CTC/Cyclenation 2013 conference report

Starting out on the Leeds 'Cycle Infrastructure Safari'..

CTC/Cyclenation 2013 conference report

Leeds Cycling Campaign hosted this year’s CTC/Cyclenation Conference earlier this month in splendid style at the Leeds Civic Hall. CTC’s Development Officer in Scotland, Suzanne Forup, sneaked in across the border..

I thought about using a disguise for the conference, as I was there under false pretences - I'm not a volunteer cycle campaigner, but a paid CTC worker. However, I couldn't get my false beard to stick on, so I just had to turn up with my own facial hair and see how that fitted in. This is what I found...

They are all jolly nice

Cycle campaigners can be quite direct on social media, so I was expecting a few rows and punch-ups. It turned out that the ones I spoke to were cheery, chatty chaps who were keen to share experiences and information.

That didn't mean there weren't differences of opinion, as there were certainly a lot of views aired - so many, in fact, that I wasn't sure Adrian Lord was going to get even half way through his superb presentation on 'What is good cycle infrastructure?'  I'd been particularly keen to hear a definitive answer to this question, but judging from the diversity of comments after each slide, I fear there isn't.

They are very committed

Cycling is great, talking about cycling can be good, but hours devoted freely to supporting other people to cycle is for the committed. I was highly impressed by the dedication and passion that everyone brought to the conference, and the work that they carry out back in their local areas. It was clear that developing positive relationships with local authorities, and sticking with them in the face of disappointing decisions, was an integral part of creating change.

It was great to see colleagues from Leeds Council at the conference, talking about recent infrastructure changes that will soon be made after long-term campaigning from Leeds Cycling Campaign.

They know a lot

The technical knowledge on display, particularly about infrastructure, was rather impressive. This was one of the key reasons why I wanted to attend in the first place, as I knew from Twitter that the cycle campaign fraternity all know their Dutch standards from their Danish ones (and I don't...yet).

From the discussion it sounded like most campaigners have been on extensive cycle tours, taking in all the appropriate infrastructure, whilst the 'Cycling Officers' they were talking to in local authorities would have problems locating the Netherlands on a map (*this is a crass generalisation for effect - if you work for a local authority please don’t take offence*). I can see how this would make you quite cross.

They are (nearly all) men

Unless they had managed a better disguise than me and had merged into the male contingent, I could only count five women in the 60 or so gathered on the Saturday morning to hear Carlton Reid talking about the future of cycling.

There are upsides: it's probably the only conference I've been to where I didn't have to queue for the loo.

However, CTC and Cyclenation are keen to encourage more women cycle campaigners, so if you are one, want to be one or know one, please get in touch.

Many thanks to Lizzie at Leeds Cycling Campaign for making it such as great weekend!

Suzanne Forup

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