Summer of Cycling – The Storyline

It’s October, the Summer of Cycling is finished. That’s not to say cycling is!

We’ve written up a report on our involvement, how our cycling members and how their bike buddies got on. Read about their stories here. It’s not complete plain sailing…

Eager as we are, we are also throwing together a press release. It will be posted under menu Press

Thanks to the Summer of Cycling team, its organisations and groups. It’s been a rollercoaster journey this summer. The stories speak for themselves. And of course the journey to a cycle-friendly Newcastle, Tyne and Wear and Britain does not stop here. We are a nation that finds it hard to fully embrace cycling.

To me it’s clear. We must provide for cycling, give it space to move safely to work, school, shops and visit friends. Provide an alternative to the car, which unfortunately reigns supreme on our streets and roads, dominates communities, and often suppresses community cohesion, splits neighbourhoods and blights our towns and cities.

Society sees cycling as an activity that requires extra kit, specialised gear and expert training – only to then still not fully endorse the people on bikes in our streets. Or as research demonstrates, for society cycling is something that kids and the less well off do. We have to stop thinking about cycling as a sport activity reserved for the superfit risk-takers, children and disadvantaged.

We have to challenge that popular view.

Cycling is not an extra-curricular enrolment, no, it is a serious form of transport and ought to be treated as such with investment levels to match. Cycling also requires fairness in Britain’s law and courts. The recent call British Cycling for fairer justice for cyclists and CTC’s Stop Smidsy campaign both make that clear.

The masses will come, but they do ask for space, safe and fair provision. Today people are cycling despite not because of the conditions. It’s a minority activity that’s reached saturation point. The severe limitations in infrastructure have taken us as far as we can go with it. We now have to remove the road block to unleash cycling. As for the attitude of people who already cycle, they find ways to enjoy and have fun using bicycles, see photos overleaf of two recent Newcastle weddings.

Closing, I will use Cath’s words. As a fellow bike commuter, this is something that I feel too – on a daily basis – when you quite simply do not have the choice of route or purpose.

“I still get scared on a regular basis on my way to work, and based on the training that’s not because I’m doing anything wrong.”

Katja Leyendecker
October 2012