Sunday 27 October 2013

Questions for Cyclenation

Cyclenation's resources webpage (27 October 2013) links to Annual Report 2010-2011 [pdf] which contains no financial statement. No other accounts are available. Please could anyone from Cyclenation be so kind to answer these organisational and policy questions?
  1. Do you publish your financial accounts?
  2. Are there annuals reports for subsequent years?
  3. What's your stance on what you call "high-quality segregated infrastructure" (Simon Geller, page 3)?

Many thanks, in anticipation.
Katja Leyendecker
= = = =
Chair, Newcastle Cycling Campaign
Constitution and annual reports incl financial statements here

Friday 25 October 2013

Questions for NE1 - The How(ling)

They want car parking. Lots of it. They support free car parking in Newcastle city centre after five. They want happy shoppers, lots of them, and have a brochure full of smiley people in car-free places - see excerpts below. I could not find one overtly positioned car!

They want it all. But the how is just not clear.

Who are they? NE1. The retailers of Newcastle city centre. Maybe they are planning to rewrite the Laws of Physics. The alternative would be to support car restraint. What's the more likely to happen of the two options?

Maybe NE1 are literate folks. I feel Newcycling's info sheet cycling and retail [pdf] could be of use to them. And Newcycling have also written a rather inspirational reply to Newcastle's urban core plans including more transformational impressions of people places.

Renew - NE1 brochure

Renew - NE1 brochure

Renew - NE1 brochure

Renew - NE1 brochure

NE1 are also (quite rightly of course!) boasting about the excellent ScratchBikes!

Renew - NE1 brochure

The brochure states that the "following people currently make up the Board". Maybe they care to get in touch and explain their inverse metaphysical approach. The vision (in images, pictures, above) is there - but the realisation of The How is not.

David Quinn*,
Chairman, MD, Fenwick

Gavin Black*
Deputy-Chairman, Gavin Black and Partners

Sean Bullick*
Chief Executive, NE1 Ltd

Adam Serfontein*
MD, Hanro Group

Nigel Wright
MD, Nigel Wright Recruitment

Linda Conlon*
Chief Executive, International Centre for Life

Tom Caulker
Owner, World Headquarters nightclub

David Faulkner
Elected member, Newcastle City Council

Isabella Miller*
MD, John Lewis, Newcastle

John Goddard*
Emeritus Professor, Newcastle University

Bob Senior
MD, Utopian Leisure

Barry Speker
Samuel Phillips Law Firm

Robin Knight
Commercial Director, Stagecoach North East

Michael Johnson
Elected member, Newcastle City Council

Andrew Lewis*
Assistant Chief Executive, Newcastle City Council

Sir Len Fenwick
Chief Executive, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals

Neil Barker

Geoff O’Brien
Elected member, Newcastle City Council

*denotes Executive Committee member

Sunday 13 October 2013

At the value of £160,000

Behavioural Change "please feel encouraged to cycle"
On 9 October 2013, I attended yet another gathering under the banner of "Policy Cabinet" meeting; this time it was about the hot potato... transport. I hear these meetings are for the decision-makers to listen and "have a conversation" (your words). I was again shocked at your lack of comprehension and compassion.

Transport, in particular, has been a one-way cul-de-sac for a long time, with a sturdy ancient ivory tower at the end of it: totally (over)ruled by the Highway Department (who say they can't do this, can't do that for "reasons"of time, space and money, excuses we all know so well). Hello, decision-makers you have to drag 'Highways and Roads' into the 21st Century and make them 'Streets and People' engineers. Make them relevant. You have to get your hands dirty in doing so. Yes, difficult decisions are to be made. Start by 'comprising car user amenity' as a former Cabinet Councillor put it and allocating road space to cycling (Cycle City Ambition Fund). There is an added complication in Newcastle, as regional capital, that car trips stem from surrounding areas... sprawly land-use planning of surrounding areas and lack of joined-up "integrated" transport. Be assertive as a capital. Look after your people first - it's our city we live in. Newcastle is not a car city.

So a second policy meeting passed by, where your people screamed for better public transport and safer convenient cycleways, more convenient linked urban mobility (all quite in accordance with your policies). I saw it again, Newcastle people care about short trips and urban mobility. Deeply.

I was particular disappointed at £160,000 worth of Chief Executive, Pat Ritchie. The only time she spoke was to announce A1 pinchpoint funding (or suchlike) had been received. There was very little understanding she demonstrated on the Spatial and Economic plan (1Plan) or transport policies such as LTP and the Cycling Strategy. You say, you were there to listen and have a conversation. Yet, I am still baffled what path you are going to take. But I presume, Pat, you 'depend' on the car. You 'need' the car. So you promote business as usual. The car. And driving. Out of self-interest and fear of change, and reluctance to take on the Highways Department and make them relevant to your city transport policies. Dear Pat, we are at a cross-roads. Get immersed in the policies, and crack on towards a liveable Newcastle with urban mobility, transport fairness and access for all at its heart. Crack the whip with the Highways folks too. What's the saying? Ah, yes. On yer bike, you £160k girl! The invite still stands.

So listen to this.

And a word of caution (repeated from the meeting): if you don't get the cycleways physically set up in parallel with the rising and rising cycling modal share... KSI figures will disproportionately increase - that's what London is telling us. Newcastle City Council, it's your responsibility now. You have encouraged and promoted and you continue to do so... now you need to build too. We are at the cusp: you must care for cycling safety or you become negligent.

space for cycling (Newcastle)

Monday 7 October 2013

Graphic(!) illustration of cycling motorists

Cycling Motorists illustration
You often hear the argument that motorists are cyclists too. The quantification and truth of that argument depends on what kind of cycling you are referring to. 

As the argument is often used to defuse conflicts between motoring and cycling folks (and then quickly starts pointing towards the failed "let's simply share" tactics - a motoring argument btw) I'd suppose regular on-road cycling experience is what we ought to talk about.

I reported previously about the AA study 'Cycling Motorists' and here is the accompanying graphics (see upper right). 

To describe it. It's one in five motorists who sport this regular on-road cycling experience so vital to compassion and sympathy towards that cyclist "holding you up" or "not paying road tax" or whatever other myths you can come up with *insert here*. 

The figure of non-cycling motorists is in fact is 80%.

So, next time when someone says "motorists are cyclists too" - stop and think. Motorists are very much more likely to NOT do this regular on-road commuter-style cycling (the type of cycling where the conflict, aggression, anger and hurt happens). 

Saturday 5 October 2013

Vote of no-confidence

This tweet reminded me about something.

Why attend?

The annual CTC / Cyclenation conference takes place this weekend. My memory was re-activated... I attended the 2010 conference in Edinburgh. Newcycling had just been formed a couple of months before, and we were let into Cyclenation without a fee as our membership was still low. (For the record: I don't think there should be a membership fee at all, funding for this sort of collaboration should be obtained from other sources.) I also think Cyclenation had identified the Norf as a blackspot for cycle campaigns and they were chuffed it got moving (again). All good.

And so in the coming months I helped Cyclenation pull together some letter-writing action on Stricter Liability; and Newcycling carried out a survey of local cycle campaigns. When cracks started to appear as I also continued to pose 'challenging' questions on the Cyclenation email group about their organisation, their vision, focus and their view on infrastructure as well as interaction with local campaign groups. I talked about the necessity of gaining campaigning confidence, visibility, openness and honesty. A lot. So much so that someone blew his patience, and one fine day in August 2011 expelled Newcycling from Cyclenation with the silly excuse that we had never joined.
"Your opportunities to influence our policies would be greater if your group affiliated with Cyclenation and behaved in a properly constituted and democratic manner - your group is not a member of cyclenation [sic.], had I been aware of that I would not have suggested that you apply for a seat on the Board this year.  At present the only affiliated group in your area is Newcastle BUG. We would like to see a properly constituted campaign group operating in Newcastle, and indeed every town in the UK with more than 50,000 (& those with less than that number if we can find people to run them)."
Simon Geller, 2 August 2011

Newcycling? Constituted? Tick. Democratic? Tick. Hm, also important: open and honest campaigning? Tick. Well, the palpitating heartbeat of the story is this: Cyclenation's online joining department were so disorganised at the time that Newcycling despite the automated confirmation email we received from Cyclenation, they'd nonetheless failed to register us. (Same goes for my workplace BUG.) And that was that. So in other words Cyclenation expelled us because of their own disorganisation and arrogance. Point in proof. Snap. Circular reference snapping off their own tail. There is every possibility that they are still chasing it now.

If you need to see email proof of the above statements, get in touch. And please yourself by calling me a splitter if you will. As far as I am concerned, there never was unity, clarity or collaboration. We are still busy talking to ourselves, wrestling our own demons. The masses still don't care. And it is that, that cycling has to break out and into mainstream, that's important. So, I agree with Shaun - there is no difference to made there.

So what do I want? I want effective coordination of national and local cycle campaigning. And I'll go out on a limb... we need a new body for that.

And I wonder whether Kaya Burgess has heard of Cyclenation?

Friday 4 October 2013

Who killed Road Safety?

Highbury, Jesmond  
It's being an engineer I suppose. I just love data and data analysis. And I really do not like to see its misuse or misrepresentation. Or, on the other end of the scale, I also dislike the problem of over-reliance on data getting in the way of doing things. In February I wrote about cycle track safety research and today I'd like to talk about a speed survey.

There is a suspect rat run on my commute (a popular cycle commuter and school route) - it's called Highbury (just south of Ilford Road) and Newcastle City Council after some arm-twisting carried out a speed survey. Obtaining the data was fine (a few little glitches aside), but I could not have been prepared for the way the analysis was carried out or the way data was 'explained away'.

Quick scene check: Highbury is a 20mph residential street in Jesmond. Residents have long been arguing that their street is misused as a short cut in the southwards direction - drivers bypassing Blue House Roundabout from Jesmond Dene Road to Great North Road. Schools are nearby.

Granted, it's not a busy road for its traffic volume. Looking at the data however, more drivers are in excess of the speed limit than in observance on every single day when data was recorded (1 week survey). And even when we disregard the drivers in the 21 to 26mph bracket, the proportion of drivers exceeding 26mph was still over 20% in both directions and on every day. The 85%ile cut-off (widely accepted as a measure for 'the feel of the road' - as opposed to its speed limit) was about 28mph with every 1mph increment, as you can imagine, killing the street's atmosphere and livability. 

If that's not a speeding problem than what is? 

Using their 'standard approach' for analysing the speed data, Newcastle City Council concluded there is no real problem on Highbury. And continued, road safety on Highbury is fine as no-one had been killed: "Highbury has a good road safety history with no personal injury accidents recorded in the last 13 years." And it is this that determines, apparently, what action is taken (hello, Newcastle City Council we are still waiting for a pinchpoint review, prompted by Rev Malleson's tragic death on Heaton Road).

Newcastle City Council again: "the main factor we use to determine whether remedial measures are required is not vehicle speeds, but the road safety history and the number of personal injury accidents that have been recorded by Northumbria Police." Accidents, don't get me started. And it felt like they were re-rewriting the story board.

And yes, regardless of everyone still being alive (and we are abundantly grateful),
it was also abundantly clear after all this... that... a lot of drivers exceed the speed limit. And, to comment about the short-cut, the survey showed that there were more drivers going southwards than northwards, proving Highbury to suffer from short-circuiting.  

And putting both together: we now know that Highbury is suffering from rat-running.

Newcastle City Council states with usual kindness, wisdom and care: "Regrettably, because of the limited funding we have available to introduce remedial measures, we cannot treat every street that we and residents would wish, and therefore we must identify the worst streets and prioritise these on a worst first basis. This is achieved using three basic criteria, firstly personal injury accidents, secondly speed of vehicles, and thirdly volume of vehicles. As Highbury has no personal injury accidents, it is low priority and therefore unlikely to have remedial measures introduced in the foreseeable future."

Yet it would cost next-to-nothing to physically close down Highbury to the southward rat-runners. There may be other associated costs, and I asked them to explain but haven't heard from them since. There is apparently a works programme. But, again, I have yet to see it to believe it.

People first? Not currently so. Road safety is dead. It died the day rat-runners were prioritised over locals.