vacuum cleaner.How dare EU tell us what to buy. Just another reason to have a referendum @Lab4aRef #Europe

Having banged on about Brussels bullies, most of the media only quote an EU spokesperson in support, e.g. The Scotsman,: “Vacuum cleaners will use less energy for the same performance. This will help consumers to save money and make Europe as a whole use less energy.”

Why are no politicians quoted vocally supporting the EU's measures regarding vacuum cleaners at this time?
I've yet to see a newspaper quote a main UK party politician backing the EU's policy here, or see a paper's commentator cheering on Brussels, and I want to see well-argued support for the ruling from politicians and political commentators who are in favour of us remaining in the EU.

After all, there are lots of positive things about this measure.

Firstly, this isn't a surprise change - it's part of a Europe wide  range of measures to tackle human caused climate change that were drafted, debated and voted on by our elected MEPs in 2005. It's brilliant that a range of countries can agree on sensible measures across a range of countries and  then put them into action.

 The decision to limit the power demand of vacuum cleaners derives from Directive 2005/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2005 establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-using products. Domestic appliances, alongside a number of other areas, were deemed priorities.

Vacuum cleaners are one of the domestic appliances benefiting from a systematic approach to improving the ecodesign of domestic appliances without lowering the functionality of a product, its safety, or having a negative impact on its affordability or consumers’ health. It's brilliant that our Brussels boffins have thought through the principles and rationale of ecodesign so well.

This PDF is worth a read
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sustainable-business/ecodesign/files/brochure_ecodesign_en.pdf
Here's an extract:
All products have an impact on the environment during their life-cycle spanning all phases from cradle to grave, including the use of raw materials and natural resources, manufacturing, packaging, transport, disposal and recycling. More than 80% of the environmental impact of a product is determined at the design stage. 
Ecodesign involves taking into account all the environmental aspects of a product, right from the earliest stage of design. In particular, this avoids uncoordinated product planning (for example, eliminating a toxic substance should not lead to higher energy consumption, which on balance could have a negative impact on the environment). 
The Ecodesign Directive provides a coherent and integrated framework which allows setting mandatory ecodesign requirements for some products. For instance, the Ecodesign Regulation on standby requires that many domestic electrical and electronic products such as washing machines, TV or personal computers do not consume more than 0.5W in off mode as of 2013. 
However, ecodesign requirements must not lower the functionality of a product, its safety, or have a negative impact on its affordability or consumers’ health.
Taking that last point, The Daily Telegraph, in 2010, reported,
Paul Pearce, technical director of the national carpet cleaning association, said: "The performance of a vacuum cleaner has more to do with airflow than with the power rating, so it should be possible to reduce the power without affecting the cleaning performance."
Is there any benefit from reducing the power consumption? The PDF linked above states,
By 2020, the first Ecodesign Regulations on 13 product groups (see Table 1) are projected to allow energy savings equivalent to more than 12% of the electricity consumption of the EU in 2009 (compared to a ‘business as usual’ scenario). 
The benefits from efficient but lower powered vacuum cleaners contribute to that 12% saving, not just in the UK but across all 28 members of the EU. January 2014 figures show there are 507 m people living within the 28 member states of the European Union. At an average household size of 2.4, there are some 211 m households, and I'm going to guess that at least one in two households in Europe has a vacuum cleaner.

Pushing through measures that, as machines are replaced, reduces energy use in an appliance used in 105,000,000 homes in Europe. That's brilliant.

If I was a manufacturer I'd rather have the task of creating an almost uniform product to sell to a 211 m household market, with agreed safety and power measures across all 28 countries. That's brilliant, as I'd hate to have to tailor my vacuum cleaners to each of the 28 member countries own idiosyncratic rules, but a set power limit in 28 countries provides me with one heck of an incentive to design and manufacture a market winning machine within that limit. It's worth noting that two of Which's existing 'Best Buys' already are within the new power limit, and that the chunky mega-cleaner, Henry, only has a 1200 watt motor.

The set limit also means that my product range doesn't need to include a stupidly powerful vacuum cleaner to get the custom of consumers who insist on buying the highest powered device available, regardless of their need for it or its real efficacy.

So there you have it - a carefully planned process to meet a sensible energy use goal that benefits the residents of 28 countries and allows manufacturers to design one product that meets the specification of all the countries. Brilliant. Well done our EU.

Please can some politicians and mainstream papers present a positive argument on EU topics in the future, to help me make up my mind.











Sunday, 10 August 2014

Quietway 2, Southwark part - Consultation

Southwark have a consultation running until August 15th that had either gone unnoticed until an eagle eyed cyclist spotted it on the 8th August, or has just gone on-line with an incredibly short consultation period during the summer holidays.

It is for Quietway 2, running roughly parallel to the Old Kent Road across north Southwark. The Council's consultation page doesn't include a route map for some reason but Southwark Cyclists have made one

I don't use much of the route, which I feel sure is an old LCN one, partly because the location in Law Street where I would join it is so well hidden I didn't know it existed. Riding along it I found some of it a desolate motorcentric area.
Despite the motorcentric look there is quite a lot of filtered permeability already in place, albeit mainly with tortuous barriers to cycling too.


The plans include many good improvements to this route which will make it much more pleasant to cycle along. I haven't ridden it during weekday rush-hour but I question, even with the planned improvements, how much of it will be a route where parents will happily let their primary school children ride independently to school. But I'm not sure if they are intended users of Quietways.

My comments thus far on each section are below:

Site A – Stevenson Crescent / Rossetti Road
The Quietway should have priority at junction of Rossetti Road and Sheppard Drive. Give Way mkgs to be installed on Sheppard Drive either side of Rossetti Road.
Ditto on Stevenson Crescent.
NB, neither Sheppard Drive or Stevenson Crescent are through roads for motor traffic to the north of Rossetti Road.

Site B – St James’s Rd Ped’n and Cycle Underpass
Bike route logos (adapted 1057s) by Achilles Close and opposite by the car pk entrance need to be in centre of lane, rather than the nearside edge, in accordance with Bikeability teaching.

Site C – Oxley Close / Abercorn Way
Bike route logos (adapted 1057s) by car pk entrance need to be in centre of lane, rather than the nearside edge, in accordance with Bikeability teaching. This is particularly important if road car parking bay stays and due to the build out.
Visually this area is dominated by cars, with lots of off-road parking. The need for on-road parking here should be challenged.
Provision of prominent, secure and attractive cycle parking should be considered. Bin stores and other ways of improving the aesthetic of this cycle route should be provided.
The link between Abercorn Way and Paterson Park can be make more cycle friendly.

Site D – Chaucer Drive / Oxley Close
All three sets of Bike route logos (adapted 1057s) should be in centre of lane.
The bend on Chaucer Drive needs attention – consideration of double yellow lines to prevent parking and maybe raised table?

Site E – Dunton Road / Lynton Road / Chaucer Drive
Bike route logo (adapted 1057) at top of Chaucer Drive, junction with Lynton Road, should be in centre of lane in accordance with Bikeability training.
Traffic light controlled junction: To maintain appeal of the cycle route and reduce likelihood of people jumping lights, there should be frequent changes. Would a scramble crossing make sense here? Alternatively, can the priority be switched so Dunton Road users give way to Lynton Road / Chaucer Drive users and lights are not installed?

Site F – Pages Walk / Willow Walk Junction and Harold Estate Access Road
I question the need for a priority ped’n crossing for the cycle track by Arundel Blgs  If it makes sense, this should logically be mirrored with Give Way lines on the new ped’n crossing on the Harold Estate Access Road.

Site G – Webb Street
Bike route logos (adapted 1057s) by Swan Mead are in door zone; should be more central.
How much school run traffic is there for Grange Primary School? 
Swan Mead off Webb St described as one-way except cycles, but markings on Swan Mead and at junction with Webb St don’t make that apparent. There is no passing space without using footway. Should footway become shared space?
Tower Bridge Road junction  traffic lights need to have short phases to deter red light jumping and nurture use of cycle route.

Site H – Rothsay Street
I particularly support the formalisation of the cycle route between Rothsay Street and Law Street as, despite using Law Street often I had no idea the cycle route existed.
The close proximity of the cycle route junction with Law Street to the junction of Law Street and Wild’s Rent / Weston Street concerns me. Consideration should be given to squaring up the junction, making a cross roads: Weston Street to Cycle Facility; Law Street to Wild’s Rent.
The right turn from Weston Street into Law Street is unpleasant currently.

Bend in Law Street – reallocate car parking to reduce likelihood of meeting a motor vehicle in the middle of the road. Consider raised median to enforce slow speed and staying to own side.

Site I – Tabard Street
All four sets of Bike route logos (adapted 1057s) approaching Pilgrimage St should be in centre of lane, not the door zone.

Site J – Globe Street / Trinity Street
This appears to be focussed on streetscape improvements. Given a limited budget, it would be better spent on Chaucer Drive to Abercorn Way which has dreadful public realm.
The cycle lane  should not need to formally give way to pedestrians crossing between Faraday and Shere House.
The southbound cycle lane certainly has no reason to give way to vehicles exiting a car park (consideration should be given as to whether this exit is needed or if vehicles can enter and leave solely via the other entrance/exit). The yellow lines there should also be redundant given the through nature of the cycle route. 
The southbound lane Give Way markings on Globe Street by Cole Street are entirely unnecessary. I question the need for the adjacent Northbound cycle lane markings.
The cycle access barriers in Trinity Square should be altered, ideally to bollards, but at the minimum so one short stretch of railing is removed entirely (at least for a trial period) and the other relocated at 1.5m (subject to agreement from Wheels for Wellbeing on mobility access). I suspect otherwise some cyclists will continue to chicane through the pavement railings instead.

Site K – Great Suffolk Street / Trinity St
Great Suffolk Street – is there sufficient space for semi-segregated cycle lane and an adjacent lorry?
Elephant’s Feet are to left of lane, but given the lane width cyclists would be better to be in centre of lane, esp if turning right, and going s/o from Trinity St to Gt Suffolk St where the 1057s are, appropriately, shown in the centre of the lane.

Site L – Gt Suffolk Street / Southwark Bridge Road
Concerned over Elephant’s Feet leading to edge of lane rather than centre of lane in roads opposite, esp with Webber Street junction immediately after lights going westbound, posing a left hook risk for riders going straight on.
Question space for semi-seg’d lane and adjacent lorry on Gt Suffolk St approaching Swk bridge Rd.

Site M – Webber Street
Consider pavement continuing across mouth of Friars Primary School car park entrance.
1057 Cycle Markings to be centre of lane
Elephant’s Feet across Blackfriars Road should lead to safe riding position in subsequent lane.
Between Webber Row and Gray Street the single yellow line should be made double yellow, no loading as narrow width if cars park up there given parking opposite also.
Consider ways to further filter motor traffic on this street.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Location, Location, Location

Achieving 'Behaviour Change' essentially comes down to making the desired behaviour an obvious and effortless (lazy) choice.

Lambeth Council's website included the fact that secure temporary cycle parking would be provided at this year's Country Show, and today a couple came over to the Lambeth Cyclists' stand and said they'd decided to come by bike having been reassured about the cycle parking. That's brilliant.

I was pleased because I'd recommended installing additional temporary parking after last year's event. It's the sort of thing that makes sense to do if, as Lambeth Council were advertising at the event, you want cycling to be normal for everyone.

Isn't that a great message to put out.

But I was puzzled because, despite knowing it would be present, I hadn't spotted the parking via the Lido entrance though the usual racks were full. Nor had I noticed the temporary cycle parking at the Herne Hill entrance below.
There were no signs advertising secure cycle parking at the entrance, above, but to the left the normal bike racks were full as were the adjacent railings

To the right of the entrance the railings were almost full
In front, the tree supports were full (by a convenient location for temporary cycle parking)
 So I went into the park and asked at the information tent just by the entrance (next to a prominent and convenient place to put temporary cycle parking)

 and the helpful volunteer referred to his map and pointed me several hundred metres along the path away from the Lido or Herne Hill entrance to a minor entrance. Unsurprisingly when I got there the parking was under-occupied
 Lambeth's Safer Transport Team were on hand in force to offer free cycle security marking to the handful of people who found the cycle parking
 I retraced my steps to the entrance and there, on the way out, I spotted a sign (below right) advertising the cycle parking.
 It would be great if Lambeth can continue with the temporary additional parking next year, but it needs to be located by the entrance(s) so obviously that no signage is needed.

A further improvement would be for the No Entry signs, used to restrict motor traffic in Railton Road for the event, to have 'except cycles' added.
 






Monday, 14 July 2014

Draft thoughts on London Cycling Design Standards draft

Not a pretty read, but I've posted these in case it's useful for tonight's Cycling Embassy of GB twitter debate from 8 - 9pm #LCDSHour

------------------

Overall I don't find the document intuitive to use and it can be repetitive.

I would prefer to see legal and technical construction/maintenance aspects separated from design, with a superscript linking to relevant legal/maintenance aspects.


CHAPTER 1
Fig 1.2a
1 Safety:
Change ‘and address negative perceptions about safety’ to ‘and make cycling feel safe and appealing to all’.

Remove ‘for the majority of cyclists’.

Fig 1.2b
4 Coherence:
Add, after consistent, ‘link seamlessly to other routes’
Image and text of a ‘bad example’ seems to show a clearly marked cycle track of reasonable width paralleling a major road. I don’t think this is a good example of lack of coherence to use here. I don’t know where pedestrians are meant to walk though.

5 Attractiveness
I would prefer this to be used mainly in the Dutch sense of ‘Attractive or appealing to cycle along’ – for example inviting sociable side-by-side cycling. ‘Enhancing the public realm’ can be a secondary aspect.

1.1.11
Requirement 1 box: ‘Must’ must replace both uses of the word ‘Should’

1.1.11.1
Para 1 – Most current cycle provision is shared space with motor traffic, reflecting a belief that people who want to cycle will ‘man up and keep their wits about them’, rather than take a less challenging transport option.
Add ‘Our streets must be made appealing and accommodating to children, the disabled and the elderly to travel on by bicycle’

para 2 – remove ‘especially in the centre’


1.1.11.3
Bicycles must be treated as a class of vehicle, not as pedestrians

1.1.11.6
Quietways will normally only work as alternatives to main roads when the route is as obvious, convenient and quick as the main road. Convenience includes provision of cash machines and convenience stores.

1.1.11.8 Add ‘However where quiet routes can run parallel to unfriendly roads, there needs to be provision to access facilities on the unfriendly road and to cross them in a safe and appealing way.

1.1.11.10
First line: Cyclists, including children - and other road users -….
Last line: replace ‘should’ with ‘are to’

1.1.11.12
Line 4  - add ‘some’ after ‘anti-social behaviour by’

Para 2 – detail to include later

1.1.11.18
Designers should have undertaken Bikeability cycle training to level 3 and have taken a child along on a ride. A regular cyclist is needed to be involved in the design process.

1.1.11.19 sentence starting ‘In winter…’ needs an ending, such as ‘when they should normally be the first to be cleared’.


1.3 – Local Streets may have a medium or high movement function for pedestrians and/or cyclists – e.g. LCN3 or are streets on Quietways designated as ‘Connectors’ in the matrix?

1.3.4 – Makes sense for Quietways to be designed to minimise effort and strain on the elderly and the young, so likely to be attractive to the fast and confident cyclist too. All the more so if they are tidal commuter routes (1.3.5)

1.3.9 redundant in design manual. Ditto 1.3.10, 1.3.11. Isn’t all this in Mayor’s strategy?



CHAPTER 2
2.1 The Tube Network for the Bike – implies there will be much better provision north of the Thames than south of it;-)

2.1.25 Are Green movement junctions sure to be child cycle safe and appealing?
Fig 2.5 – Area-wide speed limit/reduction belongs in Amber box.
2.2.10 Accessibility Classification
Undertaking a classification of roads should not be done on the level of experience needed to ride it comfortably, but on the ease of riding without conflict on the road. This classification needs to be done during peak hours of travel for children and adults.
Children will not be permitted to ride or enjoy riding on many of London’s ‘secondary’ roads, especially during peak travel times.
Suggest:
Dark Green – off road routes suitable for all
Light Green – roads suitable for almost all (e.g. Trinity Street in Southwark – light volume of motor traffic, low speeds, rat-runs blocked)
Amber – secondary road but with more traffic / speed / rat-running / pinch-points than makes for a mellow, child friendly environment (most secondary streets)
Red – primary road used to carry through motor traffic in volume, without it being segregated from children cycling (when it would be Dark Green)
Red Plus – multi-lane gyratories and roads with large volumes of queuing motor traffic that cyclists have to sit amongst (e.g. The Strand) or battle to filter through.

Classifying junctions into Level 2 or Level 3 Bikeability is to be avoided. Traffic lights feature in Level 3, so not taught to most school children. However the principles of traffic lights are dead easy to grasp and they are often used on secondary roads to cross major roads (e.g. Thorne Road to Aldebert Terrace on LCN3 in Lambeth). Those roads could be made Light Green and the lights would not be an issue in themselves.

2.2.11
Line 5 – pleasant and efficient crossings.

The next 2.2.11 (Porosity)
Green should only apply when gateways are on principal desire lines. Not green for example if there are two gateways but both on the same side of the box if people want to cross through the box and out the other side.

Figure 2.13
Need to distinguish between Pedestrian Streets and No Motor Vehicle Streets (where cycling is allowed).

2.4.5 Standing water can conceal potholes and other hazards, and glass etc. will wash from centre of road to area where water is standing.

2.4.5 Replacement covers must be badged identifying the owner – e.g. of extraneous level of detail that clogs this guide.

CHAPTER 3
3.1.5 line 1: all types of cyclist ‘including children and people with disabilities’
3.1.7 Are pedestrians not road users?
3.1.8 Worth emphasising that cyclists use most energy slowing and accelerating; whereas maintaining a speed is a low energy activity.
3.1.13 Remove ‘ideally’

CHAPTER 4
I would like to see advice on staggered junctions, including use of nearby pedestrian crossings to facilitate crossings. Is a right to left stagger better than left to right, other things being equal?

4.2 Crossings (to cross a road between shared pavements or cycle tracks)

4.3.2 Photo shows 1057 symbols in wrong place with regards to Bikeability teaching - maintain a straight line past the parked cars (the width of the door and a little bit more) and the minor road.

4.4.27 line 2: a particular what?

4.4.38 Denmark, where there is normally no separate pedestrian phase as turning traffic must give way to pedestrians continuing.

4.4.48 photo and similar photos and diagrams throughout:
 ASLs are about vehicular motoring and their inclusion in this manual should be in doubt. Should they remain the large 1057s straddling lanes may be better replaced with a regular 1057 in the centre of each lane, nurturing ‘Bikeability’ positioning.


CHAPTER 5
I expect lane width to feature in this section.

5.8
Line 2: in such a way as to make minimise risks and stress to cyclists

5.6.2 A segregated side for cyclists works best when one side (the one the cyclists travel along) is off a pedestrian desire line – e.g. adjacent to railings as shown in Hyde Park image, or near the edge fence/hedge of a park as dog owners are likely to throw the stick into the field, and children kick the ball that way.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Cycling update from Lambeth Council at next Lambeth Cyclists meet

Come along next Tuesday 15th July to Lambeth Cyclists monthly meet at Stockwell Community Centre, 1 Studley Road, Stockwell SW4 (behind Stockwell tube station) at 7:30pm to find out from Lambeth Council what's happening on the cycling and related transport front.

I've put together a list of topics of interest, below, and suggested a briefing note would be useful so we can concentrate on questions and answers.

2011-2014 Lambeth Transport Plan: Outcomes against targets and reasons. How does the Council monitor this and when/where are outcome reports published?
LIP programme of investment for 2014/15 to 2017/18.
Central and South London Sub Regional Transport Panels update re sub-regional transport plans
Councillor(s) responsibility for transport and for cycling, and reporting/scrutiny measures
Lambeth staffing structure and outsourcing principal contractors for design/build etc.
Implications of borough funding cuts and of losing revenue due to ‘spy’ car camera ban

Principal capital development/works over coming two or so years:

Cycling Superhighways
CS7 upgrade

Major Junctions
Stockwell Gyratory
Vauxhall Gyratory 
Tulse Hill Gyratory
Waterloo Imax Roundabout
Lambeth Bridge South Roundabout
Loughborough Junction


Inner London Grid
•             The Central London Grid (covering Waterloo and Vauxhall) – the network and funding are due to be confirmed in the summer, but Lambeth has been told that the network it submitted for the consultation at the beginning of 2014 was too dense, and that only a few key routes will be funded.

Quietways and Greenways
•             Quietway 2 – Waterloo to Greenwich – this route mainly passes through Southwark, with a short section in Lambeth, is one of the first two Quietways in London to be funded by the Mayor.
•             Quietway Waterloo to Clapham to Croydon will be in the second wave of 8 Quietways
•             Greenway from Ruskin Park to Archbishop Park – we had already started to work up designs for this route.  It is not yet on the Mayor’s Quietway programme but we believe it should be as it could be progressed quite quickly.
Tyers Street linear park extension

Town Centre development
Clapham Old Town cycling works timetable
Streatham High Road A23 improvements.
Future Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme

Public Transport Development
Northern Line extension
Crossrail/Tube for Streatham
Lambeth Council commissioned study of options for upgraded stations at Loughborough Junction and Brixton
Bus/cycle lane hours extension

OTHER
20mph implementation timetable; any exemptions
Developing plans for ward asks made by Lambeth Cyclists (http://action.space4cycling.org/data/borough/63)
Sustrans – Granton Primary project; Vauxhall Street Project and any others
Cycle Parking – hangars, stands and major transport hubs
Lambeth Physical Activity and Sport Strategy
September 12th, Lambeth hosted London Cycling Show ( http://landor.co.uk/londoncyclingshow/home.php)
September 13th, Made in Lambeth cycling event
Thurs 25th September:  Lambeth Sustainability Forum – sustainable transport review and forward plan
One-way to two-way for cyclists: Crescent Lane etc.
Road resurfacing schedule and taking advantage to improve cycle markings
Reason for failure to install sinusoidal humps on LCN3 in Turret Grove SW4 and when will remedial action take place?
Lambeth Cycling Festival, cycle training, cycle loan

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Local secondary school the day after the Tour de France in London

Cyclists in the City has challenged the £6m spend for London to host the Tour de France coming from TfL's cycling budget in his blogpost: titled "Should TfL bosses have taken £6million from the cycling (safety) budget to spend on Tour de France promotional work? Would it be acceptable for the Highways Agency to sponsor Formula 1?"

I thought it would be interesting to check how many bikes are in the racks at the local Lilian Baylis secondary school this sunny day after England's section of the Tour de France ended. The school is situated within a couple of miles of the finish line.

There are many reasons why children may not cycle to school (proximity of housing; secure cycle parking at home; hostile roads etc.) and I don't have time to go into the ins and outs of that for this school just now, so I'll just put up the following pictures without comment.

Here are the racks within the school (there used to be twice the number of racks but seating has now replaced them)


Below, the cycle racks in the school's (staff?) car park.

and, finally, the cycle racks by the front entrance to the school


I also tweeted the Evelyn Grace Academy in Lambeth





@ARKEvelynGrace would like to know if Tour de France has resulted in many more bikes in school racks this week? - 08 Jul




@KenningtonPOB not that we've noticed so far but will keep an eye out and let you know. We do have a v active bike club here at EGA








I'm really heartened by the fact that the Academy has a v active bike club and hope there are no budget constraints against it continuing and growing.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Time to refine school cycle training?

Floating an idea here that I've been mulling over the past week as I've been teaching year 7s for a change (albeit ones with Autism Spectrum Disorder)

I teach a lot of Bikeability, what used to be called Cycle Proficiency, level 2 in schools. The first session is in the playground, checking pupils' bikes are in okay condition and a reasonable fit, that the pupils can cycle competently, and that they will follow instruction when taken out to the roads.

The following few days are on local roads, progressively developing until the pupils are turning right from a major road, wide enough to require moving across their lane and with some traffic, into a minor road. Children are trained and assessed for competency, consistency and confidence in undertaking the maneouvres.

This is almost always done in primary school, ideally in year 6 before the pupils leave for secondary school. In practice Year 6 is SATs year, so many schools are reluctant to take a chunk of time out for this. In consequence there is a mad demand for courses between the end of SATs and the end of the summer of the summer term.

The alternative that many schools like is to run the course in year 5. At this age most children struggle to achieve consistency, competence and confidence. Their ability to judge speed and distance is fairly weak and they often have a delightful sense of playfulness at odds with mixing competently with traffic. This quite often continues into year 6. I get the sense that neither parents nor the schools expect the primary pupils to cycle on-road to their school

So, it seems to me that year 7 is the logical time to do on-road cycle training. Old enough to judge speed and distance reasonably, at a school that is likely to be further from home than the primary school, more likely to be travelling independently, and without any exams that year. Year 5 or 6 in primary school should focus on off-road cycle control skills.

Being older the pupils should pick up the basics of on-road riding to level 2 standard quickly, and additionally can be taught about roundabouts, traffic lights and lorries. A route to school could be rehearsed with the pupils. There can also be buddy systems arranged with older pupils and a range of other measures, such as cycling as a class on outings.

There could then be a refresher and consolidation of the skills at the end of year 12 after pupils, aged 16 or 17, have taken their AS levels and before summer term ends when schools struggle to find useful activities for the pupils to do. This would serve two purposes, firstly to remind them of the ease of moving around their local area by bicycle, and secondly, to brush up their on-road skills which would be of benefit to those aiming to acquire a motor-cycle or driving licence.

What do you think? I'm particularly interested in the views of secondary school teachers and pupils, and also the views of other cycling instructors.