Page added on June 8, 2011
By Mark Clark
I am not a cyclist but after attending the Building Cycling Cultures exploration and celebration of cycling conference and listening to the keynote speakers I was inspired to get on my bike. The sponsors of the conference were Ride Leicester, Lancaster University, Citizens Eye, UEL and CTC.
Leicester Deputy City Mayor, Rory Palmer, said that the City Mayor’s team has a priority of ‘’people not cars’’ planning policy and went on to congratulate Andy Salked’s team for planning the conference and that the delegate list, with delegates from all over the UK and the World, shows interest in what Leicester is doing as well as sharing ideas from all over the world.
Cllr Palmer said that there has been a 130% increase in cycling over the past 6yrs and went on to give us a insight into the City Mayors first 100 day plan which is due to be released within the next week. In the plan is a commitment to extend cycle routes and networks around Leicester and refresh existing routes, advance on more bikeability projects and find a private sector sponsor/partner to introduce a London style cycle hire scheme.
Each of the sponsors expressed their views and findings from their research, such as Dr Dave Horton from Lancaster University said that there is a need to have a segregated bike system and that there are two cultures of people who don’t use cycling reguarly. One being people who recognize that cars are a significant green issue but are nervous of city cycling and another set of people who are largely indifferent to cycling and see it as a strange thing and they are less committed to green issues and when they do cycle it’s on pavements. Dr Rachel Aldred from East London University, expressed that she was looking to identify cycling cultures in the four areas of the country. Dr Aldred gave us a summary about her findings so far as the importance of the right environment/infrustructure, cultural attitudes, rationality (normality of cycling around city centres but not in suburban areas and remembering the joy of cycling from childhood.
Roger Geffen from CTC, the national cycling organization, gave a very inspiring talk and said that they are changing lives through cycling for the young, older people and disabled. They also work with Young Offenders within the Bike Club Project giving them leadership skills and raising their self esteem. 54% of participants within their Work Place Project are new to cycling and that the project has saved 206kg CO2 per participant to date.
The headliner, John Orcutt from the New York Dept of Transportation. Their policy being LIVE HERE, BIKE HERE with more cycle lanes, more parking and more reasons to commute. They have completely transformed New York after losing one million people in the 1980’s due to the poor infrustructure, dark roads and generally run down areas, causing a hurry through frame of mind. The NYC Council has created public plazas, dedicated bus roads and making cycling more easier and user friendly. Their annual traffic fatality rates has been reduced by 50% from 200- 2008, on 9th Avenue bicycle volume has grown by 50% and Cycling volume as a whole has grown by 109% since 2007. Further details of their transformation can be found at www.nyc.gov/dot