Pedal Press Spring 2004





All articles welcome for inclusion in next issue of Pedal Press to be sent in MS Word by email or disc to the Editor


The agenda for cycling is dead and needs resuscitating…

One must confess to some surprise at the variance between what is said or proposed and what happens in the real world. It was said, at the prestigious Liverpool Cycling Forum, that the cycling strategy is not just a tick box exercise and that it is seen as a valuable component of a future city of culture. Yet careful review of published literature, that is available to the wider public, fails to confirm these sentiments. For example an article in the Daily Post on 2nd January 2004, discussing future solutions to a potentially grid-locked City of Culture, gives pedestrians ‘high priority’, introduces Merseytram, reduces motor traffic, yet omits cycling completely. Available literature promoting the proposed tram gives terse mention of cycling which seems to form no significant component of the future ‘vision’ of Liverpool’s proponents of change.

In many cultured European Cities, the bicycle is a favoured transport mode. It is ridden by old and young, rich and poor, the famed and the obscure. It reduces noise and pollution and is a key to disease prevention, including cancer and heart disease, stroke and lung disease. Where it is commonplace, the local culture sustains a perception of flamboyant timelessness, youth and coolness. Where it is unpopular, the common perspective is of a ridiculous pursuit, lacking status and the sole domain of Lycra clad, sweaty louts.

Cultures are created by their societies. They are folklore not fact, and are in a constant state of change, which can be focussed given the will. The will of those who would shape the future is reflected in media, talking up and defining the new culture; the desired change then follows. At present, in this City, cycling is not firmly on the agenda. What is said and proposed is not followed by real action. While cycling developments are trickling through, we need a sea change in thinking to give cycling a priority which is second only to that of the pedestrian. So come on Liverpool City Council, reduce our heart and lung disease, our cancer, our air pollution, our noise: promote the bicycle!

Derek Gould

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Muesli-Eater writes from Liverpool

LTP APR FAQ....

The Annual Progress Report on the Local Transport Plan contains some fascinating snippets, if you like that sort of thing eg:

Annual average cost of maintaining a working street light:

Liverpool £88
St Helens £72
Sefton £70
Knowsley £66
Wirral £51

Percentage of Street lights not working

Liverpool 2.03%
Knowsley 1.47%
St Helens 1.4%
Wirral 1.05%
Sefton 0.89%

Number crunching

During the year 2002 -2003 Merseyside spent £1.5million on cycling, the lions share being spent by Wirral (£929K) - almost double their planned spending, Liverpool also spent more than planned. Knowsley & St Helens between them only managed £105K instead of the£631K planned spending.

Over the period 2001 -2006 more than a third of the spending of nearly £8 million will be done by Wirral.. St Helens & Liverpool will spend less than their fair share.

So stop moaning, Wirral Squirrels, you’re doing well!! St Helens, you are the weakest link.

Business News

Liverpool has got the following schemes in the pipeline for the financial year 2003 - 2004 (which will be almost ended by the time you read this)

Improvements to existing routes: £43K
New routes (Belle Vale, Mulberry St, The Rocket): £105K
Signing of routes: £35K
Parking: £15K

Total spend is planned at £323K, unless the Council cuts a little bit off the top….

I’m not actually sure how much of any of this has been done , though the Gateacre Brow scheme seems to be a success, and a spanking new off-road cycle track has been built at Evans Road (off Speke Boulevard.), complete with flush kerbs, at-grade crossings, and anti-car-parking bollards.

Father Christmas

As part of fulfilling its promise contained in the City Health Plan to reduce traffic, the City permitted free car parking at the Mount Pleasant Car Park on two Thursday afternoons & evenings & one Sunday leading up to Christmas., as a Christmas present to motorists.

Advance to Stop

The cycle facilities at the new maze-style junction of Horrocks Avenue & Long Lane in Garston are now in place.

A maze of Advance Stop Lines has been installed at Allerton Library on the Millenium Route to link into Rose Lane, partially completing the Allerton Missing Link.

English Regions Cycling Development Team Report on Liverpool

This has now been published. The Team criticised Liverpool for its “ disjointed” provision, with some justification. Something like half our planned route network is in place but much of it is in bits. A somewhat bizarre comment was that the main thrust for cycling had come from a TV star , a bit odd considering the huge efforts made by several councillors & officers to develop cycling.

It also gave the impression that Liverpool routinely audits its highway & development schemes for cycle- friendliness which is a complete pork pie!!!

Evenin’ all.

While loitering in Heswall the other day I noticed that they now have their own Police bike squad.

And Chief Inspector Helen Cooney (mastermind of Liverpools’ police bike squad) is taking a year out to cycle solo round the world, starting out in mid June.

Lock up your quick-release wheels when out & about in town - there is a wheel thief about.

Junction news

Work is under way to modify the junction at Upper Parliament St/Princes Rd/Catherine St to accommodate pelican crossings. A high speed left turn from Princes Road into Upper Parliament St has been modified following an objection from MCC.

Designs for junction modifications at Tithebarn St/Hatton Garden are being altered following an MCC objection that the original scheme did not comply with the City Cycling Strategy.

Research

Several European cities are doing a research project (called Bypad) to assess performance in providing for cycling. Politicians, Officers, and Users were invited to fill in an intimidating questionnaire.

This was done by Cathy McNulty for the officers, Councillor John Coyne (Dingle ward)_ for politicians, & Derek Gould and yours truly for Users. It’s interesting to note that MCC rated the City’s performance much higher than did officers & politicians.

Richard Hebden

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A plea from Liverpool Council's Cycling Oficer

Sir,

In a previous edition of the Pedal Press, you kindly published an offer from Liverpool City Council to install cycle parking at any location suggested by Members. Disappointingly, I received no requests.

In the next edition, I read with incredulity the results of your Members survey that said a staggering 54% of respondents would cycle more if there were safe and secure cycle parking available! Clearly Liverpool City Council are offering a solution to enable more people to cycle and I would urge Members of the Merseyside Cycling Campaign to take advantage of funding for cycle provision while they can.

The offer still stands - subject to ownership, Liverpool City Council will install cycle parking at any location and this is not constrained to the Sheffield type 'hoop' stands. The City Council have just had provisional agreement to install a secure, covered cycle compound at the Liver Building, which was instigated at the request of an employee at the building.

Come on Members, speak out and do your bit to improve cycling in Liverpool and make the most of this opportunity.

Regards,

Cathy McNulty
Highways Management
2nd Floor, Millennium House
60 Victoria Street
Liverpool
L1 6JF

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Sefton Section

Route update

The upgrade to cycle paths through Rimrose Valley, along sections of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal and from Cambridge Road to the south end of Crosby prom is nearly complete. This forms part of the emerging National Cycle Network Route 81 which will eventually run from Liverpool to Southport (and vice versa I suppose!) and link with the Trans Pennine trail. Once finished it will be signed and maps will be available - even non-cyclists will be able to find it!

Switch Watch (Part 5)

“What’s the purpose of the new Thornton to Switch Island link road?” I hear you ask. Well (as you’ve asked) apparently it’s to “create opportunities for improving facilities on routes such as Lydiate Lane and Green Lane for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users.” according to Dave Marrin (Traffic Services Manager at Sefton Council). If it is, it wasn’t obvious from the public consultation!

Ride Leaders Wanted

If you’d like to get more people on bikes in Sefton then you local council have got a job (unpaid I think) for you. No (ride-leading) experience necessary as all training and support will be given. There will be a mixture of days and times so, if you can spare a few hours to spread the benefits of cycling, please contact Brian Nener, Cycling and Walking Development Officer at Sefton Technical Services, Balliol House, Bootle.

Cycle Forum

The latest cycling forum at Bootle Town Hall on 4th March was well attended. Cyclists from around the borough had a chance to put their views, opinions and demands to the council officers about a full range of local (and national) cycling issues. See minutes on www.sefton.gov.uk/content-3705. Unfortunately the politicians were busy setting the budgets for the coming financial year. There will be another opportunity for you to tell your council how you would like them to spend the vast budget which may be allocated to cycling at the next Cycle Forum on Thursday 22nd July at Ainsdale High School starting at 6.30pm. And what about the long-awaited Cycling Strategy? Definitely, definitely some time before July (2004, probably).

Pedal Pressing Question

And finally, does anyone out there in the Sefton Cycling Community have any views on what changes they would most like to see in Sefton over the coming year? It would help to know if there were any issues out there which you felt were not being addressed but could be and should be (no prizes or promises at this stage though!)

For more information on any of the above or if there’s something I should know about please email me on peter_roome@bigfoot.com

Peter Roome

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Wirral News

Wirral Cycle Forum

Contrary to premature rumours from the right bank of the Mersey the MCC is still alive and kicking on Wirral. Much activity of late has been centred on he proceedings at the Wirral Cycle Forum.
For some years past the 'forum' has been seen by our members as a talking shop that is used to salve the conscience of members of the Highways department. Although sending delegates to the 'forum' our views have generally been ignored when policy decisions are made. Pressure on councillors over the last year by Roland Graham and members of the local LA21 committee finally has paid off. A senior Labour councillor has taken on the chair instead a Highways staff member and the March meeting also saw Conservative and Liberal councillors present. Coupled with the decision before Christmas to appoint a full time cycling officer it seems that two-wheeled transport may be coming in from the cold.
The March meeting saw eight items from the MCC discussed (a record?) and some of our suggestions were taken on board. These included posting details of forum activities on the council web site; to extend a new cycle path between north Birkenhead and Tesco at Bidston on to B & Q and the Birkett cycle-way to Leasowe; a request for accident statistics for cyclists.
The designers seemed unable to appreciate the obstacles for cyclists on the new one-way section of the Saughall Massie by-pass scheme. Andrew Hodgson is writing again to the Director Of Highways in a final attempt to sort out the problem for cyclists who would be expected to stop three times to give way to traffic in contrast to once for motor vehicles.
Finally the council officers have agreed to look at our suggestions to modify the proposed extensions of the Wirral Way from West Kirby to Hoylake and From Thurstaston Visitor Centre to the Frank Lewis Memorial Cycle-way. The council appears to be pushing the scheme to coincide with the open golf championship at Hoylake in 2006.

Cycling Weekend

As a pre-cursor to the establishment of the 'DVICE/Wheels for All cycling project' on Wirral a special weekend is to be held at Woodchurch Leisure Centre on 15th - 16th May from 10am to 4 pm daily. Saturday is to be a general event and Sunday will involve fundraising activities.
Aimed at supporting cycling for disabled people using specially adapted machines the event organiser is Will Redfearn of the Social Inclusion Unit at Wirral Council and he is looking for experienced cyclists who are willing to act as stewards on either day. You can contact him on 666 4735/0771 500 5449 or John Cranny on 648 3988 for further details.

Wirral Bikeathon

This year's Wirral Bikeathon is provisionally scheduled for Sunday, June 20th and everyone is urged to support this event to make it even more successful than last year's record breaking event. Riders will be sponsored over a choice of routes designed for beginners or for the more energetic rider. The aim is to raise funds for charity.

Wirral Cycling Group

Wirral Cycling Group, otherwise known as the Wirral Cycling Campaign, actively co-operates with Merseyside Cycling Campaign to further cycling on Wirral. Sonia Oldershaw, no stranger to readers of Pedal Press, represents the group at the regular monthly meetings of MCC-Wirral Group and would like to remind all members of the MCC that they would be welcome to join their regular Wednesday or Sunday rides. Generally no more than 25 miles taken at a leisurely pace, they are confined to the Wirral and aim to cover the hidden gems of rural Wirral accessible from the lanes and by-ways. Don't forget to check out their runs list in this issue of Pedal Press.

Wirral's Wobbly Wheelers

To those Wirral cyclists who do not have a state of the art mountain bike fitted with shock absorber forks and sprung seat post life has become very fraught over the last twelve months. The repair of roads on Wirral appears to have gone downhill (?) as people crash in and out of potholes which appear to be multiplying on a daily basis. The problem has finally been recognised by Wirral Borough Council who have set up a new fault reporting centre for potholes and other highway problems known as 'Street- Scene'.

Unfortunately many cyclists are unaware of this facility and are forced to swerve dangerously into the path of cars coming up behind them. Also those activists in the Wirral who are aware of the council's willingness to fix things cannot cover every road. This is where you come in gentle reader. Why not report that annoying pothole yourself. The address is given below and they can be telephoned on 643 7333. Please don't forget to mention that you are a member of the Merseyside Cycling Campaign.

STREET-SCENE
Transport and Highways Department,
Wirral Borough Council,
Town Hall,
Civic Way,
Bebington,
Wirral CH63 7PT.

For those of you who are unsure about contacting the Town Hall why not contact John Cranny on 648 3988 who will be happy to pass on your complaint.

CTC BENCHMARKING FOR WIRRAL

Most of you are aware of the ongoing exercise for 'benchmarking' organised by CTC Headquarters to help local authorities improve cycling facilities in their areas. We have already seen this carried out at Sefton when Peter Roome and other members of the Merseyside Cycling Campaign were invited. The exercise was thought to be interesting and useful as a measure of progress as well as producing new ideas for the future. Now attention is being directed towards Wirral. Mark Osborne, man on the hot saddle there, has informed us that details are now being finalised for Monday and Tuesday, the 28th & 29th of June. He would welcome any suggestions from members as to ideas that we would like to be discussed and sites to visit, especially those that present difficulties for cycling.

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St Helens and Knowsley News

There is no news from these areas in this edition. If you have any news for the next edition please send it to PedalPress

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The Science of Cycology

'As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know.'
Donald Rumsfeld, United States Secretary of Defense, 2003.

At the last Annual General Meeting of the Merseyside Cycle Campaign in December 2003, I asked members to do my Draw-A-Bicycle test. I promised to report my findings to you - so here we go. I work as a cognitive psychologist at the University of Liverpool and I investigate how we recognise everyday objects in our world. Recent research suggests that we may overestimate our ability to explain how things work - whether artefacts like greenhouses and bicycles, or natural phenomena like tides and rainbows. I wanted to test how well people understand how everyday objects work. The bicycle is an obvious choice to test this. Bicycles are familiar objects even for non-cyclists. I have given the test to over 200 students and parents coming to Open Days at the University. Over 96% had learnt to cycle as children with 1.5% learning as adults and less than 3% never having learned. Also 52% of this group owned a bicycle. Sadly, the figures on actual cycling were low, with just 1% cycling most days, 4% cycling around once a week and 9% cycling about once a month. The vast majority either never cycle (52%) or rarely do so (33%). Nevertheless, even for these non-cyclists, bicycles are a common sight.

I asked people to draw parts on a bicycle and I then asked them to select which of four alternatives were correct for the frame, the pedals and the chain. I found similar results for both tasks so I only discuss the multiple choice results here. I looked at three types of errors which would severely impair the functioning of a bicycle: drawing the frame joining the front and back wheels; not placing the pedals between the wheels and inside the chain (the pedals were sometimes drawn attached to the front wheel, the back wheel or dangling off the cross-bar); and not putting the chain around the pedals and the back wheel (errors almost all showed the chain looping around both the front and the back wheel of the bicycle)

Experiment 1 - 64 non-cyclists

This group made 33% frame errors, 5% pedal errors and 36% chain errors. Over one third of people thought that the bicycle chain runs around the front as well as the back wheel of the bicycle. Here are some comments that people made: "I think context matters, I know a bike when I see it but it's different to recall (it) when sat in a room"; "I thought I knew more about the workings than I actually did"; "It's hard to picture a bicycle when you have to".

Experiment 2 - 94 non-cyclists with function hint

I was concerned that people might have made lots of errors in the first experiment because they were trying to produce good-looking drawings of bicycles rather than trying to draw functionally viable bicycles. In the second experiment, before they started the Draw-A-Bicycle test, I told them: " I am interested in what you know about how bicycles work. I want to make you think about what the pedals of the bike do .... and what the chain of the bike does ... and why the frame of the bike is a particular shape ... and how you steer a bike. So I want you to think about how a bike works before you draw in the parts". Here I found 47% frame errors, 6% pedal errors and 43% chain errors, so compared to Experiment 1, giving a function hint did not reduce errors at all in Experiment 2.

Experiment 3 - 65 cyclists

Here is where the Merseyside Cycle Campaign comes in. Would regular cyclists have a good, functional knowledge of how bicycles worked? I tested 31 cyclists at the MCC's AGM and another 34 cyclists. Cyclists were much better at drawing bicycles, but were still not perfect, with 8% frame errors, 2% pedal errors and 9% chain errors.

Thus many people seem to have almost no understanding of how bicycles work. This is despite bicycles being highly familiar and most people having learnt how to ride one. Most people know that turning the pedals drives one or both of the bicycle wheels forward, but probably little more than this, so their understanding of bicycles is sketchy and shallow. This minimal, superficial understanding may actually be beneficial. It lets us efficiently interpret the world and make accurate, causal predictions without overburdening processing and storage in our brains. We will almost always be able to just look at a bicycle if we need to know how it works. Why, then, should we bother trying to learn this information before we need it and then have to store this understanding in our limited-capacity memories? If you want to know more about this, to see sample drawings, and to find out about the unexpected sex effects, I have a fuller report on my website at www.liv.ac.uk/~rlawson/Cycology.htm. Do email me at rlawson@liv.ac.uk if you have any queries or suggestions about this work and thanks again for helping me with it.

Rebecca Lawson

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LIVERPOOL-CHESTER-LIVERPOOL BIKE RIDE

The Liverpool-Chester-Liverpool Bike Ride was launched in 1994, one of many motivational events inspired by the former Mersey Regional Health Authority Health Promotion Unit to encourage people to take more physical activity. The ride was organised with assistance from Liverpool City Council.

The event has proved it was ‘no flash in the pan’. In July this year it celebrated its tenth birthday - marked by the biggest entry to date of nearly 2,000 participants.

I believe that cycling in Liverpool and on Merseyside in general has moved a long way forward over the past ten years thanks to the lobbying and persistence of a range of organisations, from local authority cycling officers to cycle campaigners. Travelwise and the National Health Service have also been key players in raising awareness of both the enjoyment and health benefits cycling brings.

I like to think Healthstart has played its own part in promoting and advocating the cause of cycling by encouraging the new NHS Primary Care Trusts to include cycling in their physical activity strategies and in continuing NHS support for the Liverpool-Chester-Liverpool Bike Ride.

The bike ride has been an important symbolic event in raising the profile of cycling on Merseyside. It would not take place at all without the considerable involvement of Liverpool City Council Sport and Recreation Services, Healthstart’s co-organisers, and the support of Merseytravel and Merseyside Police. By taking nearly 2,000 cyclists through the Mersey tunnels and out on the roads of Liverpool, Wirral and Chester, considerable logistical support is required.

I helped create the Liverpool-Chester-Liverpool Bike Ride but it was only this year that I had a chance to take part for myself and find out if it met one of its main aims, which is to encourage lapsed and occasional cyclists out on their bikes.

The first thing to say is what a wonderful start! I found myself flying into the Birkenhead tunnel ringing my bell madly and whooping with excitement! Out on the route itself, it is apparent how many inexperienced cyclists take part (judging by their cycling skills, or lack of them!). The lack of clear signalling was to be expected but it was worrying when a small minority ignored both the stewards and traffic lights on occasions. Why anyone would be foolish enough to do this on the Clatterbridge motorway roundabout beggars belief!

Overall, though, I enjoyed myself immensely. I met up with Derek Gould at the Wirral pitstop at Wirral Rugby Club and we seemed to set a reasonable pace through to the Countess of Chester Health Park. Chester has its own great atmosphere and the sunny weather meant that the grass was strewn with brightly coloured lycra, baggy tee shirts and shorts and all manner of bikes. Many choose to finish here and Healthstart has always ensured that free transport back to Liverpool is included within the entry fee for those who need it. Many of these riders will have raised considerable sums for Barnardo’s and a host of other charities.

Derek set a brisk tempo on the way back but we found time for another rest at the rugby club - such an improvement on the old Clatterbridge layby pitstop and with proper toilets as well! On the way out of the Wallasey tunnel my mobile rang, to much heckling from my companions. My number was one of those provided for emergencies but mercifully it was predominantly a crisis free ride this year with less of the bumps and scrapes than we might expect from a field of this size.

The finish into William Brown Street is superb although the cobbles are less welcoming to those with narrower tyres than mine. Afterwards I was able to cycle home along the Millennium Route - a fitting end to a thoroughly enjoyable day.

By 2013 I hope there will be many more cycling routes on Merseyside and, more importantly, many more cyclists.

Robin Ireland

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Free Cycling Fun Day

Get the Bike Bug!

Are you one of those people who got a new bike as a present and still haven’t been out on it? Or do you have a bike in the back of your shed that has not been used for ages due to a flat tyre or other small fault? Maybe you never got around to learning or you don’t know the safest places to ride?

If so, then come along to the FREE cycling fun day to be held at Greenbank Sports Academy, Greenbank Lane on Saturday 24th April 2004 from 10am till 4pm.

There will be lots of bike-based fun activities for all the family, even if you can’t ride a bike. Activities include rickshaw rides, a bike doctor who will be able to do small repairs, a unicyclist, bike races and more. There will also be lots of other information on how to keep fit, healthy, and active.

This event is being organised by Central Liverpool Primary Care Trust with REACT, Liverpool Sport Action Zone, Liverpool City Council and Heal 8.


Photo Opportunity

Dunnings Bridge Road Never mind the traffic lights watch out for the bl**dy post that someone's decided needs to be placed in the middle (well almost!) of the cycle lane on the approach to Switch Island along Dunnings Bridge Road. We trust that the design of the new cycle paths around Switch Island aspire to a higher quality that this!

If you have any interesting, amusing or informative photos please send them to Peter Roome peter_roome@bigfoot.com

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Dates for your diary to be updated soon

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All articles welcome for inclusion in next issue of Pedal Press to be sent in MS Word by email or disc to the Editor

© Merseyside Cycling Campaign 2004