London Cycling Campaign leadership election 2013

Voting for the election of five members of the London Cycling Campaign board of trustees opens today, closing with the Annual General Meeting on Saturday 19 October. There are in total 10 members of the board, with five elected annually, each serving for a two-year term.

I am standing for election to the LCC board of trustees.

As it happens, I have never before stood in a contested election, despite having decades of experience in community and political life. I currently hold a number of executive positions, mostly within the National Union of Journalists, but to date have always been elected unopposed, or, more often, the decision to appoint has been made by active consensus. My campaigning work to date has been largely back room and facilitative in form. Competing for a leadership role is a new experience for me, and it is one in which I have no expectations.

My LCC election campaign centres on a small number of areas, with priority given to (a) the need for us to massively expand our membership base beyond the current 12,000, and (b) for joint work with the sane wing of the motoring lobby, together with groups representing the interests of pedestrians, residents and others. I am calling for us to join forces in specific areas, and campaign together for good judgement and common courtesy from all road users, whether they be four-wheeled, two-wheeled, two-legged or whatever.

We should focus on reinforcing good behaviour across the board, acknowledging that drivers, cyclists and pedestrians share the roads, and we are all in this together. That is certainly the attitude of road safety organisations such as RoadPeace, and there is much wisdom in the approach. There is a cross-organisational consensus to be forged in certain areas, whilst at the same time having LCC continue to do what it says on the tin – campaign for and represent the interest of cyclists in the Greater London area.

Enforcing road regulations is one thing, but on its own this is not enough to change people’s behaviour en-masse for the better. After all, many drivers continue to use hand-held mobile phones, even though the legal penalty for doing so is a hefty fine and three points on the licence. They also routinely break speed limits, and attempt to justify their actions by virtue of their supposed driving skill. Don’t get me started on errant cyclists!

What is needed is a cultural shift that establishes new patterns of normative behaviour on the road: patterns of behaviour based on courtesy, consideration and empathy. Examples of similar shifts in behaviour include mandatory car seatbelt use, and the move against smoking in enclosed public spaces. Regulation may be integral to such behavioural change, but it will not work without public education, and this is where LCC could work together with other organisations.

My antipathy for blind legalism aside, I would not be averse to making the use of a mobile phone by pedestrians whilst blindly crossing the road in the City of London a capital offence. It’s the only language they understand.