As you would expect from an ethically conscious charity like the WEA, many of our staff are keen cyclists, and this year’s Tour de France had the added bonus of finishing its second stage just outside our offices in Sheffield.
Ahead of the event, Yorkshire students combined poetry and song in this unique tribute to the Tour.
In London, many of our staff headed down to cheer the riders and there is no doubt that Le Grand Depart has been a fantastic success for England.
However, the Tour has also reignited the long running debate about the balance between cars and bikes. On Saturday, The Guardian published an Anonymous blog which said the worst thing about cycling was other cyclists and argued that a minority of cyclists give the majority a bad name. In response Peter Walker said that was nonsense and that faults with cyclist behaviour was exaggerated.
As a PR and cyclist, I have a great deal of sympathy with Anonymous. When you have a PR problem, like the one described by Sam Haddad in The Guardian, then the best way to address it is by stop doing bad things. In my career I have often been asked by companies why newspapers focus on all the negative stories and forget the good things they do – to which the answer is: stop doing the negative things and people will pay attention to the good.
Many cyclists flout the rules of the road, much to the annoyance of drivers and those cyclists like me that try to keep to them. If they stopped doing bad stuff we would all benefit.
At the same time, Peter Walker also makes the valid point that cyclists are treated as a group in a way unthinkable for drivers. Bad driving does not make all drivers bad – so why is it that cyclists are often treated like one group?
Following the GB team’s success at the Olympics and the Tour visiting Yorkshire, the enthusiasm for cycling is at a high. The WEA is committed to improving health, wellbeing and supporting the environment.
How can we encourage cycling in the UK?