CTC is rolling out the pro-bicycle message at a series of local roadshows. The first roadshow was held in Manchester, today it was the turn of the North East of England with a conference held in Newcastle Civic Centre, attended by 45 people.
CTC chief executive Kevin Mayne (pictured) said the roadshow was a chance to promote cycling at a local level, mirroring the Coalition Government’s emphasis on localism and the ‘Big Society’.
"Yes, we all want capital spending on infrastructure, nationally, but it’s not the only requirement. Also important is ‘human capital’. We can prove that many of our programmes – such as workplace challenges, childrens’ clubs, programmes for women – work really well and are socially inclusive.
"We want to celebrate cycling, and inspire action.
"Cycling brings lots of economic, health and social benefits yet is incredibly cheap to implement. Cycling is an extraordinary activity: we have intervention programme that change lives for the better for just £100 per head. Other health interventions cost many thousands of pounds per head.
"We’re excited by the example we’re setting by getting cash for cycling from section 106 housing developer planning permission provisions.
"We’re also building an evidence base to make campaigning more credible."
Mayne, CEO at CTC for 13 years, then introduced a number of beneficiaries of CTC advice and funding. Some of the projects have also been supported by the Bike Hub levy fund, including the Dutch bike rental scheme for young women run in Darlington by DarloVelo.
Annie Ravazzolo, project manager of Darlovelo, explained how getting more women on bikes in Darlington – in ordinary clothes, "cycling can be stylish," she said – was helping to civilise Darlington’s streets. The scheme can be seen in this extract from the ‘Beauty and the Bike’ video:
Barry Griffiths, the young offenders team officer, of Darlington’s youth offending team, said CTC helped him set up a Bike Club which teaches troubled kids bike maintenance and how to ride within the law. The scheme is helping to reducing crime, said Griffiths.
Cycling is for all, said Mayne, presenting a video of disability cycling group riding to last year’s CTC York Rally:
"This is what cycling does," said Mayne. "Just look at these faces. Do you see these sort of happy faces at anti smoking clinics? Cycling as a health intervention is very powerful.
"You can put someone on a bike and change their life. It’s empowering. It ticks all the professional boxes. It’s all about inclusion, and it’s lots of fun."
Mayne then introduced Rachel Woodward, project officer for Challenge for Change.
"We get get more people cycling," said Woodward. "We organise workplace cycle challenges. We pit employers against other employers, to see who can get the most people on bikes. The competition element really helps.
"Workplaces get staff to ride bike for 10 minutes, just around a car park. We encourage non cyclists to start cycling.
"Overcoming the first barrier – getting somebody to just sit on a bike – is tough. After that we’ve found progress can be rapid. We offer incentives such as free cinema tickets. In York we ran challenges at 53 businesses, large and small, from Nestle to hospitals to small businesses. We then measured the results three weeks and three months later.
"80 percent of the new cyclists said they were still cycling three weeks later. They said they wanted access to cycle training, route planning advice and infrastructure improvements.
"Three months later 55 percent of the challenge participants were cycling at least once a week. Many people stopped driving to work and cycled instead.
"Modal shift does work and that’s just from getting people to ride a bike for 10 minutes."
Andy Salkeld runs the Challenge for Change scheme in Leicester. He said it was all about "mainstreaming cycling for businesses."
"We impress on businesses the hidden costs of car parks. If they reduce those kind of costs – and get more people on bikes – they can save serious cash."
The CTC Roadshow series is aiming to influence local authorities to spend cash from Local Sustainable Transport Scheme grants on more cycling projects. The next roadshows are in Birmingham on 2nnd November and in Leeds on 8th December.