A clear message emerged from the second annual Spalding Cycling Forum – little improvements can be achieved without funding being channelled here.
Delegates at the event organised by cycling action group Pedals agreed that it was all very well there being national strategies, but money was required to put them into action.
Furthermore, places like Spalding which demonstrate a willing to promote cycling must be given a fair slice of the funding pie and not lose out to cities and larger towns which “shout loudest”.
The forum – entitled Cycling Is Good For You – at Spalding’s South Holland Centre last Friday was chaired jointly by South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes and former Pedals member David Hurdle, a chartered transport and town planner. Delegates included Lincolnshire County Council, Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, Spalding Cycling Club and charity Sustrans, which promotes healthier and cleaner journeys.
Mr Hayes told the forum that he was happy to talk to fellow government ministers about funding.
“The equitable thing is that our area gets the chunk that it deserves,” he said.
Other action points he noted included:
- a greater push across the district for promoting cycling to school
- additional pressure on South Holland District Council for provision for cyclists in planning applications
- building on the success of Spalding Cycling Club’s Velo Prix event last month, which Mr Hayes said was “a great triumph” and the enthusiasm for which was clear – even in heavy rain.
Speaking after the event, forum organiser Roger Smith, of Pedals, was keen to maintain the momentum and progress achieved since last year’s first event. But he acknowledged that public funds to deliver strategies are restricted.
He said: “Cities shout loudest, have more cyclists and tend to have a better chance of getting the money.
“But there is a lot being done around here, such as teaching kids to race for sport.
“There is a worry that there’s an expectation of young people progressing to having a car and not cycling any more; that a cycle is not seen as ‘cool’. A lot of what the cycling club is doing is reversing that cool factor.
“And around my age [60s} there are a lot of people who would like to return to cycling so there needs to be some training around that.
“My view is strength in numbers – if there are more and more cyclists, you are accustomed to seeing them.
“We have to get through the ‘fear barrier’ so that cyclists will feel safer and motorists will feel more aware of them.”
Mr Smith said having Mr Hayes’ interest and a channel back to Westminster was very welcome.