The 2007 AGM

This article was published in 2007, in Newsletter 75.

The twelfth annual general meeting of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign took place on Tuesday 6th November 2007. We had another good turnout – thanks to all who attended.

Invited speaker: Roger Geffen

We were delighted to welcome Roger Geffen, Campaigns and Policy Manager, CTC, as our speaker this year. We have collaborated with him and the CTC over the past year on a number of issues, not least on the Highway Code and online mapping developments.

Roger Geffen from the CTC addresses the packed meeting
Image as described adjacent

Originally from a cycle campaigning background, Roger gained experience of working both in the local authority and consultancy sectors, before returning to work in cycle campaigning at CTC, the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation.

Roger Geffen started campaigning in the late 1980’s when various groups were challenging government policy on road building. Transport policy shifted over the years from one which was initially keen to increase cycling to one in which no effort was made, despite cycling’s potential to tackle the problems such as obesity, children’s freedom, congestion and climate change.

Over the last 10 years, the enthusiasm to promote cycling became less marked by the government, and so the CTC has had to be proactive about getting the voice of cyclists heard. Roger spoke about the increase in CTC’s credibility within Government as a result of the campaign over the wording of the new Highway Code.

Roger moved on to the current political situation. Cycling England (the government’s cycling quango), who have been doing good work in terms of demonstration towns, cycle training, and more, are bidding for £70 million over the next few years, and the signs are that they could be successful. However, there are also threats to getting that voice heard, in the form of the Local Transport and Planning Bill. This seeks to speed up the planning process for larger developments thus removing them from the scrutiny of local people.

Roger outlined the top three things he personally believes should command cyclists’ attention:

  • A 20mph speed limit as default for local street areas, backed by legislation for local authorities. Less street furniture with the result that in this people friendly environment more people would cycle or walk and allow their children to do the same.
  • Traffic law and driver behaviour. He believed there is a strong case for new offences bringing tougher sentencing, more traffic policing, as well as changes to driver liability towards the continental model such that, in the event of an incident, the driver is assumed to be liable unless the pedestrian or cyclist is shown to be the responsible party.
  • Planning and design. Working with local authorities to challenge the hierarchy of solutions, such as genuinely trying to reduce traffic volumes and speeds, before consideration of any cycle-specific infrastructure.

During the period for questions, points were asked about the Highway Code, the need to change entrenched views such as a senior DfT official’s intransigence on the use of ‘No entry except cyclists’ signs, issues relating to speed limits, and more.

Many thanks to Roger for his time preparing and giving his talk.

Minutes of the meeting, including the slides from the talk, are available from the Campaign via our usual contact details, thanks to Beverly, our minute-taker (who has kindly done the minutes for some four years now).

Review of the year

The Co-ordinator, Martin Lucas-Smith, presented a review of the year. Copies of his notes are available on request, and this has been circulated to the members’ e-mail list for those who are on it (all members are welcome to join it and should let us know if they wish to be added).

City centre: The city centre cycling ban was at last rescinded, permanently … for 12 months. This has come after a lot of hard work from the Campaign as well as brave political action by certain key Councillors. The sting in the tail is of course the 12 month review, ordered by the rural councillors on the County’s Cabinet. We have produced, and are currently issuing, our new City Centre Cycling Map to improve understanding of the regulations.

Mapping: David Earl cycled every street in Cambridge, for the OpenStreetMap project. This makes available free mapping which is not subject to the costly and difficult licensing conditions of the Ordnance Survey. The same mapping data can be used on websites, e.g. our own Journey Planner. Both were demonstrated at a national cycling conference, and Simon Nuttall and Martin were invited to meetings with the Department for Transport on their own system being created.

Video campaigning: This has been a new campaigning tactic this last year. The videos we showed the Road Safety people resulted in a better understanding of the problems cyclists face. They promised to try to produce a wider vocabulary of safety messages beyond the usual ‘helmets and safety gear’ message. This tactic has also led to work to mitigate the problems created on King’s Hedges Road.

Road safety and enforcement: Existing enforcement against illegal use of Mandatory Cycle Lanes by vehicles is practically non-existent, but we have established a way forward for enforcing the rules against parking in such lanes. Our Responsible Cycling paper has continued to prove an invaluable tool to make clear our desire for responsible cycling, enabling the police and many Councillors to make pro-cycling decisions.

Sub-standard provision: We’ve increasingly taken a much harder line against sub-standard provision wherever it has been proposed. Objections have featured in many of our formal letters this year. Encouragingly, various new bits of emerging national guidance have increasingly supported our stance. The Manual for Streets – the most important new housing design guidance for decades – proposes much more traditional, cycle friendly streets.

New developments: We have continued to be swamped by huge development proposals, which represent a big threat to cycle use in the region. Our Cycling 2020 initiative will be key in engaging developers, but the amount of work needed to influence them in other ways has really been beyond the Campaign’s current capacity.

Congestion Charge and Demand Management proposals: The Campaign’s position has been careful over this. We feel that the £500 million on offer should not be overlooked as has happened in much of the media coverage, but we recognise that we do need to make sure that the c. £50 million for cycling is spent well – it could have huge benefits or create even more problems instead. The Campaign will need to come to a view on the whole range of proposals in the coming months.

Cycle parking: Cycle parking has remained another highly frustrating issue. Councillors continued to fail to enforce their own cycle parking standards in some cases, with the city centre area having increasing problems. Cycle theft now counts for a staggering 1 in 10 reported crimes in Cambridgeshire. The Campaign has submitted an application for a grant to produce a document to inspire developers to address the need for secure parking.

New routes: The main new route has been the new Shelford to Addenbrooke’s path, with its 10,000 genome stripes. The Riverside Bridge is at last being built and will join Chesterton to Abbey with a wonderful new structure whose design we were on the deciding Panel for. The Woodburn Way, our own internal name for the new contraflow through Corn Exchange Street, also finally opened.

Elections: Whilst we are of course a non-partisan organisation, in May we conducted a survey of all candidates standing in the Local Elections, to which about half responded. A key reason for doing this was to raise awareness of cycling and walking issues more generally, and follow-up work is needed, time-permitting.

Gonville Place crossing: successful campaign to reinstate the much better arrangement
Image as described adjacent

U-turns: Significant u-turns were achieved this year with the reconstruction of the Gonville Place crossing, King’s Hedges Road pinch points being dealt with, the cycle bypass lane in Regent Street being closed (because it of the dangers it created) and for cyclists everywhere the acknowledgement in the New Highway Code that we do not have to use cycle facilities. We and the CTC were arguably the two key bodies that helped win this national Campaign.

Organisationally: The Campaign is simply being asked to do an enormous amount. And with over 900 members we’ve now reached the size where we need to bite the bullet and think extremely seriously about paid staff to facilitate the work of the Committee and Subgroups. A motion was taken later in the agenda which discussed this point. Lastly, Martin thanked all those who had contributed to the Campaign’s work during the past year

Afterwards, Simon Nuttall’s film Cambridge: Cycling in the City 2007, which he has produced for the Campaign, was shown. This is also available on our website.

Membership rates and finances

Membership has now increased to 925 members at the time of writing, chiefly as a result of people being able to join online, and as a result of our various high-profile campaigns such as that on Gonville Place.

Finances remain in a healthy state, and the accounts, which have now been restructured, were accepted unanimously.

Motions

Four motions were presented, all were passed without a single vote against.

The first motion, a change to the constitution, replaced the Stall Officer post with a new post of Events Officer (which incorporates the stall). The motion also instituted a new Recruitment Officer position. Sadly no-one stood for either post, so volunteers are still most welcome to come forward!

A second motion was passed which made some technical constitutional changes to financial approval procedures.

A third vote agreed to keep membership rates the same for the time being.

A fourth and final vote, which attracted the most discussion but again was passed without any votes against, gave the Committee the mandate to increase membership rates at any point in the coming year to a maximum of double the current (low) levels, i.e. a maximum of £15 for individual membership. Each year’s Committee has always taken the view that increases in membership rates should not be piecemeal because of the administrative cost of writing to (and sometimes reminding!) a large number of members to get Standing Orders updated and the cost of reprinting membership forms and so on.

Expansion of the Campaign

This final motion was in the context of a broader proposed change about the employment of a campaign worker, for which an extremely generous donor has pledged to fund for three years at a full-time rate, subject to details being worked out.

We will be talking to several local bodies who have previously gone down this route or who can provide broader advice, including Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service, a body of which the Campaign is a member.

Clearly the employment of someone to work full-time for the Campaign would have the potential to increase considerably our activities, particularly in terms of engagement with the developers of the almost 50,000 new dwellings being planned now for the Cambridge area.

However, such a change to our organisational structure could also potentially create problems, for instance the relation with volunteers. However, the Committee is strongly of the view that these can be managed (as other organisations have shown) and that the benefits could be considerable. The Committee presented the view, as backed by others who spoke at the AGM, that the post should aim to facilitate the work of volunteers and enable them to get much more done in terms of policy and materials, although an employee would be expected to work on these too rather than just purely be an administrator.

New Committee

Thanks were given to members of the Committee who stood down, namely James Gilbert, Alasdair Poore, Paul Tonks (outgoing Stall Officer) and lastly Lisa Woodburn, all of whom have contributed to the Campaign in various ways. Thanks were also given to Mark Irving who stepped down from the post of Newsletter Editor which he has filled for an amazing ten years and 60 issues.

The new Committee, as elected at the AGM, is:

Co-ordinator Martin Lucas-Smith
Liaison Officer Jim Chisholm
Membership Secretary David Earl
Newsletter editor Monica Frisch
Treasurer Clare Macrae
Events Officer Vacant – can you help?
Recruitment Officer Vacant – can you help?
Press Officer Vacant – can you help?

General campaigners

(Officers without portfolio, maximum 7) Mike Causer, Mark Irving, Vanessa Kelly, Simon Nuttall, James Woodburn. Two positions vacant – can you help?

Thanks were also given to all who have helped in any way over the course of the year.

A short EGM will be held at the start of the December monthly meeting to elect the remaining unfilled positions on the Committee. All members are welcome to stand.

Martin Lucas-Smith, Co-ordinator