Category Archives: – Cycles and Cycling

What’s been happening May-June 2014

FIrebreakers1 (1024x692)Proposed Woodbridge Fire and Police station merger  Woodbridge residents were invited to a drop in session on Thursday to view proposals to extend and merge the existing fire station with the police station. Plans and information were unveiled at the event and representatives from both services –  together with myself – were on hand to discuss the proposals.

Suffolk already has four shared stations at Ixworth, Elmswell, Debenham and Framlingham. The aim of the Woodbridge plans is for the services  to become even more cost effective, allowing the services to work much more closely together .The funding for the Woodbridge project will be shared between the two services and it is hoped that the government will provide grant funding for the building works

Although there were concerns – mainly about parking and increased transport – response to the consultation was broadly favourable.

The design includes:

  • An extension to the front of the fire station, which would provide new office accommodation for Suffolk Constabulary.
  • Provision for five new car parking spaces for police use and cycle parking to the rear of the site.
  • A new garage to the rear of the station to accommodate an emergency vehicle, and
  • Much improved facilities for staff and the community and better access for the public

If approved, the work would commence in summer 2014 and will be completed for March 2015. There would be no disruption to fire and police services during the building works

People can continue to provide feedback via email: Fire.BusinessSupport@suffolk.gov.uk, quoting ‘Woodbridge Consultation’.

End of CSD – Customer Service Direct  On 1 June SCC moved CSD – Customer Service Direct – back in-house.  CSD,  in which BT had a majority stake alongside the county and Mid Suffolk councils, handled SCC’s  financial administration, IT, and personnel functions. The councils’ call centres were also operated by CSD

The cost of the contract was initially £301 million, but this increased to £427 million over 10 years as more functions were added to the service.

A hard lesson has been learned here. Proof, if proof was needed, that outsourcing services doesn’t always make savings and is not always best.

The PCC – and Thoroughfare Parking  At the Suffolk County Council AGM in May, the Police and Crime Commissioner  Tim Passmore presented details of his year, saying “ My role is to ensure the policing needs of our communities are met as effectively as possible, bringing communities closer to the police and building confidence in the system. My job is to listen and respond to the needs of the people of Suffolk; bringing more of a public voice to policing.  If you have an issue that you would like to raise, please contact me via the website, www.suffolk-pcc.gov.uk or call 01473 782777 .”

I took him at his word, and, meeting him shortly afterwards I raised the issue of police enforcement of parking in the Woodbridge Thoroughfare. He promised to look into this urgently.

Suffolk Reading Scheme This year’s reading scheme will be on the theme of the Mysterious Maze. As ever, the Woodbridge Library is on the lookout for volunteers to help local children read their books over the summer holidays.

Suffolk Records Office consultation  Suffolk County Council received over 500 responses to a recent consultation to improve Suffolk Records Office opening hours.

The consultation was on proposals to reducing weekday opening hours, improving the service on a Saturday and developing a key online presence.66% of respondents felt the proposals would bring a positive improvement to the service.

There was a majority of support for closing the office one day a week to allow improvements to the online accessibility of information and digitised materials. Respondents also showed great support for an improved Saturday service and later opening times, although some felt not opening until 10am was too late. In consequence SCC will bev blooking to open each  record office branch for 35 hours a week: 9.30am – 4.30pm, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Let’s Look Out for Each Other Cycle-Drive campaign   SCC has launched Let’s Look Out for Each Other  – an educational campaign that encourages both cyclists and drivers to share Suffolk’s roads. Each week approximately four cyclists are injured in Suffolk with almost three cyclists killed or seriously injured every month.

4% of adults in Suffolk cycle at least five times a week – as opposed to the national average of 3%; and 20% of adults in Suffolk cycle at least once a month -5% above the national average of 15%

Driver error has been attributed to 68% of all collisions in Suffolk.  In 77% of cyclist casualties at or at or near a junction, the cyclist have not been culpable; however, in 2 of the 3 recently recorded fatalities the cyclist was at fault.

Roadsafe top tips for drivers and cyclists when using the road are:

Cycling:

  1. Ride positively, decisively and well clear of the kerb – look and signal to show drivers what you plan to do and make eye contact where possible so you know drivers have seen you
  2. Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles, like lorries or buses, where you might not be seen
  3. Always use lights after dark or when visibility is poor
  4. Wearing light coloured or reflective clothing during the day and reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark increases your visibility

Driving:

  1. Look out for cyclists, especially when turning – make eye contact if possible so they know you’ve seen them
  2. Use your indicators – signal your intentions so that cyclists can react
  3. Give cyclists space – If there isn’t sufficient space to pass, hold back. Remember that cyclists may need to manoeuvre suddenly if the road is poor, it’s windy or if a car door is opened
  4. Always check for cyclists when you open your car door
  5. Avoid driving over advanced stop lines – these allow cyclists to get to the front and increase their visibility

Further information can be found  at http://www.suffolkroadsafe.net/cyclists/ or http://www.suffolkroadsafe.net/drivers/

County Councillor’s Surgery  My surgery dates for the next few months are:  Saturday 21 June, and Saturday 19 July. There will be no surgery in August. Surgeries are at Woodbridge Library 10-12 as ever. All welcome

 

Health risks of NOT cycling

Just when you thought it was safe to stay in the car…

We’ve heard a lot  this autumn about the dangers of cycling:  enough to return a lot of people firmly to their cars – and discourage others from leaving them.

Will this save lives?

SMallerroad health

It doesn’t look like it, does it?

The health risks of inactivity are gigantic and all-embracing.  Stop the scare stories and concentrate on every measure to support cycle safety and confidence.  We in Suffolk need to get cycling before we kill ourselves by not doing so

Cycle danger “must be designed out”

Six cyclists have died on London’s roads in less than two weeks.  Several others have been seriously injured.

A horrifying thought for cyclists and non-cyclists alike. And particularly thought-provoking for a rural cyclist like me who has had to make frequent cycle trips across London, visiting my child in hospital. I’m a sensible, careful, confident cyclist, but clearly just being  sensible, careful and confident is not enough. If  I were killed, who will look after her?

Every death on the road is the death of someone who was needed by someone, was responsible for someone, is missed by someone .

Three of these six tragic fatal collisions involved lorries, the rest coaches or buses. For years these large vehicles have posed a threat to cyclists and pedestrians completely disproportionate to their numbers – and both in and out of London. There are a number of factors likely responsible, but design of roads and lorries come right at the top. This video shows  the shocking extent of a lorry’s  blind spot.

The kneejerk reaction is to blame the cyclist. “You wouldn’t be in danger if you don’t ‘come up’ on the inside of a lorry.”  Right.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Unless the lorry ‘comes up’ on the outside of you, that is.

You wouldn’t be in danger if you wear hi-viz  …have bright lights …stick to the rules of the road ..maintain your bike properly …cycle defensively… etc etc.”

No, my friends, this is not the case. You will be in danger if you don’t do these things –  but you are far from safe even though you do.

Boris Johnson’s latest bright idea is that safety can be achieved by a ban on cyclists with headphones. Another example of missing the point completely:  when I had a near-fatal encounter with an HGV, I wasn’t wearing headphones. But the HGV driver was.   Having failed to spot me – all neon yellow and glittering lights –  in front of him, he was unable to hear either my air-horn or my screams.   Banning  headphones will only add to safety  if the ban is all-embracing.

CTC’s view is far more balanced.   All it is asking is that Boris Johnson  should “apply the most fundamental principles of safety management to this dreadful situation as a matter of urgency. In other words, the danger must be designed out and reduced at source to stop more unnecessary deaths“.   CTC suggests this should be by:

  • Re-designing and re-building major roads and junctions to optimise safety for cyclists and other road users, rather than optimising the motor traffic  flow;
  •  Insisting hauliers operate vehicles of the most cycle-friendly design . Models  already on the market feature lower and more transparent cabs to give drivers a better, direct view of the road;
  • Keeping lorries off the busiest roads at the busiest times.

Training and awareness activities – for lorry drivers, for cyclists, in fact for everyone –  would come next  says CTC and “their purpose should be to minimise whatever risks cannot be eliminated at source by the measures listed above“.

Here, I would counter Mr Johnson’s simplistic notion, with a reductio ad absurdam of my own.  Cycle safety on roads (whether city, town AND country) is not a matter of headphones, its a question of whether you’re plugged in to reality. And I would suggest that these days very few drivers are. The modern vehicle is built to give one a feeling of virtual travel – insulated against sound,  smell, atmosphere,  action, weather.  So to ensure people drive safely maybe we should be reintroducing these elements into their travel?  perhaps we should require vehicles that drive in rush hour to drive with their windows down? their roofs off? They could enjoy the vicarious experience of being a virtual cyclist.

From which it may be a simple step to getting out from behind the wheel altogether