With a second British Tour de France winner, its president Brian Cookson being elected to cycling’s top job at the UCI and the organisation being named Sports Governing Body of the Year at the Sports Industry Awards, British Cycling has had a rather good 12 months. The icing on the cake is a new record membership level of 80,000 which makes it the UK’s largest cycling organisation.
British Cycling’s annual report, published today, details its achievements over the last year. Perhaps the most remarkable is that the number of British Cycling members increased by 44% to 56,041 to 80,749 in the 12 months to September 2013. CTC, the UK's other large cycing body, has about 70,000 members.
This is the highest membership level since the British Cycling Federation was formed from the old National Cycling Union and British League of Racing Cyclists in 1959.
According to the report, the key to British Cycling’s growth has been a ‘give the people what they want’ approach. The report says: “Members tell us they like to receive tips and guidance on how to ride, train and set up their bike, as well as discounts on cycling gear and priority access to major events like the UCI Track World Cup. A desire to support British Cycling’s campaigning work, grass roots development and the Great Britain Cycling team are also increasingly cited as reasons for joining, while peace-of-mind liability insurance and legal support have remained core to our members’ needs.”
The reference to campaigning is telling, because British Cycling’s advocacy work has undoubtedly increased its profile and therefore membership. It has also added a powerful voice to that of organisations like CTC, Sustrans and London Cycling Campaign in calling for better facilities and justice for the cyclist victims of road collisions.
British Cycling credits the success of elite athletes with helping to grow the sport at grassroots level, but that is to perhaps underplay its own wide grassroots activity. British Cycling has been involved in organising Sky Rides at city and local levels; initiated the Breeze Network which organises rides for female riders, especially beginners; set up social cycling groups and grown the Go-Ride programme for young riders.
In the report’s foreword, his final one as British Cycling’s President before taking over as president of the UCI, Brian Cookson said: “The legacy of our remarkable success at the Olympics and Paralympics, our Tour De France winners and the success of our athletes across all disciplines continues to have a huge impact on all people in Britain being inspired to get on a bike.
“When I first joined British Cycling in 1997 it was on the brink of collapse, had limited resources, no medal record to speak of and a historic low in its membership. I am delighted to be leaving British Cycling with the sport’s governing body being in such fantastic shape and I know that there’s plenty more to come yet.”
Whether you're a BC member or not, the full annual report is available as a PDF.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.