The civil unrest currently affecting Egypt began among the country’s middle classes via a Facebook Campaign.
It serves to illustrate how a grass-roots movement tapping into a pent-up groundswell of opinion can grow exponentially from a handful of individuals to a millions-strong (potentially) regime-changing revolution.
The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain too is starting from humble beginnings, namely a meeting last week at the Look Mum no Hands! café in London. Aound 40 people attended the inaugural get-together of a movement which, according to its mission statement, lacks nothing in terms of ambition.
Among its stated aims are:
• To develop relations with private companies already committed to Green & Sustainable values and promote the truth that cycling can produce a fitter, healthier, happier workforce saving billions in ‘sick’ days to the British economy.
• To lobby relevant Government Departments that cycling is a solution to transport congestion, noise pollution, carbon emissions, deaths and serious injuries on our roads, obesity and illnesses from more sedentary lifestyles, stress and expense.
• To politely correct the Department for Transport that ‘Sustainable Transport’ actually means walking, cycling and public transport as opposed to spending further millions on expanding the road network which will only sustain more pollution, deaths & serious injuries and congestion.
• To redefine what Road Safety in the UK means by working with relevant groups; to highlight what the real dangers are, to enforce a duty of care to the most vulnerable and promoting prevention, rather than cure. This will be through a raft of measures including reduced speed limits in urban areas and changes in streetscape design to put community needs before those just travelling through them.
These are major goals which overlap with the campaigning activities of a number of well-established organisations, but the Embassy's founder, Jim Davis, is clearly thinking big.
According to fellow blogger Mark Ames who attended the meeting, he told the assembled audience that “..existing cycle campaigns are diabolical at communicating with the general public. What’s more, mass cycling is not going to materialise by tinkering around the edges. A fresh approach is needed.”
Mr Davis is modelling the soon-to-be-establshed, not-for-profit company on the Cycling Embassy of Denmark which describes itself as “a comprehensive network of private companies, local authorities and non-governmental organizations working together to promote cycling and communicate cycling solutions and know-how. “
You can read more about the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain here.