The Bristol cycle campaign conference venue
The Bristol cycle campaign conference venue

Bristol Cycling Campaign Autumn Conference 2012

New strategies, new words and new tools were the topics at this year's local campaigners conference. Speakers unveiled new webtools and strategies and called for further coordination between campaign groups to help address cycling issues.

Bristol Cycling Campaign hosted the annual CTC/Cyclenation campaigners conference on the 13th October. Over 80 delegates attended, with a good showing from the South West, but one coming all the way from Scotland.

The day started with a choice of tours, each emphasising a variety of existing infrastructure changes used to improve cyclist safety, pedestrian safety, reduce congestion, carbon reduction and improve public health - many from the era of the Cycling City, which saw Bristol granted over £20m over a three year period from 2009-2011. Tour leaders encouraged debate and discussion about how Bristol's infrastructure compared with other towns, and what changes could be made.

Once all the tours had finished and the delegates had reconvened, a series of six, ten-minute roundtable discussions were held to discuss issues such as strategy development, infrastructure, building political will and links with the media.

Effective communication and unity between campaigners was the theme of the talk by Martin Lucas-Smith - a campaigner with Cambridge Cycling Campaign and CycleStreets - who unveiling Cyclescape, an online tool for campaigners.

Cyclescape will provide a platform for campaigners to get heavily or a little bit involved, allowing discussion on a wide dissemination of issues, which will hopefully lead to the assemblement of structured solutions to issues surrounding cycling in the UK" Martin Lucas-Smith from CycleStreets and one of the designers of Cyclescape

Other features of the Cyclescape include an online library of useful documents, a database of cycling casualties, an automatic feed of local planning applications, and a means of logging both good and bad infrastructure for online discussion with other users. Cyclescape has great potential to help strengthen relationships between cycle groups, campaigners and the public.

Roger Geffen then laid out CTC's motives to enable their campaigners to mobilise together and explained CTC's revised policy on infrastructure. He also outlined CTC views on the inefficiencies in the legal system in protecting cyclists. 

Cyclist safety cannot just be dependant on better driver training and better infrastructure, but it must be compounded by the backing of the law, through better policing, sentencing, and CPS guidelines, and in a way which demonstrates quite clearly the seriousness of driving offences against cyclists." Roger Geffen

The first of two speakers closing the conference was Gordon Seabright, who set out the national policy context and introduced CTC's strategy until 2020. Next up was Adrian Davis, who advises both Bristol NHS on transport issues and the Department for Transport on health issues. He underlined the importance of the joint strategic needs assessments process for allocating resources and attention to physical activity. With local authorities taking over responsibility for health, there are some opportunities to extract funding for cycling projects from health budgets.

Feedback on the day was extremely positive, and, under Phillip Darnton's characteristically impassioned chairmanship, I for one went away both inspired and enlightened.


Mark Slater