The Rise and Rise of Cycle Power
Madeira Drive 22-9-06
The city has a long tradition of cycling activism. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century eleven cycling clubs were established. It is estimated that they had a combined membership of around 1,000.
With the rise of traffic congestion in the last quarter of the twentieth century, and with many technical developments in bicycle design, cycling has underdone a renaissance as the healthy, environmentally sustainable and enjoyable form of transport and recreation.
Brighton's connection with the bicycle was strengthened in the 1976 with the establishment of the annual London to Brighton Bike Ride, in aid of the British Heart Foundation. What began with 60 participants now has 27,000!
|For more on the origins of the annual London to Brighton - click here|
In the 1980s cycling pressure groups became active in the city and today have a strong voice in the council's transport strategy. Among the earliest achievements were the seafront cycle lanes, and the Lewes Road cycle lane, both of which link up with South Coast Cycle Route.
Since 2000 cycling trips in the city have grown by around 50%, and in the autumn of 2005 the city was chosen by the government to be one of six Cycling Demonstration Towns. This means it will get an an additional £500,000 for each of the next three years to be spent on promoting cycling. The city now has a schools cycle officer whose job it is to promote cycling in our schools. The funding is also being used to contact around 10,000 residents to promote the benefits of cycling in the city through the means of 'personal travel planning'. The council calculates that around 27,000 car trips of less than 3 miles are made each day in the city, and it will be hoping that a lot of these can be removed by persuading more drivers to Bike It!
Cycling infrastructure is often contentious. Cycling pressure groups give their advice freely to council transport officers on the planning of junctions to take account of cyclists' needs. They don't always agree!
Cycle routes are often a source of humour and bewilderment to the public, including cyclists, and one cyclist has even built a website dedicated to the "Weird Cycle Lanes of Brighton".
The latest addition to the city's cycling calendar is the World Naked Bike Ride, a naked, cycling protest against oil dependency, car culture, and a graphic reminder to motorists of just how vulnerable cyclists are when compared with drivers sitting in their engine-powered steel boxes.
Knowing Brighton, I think this one will grow and grow!
London to Brighton Cycle
Bricycles - the city's foremost cycling pressure group
Cycle Rides - organisers of London to Brighton Bike Run
Bike for Life: A local cycle training and promotion charity
Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club - cycling plus socialism
Brighton Excelsior Cycling Club - a club with a history
Brighton University's BUG
Weird Cycle Lanes of Brighton (& Hove)
Critical Mass (Brighton)
World Naked Bike Ride (Brighton & Hove)