Full Steam Ahead For The Bedford Park Bicycle Club
Relaunch meeting of 1880s club finds local support for social cycling group
'To glide along at one's sweet will; to feel delight in rapid motion that is the result of our constantly exerted strength; to skim like a low-flying bird through the panorama of an ever-varying landscape...this is to experience... the joys of cycling' Elizabeth Priestly 1895.
The Bedford Park Bicycle Club held its relaunch meeting on Sunday 12th January. As the previous meeting was some time in the 1880s, there were no minutes to sign off!
It was a very positive meeting, with attendance well above expectations (nearly 100).
The President of the Bedford Park Society, Nigel Woolner MBE opened the meeting and warmly welcomed the initiative. He quoted H.G.Wells: “When I see an adult on a bicycle I do not despair for the future of the human race”.
Architect and long time Bedford Park resident Peter Murray took the chair and gave some historical context about the past history of Bedford Park cyclists around 1880 and the general prominence of cycling (there were 350 bike manufacturers in England).
Keen cyclist Jeremy Vine, who has a Penny Farthing, with the organisers
Other speakers included Dr Karen Liebreich MBE, Dr Edward Seaton, Professor Tom Pike and Simon Hillyard. All spoke of the benefits of cycling in terms of health, environment, and pleasure. It was hoped that the divisiveness of the CW9 debate would be put behind us.
The floor was then opened for discussion about how the Club should proceed. Non-competitive sociable rides to interesting destinations was the most popular request. Various campaigning issues were also proposed, for the committee to discuss in greater detail.
A discussion on whether lycra would be permitted ended with a decision for participants to wear what they felt most comfortable in. Peter Murray summed up the feeling: “It’s about the mentality, not the clothing.”
A subscription was mooted and the majority agreed that a modest subscription could be levied. A few wannabe cyclists - people keen to cycle, but too nervous - participated and one commented: “This is so refreshing and encouraging, we are too nervous to cycle, but we would really like to try.”
Various people volunteered to work on setting up the Club and setting the future agenda of rides and policies. These included people of all ages and genders, and even a Chiswick councillor. This group will now meet very soon and launch the inaugural programme of activities very soon.
Peter concluded the meeting by quoting Grayson Perry: "I'm a citizen on a bike. I'm not a cyclist. I like just pedalling along, watching the world go by.”
Very active in the 1880s the Bedford Park Bicycle Club membership declined during the 20th century as cars took over as the main means of travel for Chiswick residents.
Healthy cities have now moved back up the agenda as wellbeing is recognised as an essential element of successful urban living and the dangers of pollution from motor vehicles has become increasingly acknowledged. There is renewed interest in the bicycle as a practical and zero-emissions way of getting around, as well as a pleasant leisure activity.
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January 16, 2020