9 February, 2024
Learning from the festival
As the dust settles on the first Better Bike Social festival, it's time to reflect on a week of cycle-focused events. Here are organiser Joe Morris' thoughts.
So, six days of events centred around the humble bike have come and gone.
I came up with the idea of a festival of the bike late last year, but only got around to planning it, just three weeks prior to the start. The inaugural BETTER BIKE SOCIAL saw over 300 people pass through the doors to see the exhibited work of three artists and circa 50 original pieces of bike related prints and illustrations from London, Villaviciosa Spain and Tokyo, amid 23 bikes donated by eight different collectors and builders. We also heard from 20 speakers, representing organisations, charities, clubs, urbanists and campaigners from London to Cambridge to Delft, across 13 seminars and a specially convened edition of FIGHTCLUB, with a further 100 or so intrepid explorers who rode a cumulative distance of 200km over four routes in two days supported by six ride captains. The festival drew to a close with the screening of a feature length documentary late on Sunday afternoon, watched by an audience of 30 or so, many with a plant-based Sunday Roast catered by EDIT.
This was an event focussed on creating a programme that the broadest demographic could freely access, with as many different talks, rides and seminars that we could organise in the short time-frame we had at our disposal, to voice as many different views and opinions as possible, in a conducive and inclusive atmosphere. To achieve this, the organisation of, and participation in, the event was achieved with 100% voluntary time, in a space gifted by the hosts, and ZERO ticket costs with every event free to attend, and ample free parking space on site for everyone who managed to ride a bike to the event.
This was a pilot/test festival exploring various ideas and formats to see what could to be improved for future versions. We are now working on the next instalment of the festival to run sometime in March/April, and we are seeking expressions of interest from people, organisations, charities, and clubs to participate or contribute and our aim is to make the next festival richer, more diverse and as inclusive as possible. For the next event we will explore multiple venues, with collaboration between hosts, more rides for a wider variety of age, skill and fitness, a broader church of speakers with more themes covered. We will also aim for a festival feast as a celebration of the event.
The hope is that the festival will grow, becoming a city wide confluence of many events which will contribute in revealing the multitude ways in which the bicycle, a contraption whose origins go back over two centuries, and whose basic design has barely altered, continues to drive the potential for change and transformation of the daily lives of millions of city dwellers.