The annual CTC / Cyclenation conference takes place this weekend. My memory was re-activated... I attended the 2010 conference in Edinburgh. Newcycling had just been formed a couple of months before, and we were let into Cyclenation without a fee as our membership was still low. (For the record: I don't think there should be a membership fee at all, funding for this sort of collaboration should be obtained from other sources.) I also think Cyclenation had identified the Norf as a blackspot for cycle campaigns and they were chuffed it got moving (again). All good.
And so in the coming months I helped Cyclenation pull together some letter-writing action on Stricter Liability; and Newcycling carried out a survey of local cycle campaigns. When cracks started to appear as I also continued to pose 'challenging' questions on the Cyclenation email group about their organisation, their vision, focus and their view on infrastructure as well as interaction with local campaign groups. I talked about the necessity of gaining campaigning confidence, visibility, openness and honesty. A lot. So much so that someone blew his patience, and one fine day in August 2011 expelled Newcycling from Cyclenation with the silly excuse that we had never joined.
"Your opportunities to influence our policies would be greater if your group affiliated with Cyclenation and behaved in a properly constituted and democratic manner - your group is not a member of cyclenation [sic.], had I been aware of that I would not have suggested that you apply for a seat on the Board this year. At present the only affiliated group in your area is Newcastle BUG. We would like to see a properly constituted campaign group operating in Newcastle, and indeed every town in the UK with more than 50,000 (& those with less than that number if we can find people to run them)."
Simon Geller, 2 August 2011
Newcycling? Constituted? Tick. Democratic? Tick. Hm, also important: open and honest campaigning? Tick. Well, the palpitating heartbeat of the story is this: Cyclenation's online joining department were so disorganised at the time that Newcycling despite the automated confirmation email we received from Cyclenation, they'd nonetheless failed to register us. (Same goes for my workplace BUG.) And that was that. So in other words Cyclenation expelled us because of their own disorganisation and arrogance. Point in proof. Snap. Circular reference snapping off their own tail. There is every possibility that they are still chasing it now.
If you need to see email proof of the above statements, get in touch. And please yourself by calling me a splitter if you will. As far as I am concerned, there never was unity, clarity or collaboration. We are still busy talking to ourselves, wrestling our own demons. The masses still don't care. And it is that, that cycling has to break out and into mainstream, that's important. So, I agree with Shaun - there is no difference to made there.
So what do I want? I want effective coordination of national and local cycle campaigning. And I'll go out on a limb... we need a new body for that.
And I wonder whether Kaya Burgess has heard of Cyclenation?