Last Friday was a blast. Seriously, a real blast! It was all kicked off by a Critical Mass, the highlight of which (in my opinion) was Fiona arriving on a massive unicycle (how…how does she do it?). It always warms my heart to see a group of people take to the roads to make a statement about cycling, so please mark your calendars for future Critical Masses. They always happen on the last Friday of the month, and are organised by YOU! So just show up at Tourist Info, Broad Street, and pick your own route.
The real gem of the evening, however, was the talk by Roger Geffen, Campaigns and Policy Director at CTC. His vision is inspiring, and the whole idea is to create a positive alternative for cycling rather than simply focus on the negative (aka road deaths, injuries, ineffective governance, lack of funding, etc). Rather than continuously griping about what’s being done wrong, we need to present positive alternatives that can form a rallying point for future action.
One action point, he argued, is to improve interdepartmental conversation and collaboration around cycling. Contrary to many city departments, cycling does not fall under its own category (i.e. sewage, police, etc). Instead, it combines elements of education, health, transport, and environment (can you think of any others?). A great weakness of cycling policy is that it requires interdepartmental conversation, but this can also be a great asset. How can we bring leaders together creatively in order to discover new solutions?
There is quite a bit of momentum at the moment for cycling across the UK, but is it enough? How do you close the gap between community events such as Critical Masses, and huge car initiatives such as highway construction? To what extent is cycling still a niche agenda? HOW do we mobilise people who are interested, but haven’t yet taken the leap? These and other questions are on my mind.
All in all, I came away with the conclusion that we need to present positive alternatives to car congestion. We need to have a vision that is beneficial, green, beautiful, and inspiring. We need to increase cycle usage with the wider vision of decreasing car traffic, but this can be done in a positive (rather than negative) way.
Are you interested? Write to your MP with some suggestions on improving cycle usage. Use encouraging words, present your alternative ideas, and above all remain positive.