Put this date in your calendar

All being well, a short-sharp Academia & Advocacy conference should be rolling into the Toon on Saturday 14 November 2015. This is hot off the press with the agenda, speakers and contributors still totally under construction – to date, we have sent out a few tentative feelers (invites) and heard some very positive and encouraging rumours of involvement.

The plotting and planning is in its infant stages, stay tuned. Suffice it to say, that plenty of opportunity for exchange – learning, listening, chatting and getting to know each other – will be included in the event.

The ESRC funding bid was approved just recently and we hope to offer a travel bursaries, particularly to get a good national representation of advocates attending the conference, rounding off the debates. There is certainly one thing that academia and advocacy have in common: searching for ways of having and making impact.

Let me please have your thoughts (big, small, all) in the comments section.

First draft programme

Morning session: Developing the message on inclusive cycling

  • Keynote address
  • Panellist 1 (academic) “Where are we at in academia with cycling. What do we know?
  • Panellist 2 (advocacy) “What does designing for inclusive cycling mean?
  • Panel discussion with audience

LUNCH screening Beauty and the Bike (short)

Afternoon session: A voice for cycling

  • Summary of panel discussion (incl actions, needs, future planning)
  • Speaker 1 (advocacy) “How cycle bloggers shifted mountains
  • Speaker 2 (academic) “Gaps in research and evidence – what don’t we know?
  • Speaker 3 (advocacy) “newcycling – a focussed campaign
  • Breakout on gathering reactions, views and opinions, informed by speakers and panellists
  • Summary of workshops – how can academia and advocacy work together for a common goal?
  • Conclusion of event, outline of possible next steps

Description of event (from funding bid)

Cycling is usually approached as a conflict between decision-makers upholding a status quo and advocates requesting new meanings and forms of mobilities. However, with the increasing interest in cycling for sports, commuting and leisure and the mainstreaming of cycling campaign groups, it is now both timely and imperative to revisit the politics of space and cycling, city management, transport transitions and their relationship to the wider society. This event will bring together researchers and advocacy groups to provide space, time and room for discussing the redefinition of the role of academic research as the interface between advocacy and activism and policy making.

The “cycling revolution” in many British cities goes hand in hand with vocal opposition from anti-cyclists and impromptu or organised events demanding more space allocated to active travel and meaningful cycling infrastructure.

  • Is the role of social science researchers to present and debate the facts or do we have a responsibility to support cycling campaigners with our academic credentials?
  • Is it enough to publish the evidence in academic outlets or should we take a stand in supporting cycling activists?
  • And where can we draw the line between academic and policy-related research on a hot topic like cycling?

These are some of the questions we are planning to debate in an event that will bring together academics researching active travel and representatives of cycling advocate groups. The event consists of two parts with presentations, followed by panel discussions and workshops. During the lunch break we will screen the film ‘Beauty and the Bike’ (2009).

A personal note

As an outcome, I would like to see (some) research gaps (big and small) identified, understood and agreed upon, and a plan put in place to plug these gaps – informed through and by the experience that advocacy can offer and add to academic thinking. I would suppose these plugs to mean identification of leverage points, as well as developing a common message and voice.

Fingers crossed.

3 thoughts on “Put this date in your calendar

  1. Sounds interesting. One thing I’m noting is that space4cycling used by LCC is a bit woolly, re allocation of space seems much more appropriate but politically difficult. But given that to get good quality inclusive cycling provision we need to do just that, maybe time for a shift from the squishing in of space for cycling with a dab of paint to the re allocation of whole lanes and roads.


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