Thursday, 27 February 2014

Cycle registration? Justified because of wingmirrors according to a BANES councillor

Recently one of the BANES cllrs was muttering about cycle registration at a public forum. We contacted him to ask him WTF he meant.

It turns out it's all because he lost two wingmirrors while driving and considers this to be the fault fo the cyclists involved (rather than any actions of his own).  This is straight out of the newspaper-web site comment arena and anyone seriously proposing it should be laughed at.

Notice how the councillor avoids mentioning any of the specific questions in our Questions for Anyone Proposing Registration page. Maybe he's embarrassed.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Cycling Front
Date: 27 February 2014 13:25
Subject: Re: bicycle registration and licensing proposals
To: "Bryan Chalker (Cllr)" <>

On 19 February 2014 20:19, Bryan Chalker (Cllr) <> wrote:
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.  I was merely making a point last night that it wouldn’t take rocket-science to devise a way of identifying cyclists with some form of registration plate and modest insurance cover. 

Here's the point: it would. you'd have to register every single bicycle in the country. Then add the challenge of per-cyclist insurance, add the offence of UK citizens cycling uninsured 

Now deal with the problem of bicycles from abroad, allowing foreign bikes to be cycled unregistered, presumably also leaving it legal for other EU citizens to cycle without a license -unless you intend to exit the EU and so deny EU cyclists the right to cycle here with "reciprocal" rights. 

If you do let EU cyclists ride round without registration, come up with a plan to identify dual nationality cyclists pedalling round unregistered and shouting "foreign!" ever time someone pulls them over. A UK-wide identity card scheme should cover this.
On two occasions I’ve had wing mirrors damaged on two Classic cars by clumsy cyclists and I was left to foot the bills.  I really don’t think this is fair. 

And you've never lost a wingmirror on a parked car to a passing car? You clearly have off-street parking. 

If someone on a bicycle hits your wingmirror, well, they are meant to stop. Do you think that they will do so if some registration scheme exists? Or do you expect that whatever registration plate a bicycle has will be the same size as a motorbike one.

I also happen to think that a great number of pedal cycles, minus mudguards, reflectors, warning instruments and proper lighting, should not be deemed street legal. 

There are laws against bicycles without lights and reflectors

Mudguards: cyclists choice to get a wet butt
Warning instruments: what do you mean? Hazard lights? Indicators? something else?

But, then I’m merely a senior motorist and seem to have less rights than the cycling fraternity these days. 

You will find you have more defacto right to reach your destination alive than people who chose cycle. Not "cycling fraterinity", just those in your constituency and nearby who for some reason don't drive to their destination.

Your justification for this "wingmirrors" appears to avoid fundamental safety issues that do matter to people trying to make cycling a survivable transport option -even in Bath, which is looking more and more outdated compared to Bristol.

When you consider, however, that the current goals of the UK cycling groups are "proper, dutch-quality segregated cycling paths", you should recognise that this will protect your wingmirrors. Everyone who cycles on the bristol-bath path, Avon river path, Kennet canal path, Twin-tunnels path: nobody here clips your wingmirrors. Anyone who gets the opportunity to cycle on the (minimal) London Road cycle path -same thing. However, BANES council in its "London Gateway" is proposing removing that path and replacing it with paint on the ground -paint that brings bicycles and cars into conflict and so create the very problems you want to avoid 

Thanks for making contact but I don’t want to start a war with you.  Kind regards - BRYAN

Not a war, just waiting for you to answer the questions on the implementation details on any registration and licensing scheme, which you have so far avoided.

If you can't do that, then it comes out as an off-the-cuff remark without any serious consideration. While this is acceptable in a comments page in the Bath Chronicle, is it somewhat embarrassing when councillors say this in public meetings, as it may indicate an attempt to push public policy into a corner of ridicule.
From: Cycling Front
Sent: 19 February 2014 04:22
To: Bryan Chalker (Cllr)
Subject: bicycle registration and licensing proposals


Apparently you have been advocating licensing and registration of bicycles and cyclists.

Normallyl whenever someone makes such a proposal in public, they haven't thought through details. Such as "does this apply to private roads"? "if there is an age limit, how will police know whether or not someone is below it", or "what will you do when someone from another EU member state wants to cycle"

Accordingly, we've made a list of things that should be considered -a list made when last someone made a public "license all cyclists" proposal

Please can you provide detailed answers to the questions, provide solutions that actually workable, or acknowledge that your proposal is both unworkable and political suicide on a national arena.

thank you

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Turbogate: root causes

The Turbogate debacle rolls on

The fact that Sustrans and cyclenation approved this shows how their seal of approval is something that MUST be withheld when things this mediocre come out. Sustrans in particular is building up a reputation for "approving" junk like the London quietways.

As for cyclenation, those cycle groups affiliated with it need to ask hard questions, a key one being "why is John Franklin on the infrastructure group, given he doesn't believe in infrastructure as a solution?"

But other than that, we need to look at root causes of the mediocrity

1. Political expediences

The plans rejected crossing bike priority due to the need to add mandatory raised crossings for cycle rights of way -and the council unwilling to to add them for "political reasons".

The fact that something is going to be rejected for political reasons does not mean an unsafe alternative should be accepted. Instead the cycle groups should say "council failing to provide safe crossings" and make it clear there is a political cost to not adding good cycling facilities.

2. The UK cycling infrastructure guidelines are shit

This is broadly known, except by Franklin. We need to get rid of the "two types of route" story, we need to have hard minimums on path widths, bike lanes -which should be deprecated in favour of cycle paths -should also have a hard minimum below which we say "these are worse than useless as it encourages cars to go closer". And anything that says "advisory bike lane" should be rejected without even measuring the width. WTF is "an advisory bike lane?". As cars can go in it whenever they want without any legal redress it doesn't guarantee anything at all. They only go in when a council doesn't want to do anything for cycling, yet still pretend they care.

3. Timelines to spend money prevent good infrastructure from being built.

One of the arguments from the CTC for approving turbogate was "the time was running out".

This is why intermittent scraps thrown off the DfT table are something to reject. Good infrastructure takes time -its why the last year of the Bristol Cycle City project resulted in the best infrastructure -concorde way. The cycle team had to get approval from other parts of the council to use its own land by the railway, design a good path, plan a bridge over a stream, build the path, add lights, connect it with the reworked muller-to-St Werburghs path. You can't do this if a government says "here's 20 million, go build some cycling stuff by the end of the year", any more than you could go to the HS2 team and say "go build half a mile of the route while we talk about the rest".

A long-term funding plan is needed.

The DfT knows this for roads, for HS2. Fuck, they even know it for electric cars where they talk about long-term infrastructure investment, and all they are talking about there is charge points.

But what does cycling get: fuck all, promised repeatedly in press statements, with time limits to spend it.

And as a result: sign-off on shit designs, "respect" cycling campaigns, and no ability to plan for a coherent set of routes that are off-road, safe and joined up.

Money spent on shit cycling infrastructure is money wasted. Money spent on driving infrastructure from the cycling budget is doubly wasted.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Decision day: what will BANES say to cyclists?

Today is going to be when Bath and NE Somerset council decided what to do about the flooded railway path.

The path goes through three of the CUBA councils, each of which reacts differently -showing how they view cycling

  • Bristol: path would have been cleared by now, perhaps better drainage added. After all, something similar (but less drastic) happened last winter.
  • S Gloucs: unmaintained overgrowth would have blocked all drainage; council would do nothing. 
  • Bath: thinks about what to do
At least the path is not in North Somerset -their attitude to cycling is public: they wish they'd go away.

In Bath, "a decision could be made to pump the water away."

This is more than just a decision on the technical feasibility issues, or on the cost involved. It is a decision whether the needs of people trying to cycle round the area are considered to matter by the council.

While a lot of people in the city no doubt view it as a leisure route for families in summer, it is a key commuter route for cyclists -the safe route between Bristol and Bath. It takes them straight into the city centre, or lets them curve north to the ring-road path, where they can get to the North Fringe.

Except nobody can when the Bath entrance is under half a metre of water and the council does nothing about it.

If they do agree to pump it, it says: we care about cycling as a form of transport. Which means they may go on to listen to the cyclists about other issues: safety on the bridges, the London Road debacle, where the locals-only consultation is proposing replacing the shared off road path/short stay parking with ASLs in the truck blind-spots that weekday congestion will render unreachable. 

If they say "no, too expensive", or make up some technical excuse "land ownership; engineering, ...", they are sending a different message: cyclists -fuck off.