Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cycling Symposium

Darlington Bike Campaign's Symposium on Saturday was a success, wiith over 50 people attending.

The highlight for me was the presentation by Werner Brog from Socialdata, the international firm which has been tracking local residents' trip choices by mode since we became one of the UK's 3 Sustainable Travel Towns. I'll cover the latest findings in a separate post.

The Bike Campaign have produced a position paper on the future of cycling in Darlington which was chewed over by myself and Martin Swainston during a "politicians' slot". Speaking for Labour, I was able not only to cover our very good record on promoting cycling (Cycling Demonstration Town status, significant investment in cycling infrastructure, huge progress made on cycling in schools), but also the future, should Labour be re-elected in May. That included completion of the radial route work, the Skerne Valley way under the £5 Note bridge, and also a fresh push to increase cycling at secondary schools, using the good work at Hummerknott as a model.

Some of the demands of the Cycling Campaign I couldn't support (general cycling on pavements for example, and imposing a 20mph limit on all roads across the town) but we are moving in the right direction. I hope another Symposium is organised next year, to take the debate forward.

11 comments:

miketually said...

Thanks for taking the time to come along. Did you get your puncture fixed?

I'm not sure if there will be another event next year. Maybe.

Ian Whtie, townliar.com said...

Do they teach puncture fixing at DBC.
I hope Nick that you will as eagerly come along to the Liars event after the Elections?

ian holme said...

50 people??!!!!!

considering the population of the borough, cant agree that this figure is very impressive at all.

Though it probably is quite representaive of the level of interest in the subject.

and just how much is being spent on promotion/cycle paths etc for these 50 individuals?

miketually said...

Ian, it was 50 people who were willing to give up 5 hours of their Saturday to listen what we as a Campaign had to say. That's pretty good going, I'd say.

Ian White, townliar.com said...

Mike... and you poo poo the mayoral referendum for getting 4000+ signatures, so 50 people turned up to hear how a door to door survey came to its bias conclusion?
Once again we agree to disagree!

miketually said...

50 * 4.5 hours = 225 person hours (on one afternoon)

4000 * 1 minute = 67 person hours (in a year)

All depends on how you measure it, doesn't it? ;)

The announcement of the new data was only a very small part of the event. It was mostly about the cycle campaign putting forward its ideas for how the future of cycling in Darlington should look.

In hindsight, we should not have had Werner reveal the more newsworthy release of the figures, as it rather overshadowed what we had to say.

Still, we live and learn. I got to speak to all the Lib Dem councillors and some of their candidates on the following Tuesday, so we got our thoughts to another group of people who may soon have more of an influence in the town.

Darlington Councillor said...

Well, humiliatingly, the puncture is still there. I'm no bike doctor, although Sandy (who has competed for the UK in the triathlon) is a genius with puncture repairs, so it should be sorted soon.

I thought the turnout at the Symposium was very good. I recall that my friends at the mayoral referendum campaign held a well-publicised meeting before Christmas where just 35 people were in attendance, so stones and glass houses come to mind...

I'm interested that Mike, you went along to a LibDem meeting - were they any more specific about how they would promote cycling in Darlington than they were at the Symposium? I recall Martin Swainston talking airily about Home Zones (which cost a fortune) but not a lot else. I set out Labour's planned approach to boosting cycling during my slot.

Ian White said...

Nick, whats a home zone?

Darlington Councillor said...

Basically, a very expensive 20mph limit area. We did one in Pateley Moor Crescent a few years ago, and it set the Council back £600k +.

In theory, they give pedestrians priority over all other road users. Home Zones tend to blur the distinction between road and pedestrian space - in some places the road has been temporarily replaced by turf, for example.

It's been my impression that the practical difficulties with creating Home Zones has meant that they've rather receded as a widespread solution to road safety challenges in recent years across the country, although at the Symposium, Martin Swainston told me that Nottingham was an example of best practice in this area. I guess I need to do some googling...

miketually said...

I like the idea of home zones; giving the streets back to the people living in an area. There's a site which shows how residents in one street in Oxford have tried to do this themselves: The Road Witch Project. I'm not sure how well they would work in practice, and they are very expensive to do well.

The Lib Dem meeting was more about us putting across the ideas we'd expressed at the Symposium to some more of the Lib Dems. They seemed, like you, broadly in agreement with most of our proposals; with the sticking points being the same ones you have problems with. Martin seemed very definite that cycling provision should be a part of the requirements for all new developments.

miketually said...

You might need to change the travel data, it seems like we have one more car, one less bike on the roads in Darlington...