The New Environmentalist Cycling Campaigns

New Environmentalist Cycle Safe Campaign – February 2012

A cycling revolution is happening in the UK and it couldn’t happen any sooner! Only in the last week two major campaigns have been launched and New Environmentalist is proud to support both the Cities Fit for Cycling Campaign national campaign run by The Times newspaper and the Love London, Go Dutch Campaign initiated by LCC (London Cycling Campaign). Please pledge your support directly on the campaign websites and if possible, contact your local MPs to voice your concerns on cycling in your area.  While these campaigns are important at both national and regional levels, we believe that the changes required need to happen at a local level first. That is why, at New Environmentalist we have been running our own local cycling campaigns since 2010, in an effort to raise more awareness of cycling as an alternative and healthier local means of transport in urban environments. Our latest Cycle Safe Campaign is localised to Brent council, where our group is based and Central London where most of our volunteers have to cycle to work.  What we are requesting from our local MPs is to make our streets a safe place not just for recreational cycling but for the everyday commute to work.  Our volunteers that cycle in Brent have complained to us that our council has fallen behind other London councils for safe cycling. We believe that the main culprit is the out-dated transport infrastructure: all the main roads linking Brent to Central London are narrow and over-crowded. Trying to cycle around Wembley, Brent Park, Wembley Park, Harlesden, Dollis Hill, Willesden, Kilburn High Road or Harrow Road feels like playing Russian roulette with one’s life. There are almost no secondary roads for cyclists to use due to an unfortunate legacy of railways, waterways and poorly designed motorways. Additionally, a lack of serious investment in cycling has resulted in only a small number of cycle lanes and few cycling facilities. What we are requesting from our local council is to make our streets a safe place not just for recreational cycling but for the everyday commute to work; these actions should include:

  • Limiting the speed on major roads to 20 mph
  • Redesigning some of the busiest road junctions
  • Where possible, to design cycle routes on secondary roads, away from main traffic
  • Appointing a cycling commissioner to supervise cycling reforms
  • Improving training of cyclists and drivers, as a core part of the driving test

We believe that, unless these issues are addressed, cyclists will continue to be in danger on Brent’s roads. Please find here the full text of our email to our MP for Brent: Sarah Teather, in the hope that we will be represented in the Parliament debate on cycling, on Thursday, 23 rd  February 2012.

Survival guide for cycling in London

We believe that cycling in central London does not constitute a normal cycling experience therefore, until the current situation improves, some of our regular cyclists have drafted a short survival guide for staying alive on London’s streets. To start, we are suggesting 10 steps to help make your cycle journey safer:

  1. Always wear high visibility clothing – it might not look attractive but that’s a small sacrifice to make for safety.
  2. At red lights – make sure you position yourself at least two metres ahead of cars and that you are visible. If you cannot make it ahead of the queue before the lights change, then make sure you are ahead and visible to the nearest car.
  3. Avoid cycling in low visibility conditions, especially at night, when raining, or in foggy weather. If you have to cycle in low visibility conditions then lower your speed and be extra vigilant.
  4. Do not cycle with dodgy brakes! Your ability to react in traffic is severely impeded by poor, worn out brakes and you will have almost no control in the rain. You must also ensure your bike is in good general condition and that you do a full service at least once a year.
  5. Do not use earphones to listen to music while cycling. Your ears should be an important help in traffic, not a distraction.
  6. Do not trail cars! Give yourself at least 5 meters to the car ahead, in case the car brakes suddenly.
  7.   As long as you’re mindful of other road users and pedestrians, some cyclists argue that it can be safer to jump a red light then to get stuck in fast moving traffic. This will be controversial to other road users and should be exception, not the norm: only proceed if you feel that your position at a red light can put you in danger when the lights change.
  8.   Be assertive when cycling in heavy traffic. Make sure there is plenty of space between you, parked cars and moving cars. A large number of accidents happen from parked cars opening doors in way of cyclists and research also shows that the more assertive urban cyclists can add five years to their life.
  9.   Wear a helmet. Remember, it’s no escuse for speeding, but it can save your life.
  10.   Make sure you have 3 rd  party insurance, from a reputed organisation, such as the London Cycling Campaign. You’ll be protected in the event of an accident from as little as £32/year.

Links to major cycling campaigns:

New Evironmentalist Cycling Campaign 2010

This campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of cycling as an alternative means of transport in urban environments. By encouraging people to cycle more, rather than driving, we can all live healthier lives while at the same reducing pollution and benefiting the planet.We hope our campaign will motivate and encourage local groups. We seek partnerships with similar groups and aim to take part in cycling events throughout UK. 2011 was our third year of taking part in the London Bikeathon, which aims to promote cycling in London, while raising money for charity. You can join our team in the London Bikeathon by contacting us. We have been inspired and motivated in this campaign by one of our Senior Advisors and veteran cyclist: Ricardo Simon.He is currently attempting to cycle a full circle along the boarders of Brazil to raise awareness of the need to encourage cycling in urban environments.

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