Bristol Cycling Campaign hosted the Cyclenation/CTC Conference here in Bristol on 13 October 2012

Attended by around 100 people, the event kept the weekend buzzing.  Very well done Eric Booth and Veronica Pollard, who did the hard work of organising the event in conjunction with Cyclenation, and congratulations to their business-like team of BCyC members for creating a professionally run event.

From the Friday evening pizza gathering through to the dinner on Saturday, and Sunday’s ride, delegates found a convivial atmosphere, stimulating talk, and good food.  The conference master of ceremonies was President of Cyclenation and former head of Cycling England, Philip Darnton, who engagingly kept the event on time and on message with characteristic good humour.

Saturday started with guided rides around Bristol followed by discussions in which all could participate.  Many ideas emerged, for instance, the importance in campaigning of understanding who you are talking to.  As Philip Darnton put it:  “What turns them on?” and “What do they want to hear?”

Networking and the spreading of ideas flourished at the buffet lunch.

We were introduced to a preview of Cyclescape, a webtool for campaigning groups which will enable map based communication about any cycling issue.  It could become the main means of starting and running a campaign. 

CTC Campaigns Manager Roger Geffen explained the new Infrastructure guidance and the importance of keeping campaigning unity.  He stressed it is essential that politicians aren’t given the opportunity to say “Cyclists don’t agree, so we’ll do nothing”.

CTC’s chief executive Gordon Seabright spoke of his first three months in a background of weakened government policy on road safety, a greatly increased interest in cycling among some, but still detachment by the bulk of the people, and the possible development of “Cycletopia” as CTC’s campaign message. 

Bristol’s Adrian Davies explained the opportunities for cycling of the new Health and Wellbeing boards that are now part of local authorities under Health reforms.

Wrapping up, Philip Darnton had two upbeat messages:

  • Cycle routes must be joined up – so must campaigners!
  • There’s no lack of data! Convincing people about cycling isn’t about figures.  Decisions are made on one criterion: “Do I trust the person who’s telling me”.