The Cambridge Cycling Campaign was launched at a lively public meeting on Friday June 16 at Parkside College, attended by about a hundred people. The speakers were Patrick Field, of Cycling Today magazine and the London School of Cycling, our MP Ann Campbell, and Dave Earl of Cambridge Friends of the Earth, a founder member of the Campaign. The meeting was chaired by the outgoing mayor of Cambridge, Joye Rosenstiel.
Patrick Field gave a rousing talk, raising our consciousness of the way in which the needs and even desires of motorists are placed before those of all other road users, not only in policy-making but also in the opinion-forming media. He reminded us that cycling reduces traffic congestion and air pollution, as well as costing less than motorised forms of transport in both money and natural resources.
Ann Campbell spoke about cycling in Cambridge, as well as about being a cycling MP, one of probably only two who don’t own a car. She also mentioned the unfortunate fact that a small minority of irresponsible cyclists give us all a bad name among the non-cycling public.
Dave Earl gave a slide show, entitled “Spot the cycle route”. In fact, all his slides showed cycle routes, but most of them were blocked by pot-holes, puddles, parked cars or, in one case, a fence. Dave emphasised that the campaign, although its overall aim would clearly be to promote cycling in Cambridge and the surrounding area, will be driven by its members, and thus their concerns will determine what particular issues the campaign pursues, and how it goes about it.
In the general discussion that followed, a recurring theme was the behaviour of “rogue” cyclists who pose a danger to pedestrians (and other cyclists) and make life difficult for the rest of us by heightening hostility to cyclists among other road users. At one point it seemed a private argument was breaking out between Patrick Field and a particularly vociferous member of the audience. Most of the session was good-humoured, however, and many issues were raised that the campaign will take on board in promoting the interests and safety of cyclists in the Cambridge area.
The meeting then broke for refreshments and less formal discussion. About 30 people joined the campaign on the spot, with many others taking forms away to join later. There was a general feeling that the Campaign had had an auspicious start, and was definitely justified by the level of public interest the meeting demonstrated.