Sunday, 10 March 2013

Local Real-Life Cycle Forum

My partner Adam has been attending meetings of the Luton & Dunstable Cycling Forum over the past year or so.

As a newcomer to the neighbourhood, I've found it difficult to define what this group does!  It seems the activities have, to date, mostly been for people with cycling interests to... well.... meet up and talk. The people who attend are drawn from a wide range of influential (whether anti- or pro-cycling!) organisations e.g. both the Luton and Central Bedfordshire councils and Sustrans.  There seems to be huge potential to contribute to transport and planning processes and to influence the results so that cycling provision both improves (quality) and increases (quantity).

To date, the meetings have been an opportunity to meet up and compare notes on what is going on in the various attendees' 'home' organisations.  Meetings have been every other month.  There have not been any outward-facing events, like rides or having stands at local fairs and events.

But this is about to change.

At the last meeting, it was agreed to draw up a Mission Statement that is clear, focused and much more ambitious.  Adam was asked to set up a Facebook group (which went live about a week ago and already has 3 members - besides Adam and myself!). Adam has put a lot of time into gathering information that should prove useful to new cyclists, and has been posting collections of photographs and links to websites with further information/assistance e.g. FillThatHole and the like. 

A commitment has been made to organise and lead local rides for beginners as we (hopefully) see the weather head towards Spring. We will also get more involved in various events at the TravelHub in Dunstable (whether solo or jointly with Sustrans remains to be seen - either way, it's a positive step!)  While these ambitions will require more manpower and profile-building, we're seeing more people step forward offering their services, so momentum seems to be building. 

The group's AGM is next Wednesday evening.  I'm looking forward to meeting the other members face to face for the first time. I hope we'll agree a positive and feasible list of action points and will come out energised to achieve great things.

I learned how cycling campaign works and witnessed firsthand the dividends it pays, from working with one of the country's most successful cycling campaign groups - Southwark Cyclists. I will have the wisdom and experience of many London colleagues to draw on and am really looking forward to doing my part to make a difference here, to make cycling more popular and viable as a safe and effective means of transport in both towns and in the corridor in between and to getting cycling firmly onto the agenda of the two councils' planning and transport committees. 

"Ask your council not what it can do for cycling, but what cycling can do for your council." 
- Ann Warren

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