Building Cycling Cultures, Leicester

Here’s Andy Salkeld, Leicester’s fantastic man of cycling, urging us all on in the business of building cycling cultures, at The Phoenix in Leicester. Although it was a team effort, and many other people on the ground in Leicester helped pull the whole thing together so successfully (especially Janet Hudson of British Cycling, and John Coster of Citizens’ Eye), Andy must take much of the credit.

There were around 120 adults and 30 young people crowded into The Phoenix on Sunday, for a hectic and inspiring afternoon of talks, discussions and workshops.

After a great buffet lunch (I hope others feel the event, at £10 including food and drinks, was as much of a bargain as I do), formal business began with a series of presentations. Andy kicked things off, and was followed by Leicester City Council’s Deputy Mayor Rory Palmer, myself, Rachel Aldred of the University of East London, Roger Geffen of CTC, and Jon Orcutt of New York City Department of Transportation. Here are Jon, Rachel and I, waiting our turns to speak.

Jon talked about recent changes to cycling in New York; as Policy Director he has been centrally involved. It was a really great presentation, with Jon’s hard-earned wisdom and insightful details accompanied by splendid photos. I was particularly taken with this slide, introducing a typology that could have come straight out of our own Understanding Walking and Cycling research.

Jon explained how the recent boost in New York’s cycling levels has been achieved through increasing dedicated and segregated space for cycling along some big and busy roads; again, an intervention our research concludes is needed in the UK if we’re to move beyond the ‘strong and fearless’ and even the ‘enthused and confident’, and start tapping into the ‘interested but concerned’.

Workshop sessions followed these presentations. There were also great stalls to check out, and far too many inspiring people to try to find time to talk to. And the afternoon closed with us all getting back together to knock around ideas on how to keep building cycling cultures, and make cycling bigger.

Thanks to Griet Scheldeman for the photos, and to all who came, in whatever capacity, and contributed to such a rich and rewarding event. I’m already looking forward to seeing some familiar faces as well as some new ones back at The Phoenix next year (because mad fools that we are, we’re planning to do it all again, but hopefully even bigger and better next time!).

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5 Responses to “Building Cycling Cultures, Leicester”

  1. Andy Says:

    thanks for the very kind words – I look like I’m trying a Frank Spencer impersonation in the photo.
    The conference was great thanks to everyone who made a contribution and the sponsors that helped us all deliver a ground-breaking, open-access £10 event.
    Here’s to the next one & lots of progress in between to make it all count.
    Cheers – Andy

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Hey Andy, I’m the one who normally gets told I look/act like Frank Spencer!! (Which I tend to try and take as a compliment, even if it’s clearly not usually intended as such!) Speak/catch up soon, I hope. Dave

  2. George Riches Says:

    “(I’d want to make Jon’s ‘no way no how’ category a bit more complex though – from our research I’d claim that some people who might otherwise occupy this category do in fact cycle, but they do so mainly on the footway.)”

    How can someone be a ‘no way no how’ and yet cycle?

    Perhaps there’s a categorisation error here. The ‘no way no how’ people would never cycle however good the facilites were; the footway cyclists would cycle a lot more if there were many more motor traffic free paths or they became more assertive/skilled. They belong much closer to the left side of Jon’s diagram; maybe the labels are misleading.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Hi George, thanks for your comment. Your point is a good one, and I agree that there’s a certain confusion here. (And your comments point to the dangers and difficulties of trying to reduce complex empirical realities to much simpler categories.)

      I think part of that confusion stems from a conflation of ‘elective’ and ‘forced’ cycling. Those terms are in themselves problematic, but I’ll use them for now to distinguish between those people who are cycling even though they could choose to move otherwise (the ‘elective’ cyclists) on the one hand, and those people who cycle because it’s pretty much the ‘only’ way they can get to where they want to go (the ‘forced’ cyclists) on the other.

      The categories which Jon Orcutt used in his presentation at Building Cycling Cultures (and which I’ve since discovered comes from research undertaken by Roger Geller, Bicycle Coordinator at Portland Office of Transportation) seems to assume ‘elective’ cycling. Certainly, ‘forced’ cyclists don’t seem to fit easily into either of the two main (but numerically very minor) categories of cycling – ‘strong and fearless’, and ‘enthused and confident’; nor do they fit easily into the third, and numerically much more significant category, ‘interested but concerned’; that’s why I put them in the fourth category, ‘no way no how’, although I agree they don’t fit there (hence my use in my post of the word ‘otherwise’).

      Cycling hasn’t ‘won over’ these footway cyclists – if they had access to another mode, they might well adopt it. (But there’s a big debate lurking just below the surface here, about whether we shouldn’t make everyone a ‘forced’ rather than ‘elective’ cyclist – the whole notion of travel choice (as well as the travel marketing ‘industries’ which now surround it) is part of the problem.


  3. George Riches Says:

    Hello Dave,

    Thanks for the prompt reply.

    I suspect that Jon Orcutt/Roger Geller were using the economist’s ceteris paribus idea of changing one thing (in this case infrastructure) while holding all other things constant (including incomes, prices, general attitudes and trip destinations).

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