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140 years of campaigning – the future from the past

Thu, 9 Aug 2018, 9:54am
Lady Harberton By DuncanDollimoreThursday, 9 August 2018140 years of campaigning – the future from the pastWe started fighting for cyclists’ rights 140 years ago, and we haven’t stopped since. What’s changed in fourteen decades? And what’s to come? Cycling UK’s Head of Campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, picks up just a few of the many threads in our campaigning history, and draws them all together in honour of our birthday.

Whilst doing some research for this blog, I read about a high profile case concerning a man on a bicycle riding furiously along a road in London who knocked down a pedestrian. But no, it wasn’t the Charlie Alliston case concerning the tragic death of Kim Briggs in 2016, whom Alliston rode into on his fixed wheel bike with no front brake. It was the case of Taylor v Goodwin from 1878, the year that Stanley Cotterell founded the Bicycle Touring Club.

Mr Taylor was prosecuted for “riding furiously” under the 1835 Highway Act, but Taylor’s defence argued that as a bicycle wasn’t defined as a carriage in the 1835 Act, there was no case to answer. The court were having none of it, and on appeal ruled that bicycles were in fact to be considered carriages.

A brilliant victory

That decision was the catalyst for 140 years of campaigning and political lobbying, initially by the Bicycle Touring Club, and then from 1883 onwards by the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC), and latterly by Cycling UK.

Whilst Taylor v Goodwin provided some legal status to bicycles, it was feared that this would be watered down if the Local Government Act of 1888 gave county councils the power to create separate by-laws which could then be used to prohibit bicycles from the roads. CTC fought to prevent this, with one of its members Sir John Donnington MP successfully lodging an amendment to the Bill.

Section 85 of the 1888 Act, which enshrined in statute that bicycles were carriages with the legal right to use the roads, represented what was described as “a brilliant victory for the Club” in James Lightwood’s 1928 history of CTC.

Incredibly however, Cycling UK is still having to fight the same battles to maintain these hard won rights.

Banning cyclists

This was true earlier this year when Highways England (HE) decided to try and ban cyclists from the A63 in Humberside.

One hundred and forty years after the 1888 Act, HE were looking to exclude one type of carriage from a public road, but nearly 10,000 of our supporters responded to our call to action opposing the proposed order.

We’re still waiting to hear the outcome of HE’s consultation, but are cautiously optimistic that HE will reconsider, and if they don’t, Cycling UK will once again have to consider the possibility of legal action.

We have of course pursued the legal route many times, and we’ve not always won, or at least we’ve not always won the court case. I put it that way, because sometimes you lose the battle but win the war. When you’re standing up for causes, the fact that you lose a court case doesn’t necessarily mean you were wrong to bring it.

Michael Mason

I reflected on this last year following the conclusion of the Michael Mason case.

On 25 February 2014, Michael Mason, known as Mick, was cycling along London’s Regent Street when he was hit from behind by a car driven by Gail Purcell.

Mick suffered fatal injuries and passed away 19 days later, but the police declined to refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service or ask them for advice, so Cycling UK’s Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF) commenced a private prosecution of Ms Purcell for causing Mick’s death by careless driving.

CDF was set up in 2001 to fight for cyclists’ rights in the courts, and has been funded by donations from members and supporters ever since, with £80,000 being raised through a crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs of the private prosecution of Ms Purcell.

Although the trial judge decided that there was a case for Ms Purcell to answer, the jury acquitted her. This led me to briefly question our decision to bring the case.

In reality however, campaigning sometimes involves noisy defeats and quiet victories, and if we ask ourselves whether the Mason case helped highlight failings in the justice system around careless and dangerous driving cases, and whether Mick's family thought that bringing the case achieved some form of justice for Mick, the answer to both those questions is a resounding yes.

So we may have lost the case, but it was not necessarily a defeat.

Rational dress

And the same could be said of another bold court case brought by CTC back in 1899, after Lady Harberton, wearing 'rational' cycling dress, was refused service at the Hautboy Hotel in Ockham, Surrey.

Some arguments just don't seem to go away!

Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns

Back then, many people were keen to tell women what they should or shouldn't wear while cycling, and CTC were right to challenge this, just as we continue to challenge those who argue that cyclists should be forced to wear helmets or hi-viz clothing. Some arguments just don't seem to go away!

Bridleways and paths

Cycling UK's campaigning has not been limited to on-road riding, however.

Back in 1968, thanks to campaigning by CTC, cyclists won the right to cycle on bridleways when the Countryside Act was passed.

But progress towards increasing off-road access for cyclists has been slow since then, with the Welsh Government failing to grasp the opportunity a few months ago to open up more paths for use by cyclists and horse riders, despite the huge support Cycling UK's Trails for Wales campaign stirred up for their initial proposals. 

We intend, as always, to move on from this set back without any loss of enthusiasm, and have asked to meet with the relevant minister later this month. 

The future from the past

Having skipped briefly through 140 years of campaigning, you may ask what we're likely to be campaigning on in the future?

Well, I started this blog with reference to the Charlie Alliston case, which led the Government to announce a review of cycling offences. We're expecting that review to commence shortly, a move that will undoubtedly lead to calls for cyclists to pay road tax, be licensed and registered, amidst a misleading narrative that somehow cyclists present the biggest danger on the roads.

Cycling UK will be campaigning to focus attention on the real sources of harm on our roads, calling once again for the full review of road traffic offences and penalties that was promised four years ago.  

On another theme, we'll also be pressing for more funding for cycling. In 2015, our campaigning helped lead to the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy being included in the Infrastructure Act but, while applauding the aim of the strategy when it was published, there's never been enough investment.

That's what we'll be campaigning to change in the coming months, so watch this space!             

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Cycling UK supports launch of new online portal to submit dangerous driving footage to police

Mon, 2 Jul 2018, 1:49pm
Head cam footage can now be uploaded to a national portal By Adrian WillsMonday, 2 July 2018Cycling UK supports launch of new online portal to submit dangerous driving footage to policeCycling UK is supporting the launch today (Monday, July 2) of a new nationwide platform that allows footage of dangerous driving to be uploaded directly to police forces across the UK.

The National Dash Cam Safety Portal, set up by dash camera manufacturer Nextbase, provides a single point for cyclists and drivers to report serious road incidents captured on dash, bike and helmet cams.

Previously, incidents had to be reported to individual forces, with the process lacking a uniform procedure as all 39 English constabularies currently use different means of accepting and logging video.

The portal builds on the success of Operation Snap in Wales, which created a similar online portal initially in North Wales but which was later rolled out to the rest of Wales.

Given that reduction in resources, it’s crucial that efficient and standardised online reporting systems are introduced to facilitate the submission of dash, bike and helmet-cam footage of irresponsible road use.

Public cuts have led to road police numbers plummeting in recent years by nearly 50%, whilst casualties have increased among all road users.

Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns

Cycling UK’s Head of Campaigns and Advocacy, Duncan Dollimore, said: “Public cuts have led to road police numbers plummeting in recent years by nearly 50%, whilst casualties have increased among all road users.

“Our police cannot be everywhere at once, but with Nextbase’s portal we have the next best thing – a one-stop shop for the collation of evidence our forces can rely upon. It can only lead to safer roads for everyone.”

The development of the portal has also been welcomed by the road safety charity, BRAKE.

Joshua Harris, Director of Campaigns at BRAKE, said: “This is a fantastic initiative which couldn’t be more timely.

"The increasing popularity of dash cams is a huge positive for road safety. However, with more drivers than ever seeking to report illegal behaviour the burden on the police has increased.

“This portal is an elegant solution which enables the police to process this vital data without wasting their scarce resources. We fully support this initiative and urge its swift adoption across the UK."

The confused array of methods for uploading footage in different police areas has, in some cases, seen clips being ignored and unprocessed.

The portal accommodates all footage types and formats and guides the user through a questionnaire that automatically generates a detailed witness statement, removing the need for police to visit a witness to take a statement.

If that force already has a process which allows you to complete a witness statement online and upload your video, you will be redirected to the relevant website to do so.

In the case of a force not yet being signed up to the platform, the system will generate a witness statement and reference code which can be taken directly to the relevant force for processing, where your footage can be viewed securely.

Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police are two of the pioneering forces that have been quick to adopt the new portal.

Superintendent Paul Moxley said: “While the benefits to motorists of this ground-breaking portal are clear, this convenience extends to police forces, since a process which previously took hours can now be reduced to a matter of minutes.

“The key in making this work for us has been determining a way of providing footage in an accessible format, whilst the creation of a witness statement is also integral to ensuring the process is as efficient as possible.

In embracing this new technology, it enables the concerned road user to help us positively influence driver behaviour to make our roads a safer place for all users.

Supt Paul Moxley, West Merica Police

Richard Browning, Director of Nextbase, said: “The surge in dash cam usage in recent years is beneficial to motorists looking to protect themselves in the event of incidents on the roads, but it has meant an increase in the amount of footage sent to police forces.

“Until now forces have not had the means to process this footage so the National Dash Cam Safety Portal has been developed with this in mind. The portal allows all road users to submit footage captured on devices, such as dash cams, which will enable the police to reduce such offences, ultimately making the roads safe for all users.”

To submit a video, users can visit https://www.nextbase.com/dashcamportal.

Contact information 

For more information contact the national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org

For more information about NextBase contact Tom Ladds or James Gwinnett on 0207 785 7383 or nextbase@agencyrazil.com

 

Notes to editors 
  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org

 

  1. Police forces linked to the portal via their own platforms include: Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Cheshire Constabulary, Essex Police, Hampshire Constabulary, the Metropolitan Police Force, Norfolk Constabulary, North Yorkshire Police, Suffolk Constabulary, Surrey Police, Sussex Police, Thames Valley Police, Dyfed-Powys Police, Gwent Police, North Wales Police, South Wales Police. Forces who will receive footage directly from the portal include: West Mercia Police, Warwickshire Police, West Midlands Police and Wiltshire Police

 

  1. For further information about NextBase – see www.nextbase.co.uk/news/

 

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  • Patron: Her Majesty The Queen
  • President: Jon Snow
  • Chief Executive: Paul Tuohy
  • Cycling UK is a trading name of Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no: 25185. Registered as a charity in England and Wales charity no: 1147607 and in Scotland charity no: sco42541. Registered office: Parklands, Railton Road, Guildford, Surrey GU2 9JX.