Newsletter for March 2012

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Front cover

The Times Cities fit for Cycling

Spokes urges everyone to support the recent campaign started by the Times newspaper to make our Cities Fit for Cycling after one of their own journalists was run over whilst cycling to work in London on her bicycle. She is still unconscious in hospital. Unfortunately, many cyclists are unnecessarily injured and killed in our cities by cars, lorries and buses because our cities are not fit for cycling. Dr Julian Huppert MP has sponsored an Early Day Motion based on the Times’ campaign. Please urge your MP to sign the EDM which is attracting wide support. See

Chairman's Ramblings

The national Cities Fit For Cycling campaign consists of eight points that embraces much that we, our federation and other national bodies have been campaigning for many years. The fact that it is being promoted and pushed by the Times newspaper has helped to get all the issues we have long fought for on to the main public and now replicated on the political stage as EDM 2689. There is growing support of MP’s and celebrities even the AA is throwing its weight behind the campaign. We urge everyone in Spokes to do the same. Please contact your MP to sign the EDM as well.

For further information on the actual campaign please follow the link

May I apologise to all those who have already pencilled in the dates published in the last newsletter. Due to the previous date coinciding with Easter and knowing how popular this ride is and how busy the ferries are, we thought it prudent to change the date. The next Ardres ride will be Saturday 21st April. The next ride will be even more special as we have been in contact with the Mayor of Ardres and are in the process of organising a tour of the tunnels below the Castle Royal at Ardres, Please see website for full details.

Steve Fawke

Misinformed minister

Mike Penning MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, seems to be a bit misinformed. In parliamentary debate on 12 January 2012 he was asked by Dr Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, joint chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, and regular cyclist, “What steps is the Minister taking to improve the quality and amount of cycle infrastructure on our roads?”. A worthy question in the light of a large number of cyclist fatalities in 2011. Mike Penning started his reply with “Most of the roads I am responsible for are part of the national road infrastructure, and I hope there are no cyclists on that part of the infrastructure.” implying that cyclists shouldn’t be using those roads. It is, of course, perfectly legal for cyclists to use the majority of those roads, though not always a pleasant experience.

Concerned about this Julian Huppert, cycling journalist Carlton Reid, and a number of others arranged for Mike Penning to attend a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group to discuss this and other issues concerning cyclists with him. One of the questions put to him was about a comment that he’d made in a motor sport debate in parliament “the motorist predominantly pays for our roads”. Mike Penning was asked whether he still holds that view, which he confirmed that he does, and how he believes that motorists pay for the roads, to which he replied “fuel duty, VED”. Lord Hoffman, also present at the meeting remarked that “That’s hypothecation, isn’t it?”, i.e. that these funds are specifically earmarked for the roads. This is also incorrect. These funds, together with income tax, etc. all contribute to central taxation; there’s no earmarking going on. Implied in the hypothecation is that motorists pay for the roads and that cyclists don’t contribute at all. There are multiple flaws to this argument. Cyclists pay taxes such as income tax too (in fact studies show that, on average, a cyclist earns more in their job and therefore pays more income tax). Cyclists don’t need fuel, hence don’t pay fuel duty, and wouldn’t pay VED (The mythical “road tax”) anyway because it’s now based upon the harmful emission from the vehicle; cycling doesn’t create harmful emissions. Finally taxation on something has never implied entitlement. On that argument the super-rich would be entitled to the most and children wouldn’t be able to cycle to school because they wouldn’t be entitled to use the roads.

We are concerned that somebody so senior in government, and in the Department for Transport at that, doesn’t seem to understand who is entitled to use the roads that he’s responsible for or how they are funded.

Gregory Williams

More powerful electric bikes now permissible

Last year the government consulted upon increasing the maximum permissible power, and therefore speed, of electric bicycles. Part of the reasoning was to bring it in line with the EU. As a result from 12 January 2012 the limit was increased by 25% from 200W to 250W. So, should you desire, you should be able to buy a slightly more powerful electric bicycle to help you up those tough hills or simply extend the distance that you can get without pedalling.

Gregory Williams

More cycle parking needed?

We know that, unfortunately, not every place is equal when it comes to finding a place to park your trusted bike. There’s lots of dedicated bicycle parking in some places, but none can be found anywhere in other locations. This shouldn’t be the case. Cycle parking should be easily found and plentiful. The Spokes committee recently agreed to fund the installation of some cycle parking at some public locations where it’s currently lacking but where there’s a clear need for it. If you can think of any suitable locations please let us know. Please email your suggestions to with details such as “outside X’s widget shop, Somewhere Street, Folkestone”.

Gregory Williams

More cycle parking at NHS Foundation Trust sites

New cycle parking at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Folkestone. Photo courtesy Cyclepods Ltd

Just days into 2012 Spokes received the great news that Cyclepods Ltd, a Westerham based company, had won the business to install 118 new and replacement cycle parking spaces at 5 of the East Kent NHS Foundation Trust sites. The lucky sites are: Buckland Hospital in Dover, the Royal Victoria Hospital in Folkestone (Pictured), QEQM in Margate, the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, and the Kent & Canterbury Hospital in Canterbury. Well done to the NHS and Cyclepods for these welcome extra cycle parking spaces. Michael Fallon MP, has praised Westerham-based business Cyclepods for its innovation and international success. It is a carbon-neutral company and all its products are manufactured from recycled or recyclable materials.

Gregory Williams

Stop Climate Chaos Coalition

Spokes is a group member of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition (SCCC) SCCC is The UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change and limiting its impact on the world’s poorest communities. The combined supporter base is more than 11 million people and spans over 100 organisations. SCCC is campaigning for practical action by the UK to keep global warming as far as possible below the 2 degrees C danger threshold.

In April 2011 the East Kent members of SCCC supported the Liberal Democrat Motion for Canterbury City Council to adopt measures to reduce carbon and air pollution in the district. According to the World Wildlife Fund, Canterbury has one of the highest carbon footprints in the country. We consume almost 3 and a half planets worth of resources per capita. Unfortunately, the Motion has just been defeated. Work must continue. To add momentum to the cause please sign the petition which replicates the Motion here:

Emily Shirley

Drivers now being fined for double-parking and parking across dropped kerbs

From 1 February, drivers in Canterbury district can expect to receive a £70 fine if they double-park or park obstructing a dropped kerb. We welcome this. Drivers inconsiderately parking in front of dropped kerbs prevent cyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair, and mobility scooter users from going about their everyday business. Be sure to let Canterbury City Council know if you do spot somebody transgressing the rules.

Gregory Williams

Canterbury’s riverside cycle path now open

If you live in Canterbury you’ll be pleased to read that the riverside cycle path between Kingsmead Road and Barton Mill Road is now fully open again. The route was temporarily closed for a number of months to allow construction work at the new Kingsbrook Park housing development to take place without any safety risks to pedestrians and cyclists. We welcome this path as it’ll form part of the vital cycling link as an alternative to Sturry Road. We hope that the riverside cycle route between Kingsmead Road and St. Radigund’s Street identified in Canterbury City Council’s Walking and Cycling Strategy of 2003 won’t be too far behind, since this would then help to provide an ideal cycling route between the Parham Road student village and Canterbury city centre, of key importance to successfully ensuring that the student village as a car-free development.

Gregory Williams

Super opportunity to divert NCR1 away from dangerous road to the promenade

Just by Deal Pier, Sustrans' flagship National Cycle Route 1, joins the main highway after miles of scenic cycling largely on off-road shared paths north from Dover, over the North Downs and along the beach.

Sadly this is not the most attractive part of NCR1. Within a few hundred yards, the road narrows suddenly behind the Royal Hotel, before carrying on towards the golf courses and Sandwich.

Pinch-point by the Royal Hotel in Deal

This pinch-point has a bad crash record, with 1 serious injury in 2009 and a death in 2010. An elderly pedestrian was crushed against the Hotel wall when two cars collided - but this was not recorded as fatality by Highways because he died several months later, having never left hospital.

Kent Highway Services has now agreed to paint 'SLOW' road markings, a welcome step forward.

But in a few months, there's an opportunity to consider making this whole seafront area both safer and more welcoming to cyclists and all its users.

The Environment Agency is just consulting on £10m of major sea defence works, including wave walls on the open prom.

Dover District Cycle Forum, backed by Spokes, would like to see this include:

  1. take NCR1 off-road onto the promenade from the Pier to just before the Royal Hotel, which many cyclists do now to avoid traffic;
  2. add seats, cycle stands and a shelter to encourage cyclist tourists to stop and enjoy the seafront, its cafes, bars and restaurants and the nearby shops;
  3. restrict vehicles to one lane through the narrow pinch-point, ideally with traffic lights - making it safer for cyclists and all users - a quaint part of the seafront scene rather than a hazardous blackspot.

More details and links to the consultation on the Spokes website.

Ian Killbery

‘Round the Clown’ Cycle Challenge 2012 for Demelza House Children’s Hospice

Following on from the success of ‘Round the Clown’ Cycle Challenge in 2011, when Demelza House (a children’s hospice) supporters cycled from Sittingbourne via Portsmouth to le Havre, Police Officers Pat Geary and John Harding hope to perpetuate the ‘Round the Clown’ logo on an annual basis to raise funds for the hospice.

For 2012 they hope to complete a cycle ride, commencing at Demelza House, Sittingbourne travelling along the Kent coastline passing through the Isle of Thanet, through the Channel Ports and onwards skirting the edge of Romney Marsh to the border with Sussex at which point the team will head northwards shadowing the County border and eventually reaching the second Demelza House site at Eltham, London. The dates are now confirmed as between 25th May to 28th May 2012.

Pat, John and Lynn from Delmeza House will be asking any like minded cyclists to apply to join them to complete the total challenge. They plan to boost funding by inviting any cyclists to identify sections of the route to join them for a payment of £5.00, £10.00 or £15.00 whether it is for a leg of the daily route, half a day (am or pm) or the whole day.

Places will be limited so anyone interested in cycling with them are asked to register their interest at

Pat Geary

Thanet Cycling Forum

Thanet Cycle Forum, since its formation in September 1996, has represented the local cycling groups and organisations as well as local utility cyclists by working with the Kent Highway Services, LEA and Thanet District Council Members and Officers on issues relating to cycling in Thanet.

The recent reorganisation of the Highways Services means we look at different ways of continuing our relationship.

The way in which money is becoming available for improving the living environment of a community means that we will need to refer to solving some issues by consulting with residents' associations and schools.

We are always open to suggestions. The secretary’s e-mail address is

Next meeting: 16th April 7-9pm Friends Meeting House Broadstairs

Doug Bush

Air pollution special

Letter from Canterbury City Council in response to air pollution coverage in Spokes newsletter December 2011. A fuller explanation can be found on the Spokes website:

In response to the Editorial in the December edition of Spoke, Canterbury City Council would like to clarify the position regarding air quality in the district. The Editorial referred to air pollution as being the “invisible killer”. However the “invisible killer” reference is to particulates causing premature deaths, rather than nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The Canterbury City Council district doesn’t have a problem with particulates. The Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) that have been declared, are for breaches of the Air Quality Objectives for NO2 not particulates. The recent declaration of the new AQMA, does cover a larger part of the city centre and more roads than the original AQMA declared in 2006. However, this expansion in the area covered by the AQMA is not due to increased NO2 concentrations as has been suggested. Instead, it is because more monitoring sites have been commissioned in suspected pollution hotspots. NO2 levels have been in decline over the past few years. Measures to address air quality are being considered by CCC in the Air Quality Action Plan. The Corporate Plan (2011 to 2016) also addresses air quality in Pledge 4 with the outcome that levels will not be any worse than 2011 levels.

Area where air pollution (No2) levels declared in breach of air pollution guidelines in 2006 (Military Road and Broad Street) Area where air pollution (No2) levels declared in breach of air pollution guidelines in 2011

Canterbury City Council


The reference to air pollution being an invisible killer in the last Spokes Newsletter concerned all the ingredients that compose of air pollution rather than just particulates. It is true that more attention in terms of research like the COMEAP has concerned particulate pollution rather than NO2. However, it is abundantly clear that NO2 plays a significant part of the air pollution cocktail and contributes overall to the deaths of 1.3 million worldwide per year from urban outdoor air pollution. The WHO Air quality guidelines represent the most widely agreed and up-to-date assessment of health effects of air pollution, recommending targets for air quality at which the health risks are significantly reduced and these are the NO2 targets that Canterbury and other towns in Kent are failing to meet.

Readers are encouraged to peruse the World Health Organisation fact sheet on the matter: And to see the recent report from the Environmental Audit Committee that concerns particulates:

Emily Shirley

Getting more people cycling can stem the serious decline of our High Streets

Future of Town Centres and High Streets at serious risk by out of town shopping and internet shopping warns Mary Portas, author of the recently published Portas Review into High St/Town Centre performance. She says we might lose our High Streets altogether if we do not change our misguided ways. See

Julian Huppert MP for Cambridge recently pointed out during a debate concerning the Portas Review that recent studies from Transport for London and other organisations show that Cycling, walking and public transport users contribute significantly more to the economic survival of our national high streets than car drivers. The reports can be found here:


They will spend c£145 more on their monthly retail shop than car drivers. This is another clear message to our leaders about the benefits of getting people out of their cars unless of course our vision for the future is a carbon belching Ghost Town Britain populated by unhealthy couch potatoes.

A. Gog

“You Were 3kph Over the Limit” and Cycle Lifts/tunnels in Antwerp

Towards the end of January we spent a long weekend in the Hotel Marjorie II in Antwerp. There are only six rooms to this hotel and very little traffic noise because it is a barge! Using the map supplied by the hotel we set out on the first morning along a major bike-path to the city centre. Suddenly our Bromptons were brought to a halt by a policeman who pointed to a 20kph sign on a port. He told us very gravely, that we were 3 kph over the limit. Remonstrating that it was our first visit to the city, that we had been pooteling along, that we generally go quite slowly at home brought the response:”So you think you can ride slowly in England then come over here and rush about do you?” The officer to our consternation, began writing out a ticket but then burst out laughing! He said “ Look there, there and there-They are cameras. This is a ‘candid camera’ for our TV show! A journalist then emerged from where he had been hiding and asked for our names and consent to appear on telly. What a thing to happen on your first day in a new town!

John Shirley in Antwerp

Cycling facilities in Kent although slowly improving are still dismal compared to motoring facilities. In Antwerp, we discovered such good cycling facilities as to make you pinch yourself to see if you are not dreaming. We had been advised to try the tunnels under the Schelde river by our hotel and so we did expecting to have to push our Bromptons along pedestrian tunnels similar to the one to the Isle of Dogs from Greenwich. Not a bit of it! Arriving at the Art Deco entrance to the St. Anna Tunnel, we hunted round until the large door to a room-sized lift opened. In we went-there was room for a score of cyclists or more. In a couple of minutes we emerged into a broad well lit tunnel 600m long and we slowly followed the other cyclists weaving around the pedestrians. Gaining the other side there was another large lift next to a wooden escalator. Leaving the St Anna tunnel we cycled round the peninsula having lunch on the way at the “Zeestar”(Starfish) restaurant. Upstream, back on the bank of the Schelde we followed the bike path to the “kennedy” tunnel which appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. Whipping under a main road we found a smaller lift with glass doors through which you could see the lift ascending a 45 degree slope towards you rather like an underground version of the lifts at Folkestone Leas. Again, after descending with three other cyclists we emerged in clean, well-lit tunnel which took 3 minutes to cycle through. On the other side again there was another 45 degree glass lift to take you up and back to the cycle route into the centre of Antwerp. It was simply stunning!

John Shirley

Go Folkestone, Go Cycling

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” So wrote H.G. Wells. And what inspiration for Folkestone cyclists that Wells lived hereabouts. But, hang on! Hadn’t I read the line elsewhere? Wasn’t it from Spokesong, a play by Belfast writer Stewart Parker? “You can’t despair for the human race when you see someone riding a bicycle.”

Well, yes. Parker wrote it in 1975 and could well have been re-cycling! But who can blame him? Fifteen years later, I was tempted to do the same when I read Parker’s quote. Filming the BBC2 series Bicycle, I was trawling for good lines. In the event, I didn’t lift it, but the line lodged in my mind. Hence my puzzle on authorship when six year ago I moved to Folkestone and read Wells’s brilliant observation.

And what luck we have it. Wells lends gravitas to Cycle Shepway and our campaign for better cycling across Folkestone, Hythe and Romney Marsh. Before moving here, I’d imagined French, Dutch and German cycling standards would prevail, so close was the Continent to this corner of Kent. The reverse was the truth. Folkestone was in the dark ages

Where were the cycle paths and lanes? Where was the signage and cycle racks? Where were the kids cycling to school? And parents to the shops? Where were the commuters cycling to work or railway station? Where were the activists lobbying our deeply conservative local authorities? Who was wrestling drivers from their cars? Why was there such an entrenched anti-cyclist mindset?

Then, hope! I chanced on a band of pioneers lobbying from a gazebo in Sandgate Road: the Shepway Cycle Forum. I signed up. Founded and led by Jean Baker, the forum was battling with the highway planners of Kent County Council to agree a strategy to improve the cycle infrastructure. After years of prevarication, the Shepway Cycle Plan was finally agreed in 2011.

Mission accomplished, Jean withdrew to complete a book she’d had on hold. Now, as chairman of the newly named Cycle Shepway, I’m privileged to assume her mantle. It’s our task to build on the achievements of Jean and the forum. We must turn the aspirations of the Shepway Cycle Plan – for that’s all they are - into realities.

Cycle Shepway is now a charity. We have a website, Twitter and Facebook and approaching 250 supporters, including several councillors. KCC has just granted us £1,000 to erect dual-use signage along the seafront to Hythe. We’re engaging with SDC and have high hopes of Alan Lague, the young highways engineer, who has great ambitions for cycling provision.

Cycle Shepway has a mountain to climb. We take heart that cyclists have conquered Kilimanjaro. So, come Folkestone, come cycling. Join the campaign.

Read more on:

or email:

David Taylor (Chairman of Cycle Shepway)

Articles for the next newsletter

Please get to the editor all articles and photographs for the next newsletter by mid April 2012. The email address is:

Emily Shirley

Spokes Membership Cards

During March we will be introducing membership cards for all our members.

We have a selection of local retailers and services who will give discounts on production of a current membership card. The suppliers at the time of going to press include:

  • Cycles UK in Canterbury and Maidstone
  • Downland Cycles
  • The Bike Warehouse in Faversham. Sevenoaks. Herne Bay and Gillingham
  • Hutchings Motor Cycles in Deal
  • Ken’s Bikes in Margate
  • Herbert’s Cycles in Whitstable
  • St Peters Cycles in Broadstairs
  • Tibbs Cycle Centre in Canterbury
  • The Hub in Sandgate

We also have:

  • Copperfields Vegetarian Guest House in Broadstairs
  • The Coach House in Canterbury

This list is growing all the time, so please look at our website ( for up to date and full details.

Tony Purchese (Membership secretary)

Spokes in Parliament

Spokes is joining the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling 'to promote the use of bicycles as a mode of transport and to raise the profile and status of cycling both inside and outside the House'.

Emily Shirley

Do we have your email address?

Do we have your email address? If not, please email our Membership Secretary with your membership number in the subject line so that we can contact you quickly regarding our campaigns. The email address is:

Tony Purchese

On a lighter note

"A big bit of black tarmac goes into a pub. 'I'll 'ave two pints of Guinness and two Whisky chasers.'

The barman looks at the piece of black tarmac and says, 'Now that's what I call a 'ardman's drink.'

Without looking up the black tarmac says, 'I'm 'ard. As 'ard as they come. no one gets anyfink over on me.'

Just then a piece of red tarmac comes into the pub and elbows the black tarmac aside.

The piece of red tarmac orders four pints of Guinness and four whisky chasers, downs the lot and walks out of the pub.

'I thought you said you were 'ard', says the barman, 'what about 'im.?

The piece of black tarmac looks at the barman and says, 'No one mixes it with 'im mate. 'Es a cyclepath...' "

Sam Webb

Dover Forum

Dover District Cycle Forum meets four times a year, usually in Deal.

January's launched campaigns to secure improved routes between Sholden, Fowlmead and Deal town centre in relation to new housing developments; and to lobby for improvements to NCR1 where new sea defences are soon to be built (see above).

Future meetings in 2012: 3 April, 3 July, 2 October - all 7.30-9pm.

For venues see Spokes website.

Ian Killbery

Councils urged to act to save cyclists

Norman Baker MP, Transport Minister has written a letter to all councils, urging them to act now to save cyclists. Councils are told to make greater use of 20mph,to review dangerous junctions, to get funding from businesses along the lines of the Barclay hire bike scheme in London and to appoint cycling commissioners to oversee the changes necessary. However, without specific government funding to carry out the above, his words however well meaning will achieve little in these cash strapped times.

Westgate Towers experiment

Canterbury City Council is trialling the part closure of the road near the Westgate Towers. Spokes believes that this should improve the environment for cyclists and supports the trial. The trial starts on 27 March. For more details see:

Gregory Williams

Spokes needs your support - If you would like to join Spokes,
please complete the online joining form and send it off.

Any views or information expressed herein do not necessarily concur with the views of the Committee