Dorset Cyclists’ Network - a model for nationwide campaigning
Dorset Cyclists’ Network (DCN), which was founded in 1992, was designed to provide some cohesion between 11 South West towns, including Bournemouth and Poole, to campaign for cyclists’ needs, alongside Cycling UK. It provides a very attractive example of how effectively multiple local authorities and key players can be lobbied when groups from smaller areas within a single county work in collaboration with one another to raise the profile of cycling across the county.
DCN currently has a membership of around 1,300 cyclists, and is financed almost entirely from members’ subscriptions, which each cost £6 a year.
Some major features of Dorset’s county structure:
- A county-wide structure
- Autonomous branches with coordinators
- Advice, budget and resource sharing between branches
- Anti-hostile and confrontational approach with councils
Cycling UK is keen to promote DCN’s set-up as a particularly attractive one, and is keen to assist with the creation of more. The network is currently in need of improvement, and the Towns – Gillingham, Shaftesbury and Lyme Regis - are lacking branches with coordinators, although ‘contacts’ exist in two of these.
Someone is also needed to carry on the fine work of Rosa Adams of Bridport, who recently became unable to carry on her role. So, it’s not only ‘Fill that Hole’ (- one of Cycling UK’s long running schemes) time, but ‘Fill that treasurer vacancy’ too!
DCN is in partnership with, amongst others, the Dorset Wildlife Trust, as it has environmental concerns also. In fact, owing to relations with Michael Evans, DCN’s Chairman, the body is keen to push for the designation of a National Park in Dorset and East Devon. He has remarked how they are fabulous areas for all forms of cycling and walking, and, with a National Park, there is real potential for increased recreational opportunity, with the associated benefits of enjoyment, health and well-being, and quality of life which this would provide.’