Winning the right to cycle on Llandudno Promenade
Retirement didn't mean cyclist and Cycling UK Local Cycle Campaigner Roy Spilsbury was going to relax. He felt rage at a rather ridiculous proposal by his local council to keep cyclists off the spacious promenade in Llandudno. The Council wanted to force cyclists to cycle on congested main roads rather than by the seaside, so Roy launched a successful campaign to get them to change their minds.
Roy has spent a lot of time over the years thinking about how to get a message across or evoke the reaction he wants from people. In his career as a probation officer, developing an instinct or feel for what would make an impact was necessary.
I meet a lot of people who feel passionately about injustices, unfortunately a lot of them get discouraged at the first obstacle. You need to be able capture that outrage and focus it in a controlled manner to gain support and make changes.“
Cycling UK Local Campaigner
Perhaps it was the development of those instincts that made transitioning into an effective campaigner easy. Roy is a Cycling UK Local Cycle Campaigner who used his listening skills and understanding of human nature to challenge Llandudno Council and their legal department to win the right for cyclists to use the town's expansive promenade as a shared space for walkers and cyclists.
To most, the story of the Llandudno Promenade would seem an open and shut case. Planning to include the local promenade as part of National Cycle Route 5 was widely accepted in a public consultation and the council claimed it was going take a decision based on what was in the best interest of the public. Despite the positivity the scheme generated, including from the town’s own scrutiny committee, the local council declared riding the promenade illegal and that those riding on it would be fined.
It was a carefully considered letter Roy sent to the council's Head of Legal that provided the outcome everyone had originally expected, not an actual bylaw or lease agreement with the land owner.,
In May 2011, Roy wrote to explain that he’d received notice from “a group of well heeled, former high grade professionals who intended to cycle on the promenade in challenge to the prosecution, who wanted to know what precisely would be the wording of the charge and if the County was minded to prosecute upon what public interest grounds would the action be perused."
Roy understood holding one senior person directly accountable in writing, would force the desired response, in light of the fact that there was no actual legal grounds to deny shared access.
When the Council's Head of Legal responded to say that only irresponsible cyclists, those causing harm to other users of the promenade would have legal sanctions imposed, Roy knew it was the time to go to the press and announce the win.
Today, Llandudno Promenade is an excellent example of a shared space that everyone, including cyclists can enjoy.
Roy’s three top tips:
1. When stating your case, do so concisely and calmly.
2. Show you’re not alone in the cause. Campaigns gain momentum and get taken more seriously when someone other than the main protagonist begins a public action. Once action has been started you can resume leading the charge.
3. Know when to go to the press. Having the public on your side is often a strong motivator for local councils to make changes.
If you want to seek help to open up one-way streets or promenades to cycling, the first step is to write to your councillors asking them to make Space for Cycling - click the link below to get started.