Amy Rook, London Cycling Campaign

Amy Rook, London Cycling Campaign

Throughout the  Profile Series we explore the lives of some inspirational Londoners and dig a little deeper into the stories behind their success. From DJs, to Special Forces Operatives, to Olympians, each of the interviewees have one thing in common; a love of London Town and being on two wheels. 

As Campaign Co-ordinator for London Cycling Campaign, Amy plays a hugely important role in overseeing and actively trying to improve the safety of cycling in London. We talk to Amy about the problems they face and the landmarks they’ve achieved in pushing to make our roads a safer place for cyclists.

Hi Amy, thanks for talking to us. Tell us a little bit about LCC (London Cycling Campaign) and your role in the organisation.

My pleasure. Well, we’re a charity, with over 12 000 members and we campaign to make London safer for cycling essentially. We lobby London’s decision makers and push for change that will help make London a truly world class cycling city. Our campaigns are successful and have resulted in some of the great new infrastructure we’re seeing in London at the moment, like the mini Holland programmes in outer boroughs, and the Cycle Superhighways. I work in the Campaigns team and help to coordinate and support our network of local volunteer groups (one in every  London borough), as well as coordinate our campaigns activities. We don’t just campaign though, we also run projects and schemes to help get more people cycling and we run a consultancy service to offer our expertise to business, council’s and other organisations. 

If Boris Johnson could grant you one wish for cycling in London – what would it be?

Boris has done a great job in making cycling a priority, creating a ‘vision’ for London that we’re slowly seeing take shape; where cycling becomes a viable option for everyone; of all ages and abilities. And I really hope the next Mayor continues the good work; we’ll be working hard to make sure of it! But so much more needs to be done across the whole city. So we’d like to see more Dutch-style infrastructure, more high quality superhighways, including the upgrade of existing highways that aren’t safe enough. Many dangerous junctions need tackling and we need more networks of Quietway routes and an expansion of the mini Holland funding to even more boroughs. Not to mention addressing lorry danger through a rush hour ban, stronger enforcement to crack down on illegal and dangerous lorries and encouraging the use of ‘Direct Vision’ lorries; which don’t have blind spots, like most ‘regular’ lorries. Sorry, that’s not one thing is it? Ok, so one wish would just be to continue rolling out high quality cycling programmes; and get them built quicker!

Boris Johnson enjoying a ride on the CS5 Cycle Superhighway over Vauxhall Bridge

Your flagship campaign ‘Space for Cycling’ has a huge job in making a difference to the safety of cycling in London. What is the biggest barrier the campaign faces?

One of the biggest barriers is getting councillors to live up to their Space for Cycling pledges! At the local elections in London in May 2014, nearly half of all councillors elected promised to implement local cycling improvements that LCC suggested in their ward (http://action.space4cycling.org/) thanks to our campaign. But 18 months on, we’ve only seen progress on those improvements in  just a handful of the 629 wards in London. Many people don’t realise that the Mayor and TfL only control about 5% of London’s streets, local councils control the rest. So the boroughs have a huge role to play in making London safer for cycling and could do so much more than they do now. 

What has been the biggest landmark achievement you’ve personally achieved during your time at LCC?

Personally, I guess helping to manage the Space for Cycling local elections campaign. It was a mammoth task to prepare for. We had 629 local improvements to develop with our local groups. These all had to be verified and uploaded by hand to the special map we  had built for the website. We also had to create a database of over 6000 candidates and coordinate sending over 85000 emails from our members and supporters to those candidates. It was a logistical nightmare; but totally worth it. As I mentioned, we got nearly half of the eventual elected councillors signed up to the campaign, and our local groups did a phenomenal job helping us prepare for and promote the campaign locally. The campaign itself won several industry awards; which was a great reward for all our hard work! Hopefully by the next local elections, we’ll be able to say that those councillors have delivered on their promises too.

You’re a keen cyclist yourself and have cycled 100 miles as part of Ride London, what’s your next cycling challenge?

I don’t actually have anything in the diary yet I’m sad to say, aside from a cycling holiday next June! But I’ll hopefully be doing Ride London again for Team LCC, and I’d like to better my time from this year. I’m very competitive with myself, and others (!), so I’ll be setting myself a tough target I reckon. I did it in 5 hour 41 minutes this this, so if I can get much nearer to 5 hours, I’ll be pleased!

I will say that Ride London was one of the best things I’ve done, ever. It was a great personal challenge, but I also loved every second of the ride, for so many reasons. I’d massively encourage others to do it if they can; especially women. There were so few other women riding which is such a shame and it would be great to see more gender parity in cycling more generally. Cycling is something that everyone should be able to enjoy, whether you’re cycling to the shops, to school, for fitness or competitively, man or woman, young or old!

Quick-fire

What bike do you currently ride?

Argh. I have 5 bikes. But mainly I ride a Cube Sting 29er MTB and a Cube WLS race bike, plus my trusty old Raleigh Pioneer single speed for commuting!

What is your favourite cycle route in London?

My latest fave is CS5 – the new superhighway over Vauxhall Bridge. But you can’t beat the quiet routes through Hackney & Islington in the summer!

Who’s your favourite person to cycle with?

My husband (barf!). I like being faster than him, or trying to be!

I couldn’t live without my…

Bikes. Seriously. 

When I’m not working you’ll usually find me…

On my bike, playing hockey or doing something to get me out of breath, or cuddling my new kittens! Or daydreaming about doing those things.