Coventry Gets its First Bicycle Mayor to Help City Reach its Cycling Potential
- The position helps coordinate between existing cyclists, the community, government, and nonprofits and was pioneered in Amsterdam
- Coventry-born comms CEO Adam Tranter becomes the first Bicycle Mayor in a UK city
- Over 100 Bicycle Mayors operate around the globe from Madrid to Mumbai, instantly sharing ideas and solutions that accelerate the shift from car-centric to human-centric places
- Role has backing from Britain’s most successful Olympian, Sir Chris Hoy and British Cycling
Coventry has become the first UK city to get a Bicycle Mayor to help reach its cycling potential.
Coventry’s new Bicycle Mayor, Adam Tranter, was born and raised in the city and now runs Fusion Media, a PR and marketing agency looking after brands such as Brompton Bicycles, Evans Cycles, Red Bull, Shimano and the Tour de France. He is only the second Bicycle Mayor in the UK after Richard Ingham who was appointed Bicycle Mayor of the region of Cumbria in 2019.
The Bicycle Mayor position helps coordinate between existing cyclists, the community, government, and nonprofits and was pioneered in Amsterdam. Bicycle Mayors aren’t part of local government, but volunteers who are recommended by local cycling groups and city stakeholders. There are over 100 Bicycle Mayors operating around the globe from Madrid to Mumbai, instantly sharing ideas and solutions that accelerate the shift from car-centric to human-centric places. The Bicycle Mayor programme started in Amsterdam and is run by non-profit BYCS.
Tranter received endorsements to be Coventry’s Bicycle Mayor from Sir Chris Hoy, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling and Walking, British Cycling, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire presenter Phil Upton, the Warwick University Bicycle Users Group and other local cycling advocates.
Tranter’s mission is to help Coventry reach its potential by supporting those who live, work and visit the city in making cycling and walking the obvious transport choice for short journeys, regardless of age, gender or background.
Tranter states: “We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help more people onto bikes for greater personal and public health and to help the climate crisis; that’s why I’m working as Bicycle Mayor of Coventry.”
He aims to hold Coventry’s policymakers to account, ensuring cycling is a key priority in tackling the Climate Emergency declared by Coventry City Council and over 60% of local councils in the UK. He will work to promote the benefits of cycling, walking and other active travel modes to challenge the status quo of one of the UK’s most car-centric cities.
Tranter states his three key priorities as Bicycle Mayor as:
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
Coventry has significant challenges relating to transport; Coventry is the fastest growing city, in terms of congestion, according to TomTom Traffic Index. 98% of monitored roads in Coventry have PM2.5 emissions above the World Health Organisation’s guidelines. It is estimated that in 2017, 156 deaths in Coventry were related to PM2.5, amounting to about 1 in every 18 deaths.
In addition, 29.5% of adults in Coventry are physically inactive (doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week). This makes Coventry the fifth least active area in the West Midlands and in the Top 20 of least active areas in England.
Research commissioned by Coventry City Council in 2015 showed the method of journey to work of Coventry employed residents. 3% of people commuted by bike compared to 64% by car (source).
Adam Tranter, Bicycle Mayor of Coventry, said of his role: “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.
“A key 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. Coventry had a strong association with the bicycle thanks to pioneers such as John Kemp Starley who invented the modern safety bicycle design in the city. Over a 100-year period there were more than 450 bicycle makers in Coventry but things then moved onto car manufacture and that industry still has a presence in the city today. These companies are important to the political landscape and local economy but there is currently no voice for cycling; we need to change that.”
Tranter is particularly worried about the political conversation on electric vehicles, which experts feel won’t solve many of the issues presented by car-dominance, adding: “The conversation in government about decarbonising transport at the moment is almost entirely centred around electric vehicles. An e-traffic jam is still a traffic jam; cars take up a huge amount of public space and infrastructure and in the UK, 24% of all journeys by car are under 1 mile.”
Concluding: “We’re going to have to make some tough decisions in light of the climate emergency. We need to make cycling and walking the obvious choice for short journeys and reduce Coventry’s car dominance. Moving to electric vehicles isn’t going to stop congestion or help our city be more livable and sociable.”
Tranter has just returned from the Bicycle Mayor European Summit in the Netherlands where he spoke with thought leaders in transport, planning and architecture, including city officials. On a visit to Dutch province Gelderland, Tranter explored best practice cycling infrastructure design and talked to planners about their challenges to have a carbon neutral transport system by 2050; the province has chosen a system that further prioritises cycling and halt major road projects which don’t further their long-term climate and wellbeing objectives.
He met with Amsterdam’s current Bicycle Mayor Katelijne Boerma who is working hard to improve the city’s cycling policies and growth, liaising directly with the City of Amsterdam government and other local stakeholders. She is supported by ten-year-old Armin Taheri who is the junior bicycle mayor of Amsterdam, acting as an ambassador for cycling for children. In the Netherlands, 84% of secondary school pupils who live less than 5km from their school cycle there. By comparison, just 1% of all school children in Coventry cycle to school (Source: Propensity to Cycle Tool, DfT).
He now hopes to begin discussions on Coventry’s cycling strategy with officials from Coventry City Council and Transport for West Midlands, as well as collaborating with the first West Midlands Cycling and Walking Ambassador, Olympic BMX racer Shanaze Reade.
Tranter has 5-year-old twin boys with his wife Aurélie, who is also passionate about active travel. Last year, the couple set up Warwickshire’s first school cycle bus which runs each week, delivering up to 20 children to school safely by bike.
Phil Upton, presenter at BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire, said: “Adam is a ‘Covkid’ as we would say here. So he’s grown up here, still has family here and is uniquely placed to understand the frustrations of cycling infrastructure in Coventry and best represent a whole range of issues from cycling use, environmental and health benefits and modernising city transport strategies.”
Sir Chris Hoy, 6x Olympic champion cyclist, said: “There are few people who understand the importance of getting more people active than Adam. There are even fewer who have the practical experience and knowhow to bottle all that is great about cycling and take it to new cyclists. I look forward to seeing what Adam can achieve, getting more children cycling and continuing to raise awareness of the many benefits.”
For more information on Bicycle Mayors, please visit http://bicyclemayor.org/.