One of the reasons I stepped forward for the CSR role last summer was to create a travel plan for our office. Fortunately our landlords Exchange Quay Management are putting a lot of time and effort into a Quay wide travel plan so rather than doing it on my own (and being given no time to do anything) there are a dozen likeminded individuals looking to alleviate the local congestion and car parking nightmare around our offices. We are the Exchange Quay Travel Forum and today was our second quarterly meeting.
Cycling naturally forms part of our focus and whilst everyone at the forum (and yours truly inparticular) gets excited about this, it has to be tempered with the fact that in the last survey of employees on our Quay only 1% cycled to work which was a drop from 4% three years earlier. There are only so many people you can convert to even occassional cycling and with people in my office travelling in from The Wirral, Blackpool, Carnforth and even Scunthorpe we have less hope than most to contribute to a reversal of that trend. I’m sure many of my readership do their bit for cycling advocacy and will know that you just have to keep plugging away over the years, but you do need to pick and choose your battles. My current strategy is keep a lower profile, never talk about the green side of it (as that always gets people’s backs up) and just demonstrate the fitness and time/cost benefits by example.
Today’s meeting was dominated by me quite frankly, but spurred on by people asking my opinion on stuff as I think I was the only regular cyclist there. I asked them to moderate the tone of a proposed banner back from ‘Get cycling’ to the less forceful ‘Try cycling’ and I suggested mentioning walking and running along side cycling. But cycling seemed to be top of their agenda (in the absense of any actual written agenda for the meeting).
They (not me) wanted a fleet of folding bikes to be used for pottering around the Quays at lunchtime and for people to test out mixed mode alternatives to driving and I have been tasked with suggesting an appropriate cheap but good model (with a carrying bag due to the ridiculous restriction that Metrolink apply). They (not me) were proposing better security in carpark two because a van and blokes with bolt cutters had taken bikes from there. They (with no prompting from me) had removed the silly (and never used) external cycle parking around the back of carpark 1 that you can barely get to either pushing or riding your bike and put it inside carpark 2. They (not me) were excited about doing something for Bike Week, they even wanted racing around the spine road which I pointed out would be very dangerous due to the blind corners and agressive speed humps (though I’m sure my time would have been hard to beat). I took away most actions and already have a lead for some folders that are cheaper than my £250 model. I told them not to reinvent the wheel around Bike Week as there is bound to be loads going on and rain would probably dampen and disappoint any event we would put a disproportionate amount of time into promoting. I told them about the GM Cycle Commute Challenge and the excellent Cycle GM Workplace Challenge (which seems a bit Judean People’s Front/Peoples Front of Judea to me) and that there would probably be two Manchester critical commutes during that week that I could lead on from Exchange Square to Exchange Quay. The Friday ride actually falls on my birthday and I can think of no greater present to me than a convoy of happy, enthusiastic cyclists following me along side the ship canal in the glorious early morning sunshine of late June. Maybe I should try tempting people into particpating with a slice of my mum’s legendary chocolate birthday cake?