Cyclenation Conference November 2018

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In November I joined over 50 cycle campaigners from across the country for Cyclenation’s annual campaigner conference held in Birmingham. Cyclenation is the federation of local cycle campaign groups from across the UK. People travelled from Exeter, Bristol, London, and even Scotland to discuss campaigning strategies and other developments in the cycling world.

We kicked of the day with a short introduction from Katherine Nield Client Earth’s UK Clean Air Lawyer on the work that ClientEarth is doing to hold the government to account for its handling of pollution. Having taken the government to court 3 times over its lackluster plans to reduce levels of pollution, the government has now passed the buck to local authorities to produce their own plans to reduce levels of pollution.

ClientEarth’s Clean Air Parent’s Network  is a resource to help encourage & provide the tools for people to get involved with clean air issues at a local level.

We moved then to an open panel discussion where questions were asked around the subject of ‘Everyone is an advocate’. This carried on from the previous talk linking the ideas of pollution into cycle campaigning.

‘We need to ride the wave of air pollution but guide the discussion back to active transport rather electric cars.’ Chris Kenyon, London Cycling Campaign.

From here the day was split into various workshops running four at a time, covering topics such as:
Greater Manchester’s Beelines
Updating the cycle design guidance
Inclusive cycle design guidance
Positive ways to engage with the media

First up was Donnachadh McCarthy of Stop Killing Cyclists and how he launched the campaign which aims to highlight, through direct action in a very graphic sense the dangers we all face on the road.

‘Stop Killing isn’t just about those cyclists that have been killed on the roads, but also about those that want to cycle or can’t choose to cycle who are killed due to preventable issues including pollution & asthma heart disease’.

Catherine Watton from Birmingham’s Push Bikes talked about what we can learn from low traffic neighbourhood schemes such as Waltham Forrest & her own experience in Kings Heath Birmingham. ‘Britain’s road system currently discriminates against active travel, and until we change the balance cars will always be favoured.’

For the last two sessions I opted for Chris Kenyon, who first talked about Labour Cycles and what they are doing to get cycling pledges onto Labour’s Manifesto.

‘How can a Labour party of the NHS for all, be against cycling for all? When we know cycling will massively reduce the need for diabetes treatment.’

Chris’s next presentation was about Cycling Works a campaign to get business support for the major cycling routes and safer cycling in London. The campaign asked HR directors and CEOs to publicly back the Embankment scheme as a safe and viable route for the employees to get to work.

It is amazing how many big companies the campaign galvanized support from to show that cycling isn’t just a form of transport for people that can’t afford a car.

Information from other workshops and the running order is available from Push Bike’s website.

To finish up we had a closing talks from  Duncan Dollimore of Cycling UK and Donnachadh McCarthy from Stop Killing Cyclists, about the campaign and how it is intrinsically linked to environmental issues.

‘If you are a cycle campaigner you are an environmental campaigner.’

All in all it was a great day meeting other cycle campaigners and sharing notes. All cycle campaigners seem to face the same battles whether it be London, Manchester, Exeter or beyond. The fact that most of the speakers were not paid professionals, but fellow campaigners juts goes to show much knowledge there is within our cycle campaigns and the role that individuals can play in changing our environments.

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