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.
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.
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!
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!