His message was simple: Cyclists should no longer just cope, they should hope. It reflects a changing attitude amongst cycle campaigners in the past 12 months.
The revolution in cycle campaigning
The stereotypical cycle campaigner is a white bearded male, with a well used bike and a propensity to get in to in depth discussions about issues such as compulsory helmet use and segregated cycle lanes.
No wonder they’ve been long shunned by traditional media.
However, I believe we are now entering a new wave of cycle campaigning. The focus is shifting from campaigning about cycling, to campaigning about the sort of cities and towns we want to live in
Therefore, discussions about compulsory helmet use and segregated lanes are out. They are replaced by calls for more liveable cities.
This is crucially important as it involves a wider group of people.
More people can get behind the idea of our children been able to walk to school, and the idea that we should be able to open our window and not been greeted by the loud noises of cars and lorries speeding past.
After all: Who doesn’t want to live in green, pleasant surroundings?
Joining our causes together
Like it or not, cyclists are still a minority group. Even though attitudes are slowly changing, the general view remains that if you ride a bike, the rest of society sees you as a little bit weird.
Being a minority, makes it difficult for cyclists to influence opinions in Government.
However, under a much wider banner of liveable cities, you join together different campaign messages. From pedestrian campaigners, to social equality groups to Saga. This gives a greater credibility and creates a force to be reckoned with.
What the future holds
The future should mean a shift away from messages such as “You are more likely to die in a car, than on a bike” and a move towards more effective campaign methods such as those seen recently.
Campaigns such as the Love London, Go Dutch have been a huge success. All five mayoral candidates signed up to the pledges of the campaign to a degree. This was backed by huge organised protest rides.
It is very encouraging to see the London Cycling Campaign listen to its members and change its direction, becoming more relevant to the cyclists of today.
The future will also be driven by the growth in social media. That means you and me, and anyone else who shares ideas through blog posts, tweets and Facebook. These ideas are now spreading at a rate never seen before.
As history has shown, it takes a long time for opinions to change. Think for example how much opinions have changed about gay rights in the past few decades. The Dutch have already won their liveable cities, and with time we will win ours.