East Sussex CTC and 1066 Cycle Club writing to councillors
East Sussex CTC and 1066 Cycle Club writing to councillors

The benefits of local campaigning

We take a brief look at what local campaigners can do to boost political support for cycling in their area.

Since last April, over 17,000 emails have been sent to incumbent councillors as part of the national Space for Cycling campaign - calling for safer infrastructure conditions so that people of all ages and abilities can cycle.  In places with strong campaign groups such as Manchester and Newcastle, a huge number of letters have been sent by members of the public and a high proportion of councillors have responded positively. 

  Number of emails sent to councillors Percentage of councillors supporting
 Newcastle  230 messages 67%
 Manchester  442 messages 43%

However, there is not a strong correlation between how many letters have been sent and the number of councillors pledging to fight for improved cycling conditions. 

  Number of emails sent to councillors  Percentage of councillors supporting
Glasgow  379 messages 3%
Herefordshire  104 messages 51%
East Sussex  128 messages 14%

The key ingredients are local campaigners, who can push, nudge, tweet and remind their representatives that they need to make firm commitments to cycling. 

East Sussex CTC and the 1066 Cycle Club decided more action was needed to encourage their councillors to sign up. 

A letter was prepared which would be sent to all the councillors in East Sussex who have not signed up to Space for Cycling - all 42 or them! A local business photocopied the letter for free.  We were able to use the internal post for the County Council so no stamps were required. We await the results for our efforts."

Sue Burton, CTC, East Sussex

Similar efforts in Somerset and Herefordshire have yielded positive results.

Here are some step-by-step suggestions:

As an individual:

1. Check our interactive map to see how many councillors are backing Space for Cycling in your area.

2. Check how many letters have been written to councillors in your area (information is displayed in the pop-up boxes).

3. Write to your councillor (if they've not already signed up) by using our quick and easy website: www.space4cycling.org.uk

4. Not had a response?  Your councillor might be on twitter. A prompt in the public domain can speed things along.  Here's a sample tweet:

"Dear Councillor @(insert username) Will you back #space4cycling where we live? www.space4cycling.org.uk/councillors "

5 If you still don't get a response, write in to our campaigns team space4cycling[at]ctc.org.uk

 

As a group:

1. Get together with some of your fellow cyclists or your local group.

2. Download, edit and print our sample letter.

3. Fill in your councillor's details and postal address, available on your council's website.

4. Fill in your contact details (postal address and email).

5. Sign and send the letters to councillors that have yet to support the campaign.

 

Extra advice:

You should expect a response from your councillor if you live or work in their ward.  However, if your Cycle Group covers other areas or even the entire county / council area, then you can also state this in your email / letter when contacting councillors outside your ward.

Be sure to email in any replies to space4cycling[at]ctc.org.uk

RobbieGillett