Cycling academics and advocates to compare notes in Newcastle

A one-day conference bringing together researchers and riders is to be staged at Northumbria University in Newcastle on Saturday 14th November. Academia & Advocacy is part of the national ESRC Festival of Social Science and has been organised by Dr Seraphim Alvanides, with support from local advocacy group, Newcycling.

Transport journalist Christian Wolmar, a former member of Cycling England and who recently campaigned to become Labour’s candidate for London mayor, will be speaking at the conference. He said: “We must move on the transport debate, nationally and locally, and with urgency too.”

He added: “Campaigners are independent advisors and informants and are often at the dark and dusty coalface and in the frontline of public debate. Academia can give support through their research, evidence collection and by working with media. Campaigning for the inclusion of cycling in urban design is a matter close to my heart. Ultimately, building-in space for cycling will make our society better, fairer, healthier and happier.”

The conference keynote will be delivered by Rachel Aldred of the University of Westminster. Dr. Aldred is currently working on a follow-up to the Near-Miss Project.

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Morning session: Developing the message on inclusive cycling

11:30 Welcome: Seraphim Alvanides

11:40 Keynote: Rachel Aldred
12:00 Geoff Vigar Panellist 1 (academic) “Where are we at in academia with cycling. What do we know?”
12:20 Kevin Hickman Panellist 2 (advocacy) “What does designing for inclusive cycling mean?”

12:40 Panel discussion with audience chaired by Christian Wolmar

13:15 LUNCH (provided) and screening Beauty and the Bike (short version)

Afternoon session: A voice for cycling

14:00 Summary of panel discussion (incl actions, needs, future planning) Christian Wolmar

14:15 Sally Hinchcliffe Speaker 1 (advocacy) “How cycle bloggers shifted mountains”
14:30 Rachel Aldred Speaker 2 (academic) “Gaps in research and evidence – what don’t we know?”
14:45 Claire Prospert Speaker 3 (advocacy) “newcycling – a focussed campaign”

15:00 Breakout on gathering reactions, views and opinions, informed by speakers and panellists
16:00 Summary of workshops – how can academia and advocacy work together for a common goal? TBC
16:30 Conclusion of event, outline of possible next steps Katja Leyendecker

16:45 END

Academia & Advocacy is a free event and registration is now open.

Chancellor urged to spend money on cycling by major businesses and bicycle organisations

Chancellor George Osborne has been told that investing in cycling would save the nation £47 billion. That’s the message from #choosecycling, an initiative from British Cycling, and supported by CTC, Sustrans, the Bicycle Association and the London Cycling Campaign. Significantly, many large businesses – such as the AA, Sky, Virgin Trains and the National Grid – have also added their corporate clout to an open letter urging Osborne to release funds for cycling.

British Cycling’s #ChooseCycling Network is a collection of British businesses representing over 250,000 employees. The open letter sent on behalf of businesses calls on Osborne to put meaningful investment into cycling in order to boost productivity by creating a healthier workforce.

The letter asks Osborne to:

Ensure cycling and walking funding continues after Local Sustainable Transport Fund is withdrawn at the end of April 2016

Leave room in the current Spending Review to invest at least £10-20 per person per year – the target set by the Prime Minister in April – to increase take up of cycling.

Together with the Transport Secretary and before the 2016 Budget publish a comprehensive, fully-funded plan – a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy – with national guidelines to make our roads and junctions safer for cycling, with more segregated lanes and places to park securely.

British Cycling’s policy adviser Chris Boardman said: “It is no coincidence that some of the biggest businesses in the country are members of the #ChooseCycling Network. The appalling level of physical inactivity in this country is hurting us all; businesses face falling productivity as absences rise.

“Businesses want their staff and customers to live in towns and cities that are more pleasant, more liveable, less congested, less polluted, healthier, happier and more prosperous. This is only possible if more people are able to travel more easily by bicycle.

“Examples of sustained investment in cycling infrastructure paying rich dividends can be seen across Europe, and we recently invited members of the government to come with us to view one of the finest infrastructure models – Copenhagen.

“It was encouraging that Robert Goodwill, the Minister for Cycling, took us up on this, but extremely disappointing that the Treasury declined to even respond to our invitation.

“It is vital that those people making important decisions on our behalf are fully aware of what can be achieved – we can only hope that the Treasury choose to listen to the demand for crucial investment in cycling before it’s too late for this and future generations.”

Edmund King, president of The AA, said: “An increase in cycling can be good for the economy in many ways as it can help reduce congestion and pressure on parking spaces and over-crowded public transport. Often the interests of cyclists and drivers are the same, hence we also call upon the Chancellor to help business by boosting investment in cycling.”

Entries open soon for tenth anniversary Cyclone weekend in NE England

Entries for the 2016 Cyclone Festival of Cycling open on October 31st. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the event.

The weekend will feature the Tyne Six Bridges family rides on the evening of Friday 17th June, followed by the Virgin Money Cyclone Challenge Rides on the Saturday. Sunday sees top mens’ and womens’ road racing in the Beaumont Trophy and Curlew Cup races.

Organiser Peter Harrison said:

“The Cyclone Festival of Cycling has grown so much in ten years, and so has cycling.”

Harrison is encouraging riders of all abilities to sign up for the 2016 Virgin Money Cyclone Challenge Rides. The traditional three rides of 34, 64 and 106 miles are joined for the first time by a 90 mile option.

The first Beaumont Trophy race was held in 1952 with previous winners including Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Newton, Russell and Dean Downing, Malcolm Elliott and Don Sanderson.

Modeshift STARS accreditation regional awards announced

In 2015, 347 schools nationally have achieved Modeshift STARS accreditation in recognition of their efforts to encourage their pupils to travel to school in greener, healthier and safer ways, and now the very best of those schools has been announced.

Six Schools of the Region have been recognised for their outstanding achievements in increasing levels of sustainable and active travel.

From the East of England, Godmanchester Primary School from Cambridgeshire worked particularly hard to promote cycling to school which resulted in a 50% increase in numbers cycling from 20% to 31%. In the South West, Haydonleigh Primary School of Swindon are able to boast over 25% of pupils cycling or scooting to school. Meanwhile in the South East, St Bede Church of England Primary were the first school to achieve the Gold level of Modeshift STARS in Hampshire and have recently added sustainable travel to part of their School Improvement Plan meaning that they are committed to sustainable travel for the long term.

Further north, the Midlands School of the Region title went to St John’s (CE)A) Primary in Stoke where who have achieved a 21.3% reduction in car use over the last 3-years. For the North East, the Federation of Abbey Schools in Darlington took the award where the percentage of pupils travelling by car has fallen to 13.1% from 35.3% in 2011/12. Finally, the Yorkshire & The Humber Region award went to Rawdon Littlemoor Primary School of Leeds who have reduced the number of pupils travelling to school by car from 45.9% to 27.4% in just two years.

The six Schools of the Region will now be invited to a National Awards Event in March 2016 at which the National Awards Panel will decide upon the National School of the Year.

Ross Butcher, Chair of Modeshift, said: “The STARS scheme recognises schools that have demonstrated excellence in supporting cycling, walking and other forms of sustainable travel. The schools that have been recognised as Schools of the Region have achieved way beyond what is expected of them and as such, are able to demonstrate some incredible results. They are a shining example to all of us and prove that we really can make a difference to the journey to school.”

Majority of Brits want more money spent on cycling, says Sustrans

A new survey commissioned by Sustrans has found that the majority of British people want more money spent on cycling. “Bike Life” is claimed to be the biggest survey ever conducted on attitudes to cycling in the UK, and shows that three quarters of people want more government investment in making cycling safer. The survey has been released ahead of the Treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Review, due on 25th November.

Jason Torrance, Policy Director at Sustrans, said:

“People want governments to spend more, and say that they would cycle more if it were safer. Now governments must close this gap between current spending and public demand.

“Physical inactivity, congestion and declining air quality cost our economy billions. Governments must act to secure a greater share of current transport investment for cycling and walking.

“The Spending Review in November and the devolved elections next May are perfect opportunities to do just that. Government must ensure the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy is ambitious and guarantees long-term funding for active travel.”

The Bike Life Survey asked about the travel habits and opinions of thousands of people across seven UK cities: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and Newcastle.

The report is based on the Copenhagen Bicycle Account, conducted every two years, which the Danish city uses as part of its planning process. (Copenhagen has built 3kms of bicycle lanes every year since 1905.)

Copenhagen has produced the reports since 1996. As a result 45% of journeys to work, school and university are now made by bike in the Danish capital. Sustrans believes that UK cities have the potential to achieve the same.

Bike Life was produced in association with seven cities across the UK and revealed that the 11,000 people questioned wanted on average £26 per person to be spent on cycling annually, as part of the £300 per person currently spent on transport. Each city has produced its own version of the Bike Life survey. The one for Newcastle reveals that the number of cycling trips in the city increased by 12 percent between 2013 and 2014

Sustrans claims that “even people who don’t ride a bike recognise the importance of building bike lanes and funding other projects to boost cycling.”

71 percent of those who said that they never used a bike still backed an increase, rising to 87 percent among those frequently riding a bike. 73 percent think that things would be better if people cycled more

ICM Unlimited carried out the telephone survey, interviewing a representative sample of 11,016 adults aged 16+.