Cycling UK – Space for Cycling Workshop
Leicester, Saturday, 21st May 2016
Report from James Craig on behalf of the Bradford Cycling Campaign
- This is a personal perspective on the above workshop, which was attended by campaigners from all over the country.
- ‘Space for Cycling’ was originally established under the London Cycling Campaign, and adopted as a national campaign by the then CTC (now called ‘Cycling UK’). A workshop in Leeds, held in 2014, set out what was meant by ‘space for cycling’ (examples of great facilities in European cities and so on); and presented ideas on how to engage effectively with local authorities to achieve a vision of dedicated facilities for cyclists. The purpose of ‘Space for Cycling’ is one of changing the hearts and minds of local politicians with regard to active travel, within a coherent national framework, to effect policy change.
- At the heart of Space for Cycling, is a six-part manifesto:
- Protected space on main roads
- Removing through motor traffic in residential areas
- Lower speed limits
- Cycle-friendly town centres
- Safe routes to school
- Routes through green spaces
- Campaigning groups were given various tips on how to work with members and officers in local government, and presented with numerous ideas on most aspects of local campaigning. Ambitious plans to engage with local councillors nationally, were set in train, in order to raise their awareness of cyclists and their needs; and seek a pledge from them to a six-part manifesto. This was also intended to follow through to Westminster with the General Election in 2015:
- The take-up varied considerably across the country, with cities such as Newcastle-upon-Tyne recording a significant political response. I reported on the 2014 Leeds workshop to bSpoke, at the time, but since the Bradford ‘model’ did not match the traditional independent campaigning activity prevalent in many cities such as Leeds and Newcastle, it was just an item for interest. (I attended the Leeds workshop in my capacity as convenor of the Baildon Sustainable Transport Group).
- Nevertheless, without any particular campaigning activity, five Bradford councillors did sign up to Space for Cycling: cllrs Hawarun Hussein, Martin Love, Dale Smith, Ann Wallace and Kevin Warnes. I emailed these councillors on 10th February, alerting them to the existence of the new Bradford Cycling Campaign, and encouraging them to stay in touch.
- The Leeds Cycling Campaign engaged enthusiastically with Space for Cycling – then and now – and held another city centre awareness mass ride as recently as May 2016. It would be fair to say, however, that ‘Space for Cycling’ nationally, lost a bit of momentum; so this Leicester workshop, following on immediately after the large professional ‘Cycle City Active Leicester’ conference, was an attempt to revive it. Cycling UK now have a new dedicated officer in the form of Tom Guha.
Content of the Workshop
- The DfT’s draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (deadline for comments to the DfT just two days after the workshop), was noted. Serious concern about lack of dedicated funding, was expressed.
- A number of campaigning tools and resources were presented at the workshop; in particular:
- ‘Propensity to Cycle’ (Robin Lovelace, research geographer at the University of Leeds, talked about his model. This work is being funded by the DfT – see links below.
- Cyclescape –an online tool for recording local ‘issues’
- A ‘Cycling Environment Assessment Tool’
- Numerous ideas were shared on how best to communicate, and this also needs to relate to the much broader ‘Cycle Bradford’ presence, well beyond the campaigning focus of the Bradford Cycling Campaign.
- The strongest message that came across to me, was the importance of having a local political cycling champion.
- There was also a fair amount of discussion about presenting a united front to the country – and it was felt that all of the major cycle-related organisations (most notably British Cycling and Sustrans) need to buy into this, to present a coherent, instantly-recognisable single brand. British Cycling, for instance, have endorsed Space for Cycling; but this is not clear to most people. British Cycling can play a key role in the national media by means of involving household names such as Chris Boardman. Cycling UK, British Cycling and Sustrans in particular – plus others such as the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain – need to work together at the top levels in their organisations.
- Now that Cycling UK are refreshing Space for Cycling, it is hoped that this will become a new, improved national framework for local campaigning activity.
- Engagement with local government officers is fine as far as it goes, but the politicians (elected members of local government) are felt to hold the key to making real policy change; and attention needs to be focused on them.
Cycling UK’s Powerpoint slides – http://www.cyclinguk.org/article/campaigns-guide/presentations-space-for-cycling-campaigners-conference
Active Travel – A briefing for local authorities (published just before the workshop):
Space for Cycling – main page:
James Craig (BCC Secretary)
8th June 2016