This article was published in 2008, in Newsletter 81.
There was an excellent turnout for the Campaign’s AGM on 4th November, despite the less than thrilling prospect of line-by-line analysis of the committee’s proposals for moving to charitable status.
20’s Plenty For Us
First came our main attraction, a talk by Rod King of 20’s Plenty For Us, an offshoot of the Warrington Cycling Campaign set up to push for 20mph speed limits in residential areas. Visiting Warrington’s twin town in Germany, they were surprised to find that its 23% cycling level was due not to flashy cycle facilities, but to safer driving, thanks to a 30km/h (18.6mph) speed limit on all but the main radial roads. Where 20mph limits are being tried in the UK, for example in Portsmouth, there has been a significant fall in injuries to cyclists and pedestrians (the effect on cycling rates was not mentioned). Two interesting points emerged in the question session: firstly that, despite some selective reporting by the AA, carbon emissions are NOT increased by the lower speed limit unless you install speed bumps that idiots race away from before slamming on the anchors, and secondly that, ironically, it’s the police’s reluctance to enforce lower limits that is the main obstacle to increasing road safety! This can be a useful angle in catching media attention.
20’s Plenty For Us wants 20mph limits imposed over whole areas, but this question period did threaten to get bogged down in the technical requirements (percentiles etc.) for changing limits on individual stretches of road. Rod was also a bit of a slave to his Powerpoint, alas, but overall it was a very interesting and inspiring talk.
Then we turned, more or less on schedule, to formal business, approving the minutes of last year’s AGM. Martin gave an excellent review of a busy, indeed hyperactive, year, with some fine campaigning publications produced (thanks to a donor) and Rohan Wilson taken on for one day a week to ease the burden of reviewing so many planning applications – the economic crisis might bring a drop in applications, but it might not if developers try to benefit from cheaper land and labour costs, and there’s a risk of their using the downturn as an excuse to build poor facilities. The county’s plans for a congestion charge are not dead, despite what some Conservatives and the business lobby would have us believe; even if we don’t get that funding, the granting of Cycling Demonstration Town status will bring some useful facilities that should be of higher quality than our cash-strapped county normally manages.
The Grand Arcade and its cycle park (accessed by the contraflow lane that some have dubbed the Woodburn Way) finally opened, our protests over the delay at least bringing us some useful publicity. Likewise, campaigning against deliveries to the Revolution pub which regularly block the mandatory cycle lane in the morning peak have also boosted our profile (helped by the famous Rosenstiel Rage incident).
The reports by Clare (Treasurer), David (Membership) and Monica (Newsletter) were all brief and positive, with everything very much under control, although help is needed for newsletter layout.
The guillotine that Martin threatened us with on the discussion of charitable status for the campaign was not needed, perhaps because most questions had been dealt with at the previous monthly meeting. The motion to proceed with an application to the Charity Commission was passed without objection, as was a renewal of last year’s authorisation for an increase in membership rates if needed to pay for a campaign worker.
Finally, not too late, we came to the election of a new committee, which saw a splendid influx of new blood and the filling of those pesky vacant positions at last. Many thanks to all who stood for office, and to Bev Nicolson who stood down from formal membership of the committee to avoid the need for voting (this may have had something to do with her wanting to get away to the Maypole). Before we could get to the pub, we also elected the charity officers required for our constitutional leap ahead, and again there was no need for a vote, with three senior and trusted figures stepping forward to serve.