Cycling UK and climate charity deliver workshop to inspire the next generation of campaigners

On 24 June, Cycling UK will deliver a workshop, ‘Building a vision for cycling in a greener world’, in collaboration with climate charity Hope for the Future to a group of climate-conscious young people in Doncaster

The event, ‘Spill the Green Tea’ has been organised by the Regional South Yorkshire Climate Assembly (RYCA), in conjunction with the British Youth Council (BYC), supported by the Youth Work Unit.

The workshop analyses transport's stake in the climate crisis. Young people will discuss the potential of sustainable transport alternatives, with a focus on the potential of cycling as part of an integrated transport solution to reduce car-dependency.

The learners will harness their own lived experiences to build a ‘youth vision for cycling’. They'll then be guided through the levers of transport policy, and trained to prepare verbal and written asks for future interactions with MPs and decision-makers.

Why is it important to engage with young people?

We know that the environment is a core issue in young people’s consciousness, with under 18s more likely (70%) to view climate change as a global emergency than other age groups. Younger age groups and future generations are likely to experience the more severe effects of climate breakdown, and climate justice is a factor that motivates my personal activism whilst campaigning for urgent climate action alongside Green New Deal Rising, a movement that champions the voices of 18–35-year-olds.

We also know young people are favourable to pro-cycling policies, since it's a cheap and green transport option. A YouGov poll commissioned by Cycling UK in 2022 found 18–24-year-olds to be the age group most supportive (68%) of introducing more cycle lanes to encourage greater numbers of people to cycle, with the smallest percentage (18%) in opposition.

However, within cycling young people are underrepresented. According to Cycling UK statistics, people aged 50-59 in England make the most cycle trips, a figure that's reflected in the average age across Cycling UK’s circa 70,000 members: 57. We're hugely grateful to our existing base of members and supporters, however, we've identified that young people, as well as women and ethnic minorities, are underrepresented in our activities, particularly campaigning. 

Cycling UK are making a conscious move to engage with more young people. It's a part of our work to increase the diversity of people cycling and advocating for cycling and active travel, to promote cycling as a magic bullet for health, the economy, and the environment.

We're collaborating with the climate charity Hope for the Future in this venture - a valuable partner, with a wealth of experience in helping constituents, particularly young people, raise their voices for action on climate change.

It's a cliché to say that young people are the future, but it's true. In 2019, the number of Westminster MPs aged 18-29 ballooned from 13 to 21; the voices of millennials and Gen Z are only growing in strength and volume. In 2024, when we're most likely to next see a General Election, the vote is expected to be the first one where millenials (born 1981-96) outnumber baby boomers (born 1946-64), and thousands more Gen Z'ers (born 1997-2012) are reaching voting age each year.

What we're saying to young people

Since 1990, the UK has decarbonised by 44% across all sectors as a whole. However, progress has been greater in some areas than others, with domestic transport reducing its emissions by only 3.6% in this time.

This makes transport the UK’s biggest emitting sector; a quarter of our total emissions come from domestic journeys alone, and 91% of this output is attributed to trips taken by motor vehicle.

Across the same era, motor traffic in the UK has grown steadily by 10-15%. While we’ve seen technological innovation to make motoring cleaner, notably with the withdrawal of leaded petrol in 2000, alongside the rising efficiency of internal combustion engines, the environmental burden of motoring remains high.

Our workshop will ask young people which sustainable transport alternatives they’ve tried, and invites them to debate and reflect on their experiences and accessibility to different modes, including cycling.

Through guided discovery, the young people will construct a ‘youth vision for cycling’. It will be forged from their own stories and analysis of the benefits of cycling for individuals and society as a whole.

Following the workshop, Cycling UK and Hope for the Future will continue to work with the young people, generating platforms for the learners to put their asks to decision-makers, including their local MPs.

How this links to our work

Cycling UK’s engagement with young people, presenting cycling as part of the solution to car-dependency and the climate emergency, is timely as we take the challenge to rebalance our transport system to the governments of the UK.

As a society, we need to drive less and cycle more, with 52% of journeys under five miles currently made by car. Cycling UK is calling for decision-makers to embrace a change of mindset and shift investment away from driving, and towards cycling and public transport.

We know this is something young people want too; RYCA, co-hosts of ‘Spill the Green Tea’, published their ‘Green Youth Deal’ in November 2022, calling for public transport networks to be greatly expanded and made affordable to young people to increase usage.  

That doesn’t mean no one should ever drive, but that we should be actively creating affordable, easy and safe alternatives to driving. Half of people in the UK feel they have no alternative to owning a car, which often costs up to a fifth of annual income. This won’t just help the planet; it will help people break out of poverty and enjoy healthier lives.

In July, Cycling UK will be asking for your support in our response to the UK Government’s consultation which will shape the future of England's strategic roads. The current plan, which proposes increasing road network capacity, is inconsistent with achieving the Government’s net zero targets. We’ll be calling for the third Roads Investment Strategy (RIS3) to be smaller than its predecessors, with overall transport funding rebalanced towards cycling and other solutions to reduce car-dependency.


Hope for the Future is a climate charity which works to equip communities, groups and individuals across the country to communicate the urgency of climate change with their local politicians. Their vision is to see communities and their elected representatives across the UK come together to take decisive action on climate change.

RYCA is a group made up of members across the Yorkshire & Humber region, providing a collective youth voice for young people within the climate discussion. We encourage young people living in the Y&H region to represent their local authority and to join the pool of discussion when it comes to young people’s futures.

The BYC are the national youth council of the UK. They work with others to amplify young people’s voices, creating an environment in which young people's views are valued, sought and acted upon – to create a world in which every young person is empowered to create social and political change.