Will Bike Week ever amount to anything useful in Brighton and Hove?

Team Green Britain Bike Week is an annual opportunity to promote cycling
and show how cycling can easily be part of everyday life. Demonstrating
the social, health and environmental benefits of cycling, the week aims
to get people to give cycling a go, join in events, rethink their
everyday journeys and switch to cycling as the most convenient way to
get around.

bikeweek.jpgBrighton and Hove Council has come under criticism in previous bike weeks for falling short of the mark in actually doing anything meaningful and this year isn’t much different. The emphasis is very much on the ‘try it out’ angle with a couple of fun and frivolous events that may help get some kids bums on saddles, but are of  very little help in tackling the massive problems of car-dependency that we all see in Brighton and Hove on a daily basis.

The main events actually happen at the weekends either side of Bike Week. On Sat 19th we have the Takepart Festival of Sport at Preston Park, an event that was already happening but will conveniently feature "Bicycle Alley" which offers bicycle limbo and other "cycle challenges". At the other end of the week you can attend "Changing Gear" outside St Peters Church on Sat 26th where you can dress up in a costume and have your photo taken with your bike. And on Sunday 27th you can go to the cinema (Duke of Yorks, 2pm) and see a bike related film, and if you go by bike you’ll get a "cycling freebie". Bike Week is supposed to be about "showing how cycling can easily be part of
everyday life". Because bicycle limbo, fancy dress and bike films are
things we do every day on our bikes. In the Council’s favour, it’s better than the strip of astro-turf they laid last year outside the Town Hall to "greenify the urban space", and  there will actually be a free Bike Doctor at each of these events. So, if nothing else, get your bike down there and professionally checked out, for free.

The real meat of Bike Week is about changing people’s everyday behaviour, all week long, every week of the year. Doing something meaningful about Brighton’s school run and commuting grid-lock. However this is where Bike Week in Brighton and Hove fails yet again. The only thing happening between the weekend fun events is the free Bike Breakfasts. This year they run on Tues at Loving Hut cafe at the Level and Fri at Meeting Place cafe by the Peace Statue. A third location has been added this year on the Thursday at Brighton Station, round the back entrance that hardly anyone uses. This is the stuff that could really make the difference, raising the profile of cycling among commuters, getting people out of their cars and onto bikes, meeting other local cyclists over a croissant and coffee. Any of those weekend events could be happily ditched in favour of week-long Bike Breakfasts with Bike Doctor at all three locations plus the other major cycle route into town on the A23 at Preston Park cafe. It’s a lost opportunity for an easy win.

And heaven forbid you may actually want to get out on your bike this Bike Week for an organised ride, maybe a gentle introduction to cycling across Brighton and Hove on quiet back streets, or on the various National Cycle Network routes that will take you out to the Downs. Well sorry, there are no actual bike rides in Brighton and Hove in Bike Week. Just frivolous fancy dress, bicycle limbo and bike films. As of 15th June, Bike Week doesn’t even get a mention on the Council
homepage despite a minor glut of other "Weeks" happening this month.
Instead it’s buried in a link far down on the Cycling page to the
obscure JourneyOn
website. It’s almost like they don’t want you to bother.

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