Dedication towards improving cycling conditions within the UK is something that many of the public possess. With topics such as safety and cycle space being constants in the UK media; there is never a shortage of interest generated surrounding cycling discussion.
On the ‘direct.dov’ website, members of the public can create e-petitions if they feel strongly enough about a topic. E-petitions work through the creation of a new petition that can be signed by the public; on a topic that does not already have an existing one created around.
Highlighting Prevalent Cycling News
The e-petitions can be open for up to 1 year; and if they collect 100,000 signatures they can be debated in the House of Commons. As such; many individuals try their hand at making an e-petition go viral, but it has to be an incredibly topical subject to generate the interest required.
We at Wheelie Good Guys have compiled a list of 5 of the most popular e-petitions surrounding topics related to cycling. All of them raise interesting points that help to further bring to light cycling issues that could do with work to improve them:
Cycle Track Adjacent to HS2
As we recently discussed on Wheelie Good Guys; there are plans to incorporate a cycle track adjacent to the proposed new high-speed rail network in the UK. Both the plans for HS2 and the cycle track remain in doubt; and one individual has started a petition to try and further existing support for a cycle track if HS2 does go ahead. Cyclists argue that with so much money being invested in the project if it goes ahead, it is only right to include plans that improve the cycling network in this country. The e-petition argues that the HS2 development provides a ‘unique opportunity to add a cycle track that not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but would bring millions of pounds into local communities due to the added tourism.’
Signatures generated to date: 142
Wheelie Good Guys view: The money that would be spent on the HS2 development if it goes ahead could arguably be used to improve the abysmal state of roads in the UK; which see an average of 1 pothole for every mile of road. However; if the plans to go ahead then it would only be right to include a cycle network within them.
Keep the Use of Cycling Helmets Optional
There have been a number of e-petitions to the contrary of the aim of this one; which have stated that cycle helmets should be a legal requirement. Many cyclists however feel that the legal implementation of cycle helmets would actually exacerbate existing safety problems on the roads of the UK. We conducted a survey earlier this year that received a 75% response against the implementation of cycle helmets as a legal requirement. Cyclists felt that loss of freedom of choice would discourage both new and existing cyclists from riding; whilst others felt that if a motorist sees a cyclist wearing a helmet it actually encourages them to drive closer and therefore increase relevant safety concerns. The e-petition states that ‘research shows that helmet laws are a disincentive to cyclists, that cycling is as safe as walking and that cycle helmets only provide minimum protection. The health benefits of encouraging cycling outweigh the risks of being helmetless.’
Signatures generated to date: 312
Wheelie Good Guys view: This is an extremely contentious topic; that presents arguments on both side of the fence. It is because of this that so far nothing has changed; and we will keep an eager eye on things if they ever do.
Abolish VAT on Bicycle Lights
We’re always interested in topics of discussion surrounding cycling safety – particularly when someone is trying to improve the factors that are affecting it. Bike lights in many cycling conditions can save lives; yet with the purchase of bike lights subject to VAT; many cyclists are put off from buying them. The e-petition states that ‘at the moment, bicycle lights are treated by the Treasury as being a luxury item and subject to VAT at 20%. As bicycle lights are a mandatory safety accessory, and it is an offence for a cyclist not to have them on their bicycle during the hours of darkness, they should accordingly not be subject to VAT.’
Signatures generated to date: 1079
Wheelie Good Guys view: An extremely valid petition. With the government rightly championing cycling safety and awareness; it seems unusual that VAT wouldn’t be taken off these items. They are essential for certain cycling conditions and people should be encouraged – not deterred – from using them.
Clearly Distinguish Safe and Unsafe Overtaking of Cyclists in Law by Establishing a 1.5m rule
The lines are often blurred when it comes to the topic of acceptable overtaking distance between motorists and cyclists. It is often claimed that not enough is done to establish the exact rules surrounding overtaking distance; and as such it is a contentious topic between users of the UK road network. The e-petition states that ‘the majority of drivers are sensible, but a commuting cyclist will be overtaken by both safe and unsafe drivers on their journey. The Highway Code suggests giving cyclists at least as much room as you would a car but this could be interpreted as leave enough room to drive a car down or come as close as you would when overtaking a car…we call on the Government to clearly differentiate safe and unsafe overtaking in law by establishing a 1.5m minimum overtaking distance.’
Signatures generated to date: 222
Wheelie Good Guys view: The increasing rate of cycling deaths and injuries within the UK evidences that more needs to be done to improve safety for cyclists. Clearer rules and direct implementation of them could ensure the safety of more cyclists on the roads of the UK; and should be accordingly discussed.
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None of the work that we do here at the Wheelie Good Guys would be possible without the kind sponsorship of Ian Brown. Ian is the UK Cycling Speedway Commissioner; as well as a personal injury solicitor for Wosskow Brown