In August 2013, Birmingham City Council started their Cycling Revolution – to make it easier and safer for people to cycle – with £24.3 million from grants and self-funding. As a keen cyclist, who has cycled all over the world yet finds her home town one of the hardest places to cycle, I welcomed this. So the cancelling of the traffic free and family friendly Sky Ride due to no suitable date being available, left me asking ‘eh’? Was this really the action of a council committed to cycling?
After the initial ranting, I remembered that one way cycling can have a higher profile is in increasing the amount of cyclists. Of course there are concerns, but the more cyclists there are, the more there will be.
This ‘critical mass’ idea led to, well, Critical Mass rides. Starting in San Fransisco in 1992, rides have taken place in over 300 cities worldwide1. A non-formalised ride, usually on a Friday evening, with cyclists (and other forms of non-motorised transport!) riding through their city together. It isn’t an organisation, more ‘an idea allowing people to reclaim cities by getting together and outnumbering the cars on the road’2. A celebration of bike-ness, it’s a fun alternative to car culture.
Another group getting out and about are the North Birmingham based road riders, the Boldmere Bullets Cycling Collective. Tom Swinbourne, one of the founder members, said the group was set up to create a stronger cycling community in Boldmere and raise the profile and visibility of cycling. It now has over 200 members since starting at the beginning of 2014. Tom would like to encourage other likeminded cyclists to replicate this fresh approach to getting communities on their bikes throughout the city: a group of cyclists getting together for social and harder road rides, as wanted.
So, yes, rant at the council, I have, but do we need them to tell us where and when we can cycle? Or should we do it for ourselves, get on our bikes and go for it?
Critical Mass rides: first Friday of every month, 18.00, Pigeon Park (St. Philip’s Cathedral)
Boldmere Bullets: Rides posted on Strava and Facebook. Socials every other Sunday, 7pm. Meet Dubella Lounge, Boldmere Road.