First Monthly Meeting

This article was published in 1995, in Newsletter 1.

On the 4th July CCC held its first public monthly meeting. Over thirty people attended at the Friends’ Meeting House and we all had a thoroughly enjoyable discussion, which could have gone on all night! The discussion was wide ranging, covering both general and specific issues. The two most important discussions involved firstly the aims and objectives of CCC, and secondly, specific issues we should be campaigning for.

Themes of the discussion included promoting the reasons we think cycling is important (namely health, the environment and as a traffic solution), presenting a vision of cycling in Cambridge, increasing the influence of cyclists in traffic policies and planning and addressing the car-culture, which is so prevalent in Cambridge.

These can, perhaps, be encapsulated in the following set of aims:

  • to encourage bicycle usage in Cambridge and its environs by making it a safer, more convenient and generally more attractive proposition than it currently is.
  • to promote cycling as a solution to local transport problems, road traffic carnage and urban air pollution. Cycling is beneficial to the public health and applicable to all social classes and age groups, notwithstanding the hazards and disincentives imposed by national and local policies.
  • as the wider issues of transport planning and motoring culture affect the condition of cycling, they will inevitably also be addressed
  • to increase the influence that cyclists have on local transport policy and planning

One member gave quite a detailed set of principles on which to base the reasoning behind the campaign, which included:

  • Cyclist and pedestrians must share priority in transport, traffic and planning policies, with all the implications that has for the allocation of space, speed limits and quality of features
  • Any assumption that motor vehicles take precedence on the public highway must either be rigorously questioned, as we reject and will refute the many, specious arguments advanced for motorist privilege
  • Road safety debate must move from pseudo-safety and victim blaming, away from the myth that all road users share equal power, responsibility and blame, and away from the acceptance of the car-supremacist status quo; towards the application of the Highway Code, in particular where the endangering of others is involved

Obviously, the principles on which CCC is founded are for everyone to contribute to and the debate will continue for some time. However, so we can campaign more effectively the sooner we have a common understanding of what CCC is about the better. Hopefully, the ideas discussed here will give members food for thought, and we can begin to get some consensus in the next couple of meetings.

The second major discussion of the evening was around what exactly we should be campaigning for. Again there was a wide variety of ideas, ranging from the large to the small. Here are most of them:

Opening railway lines to cycle traffic and upgrading them to proper cycle paths. Two in particular mentioned were the St Ives to Cambridge and the path which runs along the line from Trumpington to Newmarket Road.

The idea of extending cycle lanes through junctions was brought up.

Some members thought it would be a good idea to try and find out from the population, through perhaps the use of surveys, exactly what things would make people get out of their cars and onto their cycles.

We could hold a bike clinic, where the public can bring their bikes for repair. This would obviously need a good mechanic.

Campaigning around the access to schools was mentioned, looking at access for cars, too much, and for cycles, too little.

Several suggestions to do with the council were discussed. Practical ways of monitoring the council’s plans and activities were asked for. It was also suggested that we could be more proactive regarding the council, including becoming a consultee for traffic policy.

The campaign could produce literature related to cycling in Cambridge.

Bikes on public transport was also discussed looking at the quantity and quality of provision.

Members brought up the issues of liaison with, and the involvement of, the police in the campaign, as they are obviously key players in how road safety issues are implemented.

A code for cyclists was suggested, as well as training for cyclists.

Several members seemed keen to pursue the matter of cycle bans, and it was decided to discuss this further at the next meeting in August.

Overall there were a number of good ideas discussed covering a wide range of possible activity. In order to focus the work of the campaign, it was decided that arising at the next meeting (1st August) we should form a sub-group to meet on a different date to discuss just one area of work. Anybody interested in working closely on one particular area should therefore come to the next meeting to discuss what that area might be and how to approach it.