Kirklees Cycling Campaign
Newsletter No. 39 April 2020
Cycling and Social Distancing:
In our recently formed new world we probably have all noticed that, along with an unprecedented number of people walking along our roads, there are also many more people riding bikes who don’t usually do so.
This would seem to be clear evidence that more people would use a bike if they felt safe doing so.
Here’s a link to a comic little video showing some current problems when walking in urban streets, but just imagine him riding a bike. (just a warning; it’s probably better on mute).
With half of the world currently in lock-down, and in the wake of empty roads, Pop-up cycle lanes have started to appear in various towns in Eu-rope and the USA. Berlin was one of the first out of the starting blocks, but many other places have quickly followed. Many would like it happen in Kirklees and I have had requests from KCC supporters that we petition the council en masse.
It would certainly test the political will of the cabinet who frequently profess to support measures for safer cycling ‘if only it were possible’.
A measure such as this would have a negligible cost and there can be no arguments about creating longer times for motor journeys. It would be a real measure as to whether there is any truth to some of the political statements of our council leaders.
There is a danger however, in deciding to promote an en masse petition. It will only have an impact if we lobby the council in large numbers. If only a few respond then councillors will have some justification in ignoring it. So PLEASE participate. If you use the Cycling UK form below you can do it in less than 5 minutes, or you can make it more personal if you have a little more time.
The thinking behind the petition is that Cycle lanes – protected or otherwise – don’t allow for social distancing of 2metres. But with significantly less motor traffic, there is the opportunity to give more road space to cyclists and encourage more cycling.
Cycling UK has launched an appeal to everyone to petition their council to give more road space to cyclists in their local area, and they have made it very quick and easy to do so. It really is an opportunity not to be missed. Please make the council aware that cycling has the potential to change Kirklees’ roads for the better if only there was the political will to make it happen. Please see below for details as to how to participate:
Pop-up bike lanes in your area:
Please help secure increased cycling and walking space during lockdown: write to your council today
The current lockdown has made safe space for cycling and walking more important than ever. With the huge drop in motor traffic, we believe local authorities should grasp the opportunity to allocate unused road capacity to create safe temporary cycling and walking space.
This will not only enable people maintain necessary social distancing when getting their daily exercise or on essential journeys, but will also provide key workers with the confidence to cycle to work, in-stead of relying on public transport or a car.
We’ve already secured the support of the Government in Westminster, but now we need your help to get temporary cycling and walking space in your area: write to your council today.
While the COVID-19 crisis has brought devastation to many families, it’s also shown that when there’s political will, politicians can make and implement decisions such as these within days.
Governments across the world are widening pavements, creating new cycle lanes and restricting motor traffic to residential streets to enable people to socially distance. There’s no reason we can’t see the same in England.
It isn’t complex, difficult, or expensive, and we’ve even produced a guide to help councils identify changes they can make incredibly quickly.
If you want space for people to walk and cycle, and space to socially distance, please take action now.
Thanks, as always, for your incredible support.
Head of Advocacy and Campaigns
CyclingUK makes it easy for you to send a ready made letter to your local councillors as well as to to Shabir Pandor the current leader. But, if you wish, you can edit the letter to make your petition more personal. In the light of this you may also like to see a letter from supporter CJ who has written the case for pop-up cycle lanes from a more local perspective:
The nationwide lockdown as seen car journeys slashed, meaning our streets are much quieter. The council have taken this opportunity to make improvements to junctions whilst causing minimum disruption in the case of traffic jams due to the number of cars on the road.
The lockdown as also seen an increase in the numbers of people cycling for both exercise and as a mode of transport. Sadly though the roads are still not safe as many drivers have seen the traffic free roads as an opportunity to drive faster and in some cases recorded by the police over twice the speed limit. This speeding has increased by roughly 40% since the lock-down started.
I made a delivery by bike a couple of days ago and used the top end of the Spen Valley Greenway (Cleckheaton Tesco to Green Lane) and even up there, where it usually gets quieter, the Greenway was very busy. On a leisure track like that, with a path around 2m wide, maintaining social distance is pretty much impossible for all walkers and cyclists.
I could’ve instead, ridden along Bradford road from Cleckheaton and taken the A58 towards Halifax but with the speeding this wouldn’t have been particularly safe. We need to be making space for people cycling and walking as their exercise at the moment, and not everyone lives within a 30minutes wall of a greenway. Now would be a great time to start transfer-ring road space, whilst the roads are quiet, to help social distancing. Re-moving parking and traffic lanes, and narrowing road space in areas where the lanes are excessively wide are examples of this. Narrowing lanes has the effect of slowing cars down anyway, so that and some physical protection would help. In addition a speed limit change could also help, as people hit by drivers at 30 are likely to die whereas people hit at 20mph are more likely to survive.
I often use a road that runs straight through an estate when I am out with my family. This road creates pretty much a straight line between my house and the Spen Ringway (which would be nice if it was completed but now isn’t the time for that) and we’ve been passed by speeding cars whilst I have a 5 year old being towed on the back of my bike. Roads like this could have temporary modal filters installed to stop them being used as rat runs. With the traffic being less, the main roads should be utilised more, as the junctions aren’t running anywhere near capacity and this would allow the roads through residential areas to be used by people walking and cycling in a much safer way.
Finally, reports from Wuhan are showing a massive increase in single occupancy cars on the road after the lockdown has been lifted. This seems to be happening as people are avoiding public transport in fear of catching the infection. Kirklees needs to be planning a way to get out of our lock-down without completely filling the roads with cars and one of the easiest ways of doing this is to promote cycling and walking by making is safe and efficient. Give the road space by to the people instead of the cars. If walking and cycling is a quicker option and it is perceived to be safe then people will continue their trend of cycling now they have rediscovered it as a form of exercise and a way of getting around.