National Bike Week 6 -14 June

This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 17.

The free events in National Bike Week are always very popular, and this year we hope to repeat two of these. Dr Bike, in which we set up a stall near the Guildhall and perform diagnostics on bikes that anyone brings along, is a very positive and fun event. Last year we examined fifty bikes and had an exhausting but rewarding day which surely must have resulted in more and safer cyclists. This year, we shall try to avoid clashing with Strawberry Fair and the Jesus Army. The other free event last year was the Cyclists’ Breakfast generously provided by Hobbs Pavilion restaurant. About 150 cyclists were fed.

This year, we hope to add another freebie, in which various attractions will give free admittance to anyone arriving by bike during that week. We’ve got a short-list of places already, but welcome suggestions for more. Any participating organisation would benefit from sharing NBW publicity, and from a warm inner glow for helping our cause.

If we can get it together in time, we hope to launch a new service for members in National Bike Week. This is a trailer loan scheme. We are looking for sponsors and applying for grants to enable us to buy cycle trailers which will be loaned out to members. We shall also need a place to store them.

Two years ago, we ran a signs campaign which advertised ‘Minutes to City Centre’ by cycling and driving during rush hour. Figures were based on a survey of members’ experiences, and the bike won on average by about nine minutes. The idea of a ‘time versus distance’ road sign is holding interest, so much so that we are going to pursue the idea with the Council. We hope permanent signs will be possible.

The local media don’t provide free publicity for events, but normally report them only after they have happened. By that time you often think, ‘Damn! I missed that.’ We have learned to do mini-events before the main event to get a picture in the paper or a report on the radio. This year we also hope to get travel reports to mention cycling conditions. I suspect we’ll have to write these on the day and phone them in: something like ‘Milton Road cycle path blocked by repairs to traffic light cabling.’ Anything to put the word ‘cyclist’ into the public’s mind.

Other events this year will include a schools arts competition, a picnic (with a much shorter ride to it than last year) and various publicity events which we are keeping under our hats for the time being. It is easy to devise protest events which gain publicity by breaking the law, but I believe we are better off by pressing the arguments through persuasion. We rejected the idea of occupying a car parking space at Cambridge railway station with anarchistic bike art (as a protest over tardiness in improving cycle parking there). Instead, we are planning to catch cycling commuters there and get their ideas for how to pursue that argument.

There’s still plenty of planning to be done, and help to be secured for the events, so if you can help in any way, please do come along to one of the NBW subgroup meetings. Hope to see you there.

Simon Nuttall