Here is a précis of our Chair, Matthew Snedker’s report to this month’s Annual General Meeting…..
I am very proud to have been chair of Darlovelo in 2016. Our achievements last year were:
Social ride – Ride and Park
On the 17th July we took a group of people from South Park to Broken Scar where we enjoyed a picnic. The group of riders consisted of 16 adults and 8 children. We were joined by a number of Syrian refugees who had been provided with cycles and Bikeability training through DAR and Darlovelo. The weather was lovely and all who took part thoroughly enjoyed the event. Special thanks must go to Sally who provided the link to DAR and all the Darlovelo volunteers who helped steward the ride.
Treasure hunt I, II & III
We wanted to be able to demonstrate first hand the many and varied obstacles to utility cycling in Darlington. Other campaigns have held infrastructure safaris. These see campaigner guid other riders around a route, pointing out dangers and conflicts on the way. They re educational, but guests are fairly passive when it comes to experiencing every day cycling. Darlovelo decided to change the emphasis and inject fun and activity in equal measure. In the Treasure Hunt format guests are given a destination to reach and asked to plan a route on the spot. When the destination is reached, the guests are asked to describe what they spotted on the way.
The three treasure hunts, held on 18th April, 27th June and18th September, were successful in helping us identify dangers and conflicts. However we found it very difficult to get guests to accompany us.The council leader, Bill Dixon, called off at the last minute twice. An offer to arrange for the deputy leader to join us came to nothing. We did not even receive an acknowledgement from the Highways department. Public health cancelled and offered apologies after the event. Local Motion sent one member to the June Treasure Hunt.
The value of cycling – money talks
Using the economic benefits of cycling as a way of gaining access to decision makes has proved to be a success. I have had two meetings with Cllr Chris McEwan to make the case for investment in infrastructure. This message needs to go further and be understood. These conversations lead directly to our consultation by DBC on proposed highways changes.
Consultation on proposed highways changes
Duncan and I spent a morning with highways and Local Motion officers discussing a number of proposals to change highway layouts.
We discussed plans for; Feathams / Houndgate / Beaumont Street.
Albert Road to John Street cycle way.
The discussions were constructive and allowed us to make recommendations for improvement. It was very clear that the perception within sections of the council remains that their priority is the movement of traffic, rather than people, and that safe cycle routs are not a priority because the number of people cycling now is low.
There are reasons why Darlovelo was a Company limited by guarantee. The need for that arrangement has reduced. At the beginning of 2016 it became clear that the financial cost outweighed the benefit. I’d like to thank Richard for doing the work required to bring about the disincorporation of Darlovelo.
Living in a town where the mode share for cycling is ~ 3% and knowing that is should be ~ 30% it is easy to become jaded or disheartened. So it is good that we have looked back at 2016 because we can rightly feel proud of our activity and achievements. The work done by Richard and Beatrix form overseas has been vital, as always and our thanks to them recognises that they have so many other projects calling on their time.
Duncan, our cycle wizard, also deserves a big thank you. Without your mechanical / photographical skills and your knowledge of infrastructure from time spent in the Netherlands and Poland, our group would be very much weaker. Other members support must not go unacknowledged. Kathy, Mike & Willem have all give time and expertise to make the last year as successful as it was.
Finally, we must thank Sally for her continued support over the many years that she has held a committee position. We understand that you stepping down as secretary but we’ll keep in touch and hope to see you on a social ride or two this year.
I have already circulated a list of possible actions for 2017. Duncan and I attended a Space for Cycling conference in Durham on 21st January. We keen to use what we learnt there to guide us over the next twelve months.
We have practiced this event three times now. To run more of these in 2017 would be an easy commitment to make. The difference this year must be how effectively we attract guests. If we cast our net further and run them on weekends, I’m sure that we can start to break through to the decision makers of the town.
After the very positive feed back from our last social ride, I think that a repeat would be a great thing to do.
Looking through planning documents may not be the most thrilling activity. However, getting onto the ‘non-statutory’ list of consultees will give us the opportunity to raise the importance of building for the future needs of cyclists.
The closing date for initial consultation responses to the Tees Valley combined authority transport plan is 31st January. I propose that we support the Cycling UK submission in this instance.
Engagement with decision makers
Our greatest weakness is being a minority. Few people cycle and few people, cycling or not, are currently active in campaigning. Way of spreading our message:
- Improving membership numbers by switching to a free membership – see NewCycling
- Engage with decision makers with new narratives – the conservative reasons to cycle & the value of cycling
- Use of the Space 4 Cycling campaign and pledge map
- Easy analysis of Census data via the Propensity to Cycle tool
- Developing a Darlovelo Tube Map, tracking quality & quantity of cycle provision.
- Re-visiting the LTP as it approached its half way mark.
Thank you once again for making 2016 so successful and I look forwards to working with you in 2017.