Strategy Day

Earlier in the summer we held a Strategy Day to assess on a strategic basis the work of the Campaign: where we need to improve, and where we have been successful. Thanks to those members who came along to give what were often really worthwhile insights and fresh thinking.

Review

We started by reviewing the years since our last Strategy Day in 2003.

We have got better in dealing with consultations coming to us, i.e. reactive work, but this has been at the expense of the strategic work we know is needed. The article on page 8 on ‘Cycling 2020’ discusses one aspect of this.

We also discussed a number of organisational and other areas for internal improvement, and we have since started work on some of these.

New housing developments

We’ve identified particular difficulties with developer-led transport projects (so called ‘Section 106’ schemes) which have little, if any public consultation, with even elected Councillors being unaware of changes being made in some cases. We need to pressure the County Council to overhaul procedures here and ensure that some kind of early warning system exists to give stakeholders such as ourselves information about what is forthcoming. This is particularly important given the coming housing developments being proposed for the outskirts of Cambridge, which could have a huge effect on levels of cycling.

‘There are particular difficulties with developer-led schemes which have little, if any public consultation, with even elected Councillors being unaware of changes being made in some cases’

Levels of cycling in Cambridge have remained stable, despite the amount of new development, in some cases with very poorly conceived infrastructure. Cycling 2020 should start to help deal with that. We need to make much more of a political case for funding cycling – buses and other areas are getting the lion’s share of the funding at present – to maintain and increase levels of cycling.

Congestion charging was noted as a potential way to reduce traffic demand, but there was also a feeling that parking restraint (a form of ‘demand management’) is something that needs to be more actively considered by the Councils, despite the political difficulties of doing so.

Organisational changes

The Subgroup system, whereby groups of members can discuss specific issues of interest to them, should start to be reinvigorated, now that the e-mail lists are in place. This will be one way to help involve members more, and reduce the heavy load on the Committee.

There was also a suggestion for geographically-based groups, though the new online mapping system being set up will help us inform members in a particular area of issues arising locally, helping them raise issues with their local Councillors.

There will be a need to ensure there exists a Subgroup Co-ordinator to lead each list. There was much debate as to how much authority subgroups should have, and there may be a need to address this via constitutional changes in due course. The Co-ordinator is on all e-mail lists and this is felt to be a safeguard to ensure that potentially controversial decisions don’t bypass the Committee entirely.

Media work

Media work has declined in recent years, but is necessary to put pressure on decision makers to take our views into account. As ever, the key resource of time is the problem here, but we need to get more into the mind-set of thinking about media angles and actively pushing things into the public arena more. However, media work naturally requires care, as the press take things out of our control once they have a story!

Letters to the press (which are printed verbatim), press releases and general PR work are all areas we intend to step up, both in terms of campaigning objectives and general cycle promotional items. More press coverage should also lead to more members.

Events and monthly meetings

We’ve reduced our efforts for events such as Bike Week (though the City and County Councils have thankfully taken up the mantle here). We intend to get back to inviting speakers to address our monthly meetings more frequently.

The monthly Leisurely Rides have restarted, now we have insurance, as have the Socials every four months.

Newsletter

Various new ideas came forward. There was much debate over whether this Newsletter was too technical at times! We all agreed that more light-hearted articles were needed, and various changes to improve accessibility and to flag up more where members can become involved.

‘Various new ideas for the Newsletter came forward’

Guest articles may be considered as a means of provoking debate, e.g. by inviting local Councillors or those standing for election to write.

Membership

The launch a few months ago of the online membership form has led to a notable increase in members, and the proportion of paper applications dropping considerably.

A membership drive will take place, following discussion by a new Subgroup to generate ideas. As a first step, we’d like to get up to the magic number of 1,000 members from the current 750. Do join the Membership Subgroup (see ‘List of lists’) if you’d like to help generate ideas.

A tell-a-friend form will be launched on the website (see separate item).

Rebranding the Campaign?

The presence of the word ‘Campaign’ in our name was seen by several people at the meeting as potentially off-putting to many people who might otherwise join. A name such as ‘Cambridge Cyclists’ might be more friendly, though there would be many pros and cons to changing the name or maintaining the status quo.

The website is due for visual overhaul soon, and a Newsletter redesign has also been on the cards for a while, so it makes sense to consider all these together, especially given the need to reprint membership leaflets.

Again, another subgroup, the Rebranding Subgroup, is being set up to consider these areas. Please do join in the discussion if you’re interested.

‘Should we rename the Campaign?’

Online mapping

The new online mapping system being launched will become a major strategic facility, enabling databases of problems to be built up and more geographically-based campaigning to be organised.

Martin Lucas-Smith