Support and advice from your fellow Cycling UK campaigners is vital. One of the first things you should do is contact other local representatives in your area (you'll receive a list of everyone in your region).
If the representatives in your area are not already holding regular meetings, then we strongly recommend that you either encourage a meeting or you arrange to meet other representatives yourself.
It is also important to identify Cycling UK voluntary Campaigns Coordinators, who are very experienced, and whose job it is to encourage network liaison and share best practice. All this helps promote a flexible campaigning community that can react promptly to any call to action.
One of the most common reasons for people to leave the network (and sometimes give up cycle campaigning altogether) is because they become isolated and lose heart, feeling as if they are the only one out there campaigning for change – don’t let this happen to you! In areas where Cycling UK representatives are thinly spread, there may be a cycle campaign group you could usefully join.
Your authority (county or district) may (should!) have a Cycling Forum, which meets regularly with relevant council officers, councillors and other interested parties to discuss and further the cycling agenda. Ideally, the Forum will feed directly into the authority's policy on cycling and will be able to influence at a high level. Dave Holman of Wolves on Wheels Cycle Campaign produced a well researched paper in 2003 on Forums, offering recommendations on best practice. There is also a useful case study of how 'A Cycling UK local campaigner reactivates Crawley cycle forum' .
Please see the attached briefing for Cycling Officers and all those who attend Cycle Forums. Cycling Officers’ managers and others with an interest in cycling may also find it useful.
Traffic Regulation / Road Orders
In certain circumstances, local authorities issue official orders when they want to alter the road or introduce a new road layout This gives the general public and user groups a set opportunity to comment on the proposal. If there are a number of objections then it is likely to go to Public Inquiry at which an inspector hears evidence from all sides and then produces a report either recommending or rejecting the scheme.
Although Cycling UK National Office sometimes receives copies of TROs, it is far speedier and more efficient if arrangements are made for your council to send them directly to you as an accredited Cycling UK representative. Get in touch with them and ask them to do this, but if you have any difficulties, contact the Volunteer Support Officer at National Office and we will do our best to help.
Changes to existing road layouts or the introduction of new features may dramatically impact on cyclists and their safety, from an engineering point of view. One caution, though: it’s very easy to get bogged down exclusively in an engineering issue, such as a bad junction, but always make sure that your pursuit of a small-scale issue does not compromise your ‘bigger picture’ view. It is just as important to influence the engineers and Highways Department to become more cycle-friendly as a whole and to maintain a good relationship with them. This is where befriending the Cycling Officer or sitting on your local Cycling Forum can prove very useful.
Rights of Way (RoW)
Orders: To alter or eliminate an existing Right of Way, or introduce a new one in England and Wales, the council has to issue an order. This gives the general public and user groups an opportunity to comment on the proposal. If there are a number of objections, then it is likely to go to a Public Inquiry where an inspector will hear evidence from all sides, weigh it up and produce a report and final decision.
Most RoW orders will probably be of interest to you, although investigating footpath orders may be of limited use unless the proposal is to upgrade the footpath to a bridleway; or if the path is a useful link for cyclists even if they have to walk it. For your own sake, it’s best to be quite selective about which order to pursue, as it can be quite time-consuming and if you maintain your objections at a public inquiry, it could be costly. Check with Cycling UK first!
Apart from involving yourself in the RoW order process, there are a number of mechanisms that can be used to developing new paths for cycling in the countryside.
Scotland: For more on off-road access in Scotland, see our briefing on The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.
Rights of Way Group or Local Access Forum (LAF) - England and Wales
Local Access Forums are organised by the authority (county or district) and may be attended by council officers and elected members along with members of user groups, e.g. the British Horse Society, Ramblers Association and Trail Riders Fellowship. The Forum may also attract people from the tourism industry, landowner organisations and other relevant parties such as Forestry Commission staff.
Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (‘Right to Roam’ Act), local authorities have a duty to set up Local Access Forums and Cycling UK is keen to see that the interests of cyclists are well covered through them via it's local campaigners.
Rights of Way Improvement Plans (RoWIPs) - England and Wales
RoWIPs require local authorities to improve access to the countryside and are another mechanism for enhancing opportunities for off-road cycling.
It is not only highway schemes that affect cyclists. Planning decisions may lead, for example, to significant changes to traffic patterns/volume (e.g. a new housing estate or supermarket). Consultation with Cycling UK campaigners in such cases may help to avert damaging consequences for cyclists, or even encourage the authority to enhance the development by actively promoting cycling within it. This can sometimes be done through 'planning gain' or contributions from the developers themselves.
The best way of involving yourself with local planning is to ensure that you're listed as a local community contact who needs to be consulted. Friends of the Earth offer some useful guidance for communities and campaigners on 'Statements of Community Involvement', for example.
The local authorities that are responsible for planning (Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) include: county councils, most district councils, metropolitan authorities, London Boroughs and Unitary authorities.
Many groups, Sustrans being the largest, promote cycle networks and cycle routes. These can be very useful as they are tangible and are often a good starting point for a local authority on the brink of making their district more cycle-friendly.
It’s for you to decide if cycle routes will be a good mechanism to further your objective. It may be that you would instead prefer the council to take a wider view of cycling provision. However, if you do get involved in routes and network design, there are some important things to remember. Routes need to be:
- Direct: detours mean the route won’t be used
- Continuous: stopping and starting is confusing and often dangerous, sending the amateur cyclist shooting out into a junction only to abandon them there to fend for themselves.
- Safe: routes need to be well maintained, well lit and safely designed
- Convenient: routes need to go from somewhere to something. They need to be where you want them to be and ideally follow desire lines.
- Coherent: routes should be easy to follow and complete
Routes don’t necessarily take the form of designated cycle paths and lanes - home zones, roads with 20 mph limits, back streets and calmed roads can form part of them.
Working with other campaigners and your local authority on a cycle map is also a useful exercise. The Cheltenham Cycle Map is a good example of this process, while there have been some major advances in online journey mapping and planning: see cyclestreets for example - an interactive journey planner developed by Cambridge Cycle Campaign.
Bicycle User Groups
In brief, Bicycle User Groups press for facilities for cyclists at the workplace, including cycle parking, showers and lockers and also focus on cycling incentives for the workforce. If you have a large employer in your area, you could find out if they have a BUG and if not, offer to give a talk to staff about setting one up. A Workplace Challenge might be a good way of stirring up interest!