How do you keep people cycling?

It’s no secret that I love cycling. I’ve used it for my daily commute in most places I’ve lived: growing up in my home village, Burtonwood, then in Manchester, Missouri, Cardiff, St Albans and Vancouver.

My London life was pre-cycle superhighway (and also perhaps a little fun-filled) for a safe bike commute so I took a break there, likewise in Australia where my love of the bus and a working ozone layer meant I didn’t brave a two-wheeled commute. Otherwise I suppose I’ve been pretty committed.

My bike doesn’t have a curfew. It’s taken me to gigs, black-tie dos and to weddings. (Bonus – it’s easier to cycle in heels than to walk in them.) Oh, and at weekends I dress in lycra and cycle some more.

I’m constantly told how brave I am for cycling. I don’t feel brave but as so many people tell me I am, I figure I must be.

But as Chris Boardman said, ‘You shouldn’t have to be brave to ride a bike or cross a road.’ And that’s why I’ve been vocal in the active travel movement for some time. People don’t always see cycling or walking as desirable ways to commute. There’s loads we can do to change this.

It starts with listening and understanding what people want in their lives and their commutes and once we’ve understood what the different desires and reservations are, we can respond to them, motivate them.

People need the capability, motivation and opportunity to change their behaviour and a good engagement program will address these factors. I’m fortunate to be an ambassador for Trek Bikes who are committed to getting more women on two-wheels. This means I get the opportunity to reach more women. At the moment we have a lot of new cyclists. Our aim is to keep them cycling in the long-term.

By listening to new riders and walkers about what they want to see more of in their neighbourhood, we’ll motivate them in the short-term. And by responding to their words, we’ll keep them motivated in the long-term.

The Government has passed legislation enabling local authorities to make emergency changes in infrastructure. This is the opportunity.

If you need advice on communicating the short-term and long-term benefits of active travel to your community – you should ring my bell!

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Author: Sarah E Galligan

Corporate social responsibility and communications professional working with great companies for great causes.

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