One positive effect of lockdown has been a huge boost to cycling – and Bristol Cycling Campaign is feeling the benefit of this surge.
The number of cyclists on Bristol’s streets has soared in the past two months as people have chosen bicycles both for exercise and as a form of transport. Fewer cars and vans on the roads have meant that both regular cyclists and those new to cycling have enjoyed quieter, safer routes around the city.
This boom in cycling can also be seen in increased trade for bike shops. The Bicycle Association trade body reports that shops are seeing increases of between 50% and 100% compared with this time last year as people seek out new bikes or get their old bikes overhauled.
This increased interest in cycling has been felt most strongly by the Bristol Cycling Campaign, which is reporting its biggest ever increase in supporters, volunteers and members. The campaign received over 700 responses to its ‘Cycling in Bristol’ survey and 100 people recently attended their first ever webinar to discuss their work and the success of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Walthamstow.
“We’re overwhelmed with the number of people who want to get involved and join us,” says Eric Booth, membership secretary.
In the past two months nearly 300 people have offered their support to the Bristol Cycling Campaign. “Our official membership has increased by 15% since lockdown began, that’s the largest increase we’ve ever seen and not only do people want to become members and follow us on social media, but they also want to volunteer their time and get campaigning.”
Cee Pike is one of these new members and volunteers. “I recently got back into cycling and wasn’t expecting to become so passionate about it,” she enthuses. “Post lockdown, I’m looking forward to being able to use my bike to drop my children off at nursery before heading to work, as I’ll save so much time compared with walking or driving.”
Cee is, however, still concerned about the safety of cycling on Bristol’s roads. “As my children get older I want them to enjoy the freedom of getting around by bike, but at the moment the infrastructure just isn’t there. That’s why I’ve joined the campaign — to ensure we can have cycling routes that everyone can enjoy.”
The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, recently announced a raft of new walking and cycling infrastructure plans for the city centre, but many want to see the same changes in their local communities as well.
“The city centre is going to see some big changes, but people first have to get to the city centre,” says Eric. “We need to expand these initiatives across the city, especially on the ‘strategic corridors’ that the Department for Transport has specifically asked councils to address.
“To ensure our influence grows to push for these changes we’ve decided to make our membership for new members free for the first year. We’re the voice for those who cycle and those who want to, and as we’re seeing that lots more people want to cycle we’re making it easier for them to join our campaign and make it happen.”
Would you like to get around Bristol by bike more easily? Join Bristol Cycling Campaign at www.bristolcycling.org.uk and let’s make our streets more safer and friendly!