The Cycling Advocates Network (CAN) welcomes the launch of BikeNZ's recreational membership programme, RideStrong.
RideStrong is dedicated to promoting a safe and enjoyable environment for all cyclists, who it notes, "for too long, have travelled at the whims of fast traffic, slow bureaucracy and idle ignorance".
CAN spokesperson Stephen McKernon says, "it is great to see a recreational cycling programme speaking out so strongly for cyclists' rights. We hope RideStrong can build a large membership quickly and can impact on cycling with the assertiveness it has voiced to date. We look forward to working with them to build increasing support for cycling.
"Cycling advocacy is entering a new phase", says McKernon. "We're starting to harness the huge numbers of cyclists in New Zealand. About a third of the population cycles, whether for fitness, pleasure or as a means of transport. Cycles number about a third of the vehicles on the road. The new phase of cycling advocacy is about showing how popular cycling actually is. Given its popularity, it is much easier for authorities to then appreciate how safe and responsible cycling is, especially during hard economic times.
"It's shameful that transport authorities presently dedicate on average less than 1% of transport funding to this group. That's why we're starting to harness the huge numbers of cyclists we have. We need a much stronger voice in the committee rooms where transport funding, planning and project decisions are made."
CAN's success over recent years is based on sustained input into policy and strategy initiatives. These include central government initiatives such as Getting There (New Zealand's first national walking and cycling strategy) and cycling conferences, as well as ground level-initiatives such as cyclist training, local authority cycling strategies and projects, development of new local cycling groups and many other practical initiatives.
"CAN's strength lies in its continual pressure on transport decision-makers to support cycling. Its successes are significant and its low-key influence is far-reaching, but these often go un-noticed by the average recreational cyclist," says McKernon.
"An assertive cycling organisation specifically for recreational cyclists, like RideStrong, is a welcome addition to cycling advocacy. The voices of the huge numbers of recreational cyclists will be amplified in the corridors of power," says McKernon.