UK Bicycle Advocacy

by guest author Rebecca Phillips

Cycling enthusiasts could not live at a better time in Britain to promote their sport. After Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky produced a first British winner of the Tour de France, the Olympic and Paralympic Games showed once again the depth of British cycling strength. The sport is in the headlines like never before, so the time is ripe to really up the ante when it comes to campaigning for better cycling infrastructure and a more receptive society generally to the benefits which cycling can offer.

The key to any kind of advocacy and especially cycling advocacy, is to get involved on the front line. Plenty of cyclists, just like the general public, moan and whine about the political structures and institutions in this country. A good way of changing those institutions so that they are more receptive to cycling ideas is to go and take part.

Keen cyclists should interact with the political process, become involved in a direct way and then actually be in positions of power. Stand for election, if necessary, on a local level. Even if you do not win an election to any kind of position of influence, your campaign may well have raised the profile of issues which are dear to the heart of cyclists. Should you manage to be successfully elected to office, then you are actually in a position to shape official policy.

The other thing to focus on is bicycle specific issues and noticeable campaigns. Sometimes campaigns on cycling issues stall due to a lack of awareness about how to campaign effectively. If your aims overlap with other groups such as political parties, then find areas of common ground and learn how to campaign from them. Many of the smaller political parties such as the Greens operate very effective campaigns when it comes to issues such as cycling.

Finding effective ways to lobby is also important for any cycling advocacy group. If you are campaigning about an issue, find out who the relevant politicians are and start letter writing campaigns. These can be done using email and online technology in a surprisingly straightforward way. You will be surprised at how quickly minds can be changed when some pressure is exerted and minds are often changed much more speedily than expected.

When it comes to keeping cycling issues visible in the public eye, it pays to recruit some cyclists to help out with your campaigns. These are the natural supporters for any initiative and their enthusiasm can be very useful indeed if you can get them fired up. Do not limit any campaign to simply cyclists you know. Go to a local cycling store and hand out fliers. Ask them the places where cyclists go to hang out and visit them there. Talk to people and find out what their main issues and interests are and get them to contribute to your campaign.

You might even want to make things more official and form a bicycle advocacy society. Sound out local cyclists and see how they feel. Make use of the internet too and check sites like to see what other people working in the industry think. You might find that you enjoy it.