Big Toon Ride shows demand for Space for Cycling in city centre

The Big Toon Ride was a super success. Thanks to everyone who turned up, and rode with us. Shannon had put the word out on BBC Radio Newcastle on Saturday morning, Katja spoke on BBC Look North, and then Sally talked about the national Space for Cycling campaign on Monday on BBC Radio Newcastle again “What we want is Space for Cycling, which is a nation-wide campaign. We want people to write to their local Councillors to say we need more space for cycling. We need better junctions. We need – sometimes – segregated cyclepaths. We need to cut down on rat-runs – and generally better infrastructure for all cyclists, so that people of all ages can cycle.”

The local press picked up what we were doing and saying. Both the Chronicle and the Journal reported positively and sympathetically about the 150 strong Big Toon Ride with fantastic photos of families and showcasing everyday cycling. And picked up Katja’s press release almost word by word.

Of course it’s not just come about like this: big thanks goes to Peter and Claire for pulling the Big Toon Ride together in a very short space of time, plotting the route, making and distributing flyers and little info bands for handle bars. It’s worth mentioning that our Police Liaison Officer Dave was very helpful throughout too. Our Skyride-trained leaders, Rod and Max took the lead and brought up the rear, expertly.

Soak up some atmosphere from these photos, and get even more on our flickr group

THE BIG RIDE credit Russell Bayliss, Percy Street, Newcastle:
Big Toon Ride 2014 #space4cycling Credite Russell Bayliss (@rustybonkers)

FINISH credit Shannon Robalino, Civic Centre, Newcastle:
Space4Cycling - Big Ride - Newcastle

Councillors supporting Space for Cycling LTR Cllrs Higgins, Fairlie, Talbot with Newcycling’s Claire Prospert – Flickr group credit Shannon Robalino, Civic Centre, Newcastle:
Space4Cycling - Big Ride - Newcastle

Teesside Cyclist captured the event on the camera:

Youtube (by Teesside Cyclist)

Katja’s speech at Monument

Thanks for coming. We put the sun on for you today, to get you all out, so – great stuff that you are all here. I have dressed up today. I’ve got my high heels on. And if I fall over it’s because I usually don’t wear these things. But I thought dressing up for this event was the right thing to do.

I am Katja and I am chairing something that’s called Newcycling, Newcastle’s cycling campaign. I was wondering whether we had any members here. Is anyone a member of the Newcastle Cycling Campaign? Put your hands up [half of the 150 strong Big Toon Ride group]. Great. The ones who are not members, we always want new members. Grab a leaflet. It’s free, and easy to join. And then you start to learn a bit more about us.

We are here today, because we want Space for Cycling. And we thought, it’s only a few days to the elections so it’s great to gather and show the politicians that cyclists exist. You know, it’s not just this one person cycling past, there is actually many of us. And we can see that today with people turning up here. So that’s absolutely great!

This ride, the Big Ride, or Big Toon Ride as we call it in Newcastle, is not just happening just here today, it’s also happening in London, Birmingham, Manchester, in Sheffield and in Leeds, and in Bristol. We are joining other cyclists, as well, in other cities.

This is a fun event. But it is with a serious message. Which is, we might have already converted and started cycling and that’s great. But when you talk to people who don’t cycle they say ‘It’s for kids, it’s feels dangerous and there is no space’. So we are here today to highlight that. That people exist who cycle but we are also cycling for future generations so that the transport mix can start to get a bit more varied.

And of course, it’s not just about cycling. But when cycling starts to enter into a city, it’s a better city, and it’s a healthier city and it is a much nicer city to live in. So, you know, we are doing the right thing. We know why other people are not quite up for it yet. So let’s ask for that space for cycling to be installed.

And it is those folks over there at the Civic Centre, our politicians, who can make that happen. And I am sure they are watching this very carefully. So it’s great that you have turned up in huge numbers today, to make that point to them. We are already here, we exist.

We are here today and we want a better future. And whilst you are standing over there, over here you can see all of us with a grey t-shirts. If you had got any questions, just come and talk to us. We have Max who is going to take up the end rear sounds a bit funny [giggling]. We have got Marion and Shannon, who stay in the middle and will look after you there. Then we have Rod here, visible man that he is. He’ll be at the front. And Claire is shy again. [Rod: PETE and I will be at the front]

Probably the last thing that I am going to say to you is again “Thank you” and then we are going to go on a couple of loops in the city centre and we are going to end up over there where the politicians are. When you get there, listen to what these here [Pete and Rod] have to say. Stay there for a little while, because it will be a great opportunity to take a few photos, chat to each other again, soak up the sunshine, and then we can start to slowly disperse. So don’t get there and ride away. Stay there for a little while. Now I hand you over to Rod, who has probably got a bit of a better voice than me. I don’t know whether you could actually hear me at the back at all [yes, the back could hear you]. And Rod is going to do a bit of housekeeping, couple of minutes – and then we are going to set off.

Thank you. [Applause!]