Dear RCC members,
Your committee have asked me to take over as the Chair of RCC and I am most happy to do so. I would like to introduce myself to all of you members and sketch out some of the things that I would like to help to happen.
I thought that if I used the name of the organisation, it would divide this introduction, like Roman Gaul, into three parts.
First, Reading. My wife and I came to live here in 1979 and we have been fortunate enough to have owned the same house all that time. We raised our family here and now are lucky to have our grandchildren living close by.
I have enjoyed living here and often have had to defend the town’s reputation especially to friends who live in leafier suburbs. As I will describe later, I have been active in several voluntary roles over the years in the town and in Berkshire and Oxfordshire as well.
Next, Cycle. One of my earliest memories is riding up and down our street on a little trike and then getting a hand-me-down two-wheeler Coventry Eagle when I was about 5 or 6. I got my first new bike when I went to secondary school and cycled to school on it every day for seven years – a Raleigh Lenton with a Sturmey-Archer 4 speed hub and dynamo combined, which sadly got stolen while I was out charity collecting.
I took a gap year to earn some money before University and treated myself to a Viking Severn Valley with Campagnolo derailleur. This started my love-hate relationship with derailleur gears which continues to this day.
My shopping bike now has an 8-speed hub gear and a Gates carbon-fibre belt, so I don’t get oily trouser turn-ups. I have been a life member of the campaign from the very early days and often noted with interest in the newsletter, the ride lists from the local CTC group.
Once I retired I found time to go on one of their so-called leisurely rides and was hooked. For the last few years I have been an enthusiastic member even ascended to the dizzy heights of winning the Ride Leader of the Year award a few years back.
The Covid Lockdowns have kept me off my bike except for local rides and an increasingly arthritic body means my ability to do the longer distances is much less, but I have not fallen as yet for the charms of an e-bike, but it might just have to happen.
Finally, Campaign. I have over my life, always had some volunteer and campaigning role in various organisations.
I grew up in the Scout movement and when I first came down south from Cheshire, I took on a support role in Scouting and for several years I held the Public Relations brief for Berkshire County Scout Council.
When my children decided they preferred riding horses to walking, I got involved in the Pony Club and other equestrian bodies and chaired the Oxfordshire County Committee of the British Horse Society.
I have also been actively involved with the local credit union and for a while I campaigned on local political issues and even very briefly thought of standing as a councillor for our local ward. Fortunately, my wife talked me out of that one.
I see the Reading Cycle Campaign as a very important part of the bigger challenge of making our town and surroundings safer, more pleasant and accessible to all. If we take seriously the threat of climate change, our response to the challenges of everyday life should make us question how we go about everything we do.
Bicycles and cycling could be a huge part of the move away from fossil fuel use, but our towns have developed in response to the constant increase in the use of road vehicles. The cyclist and pedestrian have been and to a greater extent still are, painted out of the picture. It is our job to put them back centre frame in this picture.
I would like to hear your views on what we should be doing, and I would encourage you to make your voice heard not just to the committee but much more widely.
Please feel free to contact me or any other committee member with suggestions for the campaign and especially to alert us to the problems you come across in your daily cycling.