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British bike firms lose out – London 2012 Olympic Park bicycles to be supplied by... BMW

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.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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