Pedal Press Spring 2005
Other Pedal Press Editions
Front Page: What we really really know
The Fragile Cyclist
Lane Discipline - Pedal Press Poetry
Accessibility through cycle networks
The Road to Morocco
Bicycle Maintenance….quick notes
All articles welcome for inclusion in next issue of Pedal Press to be sent in MS Word by email or disc to the
What we really really know
My personal acquaintance with road casualties runs like this: serious injury of two friends, two colleagues, a colleague's father, my mother, my sister, and the deaths of a friend's father, a friend's mother, a friend's girlfriend, a colleague's father and sister, a colleaue's uncle. All 13 were either pedestrians or in cars. There are over 55,000 such deaths and serious injuries per annum in the UK, between a fifth and a quarter amongst 15 to 24 year old males. In a time of war there would be public concern at the equivalent of a fatal jumbo jet crash every month. To use a 'Rumsfeldism' espoused in the Guardian (19 Feb 2005), this is an 'unknown known' . We all know the situation but the knowledge is confounded by promotion, culture, sexuality, identity within a 'free' transport economy. Cognratulations to Peter Hillsden who has shown us (Liverpool Cycle Forum, Febrary, 2005) how the transport environments of some European Cities (eg Berne, Strasbourg, Basle) can be transformed into prosperous havens where people choose to live and spend time. Safe, accessable, peaceful, pollution free: hard to imagine on Merseyside, with its pollution hotspots and its lampost flowers of death? Yet there exists a great opportunity in Liverpool to win this coveted peace on our roads and to realise a historic vision of a once great European City, in its Capital of Culture year. This would be a win-win for transport, people and local economies. Could our Council leaders not urgently consider a visionary strategy shift which lies within the realm of the possible?
The Fragile Cyclist
I have been searching some time for a word which describes how I feel when I cycle in heavy traffic. I have had my fair share of traffic incidents, cut-ups, near misses and altercations, and I also had an unfortunate “accident” involving a truck - I may write about this at a later date. These things make me feel vulnerable on my bike, but cycling also enriches my life in a way that is impossible to describe, bringing a sharpness to my senses which enlivens many aspects of my life, both on and off the bike. Cycling is a wonderful thing, not inherently dangerous but threatened by danger - something which is beautiful, but fragile. I came to Liverpool a year ago from Hull, where there are many 20 mph zones and where cycling felt comparatively safe. My bleats of panic about conditions for cyclists here have been heard by surprised local cyclists who do not entirely see what I complain about. They may think I complain too much, but I may think they have got used to a bad job, and that they have stopped seeing just how bad it is. Don, secretary of MCC and editor of Pedal Press, told me of a conversation he had recently had with Liverpool’s new cycling officer, Paul Thomas, where he remarked that not all cyclists were as “leather-backed” as he was. I was reminded of the many cyclists who are too scared to use anything other than off road facilities (like my father), and still others who would ride their bike more (or at all) if only it was “safe” (like two or three of my colleagues). There are many, many latent cyclists, who are just a short step away from appreciating cycling as the wonderful, life-enhancing thing that it is. As a campaigner, I sometimes wonder who we are campaigning for. The leather-backed time-served cycling warriors who ride hardened down the most treacherous of main highways? Or the fragile cyclists, who still need to take that tiniest of steps? So now I nominate myself as representative of tentative or not-yet cyclists everywhere. I may say some things that others feel may pour cold water on a good idea, but I shall speak for the man or woman who does not like cycling through parks in the dark any more than he/she likes cycling in heavy traffic. I shall speak for the Fragile Cyclist.
Muesli Eater writes from Liverpool:
Road Closure News:
Several road closures in the residential part of Old Swan between Derby Lane and Mill Bank have been reopened for cyclists. This is part of the Councils’ proposed 10km Middle Orbital Route which runs from Otterspool to Walton Village.
Is the only way to describe the City’s performance in Upper Duke St, part of the prestige National Cycle Route. In 2000 the City, supported by Sustrans and the National Lottery, installed cycle lanes in Upper Duke St. Later, an unused residents parking bay was installed, with the cycle lane bent round it into the middle of the road. A year later some unauthorised person removed the uphill cycle lane at Mornington Terrace. In October 2004 Scottish Power removed another lane, in November Enterprise Liverpool (an efficient public- private “partnership”) resurfaced the Canning St junction, removing more lanes. To cap it all Merseytravel removed more cycle lanes at bus stops. This was done on the instructions of the same Council department which put the lanes in originally. A month later the bus disappeared as well! After some badgering, Scottish Power made a half-hearted attempt to repair their damage, which is more than you can say for the other guilty parties. They relaid the brown stuff, but didn’t bother to put the white line back which makes it a cycle lane.
In the City Centre pedestrianised area, cyclists are banned from riding between 6am & 6pm. Several members (including respectable pillars of society) have been pulled up by police for cycling during those times. MCC has put in a request for the ban to be lifted. This would bring the area into line with the Duke of Westminsters’ new development at Chevasse Park/Paradise St, where cycling will be permitted at all times in pedestrianised areas. The City can hardly refuse, since they supported the Dukes’ plans on the basis that cycling was OK in pedestrianised areas.
First for Liverpool:
Our first full-time cycling officer has arrived to take up his post. Paul Thomas has arrived here by way of Columbia, and is now resident in Mossley Hill. We wish him all the best in what must be one of the most challenging posts in the Council.
Fancy a dip?
Park Road Sports Centre in the Dingle is getting a secure cycle cage at long last. It is in the car park opposite the main entrance.
Evenin’ all (1):
If you are attacked (eg get stoned) on your bike by the local unwashed, report it to the local police station, and insist that the incident be recorded in the station incident book. Although there is nothing the police can do about the particular event, policing is now “intelligence-led” which means that they can focus their efforts on particular trouble spots. They don’t know where the trouble spots are unless somebody tells them! This information comes from Alan Holmes of the Police Traffic department.
Evenin’ all (2):
Mathews Motor Body Repair Centre in Commercial Road, Vauxhall, have been reported to the Police & Parking Enforcement for obstruction of the pavement and cycle track (part of the Councils’ Radial Route 2). The business is using the cycle track, pavement and road as an extension of their yard. Both Police & Parking Services have responded positively and paid a friendly visit to the premises for a little chat. Unfortunately the visits appear to have been too friendly because on my last visit there were no less than 17 illegally parked vehicles. The police have since revisited the premises, will members please keep an eye on this.
Streets of Gold:
The ordinary cyclist on the pavement will be staggered to know that the money available for cycling in Liverpool in the financial year 2004 to 2005 was a whopping £583,000, enough to implement many kilometres of the Citys’ proposed cycle route network. It’s not actually clear how much of this has produced tangible improvements to the cycle route network. Certainly nothing like half a million pounds has been spent. However some projects may have started by the time you read this.
Cyclists and pedestrians, get stuffed:
The City has a policy of encouraging cycling and walking (where it will not inconvenience developers and motorists). A developer has been allowed to block the cycle track and footpath which links Vauxhall and the Atlantic Point development to the City Centre, between Edgar St & Leeds St. You can just get past the hoarding if you’re a thin pedestrian and don’t meet another thin pedestrian on the way. A complaint has been made, but don’t hold your breath. Similarly the Ramblers Association have complained about the obstruction of the access to Newsham Park at Balmoral Drive.
European Study Tour:
Peter Hillsdon from Sefton Council gave an excellent presentation to the February Cycle Forum. The subject was a CTC study tour of various European cities. The presentation is available electronically.The message seemed to be that the general urban environment needs to be pleasant if people are to get on their bikes.
What Does the English Regions Cycling Development Team have to say about the performance of Liverpool Council?
Find out at
It’s crisp, it’s dry, it’s sunny
It’s a day to use the bike
It’s quick, it’s green, it’s exercise
Into work the way I like. Better still, the Council’s made
An orange cycle way
It’s just for bikes, it’s fast and safe
To pedal on today. But swooping round the corner
I see my joy has been in vain
A line of cars, all parked across
The orange cycle lane How do the drivers think that I
Can cycle through or round
It seems that once they’re in their cars
The rest of us don’t count. The cars have got the city
In their dirty smelly grip
And while I’m sitting on my bike
My thoughts are letting rip Fill the streets with bikes and buses
Pedestrians, prams and trains
And make the cars that still exist
Drive in little orange lanes!
Accessibility through cycle networks
The Government’s guidance, both on accessibility and the Local Transport Plan’s makes several references to cycling. Some of these can be drawn together, with experience of planning for cycling, to show how they can make a significant contribution to developing a high-quality LTP, as described in the guidance.
Accessibility can be improved for some people, not just a small minority, by a local cycle network. This can work well in urban areas. In stating that an accessibility strategy is to be part of an LTP, the guidance says that the focus should be on access to, notably, employment, learning, and health care. This can be particularly helpful to the young and to women. It is important to realise in planning the network that a home is at one end of most journeys. Roger Geffen, the CTC Campaigns and Policy Manager, in his comments on the guidance, points out that there are highway barriers to cycling: the absence of impediments, such as dangerous roads or junctions, makes good accessibility by cycle. These barriers are to be found throughout towns, and can separate homes from popular destinations, hampering the development of a culture of cycling. In developing an LTP, barriers are a problem. A solution providing routes for most journeys can be found in an urban area with a traditional street pattern. This is to adopt specific minor roads as cycle routes, these being ones where a route can be continued across a main road, either directly or by running along it for a short distance, using appropriate facilities. Several facilities may be needed to provide access to a town centre. In this way a minor-road network is developed. The method was pioneered in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham c. 1990. It is also possible to develop a network based on major roads, which most faster cyclists prefer. Because of heavy traffic and conflicting interests over kerbside space, main-road networks can take a lot of time to develop. Some authorities are developing both main-road and minor-road networks to attract a wide variety of people to cycle. The Government is asking local authorities to achieve the best value from the funds available. When two routes are joined end to end, more journeys are served than by the two separately; two routes that cross likewise serve more journeys, but the extra journeys in this case are shorter. Dense networks serve a large number of short journeys as well as long ones, between homes and schools, shops, services, and stations. I believe, however, that a major-road or a minor-road network on its own will achieve considerable benefits without the other, in some ways complementary, network, because each attracts its own type of cyclist. A mixture of incomplete networks seems likely to be less successful, even though the types have some cyclists in common. Immediate benefits are of greater value than ones that are not realised for some time. Even with the low discounting rate of 3.5%, an immediate benefit worth £1,000 is worth only £700 if it is realised 10 years later. Some little-used cycle facilities look outdated before they’ve been connected to anything. These two points show that it pays to plan whole networks, a natural long-term strategy; and further, it pays to implement each one fast. Taken in turn, networks could be completed in a year or two each, so benefits would soon begin; a large authority could develop a few at a time. A five-year plan for an LTP could include minor-road networks, with major-road networks to be developed later. Some authorities may prefer the opposite order, though it has produced little in five years. The initial networks could be centred on town and district centres; in a conurbation or large town these networks would merge. Perhaps a word of warning would be appropriate. After half a century of low cycling levels, there is little cycling culture left in this country. It could take some well targeted training and other initiatives in addition to cycling facilities to raise levels of cycling appreciably.
The Road to Morocco
Gatwick was always a point of departure to be avoided. On this occasion the peer pressure of a fine group of friends prevailed and I used the train to meander down to our flight to the mother of mountain biking trips. Agadir has been extensively rebuilt since the earthquake of 1960, but we were soon away and up into the Ante-Atlas mountains. The first night in Ait-Baha was followed by a moderate road ride in warm February sunshine, towards Tiznit. The brown rolling landscape with its stunted, shrivelled trees and dried out waddies melded into the distant, jagged High Atlas peaks. The Berbers were friendly, children running out from their mud and stone houses to greet us, some trying to shake hands, others playfully looking to push us off! We paused at a roadside cafe, to drink 'Berber whiskey' (tea): most places are alcohol-free. The local languages are Berber, French, some English. Back on the road, some children on rusted bikes rode alongside for a mile or so. On an uphill section, one stayed with us for a couple of hundred yards and said, panting and astonished, 'mais, vous n'etes pas fatiguee..?' On an off road section we stopped for lunch, watched a herd of goats climbing the surrounding trees, seeking fruit. They scattered at the sound of gunfire and on our descent we found the hunters at the site of their victim, a wild boar. From Tiznit we climbed 3,500 feet to eventually arrive just below the Col de Cordus, a magnificent Kasbah with spectacular views of chiaroscuro in the far, lowering mountains. Some of us tried the pool, with high pitched objections to the temperature of water at these altitudes. The bar here held beer and we were able to dehydrate until tiredness overcame us early. The bikes of Wildcat Tours (www.wildcat-adventures.co.uk) were pretty well maintained though next morning we put some more air in our tires for the stiff climb at the start of the day, over the pass, rocketing down some, then over the undulating plateau. We entered a small village with its thronging crowds of traditionally attired man standing, talking, the cyclists adding the latest gossip. We pulled in at a tiny, ramshackle cafe, one of our number missing: we decided to wait for him to catch up. Milky coffees emerged. We drank gently, settled up and moved to leave. I clumsily overturned a glass cup which broke, splintering into shards of glass. At the sound, a Berber emerged from the crowd, presumably to see if there was trouble, an unsheathed, long knife glinting in his hand. I hastily pulled out a coin to repay the cafe owner. He grinned, frowned at the one pound coin, unrecognising, handed it back to me. We moved on. We found the lost member in the next village. Donald had been ahead and had tried to telephone us. The local people had been supportive and helpful and he thanked them. No knives here... Our guardians in the two four wheel drives shadowed us with water, biscuits. A hard off road climb took us to our lunch stop and Hammid and Lassa prepared the usual Berber lunch of healthy vegetables, small amounts of cooked fish or meats, nuts, cheese, dried fruits and bread. There followed a dusty route through an ancient, near-neolithic Jewish / Berber / Christian town. We walked around. Nothing served to distinguish between these various peoples who clearly were able to defy the differences of our times. Certainly our lycra-clad forms were easily differentiated as alien, though the greetings were a warm 'Bonjour'. On the road there were many ancient mopeds, cycles, old trucks, dilapidated pick-ups. Everyone drove or rode in the middle of the road, pulling aside at the last minute. Tafrout was our next stop. We stayed three nights, explored the market with its vibrant colour, rich with animals, fish, spices and sad, imported plastic toys. Next day was an off road delight with a dizzying descent, but the following held different thrills. The weather shifted and torrential rain lashed the roof through the night. Our plans were changed as the proposed off road (and on road!) routes became unrideable. Instead we toured the dirt tracks of a steep sided canyon in the 4 wheel drives, the valley floor lush under palm trees. We walked the route through isolated, barely accessible villages, paused to admire the variety of plants and birdlife. Next day, clouds still bunched up amongst the peaks with their jagged spires fleetingly visible through the white-grey tufts. The air was chill and this final ride back to Ait-Baha took us high into the Ante-Atlas. The clouds blackened during a 20 mile descent along a giddying canyon wall. We were stung by icy, driving rain which numbed our clenched fingers and sent new, muddied waters through the erstwhile dried river beds, cascading across the road and down to the valley floor, 2000 feet below. The scene below and around us seemed to become greener before our eyes. The kilometer stones counted down to Ait-Baha, and we were unsure whether we were overjoyed or dismayed to finish. We decommissioned our bikes, slept well on some illicit Stork beer, drove back to Agadir next morning. A day at the beach before our flight contrasted with the subsistence life style we had seen that week. And Gatwick to Liverpool by train on a Sunday provided plenty of time indeed to reflect and write this piece!
Open and Shut Cases
Cyclists who use the Canal route south of Bootle were disappointed to find that a section of it had been closed due to the collapse of a wall. Although it still appears to be officially closed the barriers have now met the fate of much else in this area and have been thrown into the canal. The route is once again useable - but watch out for falling walls. Local farmers took action to close Dibb Lane in Little Crosby to motorised traffic. The aim was to prevent fly-tipping and, as the Lane is actually a bridleway, motorised traffic is not, in any case, allowed. Tractors were used to dump boulders across the Lane and remain there with objections from the council and support from councillors. Happily the route remains open for walkers and cyclists - but watch out for falling boulders!
Plan of Action
The draft (pending its approval by Committee in March) Sefton Cycling Action Plan was unveiled at the recent Cycle Forum. This is a package of specific measures which aim to increase cycling in the borough - through promotion and improved infrastructure. Highlights include:
Implementing cycle audit procedures whereby all highway schemes from April 2005 are checked to ensure that they have a neutral or positive effect on cyclists.
Reviewing and upgrading existing facilities on the Formby Bypass, Bootle - Crosby cycle route, Trans Pennine Trail and the A5036
Opening existing road closures for cycling
Free local area and route maps
The detailed draft is
Consultation with members of the Cycle Forum is included for many of the proposals and your next chance to make your views known at the forum meeting is on Wednesday 13th July at 6.30pm at the Eco Centre in Southport see
for more details.
A decision on the viability of the Thornton relief road is due in next couple of months. If this scheme was to go ahead it is hoped that there would be opportunities to enhance the existing Lydiate Lane / Green Lane route for use by more sustainable transport modes.
If you have any interesting or amusing digital photos which relate to cycling in the local area and would like to share them with the world please email them to me (if less than 1MB) so that I can use them on the website (and perhaps in future editions of Pedal Press). And, if you don’t have any pictures but have a thousand words to spare instead, please share these with your fellow campaigners. Contributions to Pedal Press and the Website from members from the northern reaches of the county would be particularly welcome. For more information on any of the above or if there’s something I should know about please email me on
Wirral Group News
Wirral Way Upgrade
The Wirral Way upgrade from Thurstaston Visitor Centre to West Kirby is now under way. The scheme will be separated into three sections: tree felling/clearance, signing and surfacing. The initial phase is due to be completed before the bird-breeding season in March. The main path will be widened and resurfaced to make it easier for cyclists and walkers of all levels of mobility to use. The horse ride and the footpath will be switched back to their original positions to reduce steep gradients, and the bridleway will no longer double as a cycleway. The old railway line on the Wirral Way, which leads to Wirral Country Park and Thurstaston Visitor Centre, attracts more than 250,000 visitors every year, so these improvements will benefit both local residents and visitors to the Wirral by providing an opportunity for children and other less experienced cyclists to use their bicycles in a traffic free environment. This is the first major resurfacing work to be carried out along the Wirral Way since the park was opened in 1973. There are also plans to make it easier for cyclists to get onto the Wirral Way from Meols Drive, West Kirby, and Station Road, Thurstaston.
Hoylake Park and Ride
Hoylake Park and Ride is under construction, providing additional car parking, but no extra cycle parking, however, a new cycleway from the station to West Kirby has been constructed. Further round the coast the restriction on cycling between Meols Parade and route 56 is being lifted by the drafting of a new byelaw.
, our Cycling Officer has developed a maintenance schedule for cycle routes that are owned by Highways and Leisure and will be developing an agreed maintenance regime for the future. Route 56 in particular around Bidston has benefited from recent maintenance. Another new initiative by Cathy is the production of two postcard-sized handouts to be available from libraries and cycle shops. These offer brief advice to both cyclists and motorists and give an opportunity to let the Cycling Officer know where further cycle parking is needed. The Highways Department has been relocated to The Cheshire Lines building, near Hamilton Square station in Birkenhead.
has recently been appointed to the post of Road Safety Officer Cycling. He has responsibility for cycle training, mainly for schools. We were pleased to welcome
, the new CTC Right to Ride representative for the Wirral area of Merseyside, to our February meeting. He can be contacted by e-mail at
John Cranny has already submitted 23 objections, up to mid February, to planning applications that show inadequate cycle parking. In 2004 he checked 186 plans, and submitted objections to 168 of these. Of the 111 schemes passed during the year 83 were with cycle parking, so John’s efforts are bearing fruit.
The next meeting
of the Wirral Group is on Monday 9th May at 18 Shrewsbury Road, telephone Carol Fitzpatrick on 653 3887 if you would like to join us.
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
What Does the English Regions Cycling Development Team have to say about the performance of St Helens Council?
Find out at
What Does the English Regions Cycling Development Team have to say about the performance of Knowsley Council?
Find out at
Bicycle Maintenance….quick notes
Fixing a puncture:
Note profile of rim, tyre beads.
Start away from valve. Hook lever under tyre avoiding the tube. Hook onto a spoke. Push bead to centre of rim all around tyre.
Second lever. Push bead to centre of rim again. Pull lever around. Remove valve from hole.
Remove tyre completely. Check position of valve in relation to tyre.
Remove tube. Inflate tube till fat. Listen and feel with side of face. (Water as last resort). Mark hole and deflate. Check tyre. Position of hole in tyre should indicate where to look on tube for possible nail, thorn, glass etc..
Choose patch. Mark size on tube. Roughen surface removing ridges. Glue tube and patch. Leave to dry till dull. Stick. Chalk surface using grater.
Inflate tube slightly to make round. Position tube in tyre. Check direction of travel of tyre. Fit valve and 1st bead. 2nd bead by hand only. Push bead off rim and fully deflate tube in order to help getting tyre on by hand only. Ensure tyre is seated in the rim. Push valve in to avoid getting tube caught. Pump up hard.
Line smallest cog with chain. Pull back derailleur. Push in wheel. Ensure wheel fully back and straight in frame. Bolts a little on each side. Turn over then reconnect brakes.
Following the success of the cycle maintenance classes last year, “Cycling Solutions”, are proposing to further classes this winter.
It is hoped to run both basic and intermediate classes on a weekday in the evening between 7-9pm. The basic classes run for 3 nights and cover the kinds of things that may go wrong on a ride (punctures, brakes and gears). The intermediate classes run for 5 nights and cover how to service you bike. Visit
for more information.
A response from the Merseyside Police
Dear Alison Thompson,
Sorry for the delay in contacting you. I am the neighbourhood Police Inspector who covers the area mentioned in your e-mail (Crown Street). Drivers not respecting cycle lanes is a problem city wide. I have assigned one of my city cycle patrols to have a look at Crown street and carry out some enforcement. I would be grateful if you could send me the reg. nos. of the vehicle you state is often parked on the cycle track and I will get one of my staff to advise the driver accordingly. Regards
Ed.:Now there's an invitation!
The Campaign’s electric bike has been on the move again. Its now up in Sefton providing some powered assistance in Thornton
It’s great fun and well suited to anyone who may not be able to ride as far as they would like. It’s available to be borrowed for short periods by any member or, at a push, elderly relatives of members. To contact Neil phone 0151 727 4583
All articles welcome for inclusion in next issue of Pedal Press to be sent in MS Word by email or disc to the
© Merseyside Cycling Campaign 2005