Cycle City, Active City - Bradford
by Neil Webster, posted 27 June 2017
Neil Webster goes to Bradford, and comes away brimming with optimism and good ideas.
Contact on twitter @cyclonw
“Faking it or making it?” was the question put to me when I arrived at the Bradford conference. I left with the distinct impression that they were definitely making it.
The Cycle City Active City conference is an annual event which moves around the UK and Bradford were this year’s hosts. On the first evening I had the delightful experience of speaking to the effervescent Chief Executive of Bradford Council, Kirstin England, who is a committed cyclist. She has even challenged Tom Riordan, her opposite number at Leeds to a ride on the Leeds-Bradford Superhighway! Five minutes with Kirstin and you know Bradford are defiantly making it.
All images: Neil Webster, 2017
Importantly they see cycling as inclusive not just something for the lycra clad roadies. The whole point of the recently opened Superhighway is to get a wider range of people cycling. And if that isn’t an incisive statement enough on the Thursday evening the Bicycle Ballet performed in the quite stunning CityPark. They were joined by riders from Bradford Disability Sport & Leisure. The Bicycle Ballet is exactly what it says on the tin – ballet on bikes.
So how was the conference? Highlights for me included Born in Bradford presented by Professor John Wright. This is a study tracking the health and wellbeing of a cohort of 13,500 children and their parents. For example, the study shows that obesity can begin as early as 18 months old. Equally stimulating were the international offerings. In particular Carsten Gniot from the City of Hamm (Germany) who apologised for his English but clearly didn’t need to. He had the audience captivated, using his sense of humour to show what a smallish city can do to increase cycling activity and stimulate the local economy.
Xavier Brice of Sustrans argued that cycling organisations were coming together now to have one voice as a cycling lobby. It certainly felt that way from the tone of the conference. On the Thursday afternoon we had a form of speed dating. Around 30 stands were manned by presenters and in an hour delegates had the chance to visit five stands and hear a short, sharp piece on a huge variety of topics. These included the effervescent Anna Semlyen from the “20 is plenty campaign”. Overall, a hugely enjoyable couple of days. I had the fortune to be on the wrap-up panel chaired by John Dales and including Chris Bem, Rosslyn Colderley and Tom Bailey.
So, what does Born in Bradford, International delegates, Kirstin England and Effervescence make for? Yep, a good inclusive, cycling conference.