I am Richard Ingham, a semi-retired transport planning consultant with a passion for cycling in all its forms. I believe that the bicycle is the key to helping to resolve so many of the modern world’s problems – from climate change to obesity, from congestion and air quality to the attractiveness of the urban space. When I see an ordinary person on a bike instead of in a car it gives me hope!
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MISSION?
My mission is to do everything I can in my two year-term to convince policy-makers and funding organisations that the bicycle is a serious means of transport (not just a leisure activity), that planning and investing in it has so many advantages over continuing to try to provide for ever more cars.
WHAT ARE THE OBSTACLES AND CHALLENGES YOU’RE FACING?
As Bicycle Mayor I serve several towns and a large rural area in the county of Cumbria. The administrative centre is Carlisle with a population of 75,000.
I see three main obstacles to overcome. The first is that Cumbria has lost any culture of using the bicycle for transport needs that it once had – even in the ship building town of Barrow in Furness. The second is that the extent and quality of the required cycle infrastructure in the congested towns is inadequate – people do not feel safe on a bike.
The third is that, by UK standards, Cumbria is a rural county with quite large distances between population centres – too far for many people to contemplate traveling on their bikes.
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP FOR YOU NOW THAT YOU ARE THE BICYCLE MAYOR?
I need to present to council decision-makers to convince them that bicycles offer a viable mode of transport for local journeys and that increasing the percentage of trips by bike from a current low of 2 percent will directly precipitate less car travel, less urban congestion and better town centres to attract people to stay longer.
Therefore, I have arranged to meet both Cumbria County Council and Carlisle City elected portfolio holders and committee chairs. I am presenting to the senior officer panel of the Cumbria Cycling Strategy review group.
WHAT LESSON CAN YOUR CITY TEACH OTHERS?
On the plus side that there are always green spaces and parks which with only a little planning and investment can provide part of the cycling network. On the downside: you get what you plan for and invest in. Build edge of town retail parks and supermarkets and motor traffic grows out of all proportion whilst access by bike disappears.