Mark Cavendish’s world championship win in Copenhagen yesterday has been followed by British Cycling reaching a significant milestone this morning as it signs up its 40,000th member. That reflects a doubling of membership since 2007, the year in which the Manxman took part in his first Tour de France when the race began in London.
It was also a year in which a Great Britain squad topped a world championship medal table, as they did in Copenhagen following last week’s event; four years ago that achievement took place on the track in Palma de Mallorca, with two of the men who won gold, Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas, among the main protagonists yesterday.
Half of that growth in membership has come since May 2010 alone, and is attributed by British Cycling to a combination of the success enjoyed by the country’s cyclists in major events, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as initiatives including Sky Ride that help attract newcomers to cycling.
Sky Ride and other programmes inclouding Go-Ride and Breeze, together with the development of facilities for road and track cycling, BMX and mountain biking are said by British Cycling to be helping to fuel the boom in cycling that according to a recent LSE report commissioned by Sky is said to be worth £3 billion to the economy in the UK.
British Cycling’s President, Brian Cookson, said: “Today really brings it home that our ‘inspiration to participation’ strategy is working as all types of cyclists are getting behind us on the final approach to London 2012.
“Mark has already thanked his team but I'm sure he would agree that gold medals really come about as the culmination of the efforts from a huge team of people, from riders and support staff to the thousands of volunteers and clubs who work tirelessly to develop our sport,” he continued.
“As we celebrate this great British victory and record membership, our thanks go to Sport England whose National Governing Bodies investment strategy has been key to our success at grassroots level and to UK Sport and Sky for their continued support.”
“We are on track to get one million more people cycling regularly and increase weekly participation to 125,000 by 2013,’ added Cookson, “and with the backing of our partners and members we are delivering a fantastic participation legacy of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Among highlights for cycling since the beginning of its Sport England Whole Sport Plan funding cycle in April 2009, British Cycling flagged up that 74,500 more people are now cycling once a week, a 15 per cent rise in the number of competitive events organised by affiliated members and clubs – non-competitive events are up 47 per cent – and growth of 28 per cent in the number of licence holders.
Four-time Olympci gold medalist Sir Chris Hoy said: "On behalf of all the riders I’d like to say thank you to the members of British Cycling. Your commitment to our sport makes a huge difference and means the organisation can continue to grow, offering more opportunities for more people to enjoy riding their bike.
"All members of British Cycling should take great pride in the role they’ve played, and continue to play, in helping ensure the sport is thriving at all levels," Hoy concluded.
Ian Austin MP, Shadow Sports Minister and British Cycling Member added: “As a keen cyclist I’m really pleased to see that we’ve now got the backing of over 40,000 members. What British Cycling have achieved is remarkable because very few sports manage to increase mass participation at the grass roots and achieve world-beating success at elite level.
“We have done a lot of work to advance the interests of cyclists and more members will give us a louder voice in the corridors in Westminster and Whitehall. With home Games on the horizon, I’m confident that British Cycling will continue to flourish and drive more interest in the sport.”
More information on the features and benefits of British Cycling membership can be found here.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.