Space for Cycling Leeds the way!

Cycle campaigners in Leeds
On our third leg of the Space for Cycling roadshow, we were in Leeds. Our venue was packed to the rafters with people ready to get stuck into campaigning for Space for Cycling!

Our third stop on the Space for Cycling Roadshow brought us to Leeds – another city better known for its motorway intersections than its cycling infrastructure. Indeed, we were overlooked all day by a rather ominous A58 flyover – offering a stark reminder of why we need Space for Cycling!  By the end of the day, it was clear that there are plenty of local campaigners – and politicians – itching to take action!

The day was co-hosted by Leeds Cycling Campaign, who did a wonderful job of welcoming us to their city and providing some local context. Of the events we’ve run so far, Leeds drew the largest and possibly most experienced crowd. By contrast to Birmingham, the majority of delegates were already members of active campaign groups – and some of the most active campaign groups at that.

Cycling is the future of city living and safe infrastructure is the key to making it happen.”

Fabian Hamilton MP

Campaigners from Sheffield, York, Liverpool and – of course – Leeds, came along to share ideas, network and learn new skills. Due to the relatively high level of experience in the venue, those just getting started were spoilt with a wealth of knowledge to draw on. It also meant that some of the more technically demanding workshops were very busy.

At previous events, the morning session on forming and running a campaign group has attracted the largest crowd. Not so in Leeds! Instead, Dr Robin Lovelace of Leeds University and Propensity to Cycle Tool fame, walked a packed room through how his tool can help you create a ‘tube map’ to lobby your council with. By the end of the session, many campaigners had intricate networks drawn up.

Over lunch, we were joined by Fabian Hamilton, Labour MP for Leeds North East and Treasurer of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG). He spoke about how the APPCG campaign for cycling in Parliament and the ways in which we can support them locally. Before leaving, he made a very clear address; “cycling is the future of city living and safe infrastructure is the key to making it happen!”

With Fabian’s words still ringing in our ears, we moved on to our next session; the national political context and getting your voice heard within your local authority. Cycling UK’s Policy Director, Roger Geffen MBE, spoke about the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy before various local Councillors and campaigners spoke about how best to lobby your council.

The discussion was a varied one that gave us an idea of the problems Councillors face – no matter how enthusiastic they may be – and the ways in which we can help as campaigners.

We ran seven workshops in total, looking at everything from the logistics of forming and running a campaign group to the inner workings of government. The day demonstrated to me how adaptive we need to be in order to cater to all audiences.

We still have seven events left – so please come along! Next stop is Edinburgh on 26 November, where we will be teaming up with Walk, Cycle Vote to hatch plans for the upcoming Scottish elections.

Following that, we will be in Crewe on 3 December, looking at the campaigning context in both England and Wales – please register and come along!