Perception vs Reality: to lead change, should a Cycling Champion undertake Bikeability training and be seen to make everyday trips around our Borough?
On the 22nd July, the full Council meeting took place with questions for the Elected Mayor from the general public.
One of the questions raised was:
Within the roles and portfolios assigned to Cabinet members, one is that of a Cycling Champion.
As a Council organisation, there is a lot of publicity generated about the role of Bikeability for school children, and the occasional advertisement of Bikeability courses for adults too.
Whilst this publicity is welcome, there still appears to be a disconnect between what the Council perceive what cyclists experience, and the actual reality.
A full, practical, understanding of Bikeability would be of great benefit to any Cycling Champion of the Cabinet. This would supplement any regular cycling that individual undertakes in, and around, the Borough.
It would also highlight how seriously the Mayor, and the Cabinet, view Cycling in the Borough, strengthening the integrity of how the role is viewed by its citizens, and the cycling community.
Putting to one side the ongoing cycling consultation, please can the Mayor and Cabinet commit to any current, and future, Cycling Champion to undertake the full, practical, Bikeability course to Level 3 standard?
Cllr Sandra Graham, North Tyneside’s Transport Cabinet Member, and Cycling Champion, responded:
We are indeed very proud of our Bikeabilty scheme and quite rightly promote the scheme as we think it is really important for children and sometimes adults to take part. In the past 4 years over 7000 children have successfully passed through the scheme.
The purpose of the scheme is to give those attending skills and confidence to cycle regularly and consider the bike as an everyday mode of transport.
This is just one of a number of initiatives supporting our aim to help more people in the borough cycle more easily and more often.
As the new cycling champion, I am committed to promoting the scheme and it will of course take me some time to gain a detailed knowledge of all aspects of the scheme. As for taking part myself I am gradually building up my own confidence. I have bought an e-bike and hope to be attending (or peddling towards) an adult version of the course in the near future.
Whilst there was no commitment from the Elected Mayor about how seriously they wish their Cycling Champion role to be perceived, we are encouraged by Cllr Graham’s e-bike purchase and wish her well in her active travels.
One of the main indicators we’ll be keeping an eye on is how Cllr Graham’s perceptions of cycling infrastructure changes, as she builds her confidence moving around the Borough. This includes how future consultations are shaped, based on her experience, as well as the experience of those who contributed to the recently closed Cycling Infrastructure consultation.
Summer of Cycling
Tying into Cllr Graham’s response, North Tyneside Council are advertising their Summer of Cycling, which involves encouraging people to explore the Borough on their bike.
Working alongside this, there are three Adult Cycle Skills courses taking place in August from the Lakeside Centre in Killingworth.
The beginner and intermediate courses are taking place on Saturday 21st August, with an advanced course taking place a week later, on the 28th August.
Places are limited, but you can register your interest on Eventbrite.
Beginner – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/adult-cycle-skills-beginners-tickets-163050078173
Intermediate – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/adult-cycle-skills-intermediate-tickets-163059022927
Advanced – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/adult-cycle-skills-advanced-tickets-163060443175
Not one for missing an opportunity, if anyone would like to contribute their experience of any of the courses above, and how their perception of the infrastructure provided for those cycling around the Borough has changed (positively, or negatively), please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.