With the nationwide launch of the Space for Cycling campaign by CTC, the national cycling charity, more and more people are asking for their local council to make cycling safer in their areas.
The campaign calls for people up and down the country to ask their Councillors to provide funding and support to enable the creation of conditions where people can cycle safely anywhere.
But how much of a difference can one person make? Quite a lot, as Sarah Sharp of Chichester discovered, after she campaigned successfully to have a 20mph speed limit put in place in the city.
Sarah never thought of herself as a cycle campaigner before she initiated the Chichester ‘20’s Plenty’ campaign. In fact this mum of two didn’t even learn to ride a bike until she was 28.
“It was my daughter that really was the driving force.”
Sarah’s daughter, a shy and quiet girl, took a lot longer than her brother to learn to ride. But it was at age 11 and after the first two days of mum and daughter cycling to school that Sarah’s daughter expressed that she wanted to go on her own.
Sarah assessed the situation; like any mother , she didn’t want to stifle her daughter’s independence but she also wanted her safe. The school had two drop off points, one for cars and one for bicycles, but with most parents driving their teenagers to school it created a pinch point.
“I saw parents I knew, even ones with teenage sons older than my daughter, driving their kids to school, and I realised they drove because of fear. They simply didn’t feel it was safe for their kids to cycle”.
That’s when Sarah started thinking that maybe she should do something. The eureka moment of exactly what that could be didn’t come until February 2010, when she heard about Portsmouth’s successful ‘20s Plenty’ campaign. It got her thinking; what were the obstacles to creating a 20mph Chichester?
With the help of ’20’s Plenty for Us’ she initiated a campaign including awareness events, door-to-door canvassing, consultation, speaking engagement and signature gathering. Eventually, after a lot of hard work, in 2013 the campaign ended successfully.
Like this? You might like these too:
Tips for a Successful Campaign
Are you inspired by Sarah’s story? Do you want to campaign for similar changes in your area?
1. Look to your existing network when starting. Sarah piggy-backed on school events and her local church group when raising awareness and gathering signatures.
“Its easier to join an event you know people will be going to then hoping people will come to your own event.”
2. Make cakes! Sarah found that whenever she set up a stand and wanted to talk to people, she found it much easier to engage people with the lure of a sweet treat. Cakes can also be decorated with a slogan.
3. Door to door canvassing. It takes a lot of guts to walk up and knock on someone’s door, and it’s certainly not for everyone. The benefits far outweighed any nerves though when Sarah and her friends needed to do a survey to show that the town did want the 20mph rule.
“We got 581 positive responses and only 53 no or no opinion replies”