On 20th June we had our Annual General Meeting to elect the committee for 2018/19.
Well, not an election as such; the Reading Cycle Campaign is run by a small group of volunteers and there is always space and a warm welcome to anyone who wants to contribute their time and efforts in helping us edge towards the utopia of a cycle-friendly Reading.
Having a vibrant committee doesn’t just help with the physical tasks of running the Campaign: lobbying councillors, responding to consultations, running information stalls, producing newsletters, website, Facebook, Twitter etc. It also extends to having a group of people that has a diversity of views and wealth of ideas for promoting cycling.
At our AGM we welcomed two new members to the Committee.
Chris Bonham takes up the role of Membership Secretary at a time when we have just moved away from spreadsheets and posting cheques to an online system where members have their own membership accounts.
Also joining the Committee is Martin Weller, who will work with our existing committee members Peter Howe and John Lee to strengthen our campaigning presence with Wokingham and Reading Councils respectively.
After the formal part of the AGM was over we held an open discussion to formulate the Campaign’s priorities for the next 12 months. As ever we would like better cycle infrastructure in Reading, but with little political zeal for cycling exhibited by the local Councils, and with local authority budgets ground down by years of austerity, we are not holding our breath.
So we also considered ways to increase driver awareness of cyclists and focused in on local driving instructors and the police. Getting our local Thames Valley Police force to play their part could be achieved by it embracing the ‘Close Pass’ Campaign that was pioneered by the West Midlands Police. This is something we have written about before and are not giving up on.
Our thoughts on driving instructors were more vague. Most people who drive are instructed at least to some extent by a qualified instructor, so getting driving instructors to teach good practice to new drivers on how to share the road with cyclists seemed like a good idea.
Now it could be that the Minister for Cycling (Jesse Norman) was listening on the other side of the partition wall, as just 9 days after our AGM he launched a pilot initiative whereby “driving instructors will be offered bespoke training to ensure cyclists’ safety is at the forefront of their minds when they teach new drivers” (also read this post).
He also announced that the government is also launching a new UK-wide initiative to help the police crack down on the dangerous practice of ‘close passing’.
So the stars seem to be lining up for our campaign to improve driver awareness of cyclists. We are already in communication with Berkshire Driving Instructors, with plans to make a presentation to them in the next few months.
Thames Valley Police – you can expect a knock at the door.
Keith Elliott, RCC Secretary