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Cycling

Cycling and mobiles don’t mix: Peer calls for legal change after incident on way to Parliament

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A new call from Baroness McIntosh of Pickering has highlighted a loophole, where cyclists can still legally use mobiles while in the saddle – even though motorists cannot.

The former MP wants a law change so cyclists are prosecuted for the offence of using a phone – the same as car drivers. 

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Presently there is no specific offence for a cyclist using a phone, but a minister pointed out cyclists can be prosecuted for careless or dangerous cycling with fines of up to £2,500.

The peer says she has recent personal experience of being in danger from a cyclist using a mobile.  She claims a cyclist was on the wrong side of the road using their mobile phone with one hand, while she was attempting to cross over to the Houses of Parliament.

The Baroness’ plea follows Highway Code changes in January that introduced a ‘hierarchy of road users’ ranking the most vulnerable to harm, such as cyclists and pedestrians, and placing the greatest responsibility on car drivers for the safety of other road users – giving cyclists greater priority over vehicles at zebra crossings and junctions.

Lady McIntosh also asks why the code’s Rule 149 to ‘exercise proper control of your vehicle at all times’ bans mobile phone use yet does not apply to cyclists and e-scooter users. A further law banning handheld mobile use for car drivers came into effect on 25 March.

A leading cycling and motoring insurance comparison website, Quotezone.co.uk, hopes the new law on using mobile phones will come into effect equally across all road users.

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Greg Wilson, Founder of Quotezone.co.uk comments: “It makes sense to review mobile phone use for all road users given the zero tolerance approach to motorists brought into effect at the end of March.  We should embrace any and all efforts to make our roads safer and using a phone while cycling can be particularly dangerous. 

“If the phone is there to act as a bike computer it should be attached safely with a hands-free product such as a quad lock or bike-specific phone case but even then, with the rise in the volume of potholes over the course of the pandemic, cyclists need their full attention to cope with the unexpected

“Cyclist and bicycle insurance can help protect the bike riders and other road users by safeguarding their finances from claims, covering medical expenses, personal liability, theft and damage to property but it can’t keep people out of harm’s way.  We need to respect the new changes to the highway code and look out for more vulnerable road users, this new law should help take that further.

“Bicycle insurance isn’t a legal requirement at present like car insurance is, but it should be something every cyclist has before hitting the saddle and it isn’t expensive, especially when using a comparison site to compare providers. For those with a bicycle under £1,000 it can even be added to their home insurance as a specified item.”

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Charity

Jiffy leads 50-mile challenge for Singleton’s cancer patients

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A charity ride championed by a Welsh sporting legend is making a real difference to people receiving pioneering cancer treatments in Swansea’s Singleton Hospital.

In September, former rugby union and league star Jonathan Davies will once again lead Jiffy’s Cancer 50 Challenge.

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This is a 50-mile ride from Cardiff to Swansea, with the funds raised donated to cancer services at Velindre and Singleton hospitals.

As President of Velindre Fundraising, Jonathan – Jiffy – has supported patients and their families at Velindre Cancer Centre since 2008.

Last year he decided to extend this, launching the first Jiffy’s Cancer 50 Challenge for both Velindre and the South West Wales Cancer Fund.

It was a huge success, raising £118,000 in sponsorship which was shared equally between the two charity funds.

At Singleton, home of the South West Wales Cancer Centre, the donation went to the newly-established Radiotherapy Research Fellow Fund.

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Consultant clinical oncologist Dr Sarah Gwynne helps lead the research on radiotherapy treatment in Swansea.

She said: “We are really grateful for the money that was raised last year through Jiffy’s Cancer 50 Challenge.

“We have been able to use this money to continue to fund trainee oncologists who will spend a period of time with us undertaking research.

“Some of the things we have done with the research is look at the role of protons.

“This is a new way of delivering radiotherapy which may help to spare the normal tissues around the tumour while effectively hitting the cancer, which could help reduce side effects.

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“We are also currently looking at how radiotherapy can be used to treat stomach cancers.

“It’s an area where radiotherapy isn’t used as much as other areas in the body.

“So we are looking at how we might be able to safely use radiotherapy that will become part of a clinical trial in the future.”

Dr Gwynne explained that research in radiotherapy undertaken elsewhere has also benefited patients in Swansea.

For example, during Covid, Singleton was able to implement the findings of a UK study of patients receiving breast cancer radiotherapy.

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This allowed the safe reduction in the number of radiotherapy treatments from 15 over a three-week period to just five during a single week.

Dr Gwynne said: “This is clearly beneficial to the patient as it reduces the number of times they have to come to hospital with no difference to the outcome.

“It has transformed how we treat breast cancer.

“But there are also benefits to the service. If we can treat patients in a week rather than three weeks, this helps with waiting times.”

Just some of the 500 cyclists who took part last year, heading past the South West Wales Cancer Centre at Singleton Hospital (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

The 2022 Jiffy’s Cancer 50 Challenge takes place on Sunday 4th September and is open to 1,000 riders – double last year’s number.

Entry costs £50, which includes a cycling jersey, and riders are being asked to raise a minimum of £50 in sponsorship. Again, proceeds will be equally divided between the two cancer funds.

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Charity has been at the heart of the South West Wales Cancer Centre throughout its 18-year history.

It opened in September 2004 following a massive fundraising campaign by people from across Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and West Wales.

They raised more than £1 million, which contributed to additional funding by the NHS to ensure the centre was built.

It provides access to modern chemotherapy and radiotherapy units. The centre also has an inpatient ward at Singleton, and a research unit.

The cancer centre’s charitable fund is one of 265 managed by Swansea Bay Health Charity.

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This is the health board’s official charity, supporting patients, staff and services within Swansea Bay. Donations to the various funds are used for equipment, research, training and patient care.

The Jiffy’s Cancer 50 Challenge is an opportunity to continue that legacy, and anyone wanting to join can sign up at cancer50challenge.co.uk.

It is sponsored by Andrew Scott and supported by Peter Lynn and Partners, Cycle Solutions and European Telecoms Solutions. The ride is organised by White Rock Events.

Jonathan said: “What a great success it was last year. We hope to make it bigger and better every year – more importantly, raising money for both great charities.”

Dr Gwynne added: “The money that was raised last year, and the money that will be raised this year, is really important.

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“It allows us to continue the research that we have been doing in Swansea that will benefit not only the patients of South West Wales but will help the population of the UK and further afield.”

Lead image: Flashback to 2021 and Jiffy’s arrival at Singleton Hospital at the end of the challenge (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Cycling

New data shows Swansea is one of the safest cycling cities in the UK

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New data has revealed that Swansea is one of the safest cities to cycle in the UK.

Swansea ranked 11th overall in the survey by injury specialists claims.co.uk.

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The data looked at how steep the terrain was, how many accidents had been reported involving cyclists, the quality of pathways and surfaces and how well lit cycle routes were.

Despite cycling routes being relatively steep (8.50/10) and around 60% of pathways not being well-lit, the number of bike crashes in Swansea is low with an average bike accident score of only 0.92/10. This gives the city an overall danger score of 3.75/10.

Chelmsford was crowned the most bike-friendly UK city.

 earning an overall danger score of only 1.79/10. The number of bike crashes (16)is the second-lowestof all places analysed, being slightly behind Gloucester in fifth (12). Boasting an almost perfect road condition for cyclists,over 73% of paths are well-lit in the city.

Worcester takes second place with a danger score of 2.71/10. Where a few bike crashes have occurred, none reported were fatal, with average bike accident score being only 1.50/10. Despite road lighting usually being dimmer (8/10), bikers will find smooth and flat cycling paths across the city.

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10 safest cities for cycling

RankCitySteepness score (/10)Average bike accident score (/10)Surface quality score (/10)Dim lighting score (/10)Overall danger score (/10)
1Chelmsford1.250.085.753.501.79
2Worcester2.251.501.508.002.71
3Nottingham6.000.925.254.003.00
4Lincoln3.253.753.251.003.13
5Gloucester1.751.588.254.253.17
6Cambridge0.254.502.503.253.25
7Leicester1.504.751.752.253.29
8York2.003.421.506.253.33
9Wakefield6.500.583.759.253.54
=9St Albans7.501.178.751.503.54
10Norwich5.502.507.501.253.63

*The lower the scores, the safer it is for cyclists.

Claims.co.uk also revealed that Birmingham is the most dangerous for cycling, as the city racks up an overall danger score of 7.38/10. Bikers are most likely to suffer from poorly-maintained road surfaces (9/10), and steep pathways where less than 50% are equipped with optimal lighting. These could thus contribute to the city’s bike accident score of 6.75/10.

10 most dangerous UK cities for cycling

RankCitySteepness score (/10)Average bike accident score (/10)Surface quality score (/10)Dim lighting score (/10)Overall danger score (/10)
1Birmingham6.256.759.008.757.38
2Newcastle upon Tyne9.758.673.004.507.21
3Plymouth8.006.929.504.757.17
4Sheffield7.758.252.257.757.08
5London3.009.587.751.756.88
6Preston5.257.088.505.756.79
7Manchester4.758.586.253.006.63
8Stoke-on-Trent8.254.505.509.506.13
9Bristol7.256.674.005.256.08
10Brighton and Hove8.756.004.502.755.67

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Cycling

Swansea schools receive new cycling equipment

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Hundreds of primary school children in Swansea have been gifted cycling equipment as part of a drive to get more people cycling in the city.

Six schools in the city, including Morriston Primary School, Llangyfelach Primary, St Illtyd’s RC Primary, Ysgol Gymraeg Y Cym, Cwm Glas Primary and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, have all been provided a range of cycling kit including balance bikes, scooters and storage facilities, so young children can learn to cycle and have fun while in school.

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All the equipment has been gifted to the schools by local contractors who have recently constructed new walking and cycling routes near to the schools.

The new routes in Morriston, Clydach and Bonymaen were completed after Swansea Council successfully secured Active Travel funding. The aim of the routes are to provide improved links for walking and cycling and encourage everyone to consider walking and cycling instead of using a car.

In Clydach, more than 1.5kms of towpath along Swansea Canal has recently been upgraded to providing a safe shared-use path for walkers and cyclists.

A new 1.8km route running along banks of the River Tawe has also been completed near Morriston and a further 900 meter long route along Clasemont Road has been created, linking up with an existing section along the A48.

A 700 metre long route has also been constructed along Jersey Road in Bonymaen (between the junction of Carmel Road and Cwm Chapel Road).

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All four routes were designed by the Council in line with Welsh Government Active Travel guidance and were constructed by local contractors – Ian Davies Plant, T Richard Jones (TRJ) and Evan Pritchard.

Andrew Stevens, Cabinet Member for Environment & Infrastructure, said: “These latest completed walking and cycling routes are hugely beneficial to local communities. We are doing all we can to encourage more people to utilise these routes and help them to stay healthy.

“It’s great that we can work with local schools in each of the communities and help give young children the encouragement they need to be confident on a bike and hopefully for them to take that experience into later life.

“I’m delighted that the contractors who have assisted us in delivering these schemes have also donated this equipment to the schools.”

More recently, the Council has secured and approved more than £8million of WG funding for the next round of Active Travel and will see even more walking and cycling routes developed during the next 12 months.

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Part of the funding will help create a new 2.4km route across Clyne Common, helping to link communities on Gower with Swansea Bay seafront.

A new off-road route between Penllergaer and Fforestfach is also set to be created, stretching for 2.8km through Penllergaer woods.

Cllr Stevens, added: “Once again, we have been very successful in securing this money so we can continue developing these important routes. Our aim is to create a fully linked up network of walking and cycling routes between neighbouring communities.

“Hopefully this enables families to be less dependent on getting around Swansea in a car. At the same time, people can become healthier and also have fun.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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