As 2014 sputters to an end and its last moments are vomited into the gutters of Guildhall Walk it’s a suitable moment to pause, reflect and plan. We’ve come a long, long way in 2014 and put cycling into the mainstream of political debate. In 2015 we need to capitalise on that. What we’ve achieved so far amounts to fine words and promises. Those are fine things but they count for little unless they are acted on.
2015 is a year for big goals and big achievements. It’s little known but in 1939 Tommy Godwin set the record for the most miles cycled in a year, covering some 75,065 miles. Tommy took only one day off during the year (despite the outbreak of World War 2) and that was to go to Buckingham Palace to meet the Prince of Wales once he’d passed the previous record. Tommy’s record has long been thought unbeatable. Well, in 2015 somebody’s going to try it.
Steve Abraham is one of the UK’s most accomplished long distance riders. He’s given up his job to try and break Tommy Godwin’s record in 2015. Starting on New Year’s day Steve will be cycling every single day of 2015, aiming to cover on average more than 205 miles per day. He’s operating on a shoestring budget so if you can support him (either financially or practically) then check out his website.
My personal goals are more modest - but still a big stretch for me. 2015 will see the 18th edition of the four-yearly Paris-Brest-Paris Randonnee. This 1200km event must be completed in a strict time limit (90 hours for me) and is something I’ve aspired to do for many years. I missed the 2007 event (broke my back) and the 2011 event (serious illness) so I’m determined to make it to the start line in 2015. I’ll have to qualify in 200, 300, 400 and 600km events first so 2015 will be a year of big miles.
So what about Portsmouth Cycle Forum? Big challenges for experienced cyclists aside, what about the challenge of getting more people riding bikes to go about their everyday business? How should Portsmouth Cycle Forum Challenge itself to make equally long steps towards that goal?
How about a cross-party group of politicians, council officers and stakeholders (like us) charged with achieving a shift from the private car to sustainable transport?
How about a dedicated budget to develop safe cycling infrastructure?
How about a commitment from PCC to double cycling and halve cycle casualties in the next 5 years?
How about the redevelopment of PCC’s transport policy to incorporate the ideas expressed in A City to Share?
Let’s make sure we build on our achievements in 2014 and make real change happen. There are challenges ahead - more budget cuts and reorganisations at PCC not least among them - but there are also opportunities. There are elections, general and local, and we need to get cycling on the agenda.
Remember that every single day next year Steve will be out there on his bike, rain, sun, hail or snow. Let’s take that indomitable spirit as our example. Let’s push ourselves as we push for change. We’ll need your help.
Happy new year to one and all.