RSA Urban Cycling Debate


The end of June is becoming a sporting time on TV with families jostling for position on the sofa and of course the ownership of the remote control to watch the highlights of Wimbledon, Tour de France and cricket.

The RSA NW region’s National Bike Week debate had people also jostling for space to take part. Almost 60 people turned up to take part in the debate. Once again the NW region worked in collaboration with partners such as UoM, MMU, Corridor Manchester, Sustrans and TfGM.

We were lucky to have panel members who were exceptionally passionate about urban cycling.  The chair, Deputy Vice Chancellor from MMU, Myszka Guzkowska gave an excellent introduction (for those not fully aware of some of the background information on urban cycling) and kept the enthusiastic dialogue going between audience and panel.

Back in 2005, cycling within the UK represented less than 2% of all trips. However in 2012 at least 10% of the population rode a bike once a week a slight improvement over the years. This compares unfavourably with other countries of similar economic standing. For example, cycling levels equate to 31% in the Netherlands, 20% in Denmark, 17% in Switzerland and 13% in Germany.

With the highest obesity levels in the EU the UK Government is now encouraging its’ population to have at least 30 minutes of activity five days a week. Cycling is one activity that can help improve people’s fitness and keep their weight under control.

20130620_164306Although during the Tour de France we see lots of men wearing lycra on our screens panel member Steve Connor’s (Creative Concerns) advice was that there is no need when cycling in towns and cities to show off your muscles wearing lyrca – ordinary clothes will do.  In fact, the RSA Deputy Chair of Fellowship Council Wiard Sterk pointed out that he arrived with his bike in a smart yet casual suit. With most of the audience, particularly the women agreeing, men who usually wore lycra but who wouldn’t admit to it could be seen visibly embarrassed.

North West Director of Sustrans Eleanor Roaf raised some interesting facts about what they are doing to raise the urban cycling interest across the region and country. It’s good to know that a national organisation is moving this agenda forward.

With some excellent points raised by Nick Vaughan from TfGM by the end a majority agreed that good planning is part of the answer. By creating and redesigning urban environments that priorities walking, cycling and public transport, we can make healthy and easy choices.