2015 AGM with Carlton Reid

This year’s AGM was so packed with updates and future plans we ended up overrunning and had to ask Carlton to wrap things up rather quickly!

Before Carlton treated us to a preview of his upcoming book, discussions were had around our development and how we can further influence change in the city. The revival of Space for Cycling this year will take us into the mayoral and full council elections in 2016. We need to put inspiration generated by our Top Tube map to action on the ground. This means getting more involved in Neighbourhood Partnerships to influence local decision making and moving forward with Road Justice.

We continue to work closely with our partners especially in our response to consultations. We are planning a study tour in the Netherlands on 23-25 September to which are inviting council officers along with anyone keen to see how things are done in cycling ‘Nirvana’. However we still need to work more closely with other partners such as public transport providers and environmental groups. Our consultation responses now use a traffic light format to make them quicker and easier to understand.

Our communications need to be more effective, including setting up an events team to communicate directly with the public. There was some consensus to say that we have lost something by no longer having a paper magazine. Any ideas on how we might revive some form of printed messaging would be appreciated.

Our Road Justice campaign continues, as Rob Harding described: however we are slowly slipping down the Police’s priority list and things are not getting done. Road Justice needs to be enforced. Recent statistics showed in Bristol 128 cyclists annually are admitted to hospital needing treatment including 17 due to ‘dooring’. An FoI request showed only 10 people were prosecuted as a result. Mark Brough and Sam Saunders continue to work on the statistics to help push things at Neighbourhood Partnership level. A brief discussion ensued from the question: should we continue to use reasoned argument or more radical means? We need to hear from people involved in incidents with the Bristol Cyclists Facebook group being a good source of news. We also still need a system for taking action based on near-miss incident reporting statistics (which is about to go live). Is this something the Campaign could do by adding a page on our website?

The Metrobust campaign has been involved in detailed consultation with the council, having identified a possible bus/cycle conflict at the Create Centre. Plans for lighting have been removed from large sections of the Metrobus route, which degrades the cycling facilities alongside. The Centre (by the fountains) is to be redesigned extensively, but no-one is sure which agency is actually leading on this, so consultation is proving difficult. There has been success with saving the footway on Bedminster Parade, but overall there is a perception of indifference for needs of cycling on behalf of the Metrobus scheme. We’re hoping to get the deputy mayor for transport to give more resource to council officers to help implement cycling improvements within big schemes.

Chris Whitlock gave a detailed presentation on our Rides programme, which over the last year has been given a boost with help from the council’s Active Neighbourhood Transport Grant. In February 2014, we applied for the grant to run rides to actively encourage novice and irregular cyclists and to make greater use of social media and websites (such as Better By Bike) to publicise the rides. By May 2014 the grant was approved and funds of £1,410 were received on condition we started monitoring our rides.

Therefore over the one year period of the grant the £1,410 was used as follows:

– £270 on regular leafleting

– £585 on Ride leader training

– £320 on design work for promotional material

– £172 on Ride leader equipment and clothing (e.g. high viz jackets, first aid kits)

– £63 on extra printing and prizes for family event

Rides were length divided between short urban ‘themed’ rides (interesting and informative, but also sociable and entertaining) graded ‘Easy’, at a gentle pace and very inclusive, making them appealing to those who may not otherwise consider cycling; medium rural rides (out-of-town rides of medium grade and length) designed to provide cycling in good company, exploring attractive rural routes; and long ‘challenge’ ride (full day rides for experienced cyclists or for those seeking a more challenging ride).

The grant has allowed us to produce a monthly rides poster distributed to 84 sites around the City by a team of a dozen volunteers and we received extra publicity this year via a Guardian cycling supplement. For the coming year we’re working on a bright new poster to promote our Rides programme. The grant also funded a Ride Leader training day to improve the comfort, safety and enjoyment of our rides. Hence ten people were invited to a comprehensive full day of training given by Lifecycle UK and Ride Leader packs were provided for those who have taken an active role in the last year.

Analysis of the statistics produced some predictable and some encouraging results.

– rides attendance is 70/30 ratio of men to women

– 77% are attendees are in the 31 to 60 age range

– 35% are in the 51 to 60 age range

– 22% come from BS3 (Bedminster/Ashton/Southville)

– 13% come from BS7 (Bishopston/Horfield/Lockleaze)

– 13% come from BS4 (Brislington/Knowle/St Annes)

– 10% come from BS6 (Cotham/Redland/St Andrews)

So are our rides encouraging people to cycle more?  Our stats show 65% of attendees confirmed the event will encourage them to cycle more, with many of those ticking “No” commenting cycling was already their main form of transport. More on Chris’s presentation here (opens a pdf).

Finally, nominations to the committee were: Eric Booth, Andrew Gough, Terry Miller, Penny Partridge, Martin Tweddell, Chris Whitlock, Benn Woodward, proposed by Rob Harding, seconded by Martin Tweddell and the vote to re-elect them was unanimous. Their roles will be determined at future meetings (please see About Us)

Carlton Reid’s presentation was fascinating and informative. His earlier book Roads Were Not Built For Cars sold out extremely quickly and also did very well in US and he hopes his latest work in progress, Bike Boom, about resurgence of cycling since the 1970s will do just as well.

However before talking about Bike Boom, Carlton reminded us of some key points from Roads Were Not Built For Cars which, of course, forms the context for the 1970s resurgence. In the 1890s across the US and Europe it was cyclists who created roads and it was only when the automobile was invented that the same innovators then moved on to create motoring. These innovators led the way for road improvements in the 1880s when also the first segregated cycle lane appeared in Utrecht (Netherlands) for high wheeled cycling. In 1900 the US ‘Sidepaths’ movement came into being to promote high quality segregated routes. By the 1930s the UK had 600 miles of cycle paths, but these were badly designed and maintained which led to the CTC’s stance at the time to keep cycling on the roads with general traffic. Meanwhile since the 1880s the Netherlands had got good at ‘canalising’ (segregating) traffic streams.

So cycling was off the political radar between WW1 and 1970. The town of Davis, California, started installing paths in 1960s and this continues today, helped by the fact it has a large student population. Meanwhile back in the UK the Buchanan report was published, which though full of warnings about car domination, only the auto-centric recommendations were cherry picked by government. Stevenage became the exception, with a ‘phenomenal’ system, but no cyclists! This confirmed that a healthy cycling culture is not just about infrastructure. Amazingly the Dutch were coming to Stevenage in the ’70s to see how WE did things. The resurgence of cycling only happened where politicians allowed it, such as in the Netherlands after the fuel crisis and Stop de Kindermoord campaign in the early ’70s. (The Netherlands wasn’t always cycling utopia, as photos of Dutch streets from the 1950s & ’60s show, with cars dominating city streets). By the end of the 1970s and into the 1980s the UK needed campaigns such as Cyclebag (which evolved into Sustrans) to push for better cycling provision, which continues to this day.

We’ll have to wait for the publication of Bike Boom to see what conclusions Carlton reaches, about where this boom is going and warnings for the future of cycling if we don’t take the right path.