How your membership enables everything we do
It’s been an incredible week. The phones have been flying off the hook and our inboxes are filling up quicker than we can read all your emails. It’s amazing that so many members have taken the time to respond to our proposals to improve and modernise our membership. We’re grateful for all the feedback.
Many people have told us that they support the changes. Others have had questions about how it will work. And some aren’t sure whether we should change the status quo. I’ve talked to dozens of members myself and explained our belief that we need to make this transformation to continue delivering and improving the service you’ve come to expect from us.
Not only do we think the proposed new fee structure is fairer, but without your support for these changes at this year’s AGM, we will have to scale back the level of our ambition.
And after so many successes making cycling in the UK safer and more accessible, putting on more organised rides than anyone else, laying on a key calendar of events like Bike Week and the Women’s Festival of Cycling, we really don’t want to do that.
We’re here to support you, to make the UK a truly cycle-centric country and to inspire millions more people to ride. Your membership grants us a voice that demands to be heard and your membership fees allow us to campaign, lobby, support and inspire without fear or favour.
In my role as head of membership, I’m lucky enough to hear wonderful stories from members every week, like that of Wendy and her sister Margaret who celebrated their 50th year of membership, and their mother, Jean, a former CTC tour-leader who has reached the incredible milestone of 70 years of membership.
Last month, we heard from Geoffrey who, at 75 years old, has refused to let a double leg amputation stop him from doing what he loves most. Now using a hand-powered trike, he has successfully lobbied his local council to remove obstacles on cycle paths and plans to further his campaigning to increase accessibility for more users.
And our younger members are paving the way too, such as Blaen Roberts who won Outstanding Young Achiever at last year’s Cycling UK Volunteering Awards for helping young people in Liverpool to engage with cycling as an alternative to a life of crime. In many ways, Blaen exemplifies our membership because our members have always been the championing voice for cycling, going back as far as 1888 when we won the right for cyclists to use the roads .
Roll forward into the 21st Century and together we’re a growing movement. A force for real change.
Even this month, we’ve seen a raft of campaign victories including a review of the Highway Code and new design standards imposed for cycling infrastructure.
But we’re not only a campaigning organisation.
We’re cyclists first and foremost and we put on more rides than any other cycling organisation. A staggering total of 13,000 last year alone, including our Challenge Rides and annual Birthday Rides (although all sadly missed this year because of coronavirus restrictions), with more than 6,000 people volunteering, often week in and week out, to support others to cycle - whether it’s their first 20 miles, or their first century ride.
So where else do we spend your membership fees?
Of course, they go towards paying for highly-valued benefits like third-party liability insurance and your Cycle magazine. But your fees also directly fund much of our work for cycling, apart from some of our outreach programmes specifically funded by local or central government. Some of our projects in Scotland also receive funding from charitable trusts and other charitable sources.
Membership fees support our policy and campaigns team to painstakingly gather and collate evidence for planning consultations; support members and the public to write to their MPs; and create award-winning road safety campaigns tackling the problems which we know affect all cyclists like close passing and car dooring.
Last week’s government announcements set out the most ambitious vision for cycling we’ve seen for decades is the culmination of years of our combined efforts. So many elements of it, from strengthening the Highway Code, and banning useless cycle infrastructure, to securing more cycle training, are things we have all campaigned and lobbied on for many years.
That was only possible because government couldn’t ignore the volume of our members’ voices.
Membership fees support our volunteering team who provide guidance and advice to our thousands of volunteers; support our many member groups; and our many member-led initiatives, such as British Cycle Quest.
Membership fees support our communications team to create our much-loved Cycle magazine and deliver dozens of inspirational stories each month through CycleClips; raise awareness of cycling in the media and call out outrageous words and actions against cyclists, for example when Rod Liddle made recent inflammatory calls to tie piano wire at neck height in a national Sunday newspaper column.
Membership fees support our engagement team who steward Bike Week across the UK; help more women to cycle through our Women’s Festival of Cycling; and support new people to cycle by raising awareness through initiatives like the Pumped Up campaign, launching next week.
Membership fees provide the foundations for our behaviour change and development teams who support people back on bikes across the country from Orkney to Southampton, enabling them to successfully bid for local and central government grants to fund their work.
And last, but by no means least, membership fees support my membership team to provide support and advice to members, and the other teams central to the Cycling UK operation, such as finance, HR and IT.
We don’t want to stop doing any of this work on your behalf, but if we don’t reform our membership fee structure we will have to make some tough decisions on where to focus our efforts. We want to substantially grow our membership to give us an even bigger voice for cycling and to ensure the vital funding from membership continues to be a sustainable source of funding for us. And that’s also why we proposed the changes set out in the latest edition of Cycle magazine and on our website.
This includes improving the membership offer with increased insurance and retailer discounts; talking to members about the cycling-related information they prefer to hear about; and changing the fee structure to be fairer.
We believe the new fee structure, with the main concession targeted towards those who would struggle to pay full price, will be fairer, but it will also ensure our funding is sustainable and will safeguard Cycling UK’s future.
We know the value you place on our work for cycling from the hundreds of conversations we’ve had with members over the years. That’s why I urge you to take a moment and please vote in favour of our AGM proposals to improve the membership offer and change the membership fee structure to secure an even better future for cycling.