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MCC News, Issue 6, April 1998

Kids take action for safer roads

Schoolkids are taking to the street to demand safer roads for cyclists and pedestrians.

Children at Wimbledon's Dundonald school will demonstrate outside their gates in an attempt to enforce their own temporary 20 mph limit.

They will blitz Dundonald Road with placards and banners, pleading with motorists to slow down and consider walking or cycling instead of driving. And parents who drive their kids to school are being asked to leave the car at home on the day of the protest, Friday April 24.

"Our road's a cut-through and it gets particularly busy early in the mornings," said head teacher Maureen Mudie. "It would be a lot safer if the speed limit was 20mph and there were fewer cars on the roads."

The school was investigating how its 300-plus pupils, aged three to eight, get to school. "The children have developed a questionnaire which is going out to parents about how they come to school and why, and where they live.

"Anything that makes our roads safer and encourages people to walk is worthwhile being part of. And if we can reach 300 families, that's a good venture to be taking part in."

Activists at Merton Cycling Campaign, which suggested the protest, were thrilled at the school's enthusiasm. "We were bowled over by how warmly they embraced it," said co-ordinator Richard Evans. "It's their campaign now - we just sparked it off. And it could spread to other schools next year."

MCC came up with the idea as part of the London Cycling Campaign's 1998 push for 20mph to be the standard speed limit in the capital.

Hundreds of 20mph zones have been set up around the country in the last seven years, and where they exist the casualty rate for child pedestrians and cyclists has fallen by 67 percent.

LCC's capital-wide day of action for a 20mph London is Saturday April 25. The campaign highlight will be LCC's 20th birthday celebrations in September.

Click here for more details of the 20mph campaign

Which party rings your bell?

Transport will be a major issue on May 7 when Merton voters elect a new council. We asked the main local parties:

1. How would you improve progress on the local cycle network?

2. Do you support 20mph zones, and if so, what action will you take?

Replies have been edited for space and clarity.

Labour (in power now)

"We have made major progress with the borough cycle network. Progress depends on annual allocation of government funds, but has also been slowed by competing demands on staff time (especially road-safety schemes) and by problems with other parties, such as the traffic control systems unit (in charge of traffic lights) and Railtrack. If re-elected we shall continue to seek to overcome these difficulties. We support the principle of 20mph zones and welcome the government's recent pledge to make their introduction easier. We await details of the new procedures, but are confident that our widespread introduction of traffic-calming will help in the step forward to 20mph limits." Cllr Philip Jones, Chair of Environmental Services

Liberal Democrat

"We have actively supported secure cycle parking at Wimbledon station for years. Racks at other stations are needed too. Racks outside shops are also something we have asked for. We have been requesting a 'safe routes to school' strategy for years and started a petition for one in February. The appalling planning of the mid-Raynes Park section of the cycling network has alienated people and done real damage to the cause. It is under-used and causes bad traffic jams, and we think it should come out. We strongly support the proposed track through West Barnes ward. On 20mph zones, we have been calling for one in Motspur Park for years. If elected as the majority party, we will put them in." Cllr Alison Willott, Lib Dem Leader

Conservative

"More and better secure cycle parking facilities will be provided. Work on the local network has been slow, inconsistent and often misdirected. We will carry out a review of the situation in consultation with cycling organisations and develop a plan for action. Because of the limited capital funds that will be available to us we will look for simple, safe but inexpensive measures in areas where they would be better than waiting until the ideal could be afforded. The examination of any new traffic-calming proposals will include their implications for cyclists. In some cases lower road speeds could well be an alternative to humps and build-outs." Cllr Roger Farrance, Village Ward

Green

"Planning is needed to ensure an intergrated transport system which prioritises pedestrians and cyclists. Local authorities can take many steps such as pedestrianising town centres, creating cycle lanes, being more strict in respect of vehicles which produce harmful emissions, setting up park and ride/cycle facilities, creating secure cycle parks in town centres, and co-operating more with rail and tube operators. The Green Party certainly supports 20mph zones - it has been party policy for many years. Local authorities should be given wider powers to reduce speed limits, particularly around schools, residential areas and public spaces." Rajeev Thacker, Chair of Merton Green Party

Your chance to have a say

Got a bike? Got a problem with using it around Wimbledon? Now's your chance to sound off to the local MP and a bunch of captive transport officials. The event is the Wimbledon Transport Forum meeting on Friday May 29 6.30pm at St Mark's Church Hall, Wimbledon (between the library and the Alexandra pub).

The main theme of the meeting, chaired by Wimbledon MP Roger Casale, will be cycling and walking. On the panel will be those responsible for providing better facilities for local cyclists and pedestrians. Click here for more details.

Surfing for cyclists

We've launched our own web-site! Just point your browser at www.mertoncyclists.org.uk to check out MCC in cyberspace and links to the world of cycling on-line.

More Parks, Playgrounds...and Pubs

Family-friendly rides are on the last Sunday of each month from April to September. They're aimed at those with young children, so aren't too long (10 miles or so) and include plenty of suitable stops. Kids of all ages welcome, in bike seats, trailers, or on their own bikes. We try to keep to traffic-free or at least quieter routes. Click here for more details.

You know you're a cyclist when...

You put your bike in your car, and the value of the total package increases 200 percent.

A motorist asks for directions and you give them a route that includes motor vehicle barriers, bypasses all main roads, and uses bike lanes.

You drill out your water bottle and shave your eyebrows to save weight.

You hear someone's had a crash and your first question is "How's the bike?"

You're driving a car and you lean over the steering wheel to avoid the wind drag.

You're driving a car and you accelerate downhill, so the uphill will be easier.

You're driving a car and approaching a red light you find yourself making a funny foot movement to get out of your pedals in time for the stop.

A mention of nipples makes you wonder where you left your spoke key.