We have a long and illustrious history, founded in 1878 as the Bicycle Touring Club, subsequently re-named the Cyclists' Touring Club, and now as Cycling UK, we are the forerunners of a worldwide network of cycling, motoring and tourism organisations, many of whom based their services on us.

From 1878 to now

The organisation has its origins in the early days of cycling when the bicycle opened up new horizons for independent travel. The Cyclists' Touring Club set out to identify suitable hostelries for its members and include them in members’ guides and handbooks. Occasionally you will spot a round plaque on the wall of older hotels showing the Cyclists' Touring Club emblem of a winged wheel, indicating a long tradition of welcoming cyclists.

Having fought and advocated for cyclists' rights for over 140 years, firstly as the Bicycle Touring Club, then the Cyclists Touring Club and now as Cycling UK. Throughout our evolution we have always been an utterly determined organisation, campaigning for cyclists and their safe and fair use of our roads, for better cycle infrastructure and so much more.

Now as the UK's cycling charity, with a membership of over 70,000 people, our aim is to create a better world by bike for all.

Cycling UK's archive of cycling films, paintings, photos and documents is at Warwick University, please contact them directly if you have something of interest. Email archives@warwick.ac.uk

Sheila Hanlon is the current Cycling UK Historian - she is a volunteer and researches topics of interest for the organisation.

A brief overview of Cycling UK's history

1878 - Bicycle Touring Club founded at Harrogate on 5 Aug by Stanley Cotterell and 80 members elected. 

1880 - First lady member (Mrs W. D. Welford) is admitted.

1883 - Organization re-titled 'Cyclists' Touring Club'. 

1884 - 'Danger' road signs produced (at first jointly with National Cyclists' Union) mainly to warn of steep hills and down not up, due to the poor brakes of early bicycles.

1885 - Richmond Park and Regents Park are the first of several royal parks opened to cyclists as a result of CTC action.

1886 - Life Membership scheme inaugurated. New badge (CTC wheel and wings) adopted.

1887 -  Hotel signs adopted: those massive cast-iron winged wheels that may still be seen on the walls of old pubs etc. throughout the British Isles.

1888 - Local Government Act declared cycles to be 'carriages' with right to use the roads as a result of CTC action.

1910 - HM King George V became first Royal Patron of CTC.

1934 - Defence Fund instituted. First 'Steep Hill' signs provided by CTC.

1936 - King George VI became Patron.

1950 - CTC obtained removal of clause in Wolverhampton Corporation Bill which sought power to control cyclists' use of local roads.

1952 - HM Queen Elizabeth II became Patron.

1968 - Right to cycle on bridleways and long-distance cross-country routes incorporated in new Countryside Act, largely through CTC action.

1977 - Cycles carried free (with certain exceptions) on trains after 99 years of sustained CTC effort.

1980 - CTC Route Guide to Cycling in Britain & Ireland published.

1996 - CTC plays an instrumental role in developing the National Cycling Strategy.

2001 - The club sets up the Cyclists' Defence Fund to fight for cyclists' rights in the courts.

2011 - CTC becomes a charity in Scotland.

2012 - CTC becomes a charity in England and Wales.

2014 - CTC successfully campaigns for the Secretary of State for Transport to set out a strategy for cycling and walking infrastructure, and, by law, provide the funding required to meet it. Big Bike Revival is launched. 

2016 - CTC is rebranded to Cycling UK.

2018/19 - Cycling UK’s Cycle Friendly Employer Scheme launched and we won our Trails for Wales campaign. 150 women rode on the houses of parliament to mark the Women’s festival of cycling. 

2020 - Cycling UK offers support through the Covid-19 pandemic through Big Bike Revival for key workers as well as the flagship Cycle Repair Scheme in Scotland offering over 30,000 free bike repairs. 

2021 -Campaign sucess in Cycling UK's fight to improve the Highway Code and the Judicial review in favour of the Keyhole Bridge group after council reopened a bridge in Poole that made it more dangerous for people cycling and walking. On 18 November a court decision was made in the group’s favour. Cycling UK campaigned alongside Pedal on Parliment and millions of others at the COP26 conference to tell governments that cycling offers huge potential to cut climate emissions, and that active travel must be urgently embraced as part of the solution to the climate crisis.