The See.Sense team arrived in Chelmsford Wednesday evening and like any good active travel conference, it started with a social ride. The See.Sense team got to experience the idyllic National Cycle Network 1 that rides along the River Can that takes you to the picturesque village of Writtle. After a proper pub dinner and banter with other active transport professionals, the team cycled back to Chelmsford where we got to use our newIcon2 light, which was extremely useful in addition to the LED ground lighting that we followed back.
The next morning, the conference’s plenary kicked off with Stephen Fidler, DfT’s Director of Local Transport. Fidler celebrated the successes of communities across the UK; more communities than ever have an active travel coordinator and are giving the options to an increasing number of people to live happier, healthier lives.
Kevin Bentley, the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure for the County of Essex, really got on about the need to plan smarter communities. He highlighted the importance of giving people active transport options via smarter city planning. He notes that people will not get out of their cars until they have better options provided for them. While Essex has made strides in terms of active travel he still aims for the sky. Bentley wants “Essex to have the best transportation system in the world and by that, I don’t mean roads. I mean trains, busses, cycle paths, and footpaths”.
We also got a glimpse of what’s happening outside of the UK, specifically in Barcelona, from Silvia Casorrán. Barcelonans already make 48% of the trips by an active mode, which with their climate, who wouldn’t want to cycle or walk every day? Despite this impressive stat, Silvia is part of an impressive network of local authorities that aim to improve the cycling and walking network across municipalities in Catalonia. As we all know that our rides don’t end where city boundaries end, so cycle paths shouldn’t either!
We would be remiss of us to not mention our own Irene McAleese’s presentation on the importance of standardising cycling data to empower cycling to grow and become a more viable form of transport. The first thing we must do is create good definitions, which then allows us to make accurate comparisons across the country and the international cycling world as well. This goes right along with ourSynchroniCity project, where we gathered insights from Antwerp, Dublin, and Manchester.
Looking forward, we were delighted to hear that Oxfordshire is hosting next year’s Cycle County Active County. Apart from world-class educational institutions and scenic architecture, we’re really looking forward to checking out their cycling infrastructure and culture, as Oxford has one of the highest cycle commuting rates in the UK.
By Jon Sharp, Data Analyst, See.Sense