On Monday evening a variety of folk descended on The Carriageworks in Leeds to discuss the rising excitement about cycling and Leeds. Le Grand Depart in 2014 is going to be *massive* for Leeds in just about every way. Tens of thousands of tourists will decend on Yorkshire, as well as several hundred lycra-clad cyclists with obscene thighs. Roads will be closed, barriers erected, food and beer will be sold and a great deal of fun had. But what else can we do to widen invovlement? And what afterwards?
As everyone knows, the best way to collect and share ideas is to write random ideas on paper plates and suspend them around a room on a makeshift washing line. So that's what we did. There were loads. Ideas ranged from creating an annual cycle race in the city, giving all the city's kids a free bike, having a 'cheese-off' with the French, closing all roads inside The Loop for a car-free festival, changing town planning to favour cyclists and pedestrians, painting the inner ring road with happy graffiti, sticking an exercise bike outside the Town Hall and getting punters to ride the distance of a Tour stage - it went on and on.
The meeting was well attended, very lively and splendidly organised and chaired by The Culture Vulture (actually a bundle of energy called Emma). There were those involved in organising Le Tour - from METRO and Leeds City Council - representatives from SUSTRANS, Arts Council, Pedaller Arms, Leeds Cycling Campaign, as well as dozens of individuals with allied interests. Even Leeds City Council's Chief Exec, Tom Riodan, showed his face - and how importantly cycling is now being regarded.
All these ideas were duly collated (stacked actually) to be fed back to the team. We also discussed the pressing Cycle city ambition bid which Leeds is having a crack at. If the city is successful, it could mean 10's of millions of investment for cycle infrastructure - if we can show the necessary ambition and committment: the bid is very clear that a splash of white paint is *not* what they're after. What a fantastic opportunity to kick start the change in planning and design attitude we need to see in the city to get more people safely cycling on our roads. Plans for the bid are currently being prepared and more is expected in the next few weeks. Needless to say Leeds Cycling Campaign will be invovled.
All in all a great evening, fun and productive. If the energy and positivity from those attending is anything to go by, things are ripe for change.