Cycle Campaign Network Conference

This article was published in 1997, in Newsletter 15.

At the end of October, Dave Earl and I spent a day at the second of this year’s joint Cycle Campaign Network/Cyclists Touring Club conferences, which was held in Liverpool.

European Best Practice

Professor Lewis Lesley, of the Transport Sciences Department at Liverpool’s John Moores University, gave a fascinating talk comparing European Best Practice in cycle provision with the UK’s best. He made many fascinating points, and gave huge numbers of statistics.

Here’s a selection of my favourites:

  • The European average for car-ownership is 44 cars per 100 people. Across Europe, only Greece and Ireland have lower car ownership than Britain (and Ireland will probably overtake Britain this year). Britain also has nearly the lowest level of public transport usage. In other words, car ownership and car usage are entirely different matters.
  • In Denmark, the average annual distance cycled per capita is roughly ten times the UK rate, whereas the injury rate to Danish cyclists is roughly one tenth the UK rate. (Incidentally, that’s allegedly the statistic which converted one Conservative former Cabinet Minister to the importance of improving the cyclists’ lot, and brought about the National Cycle Strategy. )
  • Dublin is spending millions over the next four years, aiming for 20% of work journeys to be made by bike.
  • In 1995 Tokyo spent the equivalent of £90 million on increasing cycle usage.
  • In contrast, a Liverpool Councillor had earlier told us that Liverpool had increased its cycling budget to £200,000 this year.
  • In this country each year, on average, 27 000 children are hospitalised each year by collisions involving motor traffic.

Professor Lesley also made me think twice about the National Lottery funding of the extremely important National Cycle Network. ‘Imagine if the M6 widening had to go to the lottery fund for completion!’

Colin Langdon, of Merseyside Cycling Campaign

Colin talked about his work with the Groundwork Trust, in completing missing links in cycling routes on a regional level. Like later speakers, he stressed the importance of working with the new Regional Development Agencies.

Stuart Reid, national Cyclists’ Touring Club

Stuart gave a packed report on current issues the CTC is addressing, reinforcing my impression of how important our CTC affiliation is. As well as all the information and support the CTC gives touring cyclists, it does a huge amount of very effective campaigning at a national level.

Stuart’s report covered progress made by the National Cycling Forum, which was set up as a direct result of the National Cycling Strategy. The Forum is chaired by Glenda Jackson, MP, and its first annual report is due soon.

The ‘All-party Friends of Cycling Group’ has been convened and is working actively within the Commons, addressing such issues as cycle mileage allowances for MPs. Cambridge Cycling Campaign members may have noticed from a recent Evening News article that local MP Anne Campbell has been actively involved in promoting this one.

CPAG (the Cyclists’ Public Affairs Group) is actively campaigning with pedestrian groups to address ‘the problem of shared use’ -the way that space is being taken from pedestrians, rather than cars, when providing for cyclists, with entirely dissatisfactory results. (One of the many noticeable features of cycling in Groningen was the way that cyclists and pedestrians were each given adequate, separate, space in which to travel.)

There’s a new national organisation called ‘Slow Down’, aiming to reduce motor vehicle speeds.

The motorbike lobby is still vociferously pressing for access to cycle and bus facilities, such as lanes and advance stop lines. Stuart stressed that in many ways motorbikes are just as vulnerable as cyclists – but that doesn’t mean that the solution to their vulnerability is to throw them into the same space as cyclists.

The British Waterways Board has implemented a pilot scheme charging cyclists for access to canal towpaths. Last year, 10 000 free permits were issued. This year, 2 000 permits have been paid for. That means that, technically, there has been an 80% drop in cycling – completely flying in the face of national policy.

The Home Office has announced that a new fixed-penalty offence is likely to be created, for cyclists riding illegally on pavements. There was some discussion about whether or not this was a Bad Thing.


Elsewhere in this issue, there’s a report on the workshop I attended about the Liverpool Cycle Centre.

Don Mathew, of the CTC

Don gave two talks, one on possible responses to the ‘Integrated Transport’ white paper. He made many useful points, and overall stressed the huge disappointment at the absence of cycling and walking in the discussion and questions.

His other talk was on ‘Local Campaigning’. Much of this was focused on TPPs and Packages, and how important it is for cycling campaigners to seek a chance of input into these local processes. Followers of this newsletter will know that we’ve put considerable effort into the Cambridgeshire one this year – so it was heartening to hear from Don that this is what we should have been doing!

And finally…

The whole day was fascinating. It made me feel fortunate to be based in a city which does at least start with a healthy cycling culture.

I also felt very proud to be involved in such a large cycling campaign. After only two years, we’re already one of the largest in the country, and one of our biggest strengths is that so many people give their time to our organisation, in so many different ways. We heard from people from all over the country, talking about how only a small handful of members in their organisations were actively involved in any way.

I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again, thank you to everyone who supports the Cambridge Cycling Campaign in whatever way – big or small – and every member counts!