David started his talk by passing round a CTUK card with picture of relaxed person in normal clothes. He asked us to comment on the cyclist and eventually got us to say she looked normal. Then pointed out that the public see cyclists as aliens with their helmets and fluorescent gear.
CTUK’s aim is to normalise cycling – show that anyone can do it, that no special gear needed.
David asked for our memories of the cycle test and contrasted it with the CTUK approach of teaching road skills. He told us that he was changed by the training he received on joining CTUK three and a half years ago.
In 2003 CTUK carried out a survey on behalf of TfL by sending questionnaires to everyone who they had trained in the last five years. The findings showed that people cycle with greater confidence, cycle further, make more trips and are happy to cycle all year round. These achievements correspond with the aims of the London Cycling Plan. This shows that cycle training works.
David asked what we think is the proportion of borough spending goes on cycle training compared with hard measures such as infrastructure (a very small percentage) and compared the price of a road hump with training 30 children. He made the point that an increase in cyclists has a traffic calming effect due to drivers being more aware of cyclists and many drivers being cyclists themselves. Then pointed out that in spite of the vast increase of the number of cyclists in London, there was a decrease in cycle fatalities in the C-charge area last year. This may also be related to the decrease in motor traffic.
CTUK have 14 permanent staffand 35 freelance instructors that work with boroughs including Hackney, Lambeth and Southwark.
The National Cycling Standards
Unlike cycling proficiency, people progress at their own pace and ongoing assessment rather than testing.
These standards are very new – they are based on John Franklin’s book Cyclecraft. They were launched launched without fanfare in 2003 and eventually were relaunched by a govornment minister (Charlotte Atkins) this spring. TfL asked boroughs to nominate people for training to these standards and CTUK trained 60 people.
The standards themselves come in three levels, each of which has a milestone. Level 1A is for people who haven’t been on a bike recently and the most important thing to learn is how to stop – after that, balancing comes quite easily. Level 1B is about controlling the bike and even experienced cyclists can learn something here, for example that looking behind is useful for eye contact and looking over the left shoulder is useful for spotting undertaking cyclists or mopeds.
Level 2 is all about the principles of riding in the road (e.g. who goes first) and the idea of seeing and being seen. Only use cycle lanes if it makes you safer. Level 3 is concerned with more complicated situations such as roundabouts and multi-lane roads. David told us a rule of thumb: the distance on your left is equal to the distance drivers leave on your right.
Many thanks to David for very interactive talk which was enjoyed by everyone present. Our only regrets are that more of our members didn’t manage to come to join us in this experience.