The AGM of the London Cycling Campaign on Saturday saw a series of important motions being passed – ones that will serve to define how the LCC formulate policy, and what they will campaign for. Indeed, the motions that were passed set out fairly explicitly what ‘Space for Cycling’ (or #Space4Cycling, if you prefer) actually means in practice. I think they are massively significant. You can read these motions here. Motion 3 – ‘When do we need protected space for cycling?’ – was proposed by Rachel Aldred. It’s quite clear from looking at it that it amounts to a call for Dutch-style separation across the cycle network in London. The demand is that nobody will have to cycle anywhere in motor traffic travelling at above 20mph, nor – crucially – should anybody be expected to share the same space as motor vehicles on a road or street carrying more than 2000 Passenger Car Units (PCU) per day.
If a road has a speed limit higher than 20mph, or if it carries more than 2000 cars (or rather fewer lorries, buses or coaches) per day, then physical separation from motor traffic is required. Both of these criteria are ‘tipping points’ in their own right. That doesn’t mean that cycle tracks – or forms of light segregation – have to be employed. Measures could obviously be taken to remove motor traffic from a given street, so that the PCUs per day value falls below 2000. This could take the form of filtered permeability, or opposing one-way systems, to cut out through traffic. If this can’t be achieved, then physical separation from motor traffic is an absolute requirement. In practice, I think this kind of policy would result in a very ‘Dutch’ looking cycle network, with cycle tracks on main roads, and barely any physical segregation at all on the minor road network of residential and access streets.
In other words, Motion 3 is recognition that Space for Cycling amounts to separation from motor traffic, wherever you choose to cycle. It recognises that fear of motor traffic is one of the most significant barriers to cycling, and that to create safe, pleasant and comfortable conditions for cycling you have to minimise the amount of interaction with that motor traffic. Motion 5 – proposed by David Arditti – was also significant. It argues for uniformity of cycle provision, for all categories of user. David himself has set out why this is so important in a blog post of his own, one that makes the case so clearly there is little point expanding on it here, except to say that his motion explicitly rejects the two-tier style of cycling provision that trades off safety against convenience, and in practice results in awful compromise that suits nobody.
Someone – I forget who, sorry – pointed out to me that it is quite remarkable that a cycle campaign is even having to pass a motion like this. It should be completely obvious that we need cycle infrastructure that is simultaneously suitable for both the fit and the fast, and also for the young, the frail, and the elderly, rather than two sub-standard compromises tacked together. David’s vigorous and eloquent defence of his motion drew one of the most stirring rounds of applause of the day, and I’m pleased to say it was carried overwhelmingly.
Rachel’s motion was subjected to more opposition, initially some ‘procedural mischief’ from Oliver Schick, who pointed out that her motion contained reference to a document that was not included in the AGM papers (an objection that carried little weight in light of the fact that the AGM had, moments earlier, voted to approve the accounts, which were not included in the AGM papers), and then from a proposed amendment (Oliver again) suggesting that reference to protected space be removed, and replaced with a reiteration of the importance of 20mph limits across London. This amendment was overwhelmingly rejected, and the unamended motion was passed almost unanimously.
Motion 4 – proposed by Mustafa Arif – amounted to an endorsement of these demands (and indeed of Space for Cycling in general) as the LCC’s campaigning strategy for next year. It was a very tiring (and argumentative) day, but a productive one.
One anecdote to close with. As I left the building, a well-dressed man with a Brompton, wheeling it along the pavement with his companions, asked me ‘what was going on in there?’ He had caught sight of the dozens of Bromptons stacked up inside the entrance. AGMs are obviously not everyone’s cup of tea, but from our brief conversation it was apparent he had no idea that the London Cycling Campaign even existed. The LCC only has 12,000 members, so there is huge potential for growth in membership, if the positive campaigning messages now being developed reach these kinds of people. And not just that, there’s huge potential for change, full stop, if the wider public can be shown that cycling is a viable transport option for them if the conditions are right, and if they can be shown what a difference mass cycling can make to the quality of where they live. I think the motions passed at the weekend are a big step in the right direction.