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Newcastle group ride in aid of safer cycling conditions cancelled on safety grounds

Safety Advisory Group cites risk of cycling in a large group on live roads

A group ride in Newcastle, organised as a means of campaigning for safer cycling conditions, has had to be cancelled on safety grounds. The local Safety Advisory Group concluded that they were unable to support the event, citing the risk involved in cycling on live roads in a large group of riders.

Newcycling had been planning to hold the Civic Cycle Ride today as part of the Space for Cycling campaign. Unfortunately, the Safety Advisory Group emailed on Friday to say it could not support the event, writing:

“The Members of the Safety Advisory Group made the decision that they were unable to support the event on live carriageways due to Public Safety. The event manual did not address the concerns of The Safety Advisory Group or the risk involved of cycling on live roads in a large group of riders.”

The national Space for Cycling campaign aims to create cycle-friendly conditions via protected cycleways, lower speed limits and improved infrastructure. The Civic Cycle Ride was intended to promote these aims, but without permission campaigners were left to meet outside the Civic Centre to discuss issues without riding together.

The Newcycling event has been held twice before, most recently in September. “The first two rides were really good fun,” said Katja Leyendecker, a member of the group’s management committee. “We had young kids on their parents’ bikes and slightly older ones cycling by themselves.”

The group was again hoping for a good crowd and members proclaimed themselves to be ‘absolute gutted’ at what has happened following months of planning.

Leyendecker felt that the ride would have made an important statement, emphasising that despite recent efforts, Newcastle is yet to see real citywide planning for sustainable transport.

“There have been spot improvements, here and there – sometimes quite bonkers ones too – and, ultimately, we are still waiting for a serious and consistent approach to emerge from the council.

“For the long run, we think they should make contact with an acclaimed urban expert to clearly inclusively chart the transport transition. In the short term, identifying and removing dangerous rat runs, especially near schools, and introducing well-designed safe contraflows are probably the most cost-effective things the council could do straight away. And Newcastle really must start building protected cycleways on main roads.”

Newcastle City Council later tweeted: “We back the ride in principle and all safe cycling activities. We are committed to cycling and hope cyclists enjoy their day #civicride2015”

To which Newcycling replied: “Great! Next time, please, could you be more constructive, helpful and timely then, please. Let's keep talking.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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16 comments

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jazzdude | 8 years ago
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How can they "cancel" an event that consists of civilians riding their bicycles on the public highway? That's like saying, we're cancelling the rain because it's too wet.

" We rode anyway..." Of course you did. How can they stop you?

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jazzdude | 8 years ago
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How can they "cancel" an event that consists of civilians riding their bicycles on the public highway? That's like saying, we're cancelling the rain because it's too wet.

" We rode anyway..." Of course you did. How can they stop you?

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Condor flyer replied to jazzdude | 8 years ago
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Andy is right. No one needs permission to organise a social cycling event on the highway. If it's a big ride, responsible organisers should inform the local authorities including the police. And check they are going to clash with another event. Neither the police nor any authority have no lawful right to stop the ride.
When the Met Police in London tried to interfere with the monthly critical mass
by trying to contain the ride to a particular route instead of it wandering wherever the lead rides take it, the matter went to court. When the court sided the police, the matter went as far as the Lords, who stood up for the ride and said the Met Police had no business interfering.
It was quite common some years ago for the police to send out scary letters to organisers of big charity rides and parades, advising them of the dangers to life and limb of those taking part if the event went ahead, and strongly advising them not to proceed.
My local St Georges Day Parade for the Scouts and Guides was cancelled as a result.
The famous London to Brighton bike ride used to come under pressure from the police in its early years - this was before the BHF took over. And the organisers would tell the police to stuff it.
In fact in one charity ride in East Anglia, when the police force from the neighbouring county objected to the ride entering their domain, they received a reprimand from the host county's police force who had entered a cycling team.
They simply said, fuck off.

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burtthebike | 8 years ago
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Safety Advisory Group (SAG) = drivers

Sad SAG  37

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skippy | 8 years ago
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GOOD to see this comment :
" We rode anyway and stayed warm, though got wet and were accompanied by a sound system pulled by a bike. The Police left us alone and The Safety Advisory Group were nowhere to be seen. About 100 of us rode around rhe city and crossed our iconic bridges and guess what? We stayed safe !"

Appears that the " The Safety Advisory Group is made up of representatives of Newcastle and Gateshead Councils and Northumbria Police " needs to clean up it's ACT !

If it is against the LAW to victimise " Gays , Coloureds & Ethnic Groups , WHY , is it OK to victimise CYCLISTS ? Killing a Cyclist receives a " Pat on the Back " , yet , victimise by insult or action of Ethnics/ Gays , etc can have penal consequences ?

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Bob's Bikes | 8 years ago
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If the safety group think people using the roads on mass is unsafe, does that mean that all roads will now be closed and road users (of any ilk) will be forced to walk everywhere?

As others have said you couldn't make it up.  102

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spen | 8 years ago
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Surely by cancelling the ride they've made Newcycles point for them  7

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paulrbarnard | 8 years ago
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Lets cancel Monday's commute as it is too dangerous to have mass transport events on our roads.

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gussieboy | 8 years ago
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We rode anyway and stayed warm, though got wet and were accompanied by a sound system pulled by a bike. The Police left us alone and The Safety Advisory Group were nowhere to be seen. About 100 of us rode around rhe city and crossed our iconic bridges and guess what? We stayed safe, though one Jesmond Tractor seemed determined to pass us at a ridiculous speed on the Tyne Bridge. Most other vehicles respected the fact that we were made up of children as well as adults.

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bigshape | 8 years ago
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is there no critical mass ride in newcastle?

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FluffyKittenofT... | 8 years ago
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But what is the 'Safety Advisory Group'? Is it part of the group that proposed the ride in the first place, a separate non-state-affiliated voluntary group, or part of the council or a quango?

If its some kind of an official group associated with the council, then does that mean this is an official admission by the council that the roads it is responsible for are not safe for cyclists in any kind of numbers? If so, that sounds like a result, of sorts - it would be the council admitting its failing at its job, no?

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GrahamSt replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 8 years ago
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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

But what is the 'Safety Advisory Group'? Is it part of the group that proposed the ride in the first place, a separate non-state-affiliated voluntary group, or part of the council or a quango?

As I understand it the "Safety Advisory Group" was made up of members from Newcastle council, Gateshead council and local police.

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gmccsteve replied to GrahamSt | 8 years ago
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GrahamSt wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

But what is the 'Safety Advisory Group'? Is it part of the group that proposed the ride in the first place, a separate non-state-affiliated voluntary group, or part of the council or a quango?

As I understand it the "Safety Advisory Group" was made up of members from Newcastle council, Gateshead council and local police.

So are these the very people who over the last few decades have been paid large salaries to make the roads safe?

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gussieboy replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 8 years ago
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The Safety Advisory Group is made up of representatives of Newcastle and Gateshead Councils and Northumbria Police. It is notoriously risk averse and more used to dealing with static events in parks: they have little or no idea of cycling.They will be educated.

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Must be Mad | 8 years ago
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 40
Couldn't make it up, could you?
This sort of attitude is why we need events like this in first place...

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tarquin_foxglove replied to Must be Mad | 8 years ago
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A council not to far from Newcastle organised a family ride to showcase its new infrastructure, installed following a bid to the DfT's Cycling Safety Fund.

Unfortunately the route had to be changed as two road crossings on the route were deemed to be unsafe for novice riders without marshals present.

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