Rob Stephenson describes how the idea for Bricycles came about.
Rob couldn’t remember the date this campaign began (though he remembered how) and he initially dated it much later in the 1980s. It was only when two Bricycle calendars were unearthed from Rob’s loft that the actual date of the first meeting was shown to be September 1980.
It was in the pub one evening with a couple of friends – a chap who used to run the resource centre which at that time was in a tatty church hall at the top of North Road and another mate, a keen cyclist – the three of us cooked up the idea of a cycling campaign and after some thinking decided to call it Bricycles and that took off really well. We rapidly got rising membership, up to 300 by the simple expedience of handing out leaflets when the lights were red. People wanted cycling facilities; at that time there wasn’t a cycle rack or a cycle lane in the town and initially we were beating our heads against a brick wall. Then the tide began to change and we found ourselves, as the group does now, working closely with the council. At that time the council didn’t have a cycle officer, now it does and regular meetings are held.
From the beginning there were tensions between two ‘styles’ of cyclist. There’s the fast traveller – head down, go for it, wishes to use the road network as it exists – and there is the leisurely traveller, the one less inclined to mix with traffic who would rather have a network of routes that’s separated from the road, and this has always been a barrier within the organisation. For instance, the cycle route out to the universities – quite a group of people wanted to plan a route which went round the back of Saunders Park, round the back of the barracks etc, but there were others who said that there was no way they’d use such a rambling route. They wanted a separate cycle lane on the Lewes Road – which is where it ended up, largely for pragmatic reasons because it was easier to achieve (all being under one authority).
Source of information:
Footnote: Others have also made claims that they started Bricycles. However, as far as I am aware, Rob is the only person to have written a detailed description of the beginning. (TG)

2 thoughts on “History

  1. Re: History of Bricycles
    Rob’s friend from the Resource Centre was Titus Alexander, the other was probably Patrick Radley, who ran a pottery in Kemptown. We used to meet in the upstairs room of The Eagle (as did Friends of the Earth and the then struggling Ecology Party). Bricycles became the most popular campaign group, partly due of the regular social bike rides. One of our initial successes was to get the council to install the first bicycle stands (then known as ‘Sheffield Posts’) in Churchill Square.
    I designed the original Bricycles logo and printed the first T-shirts.
    Does anyone else share my fond memories of those early days 1980 – 84?

    1. Hi David, Sorry for the slow response. It’s interesting to hear about the history of the group. I wasn’t involved right at the beginning, but we still have a few contacts from those days. I always liked your original logo and I acquired a couple of unsold Bricycles T-shirts which I’ve worn for demos etc! Rob came to last night’s AGM with some memorabilia, like the old calendars and the pothole award. We’re still fighting many of the same battles, though a lot of things have changed. Best wishes, Becky.

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