Why all of us should lobby for change while the momentum exists for a realistic and meaningful change

Comment: Advocacy from the bottom up

It feels an all too obvious point to make, but there’s definitely a correlation between well designed cycle infrastructure, the number of cyclists and in turn, the number of bike shops in a region.

Seaside towns, which typically have segregated coastal routes for cycling and walking, always seem to have a greater density of bike stores than towns with less to offer the cyclist. I returned from Berlin last month, having pedalled a large chunk of the city and there were as many bike shops as there were ping pong tables (and there’s a handful of those on nearly every side street).

Nine times out of ten, the key roads had segregated cycle paths. Cars give way to bikes here and not reluctantly, it’s just standard procedure in a city where two wheel transport has been allowed to flourish. From what I saw, cyclists don’t run reds nearly as much, either, which helps.

As many women cycle as men and if window displays are anything to go by, the bike shops recognise and embrace that fact. It’s an eye opener and not something we could replicate overnight here.

As you may have read, TRL are currently trialling ‘Dutch style’ infrastructure at its enormous Bracknell facility. By the end of summer their report is expected to end up in front of the Department of Transport with a recommendation, based on what methods work with UK drivers and cyclists in realistic and thorough as can be simulations. Funding changes on a large scale is another issue altogether, but this is something we as an industry should keep a keen eye on.

If rubber stamped, local authorities nationwide will be granted permission to ‘Go Dutch’, but some no doubt will need a firm nudge to do so. Without wading into the advocacy debate too far, it’s time for each and every one of us in the business to lobby for change while the momentum exists for it to realistically happen.

Talk to your competition about what can be done in the area for the common good. Have a relationship with the local cycling club and lobby those in charge of local highways to plan cycle infastructure into every new and exisiting road tended to.

If your business doesn’t yet contribute to the Bike Hub industry levy, look into it. It’s for the common good and is without doubt providing a return to the wider industry.

For more information, contact Pat at the Bicycle Association via www.bicycleassociation.org.uk

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