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Bike bells for sleigh bells in festive flashmob

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(Image courtesy of Sustrans: http://www.sustrans.org.uk/)  

This morning saw around 20 ‘Santas’ ditch their sleighs for bikes, as the cyclists of Greater Manchester undertook their usual commutes in festive attire before flashmobbing Brazenose Street for a photocall. 

I am proud to say, I was a member of this seasonal-themed gathering, which was organised by Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign (GMCC). 

GMCC organised the Santa cycle and subesquent flashmob to contribute to a media piece based on the theme of what cyclists want for Christmas, linked to the recent Bike Life report, which shows that 75% of people in Greater Manchester want more investment in cycling.  You can read that report, which suggests an average spend of £25 a head, here.

Both the rest of the Twisted Spokes team and I share that aspiration.  If you’re a regular visitor to these pages, you’ll have seen us comment on numerous occasions about the state of the infrastructure in the city centre and beyond, and you can read the most recent, which also discusses TfGM’s “Life on 2 Wheels” campaign, here.   

Whilst the survey highlights that bike ownership and riding are seen as important parts of life in Greater Manchester, it reinforces our own experiences, in that there is a big issue when it comes to cyclist safety.  Out of those surveyed only 55% of residents feel safe riding a bike by day, a figure which drops to 20% at night.  My own experience matches this; in the last 12 months, thanks to the multitude of roadworks and resurfacing, it doesn’t feel as safe to ride a bike in the city. 

It’s not exactly news, but when Manchester City Council and TfGM are trying to encourage more people to ride their bikes, and more people want to do just that, surely it makes sense to address the perceptions that people have about how safe it is to ride bikes, and improve some of the infrastructure that has caused these concerns to develop at the same time.  That would have a knock on effect of increasing safety levels and reducing injury rates. 

Whilst I’m hopeful that TfGM and the Greater Manchester Local Authorities will, at some point, listen to the continued arguments of the cycling community and spend more money per head on cycling, as well as taking cyclists into account when developing the area’s infrastructure, I think we’re a long way off that point.  That’s why it’s important that we continue to press the point in any way we can, including a festive flashmob.  As I said at the top of the blog, I am proud to have played a part in that today, and hopeful that this is one Christmas wish that will come true soon. 

If you’d like to have a chat about any of the issues I’ve raised here, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me; jane.bedfordmclaren@jmw.co.uk  .

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