German carmaker includes bikes as part of auto contract as UK bike makers denied chance to bid

Athletes and officials will be using bicycles supplied by BMW to get around London’s Olympic Park in 2012 after UK-based companies such as Pashley and Brompton, the latter based in the capital, were denied the chance to put in their own bids.

Those concerned about the environmental impact of the Games may also have raised an eybrow about the bikes being supplied by a motor vehicle manufacturer.

BMW is supplying the bicycles as part of its successful bid under a competitive tender process to become automobile partner sponsor for the Games, meaning that there is no need to undertake a similar process for bicycles alone.

The issue was raised in a parliamentary question by the Labour peer, Lord Berkeley, who is the secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, who asked the government “why the supply of bicycles for use by athletes and officials at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was not put to competitive tender,” and where the bicycles would be made.

In his reply, Lord Davies of Oldham, Government Deputy Chief Whip in the House of Lords, said: “The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) competitively tendered for the automobile partner sponsorship category. The successful company, BMW, included in its deal a small number of bicycles for use by both elite athletes and LOCOG staff at Games time. This was in addition to a significant financial contribution towards LOCOG's budget for staging the Games. The production of the bicycles is likely to be within the EU.”

He added that “LOCOG is responsible for staging the London 2012 Games, and needs to raise its £2 billion budget through sponsorship, tickets, merchandise and licensing and media rights.”

London isn’t the first Olympic host city where provision of bicycles to enable people to get around the various sporting venues has proven to be a thorny issue. Last year, we reported how plans by the Netherlands government to bring bikes to the Winter Olympics and donate them to local charities afterwards were in danger of being thwarted by the Canadian taxman.

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.