Last night I was sat at my keyboard, typing acronym after acronym after acronym. ‘MBA’, ‘EBI’, ‘TMA’, the jargon of the Open University. Music played in the background. A glass of ‘Old Tom’ was perched on a coaster. Then a line from one of my favourite songs arrested me.
Did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
It’s from ‘Wish you were here’ by Pink Floyd (above). I remember that line often. Every time I acquiesce, sit on the fence, or contemplate taking the easier route, I hear those words. ‘Did you – Simon – exchange a walk on part in this war, for a lead role in that cage’?
Now as cyclists, we have good reason to have a walk on part in the war. In our case, its road safety. Whether you ride to work, ride for leisure, ride to get fit, cycle tour, cycle race, bounce down big hills or just take the kids out for a ride around the block, we all have occasion to use the road network paid for by income taxes and community charges. If you’re happy with the roads that you use, the way that you’re protected from traffic and the manner in which you’re treated as a cyclist, then brilliant! that’s great news. Please send me your postcode so that I can go house searching. But if you’re not – and I suspect that this is where we, the overwhelming majority, find ourselves – then please take a moment or two to make your presence felt. This could be by actively campaigning, helping to support Sustrans (or similar charities), contacting the council on occasion or trumpeting the value of cycling as a lifestyle choice – which is my preference – and supporting local events.
This weekend Le Tour will rattle through Yorkshire. Hundreds of thousands of cycling fans will line the country lanes. Its been advertised relentlessly on BBC Radio 5, during the football world Cup and Wimbledon. Every other advert on TV seems to be bike themed or have a bicycle in it as a minimum. This level of exposure would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. Combined with the increased uptake cycling as both a leisure activity and a practical mode of transport, there has never been so much interest in cycling. Now is the time to work together to improve the lot for everybody who cycles today, leaving a template for those that cycle in the future. So who’s up for a walk on part?
Most cities have active cycling groups working to improve conditions for cyclists at local level. If you live in Cardiff, fill in this survey to help get the wheels turning – Cycling Cardiff Manifesto