Cyclists of Maidstone and Kent unite

Trikeyohreilly
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Cyclists of Maidstone and Kent unite

Postby Trikeyohreilly » 13 Jun 2015, 9:45pm

I'm new to this part of the forum.

I just wanted to say that (you may well have known) that Cllr. Paul Harper is setting about as CTCs Right To Ride campaign officer to promote cycling here in Maidstone.

While on the list to help and looking to do exactly that, I can't help but think that if cyclists in Kent came together in all their forms we could not only promote cycling but have a fine time of it also. Meeting and chatting as well as promoting cycling in Kent and hoping for better infustructure.

Anyone else feel this way? I'd like to hear from you.

Thanks Ed

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gaz
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Re: Cyclists of Maidstone and Kent unite

Postby gaz » 14 Jun 2015, 9:37am

Paul re-launched the Maidstone Cycling Campaign Forum in January.

As I understand it the first priority of the group is to update MBC's cycling strategy: http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/__data/asse ... e-2012.pdf with further help needed identifying rural links.

Also worth a read are http://services.maidstone.gov.uk/meetin ... alking.pdf and http://services.maidstone.gov.uk/meetin ... x?ID=18532
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Re: Cyclists of Maidstone and Kent unite

Postby admin » 18 Jun 2015, 11:52am

Sounds like a good idea, except of course almost everyone is potentially a "cyclist". All one has to do to become a cyclist is to get on a bicycle and ride it. And you can instantly stop being a cyclist by getting off the bike.

The call for "cyclists should get together" thus translates into a less-hopeful-sounding "everyone should get together". Not a bad thing, but I doubt you'll persuade the general public to get together simply on the basis that they might sometimes use a bicycle for local transport.

Now it is more possible for "keen cyclists" to get together, because they often like talking about bicycles and bicycle parts. Especially the merits of the latest carbon-fibre or titanium offering. But then you're talking about a niche club for experts, and its unfortunate that this type of person is actually quite happy riding even in quite unpleasant traffic conditions. By definition, "cyclists" are managing to ride their bicycles even with current traffic conditions.

The people you really need to motivate and group together are the people who would like to use bicycles for local transport but who don't. These are "potential cyclists" and not "cyclists". They're a very big group, consisting of nearly the entire population, and are thus extremely hard to reach out to.

Consider a parallel call for pedestrians to get together to campaign for better footpaths and pedestrian crossings. You do, like cycling, get a few enthusiastic pedestrian campaigners who will have meetings to discuss pedestrian issues, but on the whole the general population just aren't interested enough to go to meetings.

When this natural tendency-to-apathy changes is if something terrible happens, perhaps a spate of ordinary people being killed by lorries. That can provide just enough impetus to get ordinary people interested, and then they might come to a meeting or two before the effect wears off.

Trikeyohreilly
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Re: Cyclists of Maidstone and Kent unite

Postby Trikeyohreilly » 19 Jun 2015, 1:02am

I've only read it once, though intend to reread.

I have two immediate problems with the last post.

1. I couldn't fault it at all. Therefore, please problem 2.

2. That sounds like awful news.

We can motivate people to change their transport choices can't we? With your above thoughts on reaching people taken into account, maybe policy, it is possible isn't it?

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Re: Cyclists of Maidstone and Kent unite

Postby MikeF » 19 Jun 2015, 7:52pm

I wish cycling and walking weren't linked by politicians/councillors. It seems to confirm their thoughts that a cyclist is a sort of mobile pedestrian and the two need to be lumped together. Yes both use muscle power, but otherwise their needs are different, and this fact needs to register with them. But then if enough "Cyclists Dismount" signs are erected they become as one. :evil:
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Re: Cyclists of Maidstone and Kent unite

Postby admin » 19 Jun 2015, 8:18pm

eddiewalkling wrote:We can motivate people to change their transport choices can't we? With your above thoughts on reaching people taken into account, maybe policy, it is possible isn't it?


No, I really don't think "we" (the tiny minority of people who call themselves "cyclists") can motivate people to change their transport choices. More than that, "we" (and I include myself as a long term Right to Ride rep.) have been actively trying to motivate people to take up cycling with things like Bike Week, adult cycle training sessions, and other persuasive techniques for decades. It provably doesn't work.

Government can change transport choices, though, by a combination of large-scale investment as a carrot and taxation/subsidy-removal as a stick. Sadly our current government seem keen to invest billions in roads, while requiring rail and bus travellers to pay a larger share of their transport costs and investing almost nothing in cycle infrastructure. For many years people have been strongly guided towards travelling by road in private motor vehicles, and they have followed the lead.

The media also plays a part. Look at television and newspapers: full of anti-cyclist articles and programmes, and pro-motoring ones. The reason for this is fairly obvious: there is a lot of money in the automotive industry, and car advertisements bring extremely big incomes to TV and newspapers. The automotive industry needs everyone to drive as much as possible, and the media needs the advertising income from the automotive industry. But while the media make us dream of the freedom of driving our own motor vehicles, the reality is less rosy. Adverts can't trump the strong real-world message sent out by government transport investment decisions.

At a more basic level, people decide how to travel based on a number of factors: convenience, safety, pleasantness, and cost. A few might add in the ability to gain some excercise, but only a few. As cyclists we have no direct control over any of these transport factors, apart from perhaps acting as "Bike Buddies" or running a "Bicycle Bus" to increase pleasantness and perhaps make a tiny increase to safety.

Where authorities have invested in safe, traffic-free, cycleways, ordinary people flock to cycle along them. Elsewhere ordinary people avoid cycling completely, as it's clear to them that cycling is a second-class mode of transport and also very dangerous (you need helmets, high-viz, and specialist training, for example).

To make progress we need to somehow persuade the politicians in charge of transport expenditure to redirect funding away from private motoring and towards decent Dutch-style cycleways. If we frame the investment as someting that benefits everyone, not just "cyclists", we have a better chance in the political battle. Investment in really good cycleways is starting to happen in more enlightened (and motor-congested) places like London and Brighton. Unless something goes terribly wrong, I think these developments will spread to other towns and cities, and we'll all benefit.

I suppose my message is that campaigners need to stop thinking like the "cyclists" we often are, and start trying to think like ordinary people who might use a bicycle for transport. Cyclists are a minority, and have no political clout. Ordinary people who would like to ride bicycles could easily be a majority, and could have significant political clout. Cut down on the number of meetings with other cyclists, and start going to meetings of ordinary people. Think about what stops ordinary people from using bicycles in the UK, and why ordinary people in places like Denmark and the Netherlands naturally and easily choose bicycles for local transport.

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gaz
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Re: Cyclists of Maidstone and Kent unite

Postby gaz » 19 Jun 2015, 8:40pm

Maidstone has motor traffic congestion problems, it has air pollution problems, 66% of it's population are overweight. Maidstone's politicians (and perhaps the people) are beginning to realise that they can't resolve these problems with more cars.

So the "keen cyclists" have been invited to review the Cycling Strategy, a strategy that hasn't got beyond the draft stage since 2012. If the Cycling Strategy is adopted and implemented* the best it can hope to achieve is an improvement in the environment for cycling, by increasing perceptions of cycling as a safe and convenient transport choice.

MBC are planning other projects aimed at promoting cycling in the borough.


*Maidstone has a two-tier local government structure, KCC are the highway authority.
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