Make Bike Week every week with Space for Cycling

Building safe Space for Cycling is a highly effective way of encouraging daily cycle use. (Photo: Sam Wakeling)
Bike Week 2017 saw half a million people take to pedal power at thousands of events across the country. However, we want Bike Week to be every week. To that end, our Space for Cycling campaigner Tom Guha has produced a toolkit to help you persuade your local authority to build the right environment for cycling.

Over the course of Bike Week, half a million people took to their pedals. People of all ages across the entire country – many for the first time – took advantage of events near them and discovered the thrill of pedal power.

The week finished with the famous London to Brighton bike ride. And as it finished we could not help but think: why must we wait an entire year to see so many people enjoying the gift of cycling again?

Throughout the following week, the sun continued to shine and many people continued to enjoy the thrill of cycling. However, no matter how much the sun shines, if your streets are dominated by cavernous junctions and foreboding trunk roads, the likelihood of any but the most foolhardy taking to their cycles is slim.

In the UK’s ‘Cycle City’ of Cambridge, 50% of people cycle every week. These are people from all walks of life, cycling primarily just to get around.

Tom Guha, Cycling UK Space for Cycling campaigner

In the Netherlands, 43% of people cycle daily. Closer to home, in the UK’s ‘Cycle City’ of Cambridge, 50% of people cycle every week. These are people from all walks of life, cycling primarily just to get around. Parents I have spoken to describe flippantly how their young children will cycle miles to their school and back in any weather, with little to no worry of a collision.

What do the Netherlands and Cambridge have in common? Entire networks of safe, accessible and comfortable Space for Cycling.

Space for Cycling

Across the country, local authorities are waking up to the benefits of Space for Cycling. Perhaps most notably, London is being steadily transformed as Cycle Superhighways are beginning to criss-cross the city. And other cities, such as Manchester, Leicester and Edinburgh, are becoming more habitable, people-friendly spaces as high-quality cycle routes are put in place.

It has been reported that creating Space for Cycling is the single most effective way of increasing cycle use – a statement that will seem obvious to anyone who has watched the exponential growth of cycling in cities like London.

However, building for cycling requires political will, which sometimes needs some gentle encouragement to show its face.

Last year, following a Space for Cycling workshop in Crewe, Cheshire East Council passed a motion to support Space for Cycling. The motion allocates 8.5% of their local transport budget to cycling and pledges to produce a comprehensive network of Space for Cycling across the region. More recently, a similar motion has been passed by Manchester City Council.

Political will

Getting your council to pass a motion to support Space for Cycling can be a highly effective way of creating safe conditions for people cycling – and making more people-friendly spaces for all as a result. While the idea may seem daunting, Cycling UK has produced a draft motion and a series of handy guides that will help you along the way.

You may find it far easier than you expect. After all, many local authorities are already realising the benefits without a great deal of campaigning needing to take place.

Using the following guides, we hope that, wherever you are, you can persuade your local authority to back Space for Cycling – so that Bike Week really can become every week!