Voice of the Month: Amy Summers

It’s an exciting period for LCC right now; and for me in particular. The launch of our flagship campaign, Space for Cycling is fast approaching and we’re busy planning and getting things ready. Most importantly, our fantastic Local Groups and Campaign Organisers are devoting their time and energy to deciding on the cycling improvements (the ‘ward asks’) we’ll be calling for in each ward in their borough, ahead of the local elections in May – these will be at the heart of our campaign.

We want to make sure every candidate in every ward hears about (and agrees to) these improvements. We want cycling to be at the top of the agenda in May by showing candidates that these issues are important to local people.

Back in December, we asked you all to tell us what the barriers to cycling were in your area. We had more than 4,400 responses to our survey; one of you was lucky enough to win a shiny new Pinnacle bike, kindly donated by Evans.

You told us which of our six policy themes were most important in your area and you pinpointed on our map where exactly you wanted to see improvements to make our streets safer and more accessible for cycling. We had mountains of information to work through!

Along with some invaluable help from volunteers, we spent the few weeks before Christmas up to our eyeballs in numbers, maps, graphs and Excel formulas to try and make sense of the data from the survey. We summarised the information into borough packs and sent these out to all our Local Groups before the holiday, along with the mammoth request that groups use this information and their own local knowledge to come up with and decide on the ‘ward asks’ for their borough. 

I must admit, I sent out the emails reluctantly, feeling like I was asking too much. But I have been so overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and skill that Local Groups and our Campaign Organisers have dedicated to this huge task. I shouldn’t have doubted them! 

Hackney was first off the mark, holding a public meeting early in January to go through each ward one by one and decide on what they will be calling for. Hammersmith and Fulham have been beavering away looking at the data with a more scientific eye; working with Camden and Bexley to produce online ward maps, overlaid with collision data and our survey results. They’ve been sharing tips between them and giving guidance to other groups like Haringey and Enfield on how to look at the data in a different way.

I had the pleasure of being at Newham’s group meeting last week where they discussed local issues and made a first draft of the asks in their borough. I’ve been watching Hounslow do some great work trying to engage with local schools to see if they want to support the campaign and work together. Finally, I’ve seen new volunteers come forward to help in Redbridge, Bromley, Sutton, Ealing and Islington, to name just a few; all doing a fantastic job working with their Local Groups. I could go on to mention every borough and every group, but I’d run out of room. 

However, I will say to all of you who are helping and are reading this, I have been truly inspired, impressed and proud of all your work and efforts so far – thank you so much. You are all at the heart of this campaign, and will be the reason for its success.  

If you’re not already part of a Local Group, why not go along to your nearest meeting, to see what I mean? Most groups are hosting a public meeting where they’ll agree on the campaign demands for each ward. These meetings are open to the public and will take place throughout February. Click here to find out when your local meeting takes place. You might find some have already taken place, but you can always contact the group to find out more and have your say.

We do have a few boroughs that need a helping hand, where our membership is low, for example Barking & Dagenham, and Hillingdon. If you’re from these boroughs and want to get involved, please get in touch with me – activism@lcc.org.uk. But we’re working with the members we do have to make sure something is agreed.

I guess all of this just shows how much this campaign means to our Local Groups and Campaign Organisers and that they believe, like I do, that this campaign has the potential to see some real and genuine change in London. 

Just a few weeks ago, we held a Space for Cycling workshop for those volunteers who’ll be working with us to campaign in their borough. This included our seasoned activists, as well as a lot of new faces; which was fantastic to see. This included many of our new Campaign Organisers and volunteers that we recruited last year to help. We brainstormed ideas and looked at how best we can influence candidates. We discussed how we can encourage other members of the public to join in and how we can try to show that the things we’ll be calling for, are not only great for people who cycle now, but they’ll make London a cleaner, nicer city for everyone. They would make our streets safe for anyone who might want to get on a bike (which we all know is the best way to get around!). We came up with some great ideas and I’m confident that we’re going to see some impressive campaigning going on at a local level – watch out!

It’s not too late to get involved; 2014 is going to be an exciting year for LCC. So if you’ve ever considered going along to a local group meeting, or helping out with the campaign, now is the time. Help us show our councillors and the rest of London that we can make the changes that really would make London a safer and better city for all. 

To find out how to get involved contact: activism@lcc.org.uk 

Amy Summers is LCC's Activism Coordinator