The Festival of Cycling
The Festival of Cycling (formerly National Bike Week) in Loughborough was a success to a limited degree but, as in previous years, disappointing in terms of our ambitions. Once again we must thank Ray Clay for the great effort he put into promoting the event.
The Saturday Market Stall was manned by Ray Clay, Tony Herrington and John Catt. We should have recruited more volunteers and the display could be improved. We were lacking in some of the more popular handouts. There is perhaps on opportunity here to widen the remit of the stall to promote public transport and sustainable transport in general.
The Cyclists' Breakfast on Bike to Work Day at John Storer House was seen as an improvement on the Town Hall for the breakfast in view of the relatively small numbers (plus Mayor) who attended. However the event attracted few cycle commuters and there must be a question mark over whether this event can be regarded as viable in the future.
The bike post coding went exceedingly well and Bob Talbot from the Police was kept very busy.
The Sunday ride to Mountsorrel with Colin Green was well received with about 25 riders but the previous week's ride from Quorn to Abbey Park in Leicester attracted far fewer riders. We need to look at this in the context of the evening ride at Barrow organised by the Parish Council which according to the Echo attracted 140 riders.
Indeed there has already been some debate on this matter and comments made by Peter Hopkins are set out in the article below. Current suggestions include a single ride starting in the Market Place on Sunday afternoon, perhaps called "Hidden Loughborough", and following the cycle paths with some historical perspectives added. Another suggestion is to incorporate a cycle ride with a ride on the Great Central railway (with the bikes being taken by the train). In addition some events local to Quorn, Shepshed and Hathern might be arranged.
If anyone has any ideas please let us know (letters and E Mails to me please - Ed.)
The paid for advert in the Echo provoked some interest and is probably worth repeating since it gives us control over timing and content. Whilst the Echo and other newspapers and media do report the event, this will always be dependent on space and their priorities.
The Barrow Ride - by Peter Hopkins
I too was struck by the extraordinary success of the Barrow Ride (compared with our Festival of Cycling experience).On reflection, I think some of the reasons for their success are:
- The Barrow Rides are, I believe, a single, BIG, ONE-OFF event, with all the publicity focused on that one special day. Our own experience with the Sports Council campaign in 1978 (a special day of invitation rides) was similar. I think that to get encouraging results you just have to risk putting all your eggs in one basket.
I don't think having a scattering of lesser offerings over several days will ever produce the same effect For something like this, 'more' is not 'better', except in so far as it presumably convinces sponsors that a lot SEEMS to be going on. I remain sceptical about the actual results of piecemeal activities and - at least locally, if not nationally - the Festival of Cycling & its predecessor (National Bike Week) seem to me to be to be something of an anticlimax compared with local single-day efforts. Local initiatives seem to work better than things like Bike to Work Day, which stubbornly remains a sort of publicist's Great Idea rather than something which genuinely happens up & down the country. We hear much about the 'success' of these ventures, but all the publicity & excitement is within the cycling community & its periodicals. Joe Public rarely knows it's happening.
- It is a well-established event which has been running for some years (I think Ken Pepper, as a Parish Councillor, had something to do with starting it). This means that Barrow residents know it is coming up, expect it to be at about the same time & so allow for it & look forward to it.
The same cannot be said of the Festival of Cycling, where nothing is predictable. It depends each year on who is prepared to offer something, so no tradition can be established (e.g. of a big family or newcomers' ride on a certain Sunday).
If you want an even better example (than Barrow) of an established one-off traditional day coming at a predictable time, you need look no further than the local CTC Mince Pie Run - one of the most successful cycling events of the East Midlands. That went from strength to strength without any publicity after the first couple of years.
- Barrow is a very small community for ground-baiting (compared with Charnwood). You can concentrate leaflet drops, have posters in EVERY shop, pub, etc. You can even chat people up directly - and perhaps approach schools & local clubs to encourage them to send 'teams' along. The Barrow Ride is likely to have more of a family/community spirit about it than something based on a larger and more vague area like Charnwood (in fact, I suspect few people identify even with the name! How many think of themselves as living in 'Charnwood' ?)
It's possible that Barrow awards certificates for successful completion. That's an idea worth considering.
- The Barrow Rides are, I believe, VERY short indeed (with options from short to extremely short!). Most people who are not experienced cyclists tend to underestimate their potential & are nervous about even attempting a double-figure mileage. The shorter the ride, therefore, the more participants you are likely to get.
CYCLE PATH USAGE
by Peter Hopkins
On Tuesday 27 June last year & Friday 29 June this year I did a cycle count between 0750 & 0850 on the A6 south of Loughborough. Both days were dry & mild. I admit that I included in the count those (very few) cyclists who were using the road (carriageway) rather than the cycle path, because I wanted to see just how many people were travelling in (or out) by bike. I was also interested to see whether more people were now commuting by bike than a year ago.
When it comes to comparing the 2 years, a statistical purist might legitimately raise the following objections to argue that the results are flawed ((my comments in double brackets)):
- Although weather conditions & week of the year were the same, it was not the same day of the week. ((I agree that it should have been, but as most people were probably commuting to work/school, the day of the week would not make a lot of difference. The weather might.))
- The 2000 count was at Woodthorpe Lane, the 2001 count at Quorn traffic lights. ((A more serious objection, I confess, since the by-pass island lies between the two points. However, I suspect that very few cyclists commuting into or out of Loughborough brave the by-pass, especially during rush-hour.))
27.6.2000: Total passing counting point: 61 (travelling into Loughborough - 40; travelling out of Loughborough - 21)
29.6.2001: Total passing counting point: 37 (travelling into Loughborough - 26; travelling out of Loughborough - 11)
It is difficult to estimate what the totals might be for a whole day, but the afternoon rush-hour would presumably double the above figures, and Margaret & I know from plenty of personal experience that a surprisingly large no. of people also use the cycle paths at "in-between" times throughout the day. The figures are therefore far from discouraging, but I was disappointed by the 2001 rush-hour decrease, as I had expected the number to be greater this year (following initiatives like Sustrans publicity about opening the NCN, etc.). In my anxiety for improvement, I even cheated a bit by including in this year's 26 inward-bound cyclists 3 who came in spread over about 150 yards during the minute after the count should strictly have ended!
I recognise that this could hardly be considered a scientific experiment conducted in a statistically reliable way - and of course there may be more by-pass cyclists than I think, which would account in part for the apparent decline. I may have another go in the next few weeks (at Woodthorpe Lane), but that would be open to the objection that holidays are likely to affect figures from now onwards.
The reason for my switching from Woodthorpe Lane to Quorn traffic lights was that Roger Hill has complained at Charnwood Cycling Consultative Committee meetings about impatient northbound motorists encroaching on the cycle lane - and even the verge - at these lights (presumably those turning left towards Woodhouse). I promised to hover there with a camera to collect evidence.
I'm afraid that on 29 June, the only two traffic infringements at the lights were by cyclists! The worst was a girl who simply rode straight on along the A6 when the lights were red. Surprisingly, no one even hooted. I got the impression she thought the lights didn't apply to the cycle lane!
ECO-MONEYSPINNER TAKES TO THE ROAD
A CYCLE route that winds its way through the region is set to earn rural tourism businesses across the East Midlands an additional £7 million a year.
East Midlands Development Agency (emda) is helping support National Byway with funding for directional signs to mark the 378-mile route in the region. This amounts to over a quarter of the scheme's costs. The £140,000 project using existing, but lightly trafficked rural lanes, runs from Oundle, Northamptonshire in the south up to the Humber Bridge in North Lincolnshire (see appendix 1 below for villages and towns along the route) and takes in 119 heritage sites along the way. And loops that start and finish in the market towns of Oundle, Oakham, Grantham, Newark, Southwell and Retford are each specifically designed to encourage both and local and short-break use. The brown tourism signs are all scheduled to be in place by the autumn following the consultation process currently under way.
EMDA board member for sustainable communities, Dr Bob Middleton, said: "Sustainable development is central to our economic strategy – the scheme will help boost tourism and inject much-needed income into our rural communities - a priority following the recent foot and mouth outbreak. And cyclists will be signposted to historic sites and picturesque market towns they might otherwise miss travelling by car on more major routes.
"And apart from environmental benefits like reducing traffic levels, noise and pollution, it'll also give cyclists an excellent reason to choose pedal power and get fit."
National Byway operations director Mike Breckon added: "We've received a lot of help from both public and private sectors throughout the region. emda's support allows us to finish the job. The East Midlands National Byway route will be officially launched for the spring 2002 cycling season."
1500 miles of the 3000-mile leisure cycle route around the British countryside will be fully operational later this year with short stretches being shared with the National Cycle Network.