Inside the event launch of Cycling UK's five-year strategy

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On 12 June, Cycling UK launched its new five-year strategy setting out a renewed vision, mission and purpose. The event, held at One Great George Street in Westminster, marked an important new chapter for Cycling UK. We hear from Tomos Owens, our public affairs officer, on how the event went

The event was packed wall to wall with campaigners, political activists, influencers, cycle group leaders and journalists and the sense of progress and inspiration that came from speakers and conversations in the room was tangible. This was a room filled with people eager to build a healthier, happier and greener country. 


With the scramble to organise and set up the room forgotten, I swiped a glass of wine and began to welcome guests who started to arrive around 5:30 pm. Greeted by images of inspirational faces promoting the community that cycling can create, guests were given their name tags and a Cycling UK-branded goodie bag. People filtered through the cloakroom first, dropping off folding bikes and coats (there were quite a few!), and then into the bustling room. 

Very soon, the room was filled to the brim, all eager to hear about the future of our organisation. We welcomed lively figures from our 100 Women in Cycling campaign, alongside the best and brightest from the active travel policy world, cross sector leaders and many, many more influential guests. 

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Pedalling, policy and politics 

Sarah Mitchell, chief executive of Cycling UK, took to the stage to kick off the speeches and hosted conversation. Outlining the key aims of the new strategy, Sarah emphasised the importance of improving public perceptions of cycling and how we need to boost the number and diversity of people who cycle. 

Challenging the negative perceptions of cycling is essential to making the UK a better place for everyone; because cycling is good for all of us – whether we cycle ourselves or not. Building positive public perceptions of cycling is key to ensuring that policy commitments to cycling are delivered on, and to ensuring that our roads are safer for all of us. 

To bring the aims of the strategy to life, a short film was played. Telling the story of the charity’s vision in under 100 seconds, it featured a spine-tingling original poem by spoken word artist Erin Bolens and was fabulous to see on the large screens with the volume turned up high. 

Following Sarah, Paul McNamee, director of the Labour climate & environment forum, was welcomed to make a speech. His words echoed the importance of political support for cycling, stressing that how its benefits cut across party lines and wider society. We then heard from Sam Hall, director of the Conservative environment network. Sam spoke about the political and environmental significance of supporting cycling. He also highlighted how cycling fits into broader environmental goals and the need for political backing to achieve these objectives. Against the background of the ongoing general election, both speakers had the attention of the whole room offering unique insights into the fight for active travel and its future in the UK. 

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The community champions panel 

The crescendo of the evening was easily the discussion led by three winners of 100 Women in Cycling, chaired by Sarah. The panel featured Biola Babawale, Chair and ride leader for Velociposse Club and Founder of Cycle Together; Carol Thompson, founder of Sunny Cycles and Chair of Glasgow Gals Cycling Club; and Iffat Tejani, founder of Evolve Cycling Network. Each panellist brought a uniquely inspirational perspective on the benefits and challenges of promoting cycling in communities that have not historically seen cycling as an option. 

Iffat started the panel with insights from Evolve Cycling Network and her amazing personal story of coming to cycling late in life. Her focus on creating inclusive spaces and modest cycling clothing for Muslim women underscored the importance of understanding the particular needs and challenges of certain groups. 

Biola then shared her experiences with Velociposse Club, from her first encounter with them, having turned up to one of their rides without a bike, but with bursting enthusiasm, to becoming their chair. Biola discussed her focus and mission of making cycling accessible to marginalised groups and her story illustrated the positive impact cycling can have building communities and confidence. 

Finally, we heard from Carol who spoke about her impressive efforts in Glasgow, encouraging more women to cycle through Sunny Cycles and Glasgow Gals Cycling Club. Her initiatives have created a supportive environment for women of all ages and abilities to enjoy cycling, helping to foster a sense of community and empowerment. 

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Wrapping things up 

Energised by the discussion and stories from the stage, the room came alive again. 

The evening wrapped up with a sense of optimism and shared purpose. The launch of Cycling UK's new strategy was a promising start to a journey aimed at making cycling an integral part of life in the UK. We hope that attendees left with a clear understanding of Cycling UK’s path ahead and a renewed commitment to supporting our vision for a healthier, happier, and more connected society through cycling. 

Read more about our new strategy.