What is a Bicycle Mayor?
The Bicycle Mayor & Leaders Network is a global initiative created by BYCS, an Amsterdam-based social enterprise driven by the belief that bicycles transform cities and cities transform the world. They work with businesses, governments and non-profits around the world to initiate and scale breakthrough ideas around cycling. The network aims to accelerate the progress of cycling in cities and help get another one billion people onto bikes.
Bicycle Mayors are a catalyst to bring together the public and private realms to uncover the massive economic, health, and environmental benefits of increased cycling capacity. They are uncovering new ideas, working with others to deliver action and promoting innovations that support better cycling for all.
BYCS is working with local partners to set up Bicycle Mayors in cities around the world. Together, they are using the bicycle to address pollution crises, tackle road deaths, break down social barriers and enable people to access essential services for the first time.
While the Bicycle Mayor programme is not part of local government, it seeks to push for better on behalf of local people – from strong cyclists to anyone with a bike. The Bicycle Mayor helps coordinate between existing cyclists, the community, government, and nonprofits.
Anyone can become a Bicycle Mayor. See the link below to find out how to put yourself forward.
Coventry’s Bicycle Mayor
Adam Tranter did that and became the Bicycle Mayor of Coventry early in 2020. Adam is passionate about cycling. He founded communications agency Fusion Media in 2008. Based in Kenilworth, it focuses on cycling and active lifestyle, working with Brompton Bicycle, Evans Cycles, Shimano, Red Bull and others.
“We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help more people onto bikes for greater personal and public health,” Adam says, “and to help the climate crisis; that’s why I’m working as Bicycle Mayor of Coventry.”
During February he attended the European Bicycle Mayor Leaders Summit in Amsterdam to find out more about what they had done in their respective communities, learn best practices and be inspired by the change that had already been made. He has used his PR skills to promote his role as Bicycle Mayor.
Interview with BYCS
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MISSION?
I want to help Coventry reach its potential by supporting those who live, work and visit the city in making bicycles the obvious transport choice for short journeys, regardless of age, gender or background.
I will hold Coventry’s policymakers to account, ensuring cycling is a key priority in tackling the Climate Emergency. I will work to promote the benefits of cycling and challenge the status quo of one of the UK’s most car-centric cities.
My three key priorities as Bicycle Mayor is to:
1. Work to ensure that Coventry meets its cycling potential; working with policymakers to ensure priority is given to cycling and active travel
2. Engage media and partners to better communicate and showcase the benefits of cycling for everybody in Coventry
3. Prioritise the implementation and promotion of initiatives that benefit the most vulnerable: children, people with special mobility needs, vulnerable road users and those affected most by pollution
WHAT ARE THE OBSTACLES AND CHALLENGES YOU’RE FACING IN YOUR CITY?
Coventry is the fastest growing city, in terms of congestion, according to TomTom Traffic Index. It’s a city that was rebuilt after WW2, almost entirely around the private motor vehicles. Today, Coventry is still a car-dominated city; the iconic London Taxi is manufactured here and Jaguar Landrover still has major car production plants here. These economies are important for the political landscape and local economy but there is currently no voice for cycling.
Car ownership is considerably less than the national average yet residents are suffering the negative effects of air pollution. 98% of monitored roads in Coventry have PM2.5 emissions above the World Health Organisation’s guidelines.
WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS NOW THAT YOU ARE THE BICYCLE MAYOR?
I am engaging with key stakeholders to outline my vision as Bicycle Mayor. It’s essential that this is a collaborative approach; I want to help bring together the best of Coventry and showcase what’s possible when you put people first.
I’m working on a series of campaigns that seek to encourage behaviour change but only so much is possible with a change of individual actions. That’s why my main focus will be holding power to account in ensuring cycling and active travel are given the funding that’s needed to transform the number of people choosing cycling.
WHAT CAN OTHER CITIES LEARN FROM YOUR CITY?
I’m always fascinated by the UK’s cultural approach to cycling when you look at it on a global scale. It’s essential not to label and generalise a whole group of people. In the UK, and locally, we think of cycling as a recreational hobby and have a stereotype of those who cycle. A successful cycling city reflects the diversity of its citizens and the bicycle is accessible to all.
Coventry is also a city with incredible bicycle heritage. The popular Penny Farthing is said to have its origins in the city and the modern safety bicycle, the design that still exists today, was invented by John Kemp Starley, one of the city’s cycle manufacturing pioneers. After Starley’s death, his company Rover then went onto build motorcycles and eventually cars. In today’s age where the national transport conversation is about electric cars, I think it’s important to show people how many of today’s problems can be solved by Starley’s humble bicycle design and that these issues aren’t necessarily fixed by more technologically advanced cars.
More Information About Bicycle Mayors
To find out which cities have a Bicycle Mayor see https://bycs.org/bm-network-map/
To express your interest in becoming a Bicycle Mayor visit https://bycs.typeform.com/to/vnLUqZ
More about Coventry’s Bicycle Mayor at https://adamtranter.com/
More about Adam’s company Fusion Media at https://fusion-media.co.uk/
Information about BYCS co-Founder Lee Feldman at https://www.brompton.com/news/posts/2019/lee-feldman-founder-bycs