Cycling UK is plugging: “COP26: Cycling fights climate change”. It is up to all of us to reduce our carbon emissions as much as possible. It really is serious. We have to act now. Waiting for national and international politicians to do much more than generate hot air is an option we should reject.

At the recent CUK AGM, Resolution 8 – “Cycling UK shall seek where possible to enable and encourage those participating in events and activities that it organises or supports, to travel sustainably to and from these events and activities (e.g. by cycling or by using public or shared transport), by encouraging event and activity organisers where possible to provide information on how to travel sustainably to and from these events and activities in any promotional material or joining instruction” – was passed by a 96.6% majority (1678 votes for, 59 against).

I am disturbed by the number of our rides which start at remote car parks. We appear to be undermining CUK’s green stance. In priority order we should travel to ride starts and events by:

  1. cycling there,
  2. cycling there from a nearby train station,
  3. car-sharing,
  4. singly occupied car only in extreme circumstances.

Our meeting points should be chosen accordingly. For example, I have never started a ride from Puttenham Common/Cutt Mill. Too far to ride from home, trains no real help, and I refuse to drive my car in order to go for a bike ride. I am going out for a ride, not a drive.

We should think about our public image.

Debate!

 

6 Comments
  1. I wasn’t saying that I expect little from politicians, just that we should not wait for them to act before we, individually, start changing our ways of life to reduce our carbon footprints.

    It is not so much the advertising of our rides that we need to fix, it is the way we organise them. Our club area is large with quite a few centres of population. At Grade 2 we have regular rides starting in Farnham, starting in Shalford catering for the Guildford and Godalming areas, and also starting in and around Woking. In contrast, as an example, tomorrow (27th October) there is only one ride at Grade 3, and it has attracted 21 participants. That’s enough people for three rides. Had there been three start points, each chosen to cater for a different centre of population (Puttenham is only convenient for Guildford and Godalming), we might have attracted more riders, and probably would use fewer cars. In the past we have regularly used Frimley Green and Mytchett as start points catering for the northern end of the Blackwater Valley conurbation. There used to be a group that met regularly in New Haw and which catered for a large population in Chertsey, Addlestone, Weybridge, Byfleet, West Byfleet and Woodham. There used to be another group based in and around Cranleigh. These groups were all around Grade 2 and meant that the slower, weaker riders could all participate without the need for transport to the start; they could cycle there in a fraction of an hour. Hardriders, of course, are happy to ride for up to, say, an hour (15 miles maybe) to reach a start, like I used to decades ago, so splitting what is anyway a smaller segment of our participants on a geographical basis has never been necessary.

    In general, motor vehicle use has increased enormously over the decades, and yesterday’s news that atmospheric CO2 just keeps on rising shows how urgent it is to reverse the trend. Fortunately there is another trend within our club. We have new recruits on e-bikes, but these are the people who really do not want to manhandle their machines into or onto cars. So lets try to organise regular rides that are convenient for several of our larger centres of population. There are plenty of our current members who want that. Let’s help CUK to show the world that we are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

  2. Thanks, Chris, for bringing attention to this issue. I’m sure many cyclists share these concerns about the environment, and global climate change.

    You say : “Waiting for national and international politicians to do much more than generate hot air is an option we should reject.” However, climate change is obviously a global issue, and this is a problem that does need inter-governmental action at a global level, so let’s hope your scepticism is proved wrong by events in the forthcoming COP.

    I’m not convinced we can fix (or even materially counteract) these problems by cycling to the start of club rides. Of course, as a club and as a group of cyclists we can and should do what we can to contribute, and your suggestion that we follow the recent CUK motion to facilitate sustainable travel to and from our rides is a valid one. I’ll follow that up with the committee to ensure that we take sensible steps in this direction when advertising rides.

    I do feel, however, that it is a bit of a leap in the logic to go from this to your implied proposal of eliminating rides that start in “remote” places such as Puttenham car park. As a club our primary focus is to provide a selection of rides that will encourage active participation by as many new and existing members as possible. Providing a broad range of ride start options is an integral part of this, especially in view of the wide geographic footprint of our membership, which as you know extends across West Surrey (and beyond). This leads to two observations on your criticism:

    First, “remote” to whom? Any single ride start location is bound to be inconvenient to some members and convenient to others. Puttenham car park is a fair trek from my home too, but that is not a perspective that would be shared by a member who lives in Godalming, Tilford or Normandy. Those same members might have to steel themselves for the Ripley ride start that entails a welcome lie-in for me. And so on.

    Second, there are a whole host of reasons why individual members might choose to drive to a ride meet-up instead of cycling and/or taking a train (e.g. to Godalming station in the Puttenham case), and I think it is important that we are sympathetic to such choices. By all means, let’s give members the information they need to make sustainable choices, and let’s respect the eco-warriors who take a zero tolerance approach to car transport, but I feel strongly that we should also show tolerance towards those who find that the car provides the best solution for them. There are so many physical and mental health benefits that flow from group cycling, and it would be unfortunate indeed to place these at risk by any measures that discouraged participation in our rides.

  3. I agree with your sentiments, Chris, but just to point out that I have been to cycle rides from Puttenham common more than once by train to Wanborough.

    • Ah, yes. Wanborough Station is very convenient if you live on the Reading-Tonbridge line. I think it would take me as long to get there by train as to cycle there.

  4. Valid points from Chris stated, the message needs delivery.

    Rail; we should add “nearest rail station” and “distance to start” to out rides information.

    Car sharing; I gave lifts; C-19 stopped my lifts and me going inside for coffee or lunch. When lifts were offered they were through one to one and occasional group communications to those signed up.
    SPOND came into use due to C-19 limits, and creates a list of signed up riders. Should the SPOND “Comments” field be used to offer lifts?

  5. Really good of you to draw our attention to the climate emergency Chris, you are so right in saying we must all do more in trying to reduce our carbon footprint.
    I’ve been really impressed by the 2s as they frequently arrange their rides to start from a station giving the opportunity to be more green but also to cycle less familiar roads.
    It would be nice if EVs could be used for car sharing it possible.

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