Co-ordinator’s comment

This article was published in 2014, in Newsletter 114.

At one of the monthly meetings at the beginning of the year I asked those assembled who cycled for leisure and sport, as well as transport. Most hands went up. Then I asked: who cycled for leisure and sport first? No-one.

Obviously this one sample is not necessarily representative of the Campaign, let alone people who cycle generally. Did our Olympic success in cycling increase the number of people cycling to work? Can a Tour de France stage starting from Cambridge lead to an increase in cycling’s modal share in the city?

Although I am also a sports cyclist, sometimes even competitively, it is not cycling for sport which motivates me as a campaigner. People getting exercise is good; people getting exercise every day in the course of their ordinary lives is better. Replacing journeys by car with journeys by bike is not just good for the person getting the exercise, either. It means fewer air pollutants, which shorten the lives of tens of thousands of people a year in this country. It means quieter, less congested roads.

If enthusiasm for the Tour de France encourages some people to get their bikes out of the shed and get cycling, that would be fantastic. But there are also many people who cycle every day in Cambridge to whom Le Tour will mean very little. Unlike in some areas of the country, where only the fast and the brave and the lycra-clad will be seen out on a bike, we should also celebrate a cycling culture that embraces people cycling at a leisurely pace in ordinary clothing to get to work, or children cycling to school.

On 7 July I will be out on the streets, enjoying a unique opportunity when the Tour de France stage starts in Cambridge. Every day before and after I will enjoy seeing people of all ages going to work, or to the shops, to college, or to see friends, by bike.

Hester Wells