Celebrating The Tour De France In Yorkshire

Ian Street, fellow Yorkshireman, cyclist and writer has written the following piece for his website IntoThe Orchard. Ian is a man with ideas that need all the publicity they can get. Have a read and, as he says at the end of the article, contact him if you have any more ideas to celebrate the Tour de France visiting Yorkshire in summer 2014. You can read the original blog post by following this link.

What things should / could we do linked to the Tour de France coming ?

“So a while ago Emma at Culture Vultures asked me what I’d do for a cycling event in Leeds (this was at the point when Yorkshire was bidding and had not yet won the Grand Depart).  I mused for a bit, got a piece of paper out and scribbled down the above set of crazed ideas. Next Monday Culture Vultures are hosting an event at the Carriageworks where anyone can come along and scribble down their ideas of what they would like to see happen and I’d urge anyone with an interest to get down and get involved.  You can register free for the event here and it should be great fun.  Now there will obviously be all sorts of official shenanigans happening around the tour but anyone who went to the launch might feel that it could be one event for the great and the good and something very different for the rest of us.  However we are the people and we can organise our own fun that can complement and coexist with the official stuff don’t you think?Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 10.45.27

Now I’m talking about Leeds here as it’s where I live but the tour is coming to Yorkshire and the South East so there is vast potential for lots of event to take place all under the one umbrella (from now through to the Tour and afterwards).  I think the umbrella concept is key here, that way it is not a central control thing but a way for lots and lots of independent events and ideas to be nurtured and supported but linked under one brand or umbrella, central website maybe to log all the details of all the events and to help publicise.  In Leeds at the moment there is definitely stuff bubbling up around this concept and East Street Arts are looking to pull together artistic event under this umbrella and have asked me for some ideas, so my crumpled bit of paper is getting a bit of use at the moment.

So what are my ideas, well the thing is once you start there is no stopping in terms of ideas but here’s some I’ve come up with from the normal to the mad but bringing together lots of things I like around the bike and bike culture and linking to art, literature, photography etc.

First up I’ve come up with a Mission or Vision statement !!! Probably the first and only time I’ve done this in my life.

“The aim is to improve the cycling culture of Leeds and the health and happiness of the people who live here helping to make it the best city to cycle in the UK”

Go bold I say and think big.  There are lots of links here to Health and Wellbeing, Environment, Economics, Playfulness, Young People etc etc but for me it’s about having fun, making the city I live in better and putting smiles on people’s faces.  Events under the umbrella could cover many areas be that campaigning, culture, sport etc etc and the beauty is that if you have a particular thing you want to see happen then linking everything together will make it greater than the some of it’s parts.

In no particular order some things to think about:

  • Is there going to be a ride the route event (sportive / etape) the day before ?  If not why not seeing as the roads will be shut and thousands of cyclists will be here.
  • In the build up can we have a ‘sky’ type ride in the city.  If we can why not have safe routes and volunteers to help people cycle in to the ride and cycle home again from different areas of the city.
  • Going one big step further how about adopting the Bogota approach and shutting the city centre to traffic on Sundays
  • I’d like a series of talks in the city from authors such as Rob Penn, Will Fotherington, Paul Kimmage, Ned Boulting etc
  • Get the authors of the Copenhagen cycle zine over to pass on some lessons.  Could Leeds ever be like Copenhagen ? (yes I know I’m living in a dream world but just go with me for a moment)
  • Work with bikeability and the schools in the city
  • How about a bike building competition amongst the high schools with the bikes being ridden in to the city centre with pupils and teachers accompanying on bikes.  Could get Yorkshire based frame builders to do master classes and judge entries
  • Yep the Tour is a bike race but cycling has many many different sub sects of racing (including Bromptons – lets get the Brompton world cup race up here) so events to cater for every different style, street riding, bmx, mountain biking etc etc.  I’d love to see the Morvelo City Cross in the city next year for example
  • How about drama on bikes, jousting on bikes (Hey Armouries I’m looking at you), dancing on bikes – all of this goes on now let’s have some of it up here
  • Bike polo in Millennium square please
  • The Bomberdrome wall of death, let’s have that up here
  • Static bike racing
  • How about a central meeting point to watch the Spring Classics and the big grand tours with Beer, cake and good food (and a place to store bikes) – oh and put them on the big screen in Millennium as well
  • Working with employers on innovative ways to encourage staff to commute.  Chris King (admittedly a bike part manufacturer) in America picks 2 months of the year (usually spring and autumn) and if staff ride to and from work every day during those 2 months they get 2 extra days leave a year
  • Pick a day and then get everyone who commutes to do so in fancy dress
  • Pick a full council meeting and get every councillor to ride from their home to the meeting and back again afterwards
  • There are loads and loads of great bike films from the factual to the fictional, let’s have a festival of bike films and get them on.  A Sunday in Hell the night before Paris Roubaix for example
  • Loads of great songs that celebrate cycling.  Have a weekend and get Leeds bands to play at venues across the city all playing bike songs.  I Like Trains covering Tour de France anyone ?
  • Art and photograph exhibitions
  • I’ve got an idea called Leeds Rides – anyone who rides a bike in Leeds takes a picture of them and their bike and uploads it to a central project website.  Exhibition of all photos or get them projected onto buildings in the city during July.  The aim is to show that cyclist are people we are all just fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers

…and the list could go on and on.

Some of this could and might happen, but if my ideas could be linked to everyone else’s and then pulled together under one banner then just think of the possibilities.  I hope that people get down to the Carriageworks on Monday but I’d also be happy to feed in any ideas or spread the word.  Leave a comment on Into The Orchard or follow/ contact me on Twitter @ianstreet67

Categories: Cycling

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1 reply »

  1. WOW. Seriously great joined up thinking here! I am not a race fan but to see so many ideas forming around a cycling event to promote a legacy of cycling from the excitement and celebrity of the Tour is just an amazing project and nobody could not wish these ideas well. Leeds is a City I used to visit often and is a City I have great fondness for, OK, I love Leeds… but this should be the plan for all.

    These ideas should be put forward to every Town and City Council in the land. The Government says it wants to promote cycling as a sustainable and healthy form of transport so if they are serious it it is guys like Ian that should be heading the committees not politicians who are just spouting the party line but really intend to do little. Let’s face it, most of the ministers involved don’t have a clue what can or should be done anyway.

What do you think?