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Cycling for Everyone

"Cycling UK Scotland has published an excellent short video on 'Cycling for Everyone' as part of its campaign for the May 21 Scottish elecions.

A similar video has been produced for the elections in Wales can be viewed here.

Winter Potholes

Do not let that pothole get any bigger than necessary.

If you see one on your travels please report it to the Bedford Unitary Authority Helpdesk - If they no not know about it, it will not be filled in. Large one are normally repaired by the Pothole Squad within 2 working days and smaller ones within 6 weeks from the date of reply.

Bedford High Street Closure

Bedford High Street will be closed to all vehicles including ridden cyclists for ten months from Monday 1 February 2021 to enable the earlier temporary reduction of the carriageway from two to one lane to be made permanent. The closure is to be in three sections; February to mid June from St Peter's to Mill Street, Late July to early October from Mill Street to St Paul's Square North and finally early October to late November from St Paul's Square North to the Embankment. Unfortunately there will be no improvements made for cyclists as promised a number of times over the last fifteen years.

Silver Street adjacent to the High Street is also scheduled to be upgraded between early February to late March and also from early June to late July. As part of the improvements all the cycle stands will be removed and relocated towards the end of the project.

Pollution Latest

Recent studies disclosed in the British Journal of Ophthalmology have shown yet another health hazard related to to small particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution already the fourth largest risk of early deaths. This time it is an increased risk of irreversible loss of sight related to age related macular degeneration (AMD), following on from earlier links to glaucoma and possibly cataracts.

Although the EU limit for PM2.5 is 25 micrograms per cubic metre, the World Health Organisation's limit is much lower at 10 micrograms per cubic metre. Even this latter limit is considered too high with every one microgram increase from zero having a significant effect.

In Bedford pollution from road transport is one of the main contributors. To help reduce the level CCNB encourages all residents to consider whether or not a journey by car is necessary and for short distances either cycle or walk.

Car Pollution

New Year Message

Cycling Campaign for North Bedfordshire (CCNB) unashamedly concentrates this New Year message on the ever increasing crises of Climate Change and Pollution.

It is hoped that the arrival of the vaccines for the global coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, will eventually make 2021 a better year than last year.

The year however sees only nine more years left, according to the October 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to take the steps necessary to reach zero emissions by 2030 in the attempt to try and limit the temperature rise to 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels to prevent runaway global warming.

In Bedford borough the highest emissions come from road transport. The latest 2018 carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, released by the government last June, still showed transport to be 41% of the total compared to the UK national average of 22%.

Therefore during 2021 there has to be a more determined effort to reduce the use of motor vehicles and, wherever possible, the use of more sustainable modes of travel; for short journeys - cycling and walking, and for longer distances - public transport. Cycling and walking also gives the added benefit of better health through increased physical activity and the reduction in toxic air pollution. For those residents that have to continue to drive there will be less congestion and lower emissions.

It is a huge challenge. Yet the greatest threat is the belief that someone else will do it; the government or local authority. The truth is that everyone, including all residents, MUST do their bit no matter how small.

The emergence last year of Covid-19 and the initial lockdown in the March in an attempt to stop its spread showed that transport emissions could be reduced with virtually no congestion, lower pollution and cleaner air. This resulted in a significant increase in cycling and walking for short journeys seen between late March and May. Unfortunately this was not maintained and by the end of the year levels were back to those of 12 months previously.

The winter months are not the ideal time to start cycling but with the start of Spring only 78 days away on Saturday 20 March this is the time to consider buying a bike or getting that bike in the back of the garage/shed put back in working order. Remember, every resident who takes up cycling means one less polluting vehicle causing congestion on Bedford’s roads making it easier for those residents that have to use a motor vehicle.

Bedford and Kempston already has an extensive cycle network to enable people of all ages and abilities to safely get around the town without having to use busy main roads so there is no excuse for not trying this quick and cheap mode of transport. Yes, there are still gaps and some sections which require improvement and CCNB is continually campaigning hard to get these resolved.

Cycling offers cheap and fast door to door short journey mobility for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. It saves money on parking and fuel, improves your health and fitness and at the same time helps save the planet from the effects of climate change.

Christmas Greetings

After a year of lockdowns and other restrictions on our life due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, Cycling Campaign for North Bedfordshire (CCNB) hopes that 2021 will see a return to near normal life but with a number of actions taken to reverse the increasing global threat of climate change.

In the meantime CCNB would like to wish all Bedford Borough current and potential cyclists a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Covid and Cycle Lanes

"Cycling UK on 20 November 2020 released its latest video, "Worse than Covid? How do cycle lanes really affect towns and cities?"

Cycle infrastructure can provoke some strong responses. But how do they really impact on our lives? In order to get a clear picture Cycling UK spoke to the experts to find out.

Well worth watching.

Active Travel Fund - 2nd Tranche

The second tranche allocation of the government's Active Travel Fund was announced on 13 November 2020. Bedford Borough was allocated £363,374 for its submission, 75% of the potential allocation worth £485,000. This was better than the first tranche allocation of £30,250 which was only 25% of the potential allocation of £121,000, one of the three lowest local authorities in the country.

The Borough's submission for the first tranche had been mainly for reducing the High Street to a single lane and widening the pavement while the second tranche submission was for a segregated cycle route on Goldington Road from the Norse Road roundabout to Perkins Road.

The first tranche has provided no improvements for cyclists in the High Street as had been promised for a number of years and was the most likely reason for the minimum allocation.

The permanent scheme similar to the above under the Transporting Bedford 2020 progect is expected to start during 2021. It is not too late to improve the High Street and make it more cycle friendly as shown what was done in the before and after photographs (below) of an Amsterdam street similar in width to Bedford High Street.

Great Denham Poppies

A recent paper by the Local Government Association on 'DecarbonisingTransport - Growing cycle use can be seen here .

If safe space is created for people to cycle there is evidence that they will get on their bikes and are likely to improve the town’s economy much more than travelling by car. At the same time congestion and pollution will be lower and people more fit and healthy and more resistant to Covid-19 and help reduce the rapidly approaching next global emergency, climate change.

Coronavirus Latest Updated

In an attempt to minimise the drastic increase in Covid-19 cases attributed to a new variant the government announced on 4 January 2021 UK's third 'Stay at Home' National Lockdown. From Sunday 20 December 2020 Bedford has been updated to a new tier - Tier 4 - Stay at home following government reviews of recent virus infections. Bedford had been only one day in Tier 3 - Very High Alert (Saturday 19 December 2020) and two weeks in Tier 2 - High Alert after the four week England lockdown from 5 November 2020.

The latest lockdown restrictions can be seen here.

CCNB's latest cyczine on the topic (Edition 10) can be seen here.

All of the activities may be carried out by cycling. Cycling remains a great way to keep fit and active and is a good way to boost immunity. Keep your distance from other people and regularly wash your hands and in particular when you arrive back home.

Armistice Day - 11 November 2020

Armistice Day, also known as Remembrance Day, marks the day World War One ended in 1918, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month. In remembrance to The Army Cyclist Corps, and in particular the Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalions, in which many Bedfordshire people were enlisted CCNB in 2014 published a short article 'First World War Remembered - The Army Cyclist Corps' which can be seen here as a .pdf.

Great Denham Poppies

The war was described at the time to be ‘The war to end all wars’.

Winter Cycling

Darker nights are now with us with the ending of British Summer Time on Sunday 25 October 2020 and winter will be arriving soon. Although your bicycle should be maintained properly all through the year please ensure, particularly at this time of the year, that it has:

Both tyres in good condition - Worn tyres are more prone to punctures and slipping on greasy roads.
Brake blocks not worn down - Modern brake blocks and rims in wet weather will wear out faster.
Both front and rear working lights - You may be able to see the motorist, but will they be able to see you?
Do not wear dark clothing - Fluorescent is ideal during the day but reflective clothing is the best for at night.

Bromham Road Cycle Bridge - Latest

The rebuilt Bromham Road railway bridge was finally opened to all traffic on Tuesday 9 June 2020. Cycle symbols as per on the original bridge have been marked on the carriageway of both approaches

The promised separate cycle bridge is on hold until a decision on whether or not the rebuilt bridge will have to be further modified to take into account the route of the new East West line through Bedford station to Cambridge.

Cycle Infastructure Funding - Update

The Department for Transportation on 9 May 2020 announced the provision of an emergency £225m active travel package, the first stage of the £2bn investment announced in February 2020. The fund will enable local authorities to create pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions and bicycle and bus only corridors.

Bedford Borough Council was allocated a total of £606,000 in two tranches; £121,000 for the first and £485,000 for the second.

The Council announced on 5 June 2020 that some of the money would be used to close one carriageway in the High Street to enable the pavements to be widened to allow for pedestrian distancing. The work was completed at the beginning of July with no improvements made along the road for cyclists. The works will remain until the street is permanently upgraded under the postponed Transporting Bedford 2020 project.

Other money was used to cater for cyclists by introducing new cycle lanes and markings on Greyfriars, Bromham Road and the Embankment.

Unfortunately none of these changes met the Department for Transport's guidelines for the fund and only 25% of the original allocation was finally given.

A scheme for the second tranche has been put forward to the DfT in early August.

Cycle Safety Training

The coronavirus lockdown has seen many more families with young children cycling as their regular exercise. The closure of all schools has meant that many primary children have not had the opportunity to have 'Bikeability' cycle training. CCNB has noted that Bikeability Scotland in 2014 published a number of short videos relating to Level 2 training. This is the level to teach pupils to cycle planned routes on local familiar roads offering real cycling experience. With Bikeability courses not expected to start again until at least the Autumn it would be worthwhile for parents and children to look at the various topics shown on the videos.

The videos can be seen on here. For other information on cycle training including a video for adults see CCNB's training webpage here.

Abandoned Bikes - Bedford Station

Govia Translink Railway (GTR) announced on 6 May 2020 that over the last fortnight they had taken forward a suggestion from a member of staff which now sees them partnering with organisations to recondition bikes abandoned at their stations. Southern is working with specialist repair company ‘Handlebars’ and West Sussex County Council, and Thameslink has teamed up with Luton and Bedford Borough Councils. Under these two schemes, unloved cycles will be restored then rehomed with key workers who can really benefit from them.

Bromham Road Bridge Update

Network Rail announced in early April 2020 that the bridge will now not open until the Summer. The bridge was originally expected to be completed by the end of April but has been delayed by the need to keep worker’s safe during the coronavirus lockdown. In the week beginning 20 April however the southern footpath and half of one carriageway have opened for pedestrians and cyclists and the temporary scaffold bridge closed. The final stages underway are the completion of the resurfacing of the rest of the roadway and the northern footpath and the removal of the temporary bridge.

There has been no further news on the provision of the separate cycle bridge.

Bike Films to Watch

Road.cc has issued a list of 18 of the best films on cycling that you can watch while staying at home. The list together with trailers and two complete films can be accessed here.

Bike Maintenance Videos

Evans Cycles have a set of 46 videos on bike maintenance that may be able to help you if have any bike problems.

They may be accessed here.

Cycling and Coronavirus

The advice from the government on 23 March 2020 in an attempt to minimise the spread of the coronavirus was to stay at home and only leave the house for one of four reasons;

● Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
● One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
● Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
● Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

These four reasons are exceptions and you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

All of the activities may be carried out by cycling. Cycling remains a great way to keep fit and active and is a good way to boost immunity. Keep your distance from other people and regularly wash your hands and in particular when you arrive back home.

The advise has been eased slightly since this time and can be seen in the third edition of CCNB's latest cyczine on advise given on 1 June can be downloaded here.

The London Cycle Campaign has issued some tips here to help you start cycling, return to cycling, or cycle more often. If you haven’t cycled for a while then start with short journeys on quiet roads and build up your skills and confidence. And always make sure your bike is safe and roadworthy. But most of all enjoy the ride.

Cycling UK's top 5 tips for safe cycling can be seen in this video.

Cycling and Climate Change Presentation Update

Chair of Cycling Campaign for North Bedfordshire (CCNB) gave a presentation on ‘Cycling and Climate Change (and Pollution)’ at the Wednesday 11 March 2020 meeting of the Beds Climate Change Forum (BCCF) in the Gateway Building of the University of Bedfordshire in Polhill Avenue Bedford. Forty people attended the event just a few days before the Covid-19 lockdown which included banning all such gatherings. The presentation included a brief history of CCNB, the current state of emissions and pollution from transport in Bedford Borough, the town’s cycle network and what actions residents can take.

Climate change and health concerns due to air pollution are two of the world's crises of our time. In Bedford Borough 41% (2017 figures) of total carbon dioxide emissions come from transport, a figure significantly higher than the national average. At the same time toxic air pollution from transport affecting the health of many residents must also be considered.

The use of a sustainable mode of transport such as cycling will not completely solve the two crises but will go some way to help. It is therefore important that more residents URGENTLY start to consider using a cycle as an alternative to a motor vehicle to travel short distances or in combination with public transport (bus/train) for longer journeys.

Cycle Count - Update

Further cycle counts of 2020 at Bedford railway station during January/February 2020 have given a 7% increase over the same period of 2019.

New Year Good Start

The first cycle count of 2020 at Bedford railway station was 11% higher than the first count of 2019. Let's hope this translates into a good year for cycling in Bedford. Every resident who uses a bike instead of a car for short journeys is helping to reduce the town's air pollution (and congestion).

New Year Message for 2020

Cycling Campaign for North Bedfordshire (CCNB) would like to wish all Bedford Borough current and potential cyclists a Happy New Year.

The year, according to the October 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will see only a decade left to take the steps necessary to limit temperature rises to 1.5℃ to prevent a global warming catastrophe.

It will be huge challenge. Yet the greatest threat is the belief that someone else will do it; the government or local authority. The truth is that everyone, including all residents, MUST do their bit no matter how small.

In Bedford borough 41% of total carbon dioxide emissions in 2017, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, came from transport compared to the UK national average of 27%.

The year 2020 should therefore be the start of a reduction in the use of motor vehicles with the change wherever possible to more sustainable modes of travel; for short journeys - cycling and walking, and for longer distances - public transport. Cycling and walking will give the added benefit of better health through increased physical activity and the reduction in toxic air pollution. For those residents that have to continue to drive there will be less congestion.

CCNB appeals to all residents of the borough to do what they can. Once a critical temperature rise is reached there will be no turning back.

2019 Report

2019 was CCNB’s 27th year of campaigning and disappointingly saw a fall in residents cycling to both the railway station and the town centre for the first time following the increases of the previous twelve years.

In the case of the railway station there was a drop of 3% in commuters cycling compared to the 85% increase between 2006 and 2018. The recent car park blockade of the station car park while the Bromham Road railway bridge was demolished and rebuilt had no effect on cycling numbers.

Cycling to the town centre suffered even more significantly with a 15% reduction, 23% since the increase of 51% between 2009 and 2015. The level of cycling has not been helped by the outsourced enforcement of the ban on cycling through the pedestrianised area of the town centre resulting in nearly 2,000 fines and the lower footfall seen over the last two years.

The Bedford Cycle Network (BCN) saw further extensions with the installation of a cycle track between Shortstown and Cotton End to serve the new Cotton End Forest School and the opening of a cycle track through the new Bedford Link Logistic Park from the Wilkinson Road underpass of the Branston Way in Kempston West to Wiles Wood. This will be part of a future realignment of the National Cycle Network Route 51 between Bedford and Wootton.

Disappointingly there was no further progress by Highways England on the cycle route across the A421/A6 junction between Ampthill Road and the rapidly expanding Wixams or by the Borough Council on easier access across Kempston Mill bridge. A number of schemes completed have seen no improvements made for cyclists.

A public inquiry was held in February 2019 to determine whether or not the Bromham Road bridge rebuild across the Midland Main Line should include a cycle/pedestrian path. A decision by the Department of Transport is still awaited but in the meantime the old bridge was partially demolished by Network Rail under alternative powers in November and the new bridge with no cycle facilities is under construction with an opening date scheduled for Easter 2020. The borough has agreed to fund a separate cycle bridge. This is being designed and is expected to be installed in the 2020/21 financial year.

The Borough's Transporting Bedford 2020 project started during the year with work on the Manton Lane and Britannia Road schemes but has not resulted in the delivery of any improved cycle infrastructure to date although some is expected in 2020/21.