'Active travel is key to tackling health problems'

Wheel
The 10 Healthy Street Indicators will drive decision making in London

Transport strategies that turn vehicle-dominated streets into ‘people places’ will do much to tackle the health and social challenges that we face, believes Lucy Saunders

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has placed the Healthy Streets Approach at the heart of his 25-year Transport Strategy. This will require all transport decisions and investments to benefit health by improving the 10 Healthy Street Indicators (shown above). Making public health the driving force behind a transport strategy may seem a bold a step for a city to take, but a brief look at the circumstances in London show that this people-centred approach to transport planning is long overdue.

The levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in London, while falling in recent years due to measures including cleaner vehicles and the Low Emission Zone, are still the highest in the UK i. This affects the health of every Londoner and contributes to shortening life expectancy for the most vulnerable people. Air pollution is not just a London problem; there are 37 zones across the UK that exceed the annual mean limit values for NO2.ii Small particulates in air pollution are within legal limits but there is no safe level from a health perspective and they account for nearly 5% of deaths in England.iii

Road danger and its health impacts
While air quality is considered by some to be a new health issue associated with transport, one issue we have been grappling with for decades – road danger – is still a major cause for concern. In 2015 over 2,000 people were killed or seriously injured on London’s streets.iv The national picture is also not good, with nearly 24,000 people killed or seriously injured on the roads in the same year.v It is shocking that violent life-changing events that ripple out to affect whole families and communities are an accepted part of our daily lives. This is a damning reflection of our priorities as a society.

The health impacts of road danger are more far reaching than injuries. In London it is estimated that 62% of journeys by motorised transport could be cycled. The majority of these are made by car,vi but ‘too much traffic’ and ‘fear of being in a collision’ are the top reasons people give for not cycling.vii For their health, car owners desperately need safe, attractive streets for them to leave their vehicles at home more often. Car ownership in London is the strongest determinant of whether people are travelling actively each day, regardless of whether they live in the suburban fringes of outer London or the urban areas of inner London.viii

Tackling the burden of inactivity
Across England 43% of adults do not manage to achieve the minimum recommended levels of activity each week (150 minutes in 10-minute periods). Even more shockingly, one in three adults do not manage even three 10-minute periods of walking or other ‘moderate intensity’ activity over the course of a week.ix

The easiest and most sustainable way for people to build physical activity into their lives and stick with it is through walking and cycling as part of their daily travel.x Research from the UK and mainland Europe shows that people who do any active travel in a day are likely to meet their physical activity requirements.xi This is why the public health community has championed active travel for so long. It really is seen as our best bet for reversing the huge burden of disease that has arisen over recent decades as a result of sedentary lifestyles.xii

While sport and leisure activities can greatly enhance individual lives and support communities, active travel is the affordable, sustainable and inclusive solution to ensuring everyone moves their body a bit every day of their lives.

Putting the most vulnerable first
Many of the ‘inactive’ population are older people. As people age, while they still need the same level of daily activity, they become more inactive.xiii Research with older people shows that they find it more challenging to walk even short distances to local shops and services due to uneven paving, lack of seating at regular intervals and intimidating crossing points.xiv Clearly, we need to raise our standards if we care about supporting our older population to remain active and independent in later life. And with the costs of health and social care spiralling upwards it is in everyone’s interests to act with urgency to ensure our communities are supportive environments for people who are living with complex needs and long-term conditions.

While the inactivity statistics for adults are dire nationwide, the statistics for children are almost unbelievable. Children need much more activity than adults to stay healthy, at least an hour a day. Currently only 22% are meeting that minimum standard.xv This used to be fairly easily achieved through ‘playing out’ and children travelling independently on foot or by bicycle for short neighbourhood journeys. Now this is a rare sight in many communities due to road danger and ‘stranger danger’. Both could be ameliorated by a shift in our street environments from being vehicle-dominated to ‘people places’, with the natural surveillance of eyes on the street.

The decisions made in local transport departments every day affect the health and prospects of communities today and for decades into the future. ‘Transport Strategy’ belies the great importance that a plan for changing the way that streets look and feel changes the trajectories of people’s lives. The evidence is clear that the challenges facing people in London hold for communities across the country. The root of many of the health and social challenges faced by our villages, towns and cities can only be addressed through transport strategies that put the needs of the most vulnerable people first. It is time to recognise the huge responsibility for health and wellbeing that lies with the transport planner. So, is it not time for the 10 Healthy Streets Indicators to be the goal for all our streets?

Lucy Saunders is Consultant in Public Health at the Greater London Authority
She will be speaking at Healthy Streets http://landor.co.uk/healthystreets/home.php

Saunders2
Lucy Saunders: Active travel really is seen as our best bet for reversing
the huge burden of disease that has arisen over recent decades as
a result of sedentary lifestyles

i Improving air quality in the UK: tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities Draft UK Air Quality Plan for tackling nitrogen dioxide (May 2017) DEFRA and DfT p.58 and p.31
ii Improving air quality in the UK: tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities Draft UK Air Quality Plan for tackling nitrogen dioxide (May 2017) DEFRA and DfT p.4
iii WHO Ambient (Outdoor) air quality and health (accessed July 2017) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/ Fraction of mortality attributable to particulate air pollution (2015) in Public Health Outcomes Framework PHE http://www.phoutcomes.info/public-health-outcomes-framework#page/3/gid/1000043/pat/15/par/E92000001/ati/6/are/E12000004/iid/30101/age/230/sex/4 (accessed July 2017)
iv Collisions and casualties on London’s roads: annual report 2015 (2016) Transport for London http://content.tfl.gov.uk/collisions-and-casulaties-on-londons-roads-annual-report-2015.pdf
v Reported road casualties in Great Britain: 2015 annual report (2016) Department for Transport https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/556396/rrcgb2015-01.pdf
vi Analysis of Cycling Potential Policy Analysis Report March 2017 (2017) Transport for London
vii Attitudes towards cycling (2015) Transport for London http://content.tfl.gov.uk/atc-online-autumn-2015-report.pdf
viii
G. Fairnie, D. Wilby and L. Saunders (2016) Active travel in London: The role of travel survey data in describing population physical activity,” The Journal of Transport & Health, volume 3, issue 2 10.1016/j.jth.2016.02.003
ix Active People Survey (2015) in Public Health Outcomes Framework PHE http://www.phoutcomes.info/public-health-outcomes-framework#page/3/gid/1000043/pat/15/par/E92000001/ati/6/are/E12000004/iid/30101/age/230/sex/4 (accessed July 2017)
x Everybody active every day: An evidence based approach to physical activity (2014) Public Heath England https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/353384/Everybody_Active__Every_Day_evidence_
based_approach_CONSULTATION_VERSION.pdf
xi E. Fishman, L. Bocker, M, Helbich (2015) Adult active transport in the Netherlands: An analysis of its contribution to physical activity requirements Plosone http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0121871
Belanger et al (2011) Age related differences in physical activity profiles of English adults. Preventive Medicine
xii Everybody active every day: An evidence based approach to physical activity (2014) Public Heath England https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/353384/Everybody_Active__Every_Day_evidence_
based_approach_CONSULTATION_VERSION.pdf
xiii Health Survey for England (2015)Joint Health Surveys Unit of NatCen Social Research and the Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL http://content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB13218/HSE2012-Ch2-Phys-act-adults.pdf
xiv Older people’s perceptions of walking (2016) Transport for London http://content.tfl.gov.uk/older-people-walking-report.pdf
xv Health Survey for England (2015)Joint Health Surveys Unit of NatCen Social Research and the Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL

Lorry driver found guilty of ‘close pass’ offence

Cycling Width
West Midlands Police has prosecuted more than 300 offenders using helmet and dash-cam footage
provided by members of the public

The driver of an HGV has been fined more than £1,000 after being found guilty of dangerously overtaking a cyclist in the West Midlands, writes Patrick McDonnell. This is the first conviction in an operation launched by West Midlands Police last year to tackle ‘close pass’ offences. Evidence of the offence was recorded on the cyclist’s helmet camera.

The lorry driver from Birmingham was convicted of driving without due care and attention having squeezed past the cyclist last November. He denied the offence but was caught on camera in Tipton’s Park Lane West, and was issued with a fine and costs totalling £1,038 and issued with five points on his licence after being found guilty at Birmingham Magistrates Court on 30 June.

West Midlands Police’s #GiveSpaceBeSafe scheme was launched last September and involves plainclothes police officers pedalling the region’s busiest roads on the look-out for motorists who pass too close for comfort.

In addition to running regular operations, the force has also prosecuted more than 300 offenders using helmet and dash-cam footage provided by members of the public.

PC Mark Hodson from the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) says: “Most offenders watch the footage, accept their driving was below par, and elect for a driver improvement course or an offer of three licence points and a fine of £100.

“This was a clear case of a close-pass: the cyclist was nearly forced into the kerb and the actions of the truck driver could easily have caused a very serious collision. He maintained his innocence, though, and has now been convicted in court.”

Hodson urges drivers overtaking cyclists and other vulnerable road users like horse riders to be patient, plan their overtake, and give plenty of room.
“The Highway Code says drivers should give the same room as when overtaking another vehicle which is about 1.5-metres or an open car door’s width,” he says.

“A few seconds delay to ensure a safe overtake is nothing compared to the consequences of a poorly planned and executed overtake can be.”
Nearly 200 offenders have been pulled over during police ‘close pass’ operations. Most have been allowed on their way after being given an on-the-spot educational input on safe overtaking using a specially designed floor mat.

However, 13 drivers went on to be prosecuted and two had licences revoked at the roadside for failing eyesight tests.
West Midlands Police has seen reports of close-passes halve since the scheme was introduced – and 16 police forces throughout the country are now considering embracing what UK Cycling described as the “best cyclist road safety initiative ever”.

The cyclist involved in the incident says he started using cycle cameras after being knocked-off his bike by a hit and run driver in 2015. “I was seriously hurt and it took six weeks to recover – and what made matters worse for me was that we couldn’t trace the driver,” he says.

“It helps me greatly to cycle on the roads knowing that, should anyone endanger me, West Midlands Police will act upon it… it gives cyclists the confidence and reassurance that such dangerous driving will not be tolerated.”

‘Bespoke cycle training can save lives’ says lawyer

DirectVision
Leading serious injury lawyer Jill Greenfield welcomes TfL’s plans for new style HGVs which
allow ‘direct vision’ from the cab rather than relying on mirrors and monitors

Better safety courses for HGV drivers and cyclists would help to reduce serious road accidents, personal injury lawyer Jill Greenfield tells Deniz Huseyin

Cycling to work in the City of London can be treacherous, so employers should ensure staff are given appropriate training before getting in the saddle. This is the strongly held view of leading serious injury lawyer Jill Greenfield, a partner at law firm Fieldfisher.

Cyclists need bespoke training to learn how to cycle “defensively” when sharing road space with large vehicles such as HGVs and buses, she argues.

Why mirrors matter
One of the chief reasons for accidents involving cyclists is due to mirrors on HGVs being wrongly positioned or not being used properly by drivers, according to Greenfield. “Mirrors are a major factor in many accidents. There should be no blind spots if mirrors are used correctly.”

Greenfield, a personal injury lawyer who seeks compensation for her clients, thinks employers should ensure staff receive special training to reduce the risk of them being “clipped” by a large vehicle.

“Employers should make sure people who want to start cycling are properly trained,” says Greenfield. “Staff should get specific training as opposed to a standard training course to show them how to cycle in the City of London.

“Before you get on your bike in the City you need to know what you are doing. It is not the sort of thing where you wake up one morning and decide, ‘I’m going to cycle to work today’.”

She added: “People on bikes need to know how to position themselves properly, and should be made aware of the pinch points and dangerous zones. Training would show them how to get out of difficult positions.”

A cycling trainer could lead rides in the City along routes that avoid the most dangerous junctions, suggests Greenfield. “I’m sure that doing this would save lives.”

Support should also be offered to cyclists who have been involved in accidents and want to get back in the saddle. Fieldfisher has arranged for clients to take rides with a “buddy cyclist” who can offer guidance and help build up a rider’s confidence again. The defendant’s insurer would cover the cost of this training, Greenfield points out.

Rise in serious injuries
Fieldfisher has handled an increasing number of catastrophic injury cases involving cyclists in the past four years. In the past 12 months alone the firm has worked on more than 20 cases involving injuries to cyclists and pedestrians. Of these cases, 80% have involved HGVs and 10% buses.

About 70% of bike accident cases have involved female cyclists. This could be because women are more likely to stick to the rules, suggests Greenfield.

“It could be they did what they were meant to, they did not cross the white line, perhaps they weren’t as quick to pull away when the lights changed.”
She points to figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), which show that in 2014, 21,287 cyclists were injured in reported road accidents in the UK, including 3,514 who were killed or seriously hurt.

“The number of deaths may be going down. This could be due to doctors saving more people, but it also means the number of serious injuries is going up. I am seeing an increasing number of cases where the cyclist has sustained serious brain and spinal injuries as well as amputations.”

The horrific nature of some accidents involving cyclists has left an indelible mark, admits Greenfield. “Over the years I have seen too many accidents and too many gruesome pictures.

“These are shocking cases often involving left and right hook incidents. It is at the point of the HGV turning that seems to be the fundamental problem. Sometimes it is a case of the mirrors not being adjusted properly for the height of the drivers.”

‘Direct vision’ cabs
Greenfield welcomes Transport for London’s plans to improve all-round visibility on HGVs. New style HGVs allowing ‘direct vision’ from the cab, rather than relying on mirrors and monitors, would have a substantial impact on improving road safety for pedestrians and cyclists, says TfL.
Under the proposals the most dangerous HGVs would be banned from London’s streets by January 2020.

Data from TfL shows that HGVs were involved in 22.5 % of pedestrian fatalities and 58% of cyclist fatalities on London’s roads in 2015, despite making up just 4% of the miles driven in the capital.

There is a pressing need for HGV drivers to go on safety awareness courses, believes Greenfield. “I think shock tactics is the only way – getting them to meet with the victims and realise that time spent on proper training can really save lives. They are driving a lethal vehicle and need to be super vigilant. Drivers need to understand how vulnerable cyclists are and how they can be clipped and dragged under an HGV in seconds.”

The remorse felt by HGV drivers involved in accidents is palpable, she says. “I have actually felt sorry for drivers – they never intended to maim or kill someone. When they realise the damage they have caused to an individual it is horrific for them. Lives are wrecked because their mirrors weren’t positioned properly or they just didn’t look.”

But, all too often, when a case reaches court the HGV drivers’ employer argues that the cyclist was partially at fault, says Greenfield. “The defendant says this even when it is clear to me that the cyclist was in no way responsible.” Greenfield points out that she has never lost a road accident case in her 24 years as a civil lawyer. “You need to analyse the case correctly and get the right expert evidence. I will go to the junction myself and look at the traffic.”

This thorough approach means that she has been able to win cases that initially failed in criminal court. She recalls how a cyclist involved in a collision with a bus was deemed to be at fault when the case was heard in criminal court. “But we then got hold of all the paperwork about the case and found that the bus had gone through a red light, so we were successful in the civil claim. ”

Greenfield
Jill Greenfield: ‘People on bikes need to know how to position themselves
properly, and should be made aware of the pinch points and dangerous zones’

Plans unveiled for River Ouse cycle bridge

Great Ouse
Four possible locations are being considered for a new foot and cycle bridge across the River Ouse

Proposals have been drawn up for a new foot and cycle bridge in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, which would be built over the River Ouse, writes Patrick McDonnell.

Cambridgeshire County Council has launched a public consultation to ask people their views on four possible locations of the bridge, which would link the town with the area to the west of the river mirroring the current southern bridge.

Initial cost estimates range from £2m – 4m depending on the option.

Ian Bates, chairman of the county council’s economy and environment committee, said: “We are keen to hear the public’s views on these proposals which will encourage more walking and cycling, reduce air pollution, traffic congestion and improve the health and fitness of the local population.

“As St Neots is entirely split by a large water way, those in the north of the town wishing to travel across the river currently have to use the road bridge in the south of the town or via a bypass.

“A new northern foot and cycle bridge will improve connectivity and transport options for those living in the town and provide a safe, direct and accessible link for those in the north, encouraging more journeys by foot and bike. Let us know your views on these exciting proposals for St Neots by filling out a survey, or find out more by coming along to one of our consultation events.”

If plans are approved, the bridge is likely to be funded from Section 106 money secured against new housing developments, along with other capital funding sources that will be pursued if the project progresses further.

The deadline for completed questionnaires on the consultation is 7 August 2017.

Salford Metrolink tram stop gets cycle hub

East Didsbury Metrolink stop Cycle Hub 2 (1280x853)
The new cycle hub at East Didsbury Metrolink tram stop was opened by Councillor Chris Paul, the TfGM committee’s cycling and active travel champion

A secure cycle hub has been installed at the East Didsbury Metrolink tram stop in Manchester, writes Patrick McDonnell.

The hub comprises of 20 cycle pods, providing storage for 40 cycles, as well as lockers for storing cycle helmets, a bicycle pump and repair stand.

The hub was designed and installed by street furniture supplier and manufacturer Broxap.

People who sign up to use the hub, which is covered by CCTV, will be given a swipe card to provide secure access. Membership of Transport for Greater Manchester’s Cycle Hub Scheme costs £10 per year and includes access to other district hubs across Greater Manchester.

The improved facilities complement Wilmslow Road Cycleway, which connects Didsbury Village and Whitworth Park, opened last year as part of the 20m first phase of the DfT Cycle City Programme.

TfGM committee’s cycling and active travel champion, Chris Paul, said: “The new improvements and cycle hub are great news for East Didsbury and make it much easier and more attractive for people to use their bike for leisure, commuting and running errands.

“As a handy extra, the cycle hub also has a number of handy, free-to-use tools that can help you with most minor repairs such as removing a tyre or reattaching a chain.

“I’d encourage people to use this chance to make a beneficial, long-term change to the way they travel – by getting on their bikes.”

The district cycle hubs – plus major hubs at MediaCityUK, in Salford, and at City Tower in Manchester, offer showers and personal lockers for cyclists – have been funded by the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

Plan for people-friendly Waterloo & Lambeth Bridge

Waterloo Bridge
The new look Waterloo junction would feature segregated cycle lanes

Plans to make Lambeth Bridge and Waterloo roundabout more people-friendly have been published today by Transport for London (TfL).

he new layouts will improve conditions for walking, cycling and public transport, says TfL. Waterloo roundabout and Lambeth Bridge northern roundabout were identified by TfL as among the 73 junctions in the capital with the worst safety record for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Changes include segregated cycle lanes, cycle-specific traffic lights, wider paths, the removal or alteration of the intimidating junctions and vastly improved public spaces.

The improvements would also connect new safe cycling route with current and planned cycle network, says TfL. The proposals for Lambeth Bridge would join onto Cycle Superhighway 8, a number of Quietways as well as improvement work underway around Westminster Bridge. New routes at Waterloo would connect with the wider cycle network including nearby Quietway 1 and the proposed Quietway 5.

Last week London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans to increase the proportion of people walking, cycling and taking public transport to 80% of journeys by 2041, as part of his draft Transport Strategy.

The northern and southern roundabouts at Lambeth Bridge would be removed and replaced with signalised crossroads. These crossroads would remove a number of conflicts between cyclists and vehicles and provide signalised pedestrian crossings, says TfL.

The proposals for Lambeth Bridge and the surrounding area would:

* Create segregated cycle lanes across the bridge
* Create two-stage facilities for cyclists turning right at both crossroads
* Ensure that left-turning cyclists can bypass both crossroads to eliminate conflict
* Introduce cycle signals to allow cyclists to be separated in time or space from general traffic
* Provide signalised pedestrian crossings and increase overall space for pedestrians

The area around Waterloo is currently overcrowded and unpleasant for pedestrians, cyclists and bus users, says TfL. TfL and Lambeth Council’s proposals for Waterloo would:

* Create a new large public square by closing the south west corner of the roundabout
* Return safer two-way traffic around Waterloo Imax
* Introduce safer segregated cycle lanes around the Imax
* Widen footways and improve a pedestrian crossing
* Improve the bus station on Waterloo Road

Subject to the results of the public consultations, which close on 20 August, work at Lambeth could begin as next year and around Waterloo in late 2019.
To respond to the proposals for the Waterloo area go to tfl.gov.uk/waterloo-roundabout and for Lambeth Bridge proposals go to tfl.gov.uk/Lambeth-bridge.

East London gets Quietway offering low-traffic route

Quietway 6

A new Quietway for cyclists that links Mile End and Barkingside in east London has been completed. The 14km route, funded by Transport for London (TfL) in partnership with the London Borough of Redbridge and sustainable transport charity Sustrans, makes full use of the newly-built bridge in Ilford’s Valentines Park, before heading through Wanstead Flats and across east London.

The Redbridge Quietway 6 gives riders a low-traffic, leafy cycle route, which is one of seven such Quietways planned across the capital.
Cyclists in the borough are also set to benefit from an improved Roding Valley Way after the final section between Royston Gardens and Empress Avenue is finished later this year.

Redbridge cabinet member for environment and sustainability, John Howard, said the Quietway provides a “greener and more modern transport network for Redbridge and will encourage more residents to cycle by providing a safer and easier route”.

“The Quietway and Roding Valley Way route will open up new areas of the borough for residents to walk and cycle, improving health and reducing pollution.”

Safety concerns raised over Caernarfon bypass

The Welsh Government’s plans for the new A487 Caernarfon bypass pose a safety risk and offer poor access for those walking and cycling, say three sustainable transport charities.

Sustrans Cymru, Ramblers Cymru, and Cycling UK have joined forces to call for a re-think to the road plans.

Under the Welsh Government’s own Active Travel Act, road developers have a duty to consider and improve walking and cycling provision. But the charities warn that those needs are not being considered properly.

A public inquiry for the £125m scheme began on 13 June.

The charities highlight a list of concerns:

* The proposed crossings of two main roads at Lôn Eifion, a popular traffic-free route for walking and cycling used by children, dog walkers, buggy pushers, people with assisted mobility needs, as well as tourists.

* No direct motor access between the bypass and Caernarfon suburbs, without which congestion in the town will still cause problems.

* Limited safe crossings for walking and cycling around other roundabouts.

* No additional walking and cycling links from the Bontnewydd area towards Caeathro, Cibyn Industrial Estate and the Bethel roundabout.

* No additional crossing provisions on the redesigned Plas Menai roundabout.

The new A487 bypass would be routed from the A487/A499 Goat roundabout, heading north and skirting Dinas, Bontnewydd, Caeathro and Caernarfon, before rejoining the A487 at the Plas Menai roundabout, near Y Felinheli.

Speaking on behalf of the charities, Sustrans Cymru’s North Wales Manager Glyn Evans says: “The Welsh Government was rightly proud when the National Assembly passed the Active Travel Act in 2013, but its current plans for the A487 bypass risk riding roughshod over that landmark law.

“If Welsh Government is to go ahead with the bypass scheme, it is essential that it does so in a way that protects safety and improves access for walking and cycling.

“The route cuts across a number of important walking and cycling routes, and as it stands, the current proposals will make it harder and more dangerous for people going to and from work or school, running an everyday errand, or enjoying the beautiful countryside Gwynedd has to offer. Whilst walking and cycling will bear the brunt of these plans, drivers using the new route could also be effected.”

With the public inquiry expected to end in four or five weeks, the three charities, who have all lodged official objections, have called on Ken Skates, the North Wales-based minister responsible for transport, to re-think plans and propose improvements.

Evans concludes: “We’re building a bypass that will last for generations. Mistakes made will be set in stone for years to come, so it’s vital Welsh Government gets the layout right the first time round.

“Failure to do so will jeopardise safety, restrict access and ultimately cost the taxpayer more in the long-run. The A487 improvement is a key test of whether or not the Welsh Government is serious about following its own rules and implementing the Active Travel Act.”

ScotRail u-turn on pledge to boost cycle carriage

Politicians have criticised ScotRail for going back on a pledge to greatly increase cycle carriage on trains between central Scotland and Inverness/Aberdeen.

ScotRail services between Edinburgh/Glasgow and Inverness/Aberdeen are currently operated by Class 170 trains, with each three-car set having capacity for four bikes. The 170s are due to be replaced next summer by 26 refurbished InterCity 125 trains.

In 2015 ScotRail operator Abellio said the 125s would have capacity for 20 cycles. But the operator now says they will have just eight spaces,with six only available for passengers making end-to-end journeys. These will be located within the power cars at either end of the train. The two remaining spaces will be within the carriages.

Liam Kerr, the Conservative MSP for North East Scotland, said ScotRail’s rethink appeared to be based on the “inevitable delays from getting pushbikes on and off the ends of the train”.

Transport minister Hunza Yousaf said ScotRail was responsible for the day-to-day operation of train fleets. “ScotRail is currently finalising the layout and operational aspects of the trains. I encourage it to listen carefully to what members have said about end-to-end provision and issues at intermediate stops… and to look for innovative solutions.”

A ScotRail spokesman said it was “in the process of reviewing the approach of six spaces in the power car areas”. He added that train frequencies were being improved on lines such as the Highland main line. “With all our trains providing cycle spaces, and with many more trains running, there will be much more opportunity than now to take a bike on the train.”

ScotRail has invested in Bike & Go cycle hire facilities at 11 stations and delivered 1,200 extra bike parking spaces at stations, he added.

Bank Junction becomes car-free during peak hours

Bank JCN

A traffic ban at Bank Junction in the City of London comes into force today. Only buses and cycles will be allowed to use the junction from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday under the experimental traffic order imposed by the City of London Corporation.

This marks the first phase of plans to totally re-design the junction by 2021, which could result in the removal of all motorised traffic.

The 18-month trial will cut the number of casualties and improve air quality, without impacting on traffic flow on routes around the junction, says the Corporation. It will also improve bus journey times, predicts Iain Simmons, the council’s assistant director of city transportation.

Extensive modelling has been carried for the council by consultants Norman Rourke Pryme to assess the impact of the new restrictions. “The average bus journey time through the junction is nearly 11 minutes and this scheme will cut that by nearly a minute,” Simmons says.

Modelling also estimates that the number of casualties will be cut by between 50% and 60%.

There were 105 collisions in and around the junction in a five-year period up to 2014, with 64% of the casualties pedestrians or cyclists. Calls for improved safety followed the death of female cyclist Ying Tao, who was hit by a left turning tipper truck at the junction in 2015.

“This put pressure on us to make changes more quickly,” says Simmons. “It has enabled us to buy safety early. It means that when the scheme works, and we believe it will, there can be more focus on what sort of place Bank Junction should be rather than people getting hung up about what will happen to the traffic.”

Variable message signs have been installed along with ANPR cameras on all roads entering the junction. A grace period will run for the first two weeks of the scheme, with warnings being sent out instead of penalty charge notices (PCNs). “But if someone gets caught twice in that period we reserve the right to send them a PCN,” says Simmons. The council’s civil enforcement officers will be deployed at key locations on streets around the junction to help ensure traffic flow. “CEOs will advise drivers to move on, but if they need to issue a PCN they will. Really, it will be business as usual.”

The restrictions and changes to signalling in the area will enable traffic to flow smoothly, believes Simmons. Steps have been taken to reduce the risk of conflict between buses and bikes, he adds. “Transport for London has been working with bus operators and drivers to make sure their driving is considerate. And the London Cycling Campaign has been talking to cyclists using the junction about ensuring they exhibit good behaviour on the basis if they don’t they will lose the scheme.”

Pedestrians will also benefit from reduced traffic levels at the junction, he says. “The footways aren’t wide enough for people waiting to cross – the system is completely dysfunctional for pedestrians. Only one in 10 pedestrians cross in the right place on green man. This is not because they are naughty people, it’s because the system does not support them doing anything else. The real winners in the long term will be pedestrians. Whilst it remains a traffic signals junction their gains will be limited. But a different Bank Junction, without traffic signals and maybe without traffic at all, suddenly provides a completely different environment, and that is what we are working towards.”

Extensive monitoring of the scheme will take place over the next year, gathering a range of data on traffic and pedestrian movements as well as feedback from individuals, businesses and organisations. More than 2,500 letters about the scheme have been mailed to businesses and residents in the area, Simmons says.

One of the fiercest critics of the scheme has been the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), which wanted black cabs exempted from the traffic ban. Simmons says: “We found that half the taxis going through the junction weren’t carrying passengers and very few people were being picked up or set down there. We actually believe these changes will make taxi journeys more efficient as they will be able to circulate more quickly.”

Richard Massett, Chairman of the LTDA, says: “Restricting access to Bank Junction for taxis is an ill-conceived response to the issue of safety and will make the area significantly less accessible to thousands of our passengers, particularly those with limited mobility.

“The taxi is already one of the safest modes of transport using the junction. We have been in dialogue with the City and presented a number of alternative proposals that would deliver the required safety improvements without limiting access to taxis, all of which have been ignored.

“The taxi industry is also leading the way in terms of tackling air pollution, with all new taxis being zero emissions capable from 2018. Rolling out blanket bans to taxis, and restricting their custom, may dis-incentivises drivers from making the switch to zero emissions.

“As seen elsewhere in London, such as at Tottenham Court Road, these blanket measures tend to shift the problem of congestion, safety and air pollution from street to street often causing significant disruption for negligible overall impact.”

Meanwhile, other organisations such as the London Cycling Campaign, Living Streets and London TravelWatch have welcomed the scheme.

Simon Munk, LCC’s Infrastructure Campaigner, said: “The trial changes at Bank are hugely welcome and should reduce the unacceptable numbers of pedestrians and cyclists being injured or killed here. But it’s also a step in the right direction – with the City aiming to eventually deliver a far better, motor traffic-free setting, fitting for the iconic buildings the junction is ringed by.”

Tompion Platt, Head of Policy and Communications, Living Streets, says: “The vast majority of people using Bank Junction are on foot – 18,000 in the morning peak. For everyone walking and cycling there, Bank Junction is an unpleasant and intimidating environment. It’s hugely polluted, overcrowded and unsafe – as demonstrated by its shocking casualty record.

“Putting people first will improve Bank Junction for everyone who works, lives and visits the City by making it a safer and healthier place, which the experimental safety scheme will start to demonstrate.”