BikeBiz asks if more can, or should, be done...

Does the bike trade do enough to support advocacy?

Encouraging people to ride their bikes should be as important to the trade as selling bikes. Or should it? And is the trade getting it right where it is involved in advocacy? The bike trade speaks…

“Does the bike trade spend enough on advocacy? No it doesn’t.

“Too many bike shops and manufacturers still chase the enthusiast when the growth is in creating new cyclists. For example, BikeBoost Sheffield will create 600 new commuting cyclists over two years, 90 per cent of whom will buy a bike.

“What’s the cost of a pro team and what’s the return on investment (ROI)?

“The ROI of a new cyclist can also be shown to local authorities to encourage them to spend more on infrastructure and cycle promotion which in turn creates more cyclists. BikeBoost is supported by the Bike Hub which is an initiative that everyone in the industry needs to sign up to.”
Terry Blackwood, Get Cycling (submitted via

“Exeter was one of Cycling England’s first Demonstration Towns, thus it had a major task to get ‘more people cycling more safely, more often.

“A small team of passionate officers from Devon County Council led this project locally pursuing three main areas of work, including new or improved infrastructure. Widespread promotion is key – targeted at schools and workplaces and Rolling out Cycle Training – Bikeability for children and adult confidence sessions.

“I had seen BikeBiz’s original piece referencing Trek president John Burke’s presentation and thought this could be a great opportunity to forge better links between Local Authorities and the industry and this is an area where there is still a lot of potential. All Local Authorities in the UK have considerable transport budgets and a duty to promote sustainable transport – particularly through the new Local Sustainable Transport Fund – and many struggle to promote and market effectively.

“It was never an official aim of our project so it was nothing we pursued too far, but we did have a few successes in establishing good relationships with the local bike trade and nationally with Madison, Endura and people like Moore Large. There were also some notable disappointments.

“From my point of view our Local Authority team had direct access to potential markets for companies in schools and businesses, but there was no real mechanism for us to get in touch with the industry for support or any proactive engagement. The Cycling Industry and Local Authorities are both keen to promote cycling but the two worlds never really mix.

“Groups such as Sustrans, British Cycling and the CTC cross these boundaries from time to time, but I feel there is a real opportunity for an initiative like the Bike Hub to pull the two worlds together through a conference, or networking meeting. This would allow everyone to understand the barriers, challenges and opportunities that exist and where we could really make some joint headway.

“I know when we met with Will [Fripp] and Dominic [Langan] from Madison they were very surprised at the positive work that has been going on as most people assume Local Government isn’t doing much. Generally, we are terrible at promotion.

“Over the project period in Exeter we helped increase average daily cycle trips by 50 per cent, engaged with over 35,000 employees and trained over 7,000 children and 850 adults. Having an industry partner could have bought mutual benefits with us potentially having access to marketing resources, prizes and discounts and them having the opportunity to access new markets and have their logo on Citywide promotional materials. We certainly could have done more to push this if our team was bigger, but the industry could also be more proactive.”
Zsolt Schuller,
Sustainable Travel Strategic Officer
Highways and Traffic Management, Devon County Council

“There are some exciting things coming out of the European Cycling Fund (ECF) and there is the potential for the industry to fill in the gaps, particularly using trade-sourced money tactically and carefully.

“The industry can help to fund the people that lobby politicians, including at European level, to make sure voice of the cyclist is heard. This kind of lobbying is different to trade lobbying, which is something politicians are far less receptive to, so this is another way in for the industry. It’s another opportunity for the trade to help advocate cycling.

“Politicians like to see match funding, were the industry puts its money where its mouth is and the public sector and private sector both contribute together. The advocacy body is the glue for this to happen.

“There are about 40 countries in Europe and they’ve not all got advocacy voices beyond a few volunteers, so it’d be great to take the best of advocacy organisations and clone that and take them to all the European countries so they all have effective advocacy voices.

“In terms of advocacy in the UK, there could be more money going into representation at Westminster. The Bicycle Association has done good things there, but that area could be better funded. At a more local level, like in Europe, not every area has a cycle advocacy lobby. It’s still the case that one borough might be brilliant and supportive of cycling, then the neighbour has no cycle voice at all and awful cycle infrastructure.

“I’d say to the industry, don’t be embarrassed about encouraging cycling. There is a place for investing in the people doing advocacy on the ground. ”
Kevin Mayne
Chief Executive,
CTC and CTC Charitable Trust

In other news...

Construction work to begin soon on new cycle route between Finsbury Park and Holloway Road

Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed that construction work will begin on a new cycle route between …