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Cyclists take to streets across England to urge politcians to improve conditions for people on bikes

Around 5,000 cyclists yesterday took to the streets of London yesterday in the Space for Cycling Big Ride organised by the London Cycling Campaign, calling on candidates in next week’s local elections to pledge to improve conditions for people on bikes. Similar rides took place in other major cities across England, including Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York

There was a carnival atmosphere in the capital on a sunny spring afternoon, with 30 feeder rides converging on the start in Central London, scheduled for noon but starting 15 minutes late as more cyclists arrived to set off on the traffic-free route.

LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to the thousands who joined us today on our Space for Cycling Big Ride, helping to send a powerful message to London's politicians.

“Our city and borough leaders can be in doubt as to the hunger there is from ordinary Londoners for streets that are safe and inviting for everyone to cycle.

“A special thanks must go to the hundreds of volunteers who helped make the day such a success, without whom we couldn’t have made the Space for Cycling Big Ride happen. >

“So far, over 2,500 local election candidates have backed our 629 ward-specific Space for Cycling measures to improve local streets for cycling, so now it’s time to see the action and funding that match the desires of Londoners.”

LCC said that the ride, which passed through Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square before ending with a rally on the Embankment, could not have taken place without the backing of the sponsors of its Space for Cycling campaign, Evans Cycles, the Dutch Embassy to the UK, and the Bicycle Association.

Hundreds turned out in other cities across the country where local campaigners had organised their own rides. Bristol Cycling Campaign issued a late call for cyclists to take part in a ride around the city centre yesterday to coincide with those taking place elsewhere.

The ride concluded with a “Freedom to Ride” petition with more than 4,000 signatures being handed in to the city’s assistant mayor, Gus Hoyte. Bristol City Council will debate it in July.

In Newcastle, around 150 cyclists of all ages took part in the Big Toon Ride. Katya Leyendecker, chair of Newcastle Cycling Campaign, said: "What an amazing turnout, what a buzz.

“When the Big Toon Ride coordination group first got together, we would not have dreamt to get 150 cyclists supporting, in person, the Space for Cycling campaign and Big Ride in such numbers. But we did it!

“What a colourful brilliant crowd turned out. Young, old, bicycle, tricycle, trailers, child seats, mothers, fathers, everyone was there. Cycling and walking really do deserve to take centre stage in our city.

"I am sure the politicians in charge of highways were watching this event carefully. They will now know, more than ever, that cyclists want to see change. We cycled today for a better future in our city tomorrow, for our children, for an altogether healthier transport mix.

“Cllr Marion Talbot, who helped coordinate the Big Ride, and Cllr Steve Fairlie and Cllr Rob Higgins all showed their support on the day. The message, support and urgency to action Space for Cycling is spreading.

"The pavements were bursting with pedestrians, who cheered us on - people deserve more space. We know that bicycle use is currently suppressed due to lack of safe cycleways and sensible space for cycling. Yet cycling is such a space-efficient way of travelling from A to B and Newcastle must make use of it.

She added: “I, on behalf of Newcycling, want to say a huge massive Thank You to everyone who attended and cheered us on from the roadside!"

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

19 comments

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fukawitribe [1739 posts] 2 years ago
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Ah - that might account for the bunch I just encountered in Bristol. About a dozen riders, fanned across the 40 mph limit road between the Suspension Bridge up towards Leigh Woods (the whole width, even as the road widened into two lanes) doing between 8 and 14mph.

What a lovely carnival atmosphere there was, with the long line of vehicles tooting their horns in support !

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fatbeggaronabike [813 posts] 2 years ago
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In Newcastle around 150 took part, 150? surely that's a typo.

Also I took part in the London ride on a beautiful day and there was less there than turned out for the go dutch ride which was an abysmal day.

P. S. a pea whistle and a hornit makes some interesting harmonics

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Roger Geffen [57 posts] 2 years ago
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Firstly, a huge "well done" to the London Cycling Campaign and to the local campaign groups in Bristol, Manchester, Solihull, Sheffield, Leeds, York and Newcastle who all held great Space for Cycling rides yesterday. Apart from London's, these were all planned at very short notice. In short, a fantastic achievement all round.

Beyond London, the Space for Cycling campaign will now continue for the rest of the summer. Most highway authorities outside London have not had local elections - or in the cities where elections have been taking place (e.g. Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Leeds), they have mostly been for only 1/3 of the Cllrs.

That's why CTC will now crank up the Space for Cycling campaign nationally, seeking commitments from Cllrs thoughout the UK to high standards of cycle-friendly planning and design, and to seek the funding needed to achieve this.

Among other things, the campaign aims to strengthen local campaign groups, providing them with a 'hook' for a reinvigorated dialogue with their councils, with increased visibility, and (not least) with new members!

At the same time, it also seeks to identify cycle-friendly councillors from all the main political parties to join with MPs in pressing for commitments in their respective party manifestos to high cycle-friendly design standards and the necessary funding, ahead of next May's general election.

If you haven't yet emailed your Cllrs, you can do so via www.space4cycling.org.uk. Roll on Space for Cycling!

Roger Geffen
Campaigns & Policy Director, CTC

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Username [179 posts] 2 years ago
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I am sure the politicians in charge of highways were watching this event carefully. They will now know, more than ever, that cyclists want to see change.

Wishful thinking, I'm afraid. Our politicians were doubtless away at their Cotswolds and Tuscan second homes completely oblivious to this.

The atmosphere was great, the crowd were fun, the weather was gorgeous, I had a great time and a big thanks to all the volunteers but I fear it really was a drop in the ocean.

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bikebot [1916 posts] 2 years ago
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It was a lovely day, and it was great to see plenty of little'ens riding their bikes along the embankment in the sunshine.

Like a lot of people, I was riding back with a party including children and we were all being very careful to keep them safe. Thankfully, most of the traffic we encountered also showed an untypical level of patience for London, and we even had a few well wishers from the drivers.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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Just a show event for the ctc et all to say "look we are doing something" when in reality nothing has changed and things have got worse.

the fascists that are tfl will simply ignore it all over again and do what they like - which will result in more riders and pedestrians being murdered.

Welcome to reality.

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brooksby [1268 posts] 2 years ago
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fukawitribe wrote:

... the 40 mph limit road between the Suspension Bridge up towards Leigh Woods (the whole width, even as the road widened into two lanes)

Which road are we talking about here? The speed limit over the bridge and through the narrow bit with the island in the middle (where the weighbridge is), has a 20 mph limit.

As you get around the bend and the island disappears, by the first junctions, the speed limit goes up to 30 mph (for the long straight bit up to the traffic lights, with cars parked all along one side).

In that whole area, it doesn't become a 40 mph limit until you have gone through all of that, then through the traffic lights, then turned left toward Portishead onto the A369, and then passed through another pinch point caused by the island for the traffic lights.

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contender [12 posts] 2 years ago
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-wasn't on the route, which was templemeads-bedminster-centre-broadmead-park-row-council house.

If you were to go to those roads today -A369? you'll find at this time of day - 08:00 to 09:00 there'll be line of cars driving between 8 and 14 mph, roughly the same speed as everyone on the M32.

Such mass protests appear to get funding from the DfT -so why can't we have our own

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fukawitribe [1739 posts] 2 years ago
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brooksby wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:

... the 40 mph limit road between the Suspension Bridge up towards Leigh Woods (the whole width, even as the road widened into two lanes)

Which road are we talking about here?

From the West end of Bridge Road along Abbotts Leigh Road, it's 30mph up to just after the Ashton Court gates (where they got up to about 8mph) and then turns into a 40mph. That starts off flat and then heads downhill, enough of a downhill that free-wheeling it's difficult to go under about 25mph - they managed around 12mph down there possibly helped by the number of them on single-speeds which I presume may have had a few fixed hubs. No-one made any attempt at eye-contact, and I only saw one or two people even look around. They turned off for Beggars Bush Lane, but only filtered over to the left hand lane of the two towards the middle of the up-slope.

I had no idea about the Space4 whatsit and there wasn't anything I could see (clothing, stickers etc) that mentioned about what was going on - they may have just been going up to Bikefest. Anyway, for me, legality is one thing and manners is another. It was not necessary, there is a mass of room for both bikes and vehicles even in the single lane, so maybe it was a protest. If it was, it would have been useful to have some indication of that - and it might even have been helpful to converse with people and let them know what the score was. I was in a car but in no hurry, and had just said to my daughters as we pulled off, 'Lot at those guys, that's the way to enjoy a day out on the bike'.... but it then - IMO as a cyclist - it quickly came across as bloody-minded and rude. YMMV

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brooksby [1268 posts] 2 years ago
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fukawitribe wrote:

... It was not necessary, there is a mass of room for both bikes and vehicles even in the single lane, so maybe it was a protest. If it was, it would have been useful to have some indication of that ... IMO as a cyclist - it quickly came across as bloody-minded and rude. YMMV

I'd disagree with "there is a mass of room" - going toward Portishead in the direction you describe, there is a single narrow lane with double white lines to separate it from the two lanes coming back toward Bristol. I commute along there, and I *always* stay on the off-road shared-use cycle path, because far too many people drive along there like utter c**ks, seeing whether they can overtake you without having to cross the double-white lines.

On the rest of it, though, hearing more detail, I agree with you.

If someone is going to protest, people need to know what it is they are protesting about or else they just come across as selfish and they tick off the motorists more than they usually do. They could also have just been hipster kids heading out into the country, no protest at all... (in which case they really were just being selfish).

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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The only mither I noticed on the Manchester ride was at the very end and was a very aggressive Metrolink tram driver who claimed he couldn't stop despite the fact had already stopped. He kept edging the tram forwards, snapping it towards the lads 'corking' the lane to intimidate them. I think he was more annoyed that the lads weren't that easily scared by him and his big machine and that he didn't get them to react as they just remained calm and polite.

I saw a bloke, who wasn't on the ride but just walking through town, having a chuckle at the tram getting agitated about having to stop - 'They're always late, they're always breaking down and can't go anywhere if there are leaves on the line but now he's decided he's got to be on time?'

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Mr Agreeable [172 posts] 2 years ago
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I don't know what the commenter above saw in Bristol, but there were more than a dozen riders out.

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=491614657606580&id=327...

Wish I could have joined them. We're doing more for walking and cycling than many other cities in the UK, but we've still got a long way to go.

As for outrage about cyclists clogging up the roads, boo flipping hoo. If you commute via car and don't carry any passengers, you're taking up 4-6 times the amount of road space you need to, every single day.

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fukawitribe [1739 posts] 2 years ago
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brooksby wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:

... It was not necessary, there is a mass of room for both bikes and vehicles even in the single lane, so maybe it was a protest. If it was, it would have been useful to have some indication of that ... IMO as a cyclist - it quickly came across as bloody-minded and rude. YMMV

I'd disagree with "there is a mass of room" - going toward Portishead in the direction you describe, there is a single narrow lane with double white lines to separate it from the two lanes coming back toward Bristol.

Hmm - fair enough, 'mass' is a bit over the top.. normally found it fine for room but I tend not to ride it during commute hours so i'll go with your feelings on that.

brooksby wrote:

On the rest of it, though, hearing more detail, I agree with you.

If someone is going to protest, people need to know what it is they are protesting about or else they just come across as selfish and they tick off the motorists more than they usually do. They could also have just been hipster kids heading out into the country, no protest at all... (in which case they really were just being selfish).

Yep - exactly... either way doesn't help the rest of us alas.

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fukawitribe [1739 posts] 2 years ago
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Mr Agreeable wrote:

I don't know what the commenter above saw in Bristol, but there were more than a dozen riders out.

Perhaps you could actually read what I wrote then... just a thought.

Mr Agreeable wrote:

As for outrage about cyclists clogging up the roads, boo flipping hoo. If you commute via car and don't carry any passengers, you're taking up 4-6 times the amount of road space you need to, every single day.

Again, perhaps you could actually read what I wrote.... and to clarify, it wasn't during a commute and there were 4 of us in the car. Think and/or ask before you criticise.

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contender [12 posts] 2 years ago
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fukawitribe wrote:

From the West end of Bridge Road along Abbotts Leigh Road, it's 30mph up to just after the Ashton Court gates (where they got up to about 8mph) and then turns into a 40mph. That starts off flat and then heads downhill, enough of a downhill that free-wheeling it's difficult to go under about 25mph - they managed around 12mph down there possibly helped by the number of them on single-speeds which I presume may have had a few fixed hubs. No-one made any attempt at eye-contact, and I only saw one or two people even look around. They turned off for Beggars Bush Lane, but only filtered over to the left hand lane of the two towards the middle of the up-slope.

As brooksby notes, the A369 is a dire road to cycle on, the uphill from the festival road the worst -with a dire pavement route-, and then it becomes a high-speed portishead commute after that. Beggar bush lane has less traffic, but a 60 mph limit -and some drivers are very aggressive on it.

fukawitribe wrote:

I had no idea about the Space4 whatsit and there wasn't anything I could see (clothing, stickers etc) that mentioned about what was going on - they may have just been going up to Bikefest. Anyway, for me, legality is one thing and manners is another. It was not necessary, there is a mass of room for both bikes and vehicles even in the single lane, so maybe it was a protest. If it was, it would have been useful to have some indication of that - and it might even have been helpful to converse with people and let them know what the score was. I was in a car but in no hurry, and had just said to my daughters as we pulled off, 'Lot at those guys, that's the way to enjoy a day out on the bike'.... but it then - IMO as a cyclist - it quickly came across as bloody-minded and rude. YMMV

This sounds like nothing whatsoever to do with the in town event, because everyone there had stickers on their bikes, and nobody was on fixies. You were held up by the lack of space for cycling along the A369 preventing people on a recreational ride from having a pleasant journey.

* The ashton court cut throughs need touring or MTB tyres -and as the gate closes after sunset, useless in winter for commuting.
* the shared route is very, very slippery on account of it never being swept for leaves.
* Portishead has experience large growth in residents and commuter traffic, without any attempt to provide transport infrastructure other than a widening of the M5 approach. the train service is still wishful thinking.
* North Somerset council hates cyclists. If there is a place for a protest, it is there, though really in Weston Super Mare

As for rude, here's a weekday evening. There are no cyclists holding up cars, merely other cars in a line that goes along bridge road and then vanishes off to portishead. You can't say that the cyclists have the monopoly on causing obstructions.

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 2 years ago
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FATBEGGARONABIKE wrote:

In Newcastle around 150 took part, 150? surely that's a typo.

Sounds about right to me. Very good turn out.

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Sam Saunders [26 posts] 2 years ago
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There are always a lot of cyclists crossing Clifton Suspension Bridge on the way from Bristol to North Somerset. A group of 12 is normal. On a sunny Saturday there will be lots more.

In Bristol itself there was a small group of 70 cycling people and their families who did a short-notice ride around the best (a new Clarence Road protected route) and the worst (St James Barton Roundabout) of the city's cycling infrastructure. Two senior Councillors turned out - one to cut a ribbon on the new "Dutch-Style" route and one to recieve a 4,000+ signature petition at City Hall. Large numbers waved and shouted encouragement - motor vehicles (bus drivers especially) were impressively considerate. See a slideshow here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/samsaunders/sets/72157644304157478/show

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Sam Saunders [26 posts] 2 years ago
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Both of my Ward Coucillors replied to my email. The Tory "noted the contents" of my message, The Lib Dem gave her "full support for your campaign". Two City Coucnillors with senior roles came out on teh day to support our ride - one opening a not-quite-finished section of protected space and the other accepting our Freedom To Ride petittion at City Hall. Bristol does have some solid support on the Council and in the shape od Mayor George Ferguson.

Slagging politicians off is easy. Talking to them and persuading them that you are serious takes a bit more time.

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fukawitribe [1739 posts] 2 years ago
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contender wrote:

As brooksby notes, the A369 is a dire road to cycle on, the uphill from the festival road the worst -with a dire pavement route-, and then it becomes a high-speed portishead commute after that. Beggar bush lane has less traffic, but a 60 mph limit -and some drivers are very aggressive on it.

I don't find it bad but as I said, I don't use it during commute hours. I find enough space there and only a few places where the I potentially get any grief from other vehicles.

contender wrote:

You were held up by the lack of space for cycling along the A369 preventing people on a recreational ride from having a pleasant journey.

* The ashton court cut throughs need touring or MTB tyres -and as the gate closes after sunset, useless in winter for commuting.
* the shared route is very, very slippery on account of it never being swept for leaves.
* Portishead has experience large growth in residents and commuter traffic, without any attempt to provide transport infrastructure other than a widening of the M5 approach. the train service is still wishful thinking.
* North Somerset council hates cyclists. If there is a place for a protest, it is there, though really in Weston Super Mare

Guys - i'm well aware of traffic in and around Bristol and what does and doesn't go in and out of Ashton Court. This has nothing to do with that.

This was a group of riders who were between 5-6 across that road when narrow, fanning out even more when it got wider (into two lanes), never seemed to acknowledge the people behind, did not interact with them in any way and seemed oblivious to the world outside their group. There is absolutely no need to do that along that stretch of road in the way they did it, especially as they seemed to be going mind-achingly slow - 10-12 mph down-hill on ultra-smooth tarmac ? Seriously ?? I fully understand that not everyone in the group may be a confident or serious rider - I don't think the manner of their riding added anything beneficial to just riding 2 or 3 abreast where there was concern, and if there was anyone who really didn't like riding on a road like that then the path would seem a reasonably safe and secure place to be (especially as it is permitted, although the surface is a bit shit).

I'm not denying their right to take the lane or anything else - but I like to ride and drive in a way which is safe and considerate to others whilst remaining safe myself. This didn't come across as that.

contender wrote:

As for rude, here's a weekday evening. There are no cyclists holding up cars, merely other cars in a line that goes along bridge road and then vanishes off to portishead. You can't say that the cyclists have the monopoly on causing obstructions.

I didn't.