A while back, I posted about my experiences of Cycling in Bradford. There is a much lower rate of cycling in Bradford to Oxford and Bradford has even been given label of ‘worst city for cycling in UK‘
However, I came to hear about a few people keen to encourage cycling in Bradford. One of the most innovative ideas is the simple project of a ‘bike bus.’ See Aire Valley Bike Bus.org
Dave, one of the key members, kindly answered a few short questions about the project.
How does it works?
Once a week a bunch of cyclist get together on their ride to work. The route is one of the main commuter routes into Bradford city centre. The idea is that if people time it right, then they can meet up on their ride in.
So we simply publish a route and a timetable of where you can expect to see other people riding. Simply turn up at one of the ‘stops’ at the published time and join in.
What is the Purpose?
There were a number of reasons in the beginning – promote cycle commuting, environmental benefits (less cars on a busy commuter route), encourage people out of their cars, etc. We also thought there might be some safety in numbers – which is hard to prove, but seems plausible.
But, overtime, it’s just really become a sociable way to get to work. People join us as and when they wish -there’s no pressure, no hard sell. I think we feel like we have cracked the secret to an enjoyable way to get to work!
Anything you hope to achieve?
I’d love to see 10,000 cycle journeys on this route each day! The Copenhagen Effect (kind of!). Really though I guess what I really want to see is the protection of the freedom to cycle. After all, we’re just trying to get to work like everyone else – we’ve just chosen to ride our bikes.
I’d also be pleased if other people started forming Bike Buses – but there’s no desire for world domination. It needs to be something people want to do themselves locally. I’m hoping that the Aire Valley Bike Bus is seen as one part of a much wider cycling offer in the Bradford district.
What kind of response have you had from: a) motorists
Hard to tell really. I’d say we’re welcomed/tolerated but that’s hard to gauge. I guess you try to gauge it by the amount of hassle we’ve had, and that’s really low. I think in the last 2 and half years I can think of 2 incidents of a bit of shouting. I think nearly all the people that have cycled with the bike bus are
also motorists, and so we like to make that clarification that we are motorists too!
I do feel that we are given more room by motorists when in a group. Sometimes we end up riding in lots of small groups spread out over say 300m and I think we also get room when we ride like that
What kind of response have you had from: b) cyclists
People tend to really like the idea. People going the opposite way tend to wave. People going the same way usually chat if we chat to them first. Some cyclists have made it clear that they won’t cycle with us – mainly on the grounds of pace – i.e. they are faster – but still support what we do.
One tactic I try with them is to ask them to give it a try. The other things is trying to persuade people that altering their journey start time once a week might have benefits of riding with others. And my final tactic is to use it as a recovery ride once a week!
Cyclists we encounter on the road do seem to have heard about it, and tend to ride with us at least for a while. I think we’ve had about 70 different people cycling with us.
What kind of response have you had from: c) local authorities (if any )
Thing is, I suppose we try to work outside of the local authority to some extent. I’m not interested in getting funding from them or anything like that. We just do our thing. We have had some publicity through them, and via Metro (the local transport people). The Green party put us in their leaflets, so stuff like that.
The Local Authority is involved in CycleBradford, so we talk, and we’re friendly, and they attend things like the CycleFest, and they paid for the bike breakfast during Bike Week and so on. But I guess we don’t have much sway with them, or them with us. We tend to get cited as one of the initiatives that is happening in the local area.
Sounds really great project – in a simple non-dogmatic way to enjoy and encourage cycling. Wish them well. – I should add to recent posts – Effective ways to encourage bike use