This article was published in 2020, in Magazine 149.
The longer I spend with Camcycle, the more calling it a cycling campaign seems inappropriate. It is true that our efforts focus on how to make cycling safer and more accessible to everyone. However, we’re often reminded that more people riding bikes results in improved circumstances for all who live in the area: less noise, cleaner air, fewer traffic jams, improved safety, healthier bodies and more sociable spaces.
In November, we celebrated the installation of a new bridge over the Cam. As part of the Chisholm Trail, the Abbey-Chesterton link is good news for anyone who wants to walk, scoot or cycle safely in the area. It also connects communities which would otherwise be separated by geography and opens up access to some of the city’s precious green spaces.
Our Spaces to Breathe campaign continues as a response to the pandemic, helping us all stay active and protect each other by reallocating space away from motor traffic. As we entered the second lockdown period, it was no surprise when frontline NHS staff wrote an open letter in support of such measures because they help reduce pollution and enable people to exercise more – two key factors in the fight against Covid-19.
Increasingly, businesses are also responding to the current crisis by focusing on active travel, with scores of local shops now using cargo bikes to transport their goods. British cycle manufacturers are producing new cargo cycles for new try-before-you-buy schemes in cities including Cambridge and developing research into cycle logistics hubs which would help reduce reliance on motorised vehicles. This could lead to a transformation in the way that our towns and cities will be organised.
If more active travel improves the liveability of places for everyone, then it’s an issue for the general public. This is beginning to be more widely acknowledged: recent guidance from our national government makes clear their endorsement of measures to improve provision for walking and cycling. We are starting to see this influencing decision-making here.
We encourage all our members to respond to consultations and write to local councillors in support of everything which makes active travel safer, more accessible and more pleasant for everyone.
Rosie Humphrey, Camcycle editor