The Embassy's AGM happened on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th June, 2014, Brighton.
Embassy Chair Mark Treasure reviewed the past year, including the achievements of the Embassy (Slideshare link). To a large extent, the case for dedicated infrastructure for cycling has been made. What remains to be done is generating the political will to achieve this, and making sure that what is built is of decent quality.
What should the Embassy be doing?
Various priorities for the Embassy were discussed. The consensus seemed to be that the Embassy could best act as a resource for local campaigning organisations – whether guidance for those just starting out, or in collaboration with more established groups.
It was agreed that the Embassy should continue to maintain its strong, uncompromising stance on high-quality infrastructure. While we recognised that many local campaigners would find themselves in a position where they were being consulted on designs or plans which are far from perfect, and could well fall into the ‘that’s the best that’s on offer’ camp, it was felt crucial to have.
The website is useful but a lot of the material is incomplete or hard to find. It also concentrates on rational evidence, rather than making a more emotional case for cycling infrastructure, using stories as well as statistics. A lot of Embassy type material is also to be found ‘off site’ on blogs, and is hard to find when needed.
We agreed that now was the time for all cycling organisations to work together as much as possible to define good infrastructure and press for the changes needed to make it possible in the UK.
It was agreed that we did not want to set up a formal affiliation process for local campaign groups. However, any local group who was prepared to sign up to the manifesto and mission statement of the Embassy and support its aims, would be welcome to display the Embassy logo on their website as a supporter. In turn, we would list those who had signed up to support us. If we feel that a campaign group is not living up to those goals, then we would ask them to remove our logo from their site.
A prioritised list of ‘claims and canards’ to be tackled was generated (see below). There were a number of suggestions for improving the website, but it was agreed that this would need concerted coordinated action from a subcommittee to actually happen.
David Arditti and Robin Heydon volunteered to head up this activity. Sally and Sam agreed to provide support for rewriting and editing material for different audiences. Paul James will provide some input where he can (including use of Pedestrianise London material). The same basic material could then be provided in a number of different forms, eg. PDFs, that could be used in different circumstances.
David and Robin will report within one month with a plan to achieve this, with an overall deadline of before the next AGM
Prioritised list of claims and canards
Day two Breakout: Making the case for ‘the why’
It was agreed that there was not enough good material out there making the case for cycling infrastructure that local campaigners could use with the general public, councillors etc.
We identified 10 key striking statements, that could be backed up by evidence. Each of these could be turned into social media-friendly material which could be shared on facebook, twitter etc., with compelling images and strong wording, but with links to the underlying statistics to ensure that they’re robust. These focused around the benefits to cycling to wider society, not just those who cycle themselves. (possible headline ‘it’s just common sense’...)
Cycling has economic benefits [Glasgow statistic / Copenhagen figures]
Cycling is good for local businesses [spending statistics]
Cyclists live longer and have a better quality of life [‘maintaining our cake based lifestyle’]
Cyclists benefits non cyclists [lower congestion / less health spending / less pollution / more parking spaces]
Cyclable environments are more pleasant for everyone
Space for Cycling makes cities more accessible for everyone [children / disabled people / disadvantaged groups]
Cycling gives children freedom [‘no more mum and dad’s taxi’]
Cycling creates cleaner communities / environment [‘ride a bike & save a polar bear’]
Cycling will increase the value of your home
Cycling can improve social mobility