This article was published in 2008, in Newsletter 80.
In early September, Cambridge Cycling Campaign reached a major milestone by recruiting its one thousandth member.
Number 1,000 is Cormac O’Connell. He summed up why he joined like this:
‘I’ve been in and around the Cambridge area for the past 12 years or so, but recently moved into town itself which gave me the perfect opportunity to change four wheels for two. I wanted to join the Cambridge Cycling Campaign to show my support for the highly proactive members of the cycling community that do so much in Cambridge to make it better for the rest of us.
‘Cambridge is a fantastic place for riding a bike, but there are still areas of improvement. We are lucky to have a lobbying group to bring this to the attention of the Council, as individual voices are often not heard. I ride into work pretty much every day (I’m not just a fair-weather commuter) from across Parker’s Piece to the West Cambridge site and get to take advantage of some of the better cycle paths in town.’
While the difference between 999 and 1,001 won’t change the Campaign’s day-to-day activities, 1,000 is something of a magic number. Our size gives credibility and authority in negotiations with local government, companies and so on. We believe that Cambridge Cycling Campaign has more members than any local political party. It says a lot about people’s concern about their means of transport that so many join a lobbying group when users of other types of transport are not organised collectively like this.
Starting with about fifty members who joined at a public meeting in 1995, the Campaign has grown steadily. Of course Cambridge has quite a dynamic population so we lose people as well. The Cycling Campaign diaspora is represented around the world. About 8% a year move on or drop out, so we need to recruit about 80 new members a year now just to stand still. So please continue to tell your friends, share your newsletters and put up posters! With more than 25% of journeys to work made by bike in Cambridge, there is still scope for further growth.
Nor is the need for the Cycling Campaign diminished. With the scale of new development proposed in and around Cambridge, traffic pressures and competition for scarce road space are going to get worse. Newcomers are less likely to already be part of Cambridge’s ‘cycling culture’. Yet locally we don’t have the space to accommodate 50% more people if they all drive cars and globally climate change needs individuals to change their travel methods. But people have to feel that cycling is convenient and safe if they are to take it up.
In recent years, the internet has become the most fruitful source of new members. Because our website is regularly updated, has many pages and is widely linked to, it often comes up on the first page when people look up anything to do with transport and Cambridge. The ability to join online immediately means people don’t forget. But hearing about us from friends and colleagues is a really important way of recruiting – so do keep spreading the word.