Coordinator’s comment

This article was published in 2012, in Newsletter 101.

Cities fit for cycling! Cambridge fit for cycling? The campaign by The Times has opened some important opportunities during the last month. A strong focus on the high price paid by vulnerable road users may seem gory or excessive, but we do have our own share of dangerous encounters in Cambridge, and fatalities happen not only in London. Cynthia Barlow lost her daughter and became a road safety advocate. Listen to her forceful voice on The Times‘ website:’We should not marginalise road death in this way. We should not let this happen. We don’t need to let this happen. There is a raft of preventive measures which can be taken. We are just not doing enough to make cycling and walking safe.’

This is why we are looking forward to working with Stephen Gedny, Cambridgeshire Police’s new Casualty Reduction Officer, to address the issues raised by The Times’ campaign. The imminent introduction of the 20mph scheme for residential areas will be an important step towards making our streets more inviting for those who go on two or three wheels. The public understands that our streets are avenues of communal living, where children can roam and neighbours meet, not just transportation corridors, where motorised speed, and fear, reign. Indeed, our own city council was the first in the nation to vote in support of The Times campaign, even though it is still searching for the money to fully re-instate its bicycle co-ordinator position. The county council is thinking about the issue as we go to press. Our elected officials are waking up to the fact that there is political mileage in being the most cycled city in the land. Yes, voters do appreciate the car-free lifestyle Cambridge increasingly offers its residents.

Great news about bike parking at the station. After many years of engagement with this issue, the Department for Transport has rewarded a long tradition of local cycling with a grant of £500,000 towards the proposed 3,000-space multistorey cycle park at the station. The embarrassing shortage of bike parking at the station will soon be transformed into a proud monument to sustainable transport – we will continue to offer feedback for the developers, making sure the design really works. We hope to include a presentation by the architects at one of our monthly meetings. I personally hope the building will feature a striking artistic design to celebrate the local lifestyle on two wheels.

In the last issue we carried the portrait of a cycling doctor. For all the charm of his story, we suspect that, on an institutional level, the NHS is only slowly grasping what cycling can do for their public health improvement and obesity reduction goals. We hope to initiate this discussion at one of the next public monthly meetings with a representative of the NHS: how do you balance the health benefits of cycling and the health risks of cycling if you try to manage public health outcomes?

The annual Reach Ride is coming up in May and that means one more job for everybody: at school, in your college, at work or on your street, you really ought to be a Reach Ride Feeder Ride organiser. Put together a little group, help them to get back on their bikes, remind them, encourage them, decorate those bikes, and ride together to our departure point. Our website has the leaflet to download and some hints on how to publicise the event with your friends, Facebook, Twitter or in the flesh. A feeder ride can carry the colours of your football club or your taxi firm. Most importantly, it will offer a thoroughly positive experience of cycling for some of your mates, so that yet another car may be driven less often.

Michael Cahn, Co-ordinator