TDF Shows How Life & Community Spring Up When Streets are Places for Living, Not Just For Driving!

Children drawing on the road just before High Bradfield
Children drawing on the road just before High Bradfield

I was one of the 1.5 million people who set out to watch the Tour in Yorkshire yesterday. With bike panniers heavily laden with picnic, we set out on our bikes, heading for Bradfield, just outside the fine city Sheffield. For me, this was the unexpected best part of the day – riding up along Loxley road, and finding ourselves part of a wonderful human exodus of people who’s left their cars at home and were walking and cycling en masse. Normally when you’re on a bike or walking, you’re in the minority, and constantly being passed by fast moving traffic, but yesterday there were so many of us, and people riding with children on tag-alongs and child seats. It was a wonderful vision of what Sheffield could be like, if we truly embrace cycling and takes this chance to become a liveable city, and a place centred around people not just cars.

Cycling as part of the human mass. Imagine if Sheffield could be like this normally...
Cycling as part of the human mass. Imagine if Sheffield could be like this normally…

Cheering on the TDF riders was undeniably wonderful, but for me, yesterday was a demonstration of the life, community and creativity that springs up when roads become places where the community can come together, rather than simply highways for motor traffic. When we brought out a big pack of chalk, it was like a magnet for children, who all ran over and immediately started writing and drawing on the road, completely absorbed in what they were doing. Another small child was romping around the field behind the dry stone wall, oblivious to the cycle race but happily throwing a frisby for himself and then searching for it in the long grass.

CycleSheffield Bon courage banner & my decorated Space for Cycling bike
CycleSheffield Bon courage banner & my decorated Space for Cycling bike

Currently listening to a Radio Sheffield phone-in about the Tour, which is overwhelmingly positive. At least two callers have suggested that we need to close the roads more often, and allow the community to come together. Sheffield is our city, and are our home and I hope the seeds of ideas like this, planted by the Tour’s visit will start to germinate. What can you do in your local community? You need to act now, before this warm & fuzzy glow is forgotten!

A family riding together after the Tour. Not a sight you see often in Sheffield.
A family riding together after the Tour. Not a sight you see often in Sheffield.

If the Tour has inspired you to get a bike, then please join Cycle Sheffield. We are the voice of cyclists in Sheffield and we’re a friendly group campaigning to make Sheffield a more liveable and bike-friendly city. We believe passionately that cycling should not just be for the quick and the brave! Membership is only £6 for a year, and the more members we have, the louder the voice we have, plus it’s a great way to make some new cycling friends!

So many bikes! Yippee!!
So many bikes! Yippee!!
Advertisements

7 thoughts on “TDF Shows How Life & Community Spring Up When Streets are Places for Living, Not Just For Driving!

  1. Well 1.5 million watched the tour in Yorkshire on Sunday -they weren’t all in Sheffield! great article otherwise!

  2. Great work. We saw your set up and my husband, who is a long time, self-confessed lone cyclist, hadn’t heard of your campaign. I had heard of it through Facebook buddies, though am not a cyclist myself. I was able to explain all about your work as I understood it and he was an instant fan, having tried for years to persuade me to take the kids out more!! Anyhoo, my point is that awareness must surely have received a major boost and we wish you the best of British. Vive le tour!! Xx

    • Thanks so much for the message! Lovely to hear from someone who saw the bike in Bradfield, and equally delighted to hear that your husband identified with the Space for Cycling campaign. It was a wonderful day, with plenty of interest in the bike, and one recurring theme in many of the conversations “I used to/would like to/might ride my bike, but the roads are too scary”. We’ll be announcing our next Big Ride very shortly, so keep an eye on the Facebook at facebook.com/space4cyclingsheff or twitter at @S4Csheffield and perhaps come along and bring the kids? It’ll be slow pace in a nice big group of happy people, Cheers 🙂

  3. The picture you paint of a community on bikes would be an ordinary day in a place like Holland where cycling is completely integrated into the culture – as a tourist there this year, I was flawed at how well cycling was accepted, cycling is so safe that kids ride on the front and back of parents’ bikes, with no crash helmets, women ride wearing heels and everyone goes shopping on bikes – two wheels really do rule the roads. However they have an infrastructure and geography which enables bikes and cars to operate easily alongside each other. In Sheffield however, the weekend of TDF felt like a special treat, so it’s great to have an organisation like Cycle Sheffield campaigning for safer cycling in Sheffield. One thing to note – I think we’re barking up the wrong tree to do things like closing the roads for cyclists, which would only alienate motorists and our city’s businesses. Both things have to work alongside each other. The important thing to my mind is to have an infrastructure which facilitates cycling alongside driving, so that people can make an easy choice to cycle if it suits them. Closing the roads would just annoy the vast majority and reinforce the idea that cyclists are just an inconvenience and a pain in the neck on the roads.

  4. >At least two callers have suggested that we need to close the roads more often

    As you have so vividly illustrated, when we close roads to motor traffic we *open* them to other more convivial uses such as chatting to the neighbours, evanescent art projects, walking, cycling, and even bicycle racing.

    This point may seem pedantic, but if, as a cycle campaigner, you fall in with the dismal motor paradigm that does not even admit of a choice in the matter of use of public space, then you are already losing before you begin. Reclaim the roads!

    Please note also that there is a large and influential lobby of businesses connected with the provisionment of motor traffic in all its glory–motor vehicle manufacturers, oil multinationals, civil engineering firms etc etc–that would be extremely threatened by the widespread adoption of cycling. As the clamour against road deaths rises, second line measures such as exporting all cyclists to a imagined parallel universe of cycle infrastructure offer false promise of reduction in danger for cyclists. In fact, junctions–the principal source of collision risk for the cyclist–become more complicated, and are arguably, in the absence of modifications in driver behaviour, more dangerous.

    The policy of separating cyclists from other traffic also has the highly desirable effect–for the motor lobby–of delegitimising cyclists who ignore inferior infrastructure and continue to ride on the road.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s