Cyclists are not road users. My reaction was, so effin what: as long as I have a cycleway, I am a cycleway user, not a road user. I prefer to be a cycleway user – particularly on main roads like the Embankment.
Then again, I am a campaigner for protected space for cycling and my angle may therefore differ from the mainstream/traditional cycle campaigning (or shall I call it blokey bike bubble). I believe that once we get a fair share of the space the “road culture” will change. It will change because it will have to adapt to the new spatial realities. And it will.
I was trying to make ourselves aware of our bike bubbling existence at a space for cycling / ctc event in 2014. I am not sure how this went down at the time. I got mixed messages. The event was ace, and we had a great engaged lively exchange, pushing some perceptions and boundaries. But ctc (now Cycling UK) originally reported back from the day with my session missing, and I had to ask to please be included on the webpage. Maybe my session’s focus was too challenging or novel (or I don’t know) for them.
The minister’s comment didn’t stay a storm in our bike-bubbling tea cup. The article originating from the specialist cycle press (bikebiz, roadcc, cyclingweekly) was picked up by more mainstream-ish media.
And I ask. What image is portrayed?
To me the image of a hardy fast traditional road cyclist springs to mind – the image that’s firmly imprinted on the public’s mind, reconfirmed. The image we present is that of a mamil. Yet, the future cyclist is one who is valued by being afforded their own space, see images coming out of the recent London CS improvements that show a vastly democratised constituent of cyclists pedalling along on the protected space. All this is rather confusing to the public I am certain. The public will yet again ask “what do they want?” and “how prickly, weird and peculiar these cyclist folk can be!”
The whole conversation has to change if we seriously want to reach out. Challenging the ministers is absolutely what we should be doing (day and night), no doubt about that. But the context still gravely matters. We have to become much more self-aware.