Sunday, 30 October 2016

October Update

This year has been a key year in our history with the change of trading name to Cycling UK and at a time when cycling is getting more and more popular. The name change has been contentious with everyone holding strongly held opinions one way or another. The change has meant that we can hold onto our traditional logos and names where we prefer with the new name being used to help brand communications and reach out to government, to our partners and to the public. Some groups have held on to their names and some have changed and some have done a bit of both. Of course a new brand takes some time to bed in but we have had a very positive response in the main and I feel we are starting to see the effect in some great work for the groups, campaigners and projects.

Many groups continue to thrive and grow, whilst others remain strong and stable in the face of increasing competition from other cycling groups and we have seen more diverse member club activity and types of riding. Again this is our general experience and I know in particular one of my groups has seen a decline.

We’ve provided ride leader training to all to assist in bringing more resource to groups and we are looking changes to the Policy Handbook to make it easier for groups to join Cycling UK. We’re developing and revising all our other policies and guidance to make them simpler to understand and easier to access, alongside the groups’ promotional area of the website, which should include a listing of all informal groups in the future.

Here are some of our headlines:

Membership
  • ·      Gift Aid now eligible on memberships
  • ·      Monthly direct debit now live- join for just £3.59 pm
  • ·      New membership marketing materials available for groups
  • ·      We have seen a slight decline in our numbers this year however we have recently taken the decision to invest more money into Matt Malinder’s team and we will be hoping to see that bear its fruits over the next few months. We have just commissioned and had report a review of volunteering and I may be able to share more of that soon, however, it really was exciting to see the possibilities we have that we currently do not take advantage of.


Groups
  • ·      Over groups 1,000 ride leaders trained in last 12 months
  • ·      Review of the insurance guidance policy handbook to look to extend the number of rides a non-member can go on  to encourage eventual sign up
  • ·      Successful Tri-vets series on which we are looking to build other events series – Challenge rides, Belles on Bikes women’s initiatives in 2017 and 2018


Communications
  • ·      Built a new highly enthused and active professional communications team, which has enabled us to raise the profile of our charity in the media and to the cycling public.
  • ·      Significantly improved on our ability to measure, monitor and report on the impact of our charity’s work.


Policy
  • ·      Gathered intelligence through Vote Bike helping us to identify candidates’ views on cycling as they stood for Welsh Assembly and Police and Crime Commissioner elections, with the help of over 5,000 emails.
  • ·      Persuaded London Mayor Sadiq Khan to adopt our proposed policy to phase out unsafe lorries on London’s roads, and convinced HS2 Ltd to call on bidders for HS2 construction work to show their commitment to safe lorries.
  • ·      Convinced the Ministry of Justice to review road traffic offences and sentences, and particularly the distinction between “careless” and “dangerous” driving.


Campaigns
  • ·      Helped Eurostar to change its mind on cycle carriage, so that you don’t have to break down and box-up your bike for travel, through over 10,000 emails, and lots of national press coverage (including top trending story on BBC online).
  • ·      Obtained 10,000 responses to our survey of off-road cyclists’ experiences, and mobilised clear public support (over 4,000 responses to the consultation) for the Welsh Government’s plans for increased countryside access.
  • ·      Refreshed Our Space for Cycling campaign with new guides published, and campaigners roadshows organised.


Development
  • ·      Transport Scotland agreed to pilot Big Bike Revival in 2016. We had an amazing launch in Stirling attended by Humza Yousaf, Scottish Government Minister for Transport and our celebrity ambassador, Michelle McManus, who has been inspired by the campaign so much she has purchased and started to use a second hand bike around Glasgow
  • ·      Our Cycling Development staff team reached a peak of 27 people in 2016 focused on delivering The Big Bike Revival and developing our network of Community Cycle Clubs across England and Scotland.  Reaching 50,000+ beneficiaries and many of them from within deprived communities.
  • ·      We have gained an additional 3 awards this year for The Big Bike Revival to add to the list:

o   Chartered Institute of Marketing – Best Third Sector Campaign
o   Northern Digital Marketing Award – Best Public Sector Campaign
o   Smarter Travel Award  – Best Marketing Campaign
o   Guardian Sustainable Business Awards – Runner Up
o   Cycle Planning Awards – Best Behaviour Change Campaign

Operations
  • ·     We are investing in our IT team and associated infrastructure to improve our web presence so that members, prospective members and beneficiaries are informed and inspired by Cycling UK to enjoy cycling
  • ·     We have explored how we support our volunteers and created a new strategy to improve the way we recruit, train, develop and encourage volunteering to increase the impact of our charity and make volunteering with us more convenient and fun



Governance


·      We have reviewed the governance structure and processes and the changes are in the process of being implemented. We have made moves to strengthen the operation of the board and to create a greater focus on the role of the Trustee. These changes should mean the board is better equipped to lead the direction and good running of the organisation and for the Trustees to hold the executive to account. One of those changes is the move to elected Trustees on a skills and experience based approach.  With the growing capability to support member groups from national office we no longer require a regional representation role. I will however continue to attend East Midlands meetings where I can, firstly because I value those of you I work closely with and I appreciate knowing about what is happening in my area, albeit that is sometimes a bit of a challenge.

IIJaki Lowe

Friday, 3 June 2016

June 2016 Update

Hello to you all. It has been a very busy period indeed, mainly I have to say off the bike supporting the cause of being on the bike - either with my work with Cycling UK or with the ECF.
The main focus of council business since my last update has been on rebranding, the governance review and preparing for and supporting the AGM.
Governance Review
As some of you will be aware, as well as attending all the council meetings I have been heavily involved for 18 months as a member of the small group looking at how we improve how we lead a successful Cycling UK for current and future members. The changes we are progressing focus on having a smaller more robust and better equipped Trustee board to set the strategy, make sure the organization is well run and hold to account the executive for delivery of the strategy. We consulted with council extensively and the members on the group all have considerable experience at board level outside of Cycling UK so were able to bring a good level of expertise and challenge to this to ensure that what we arrived at benefits our organization, our members and all that we serve. I feel very proud of this work and we are now set to the next phase which is about implementation.
What does this mean for you? You wont have a regional representative on council but you will be much better served and supported by the membership team. We will look also at how we create better links between work in National Office and the many experts and interested parties we have out in our groups and communities. Whilst I serve on Council I will continue to come along to the East Midlands meeting, which is something I enjoy rather than simply attending because I am your councilor. I feel very connected to people who attend not least to my colleagues in Leicestershire where riding and belonging to the CTC began.
Local News
I was very sorry to hear of the loss of Phil Allen. I already mentioned my affiliation with Leicestershire. Although I didn’t cycle for very long with the group it was Phil that took me under his wing in my 20’s and during that period I made the jump from being a commuter cyclist to a touring cyclist and I recall doing my first 100 mile ride (not with Phil) over to and in the Peak District and being more than a little elated, if not giddy, after the event. I pay my greatest respects to John and the family and a personal tribute to Phil for his encouragement and friendliness.
I yearn for those days again when I had much more time to get out and enjoy the things I love . . . and as I approach in 2017 my 50th year I am making changes that allow me to spend more time on my two wheels and walking in the countryside.
I receive copies of Cycle Chat from our Leicestershire member groups and Cyclonda from our Notts group. I am aware that these publications take a lot of effort to keep going and resources from your budgets. I am also aware that this is something you discuss periodically in your meetings. So what do I think? Well I could never be described as a techno-phobe nor a luddite as I have more technical kit in the house than I care to list. I am a lover and user of social media (but not Facebook) and I have personally led the introduction of social media usage in large organisations. However. . . I really love receiving these publications. I cherish them arriving, I read everything that is written in them, reread them and always feel a bit sad discarding them periodically. I just feel it connects me to you in a way that the electronic methods cant. I can tuck it in my handbag, I make notes in them, fold them, read them in the bath . . and so it goes on. It is very different to how I connect with emails that come through which I tend to scan and discard as soon as I can. But I am as guilty as the next for not contributing to the content and I know the editors often rely on a relatively small number of people to keep the content going. So on balance on all of that I have to say I think they have a valued role for too many people to move away from them. So note to self and to others that can, how do we help support keep these cherished publications going?
Beaumanor Rally has just taken place which is an annual event for people far and wide. The location is simply wonderful for all kinds of cyclists however despite commendable efforts of the new organizing committee the attendance was low. It is a great event but at this years level of attendance it becomes unsustainable. I ask you to get involved and come along next year (as I intend to) and to enlist your buddies far and wide to come along too. If we don’t I fear we may lose this much loved annual opportunity for cycling and companionship in and beyond the East Midlands.
New Branding
First I start with ‘why change’. We undertook some extensive research which included reaching out to members and other cyclists who may not be members.  This took place over 3 different reviews over recent years. The overriding evidence was that unless people were in the CTC they did not know that we existed or had a very narrow perception of who we are what we do. Certainly most didn’t think that we had anything to offer them. In order to sustain and grow we need to continue to be the chosen organisation for our valued members but also appeal to others who cycle, would cycle or support cycling. We have more or less flatlined our membership at a time when BC has grown significantly and we have not prospered from the boom in people cycling over recent years. 
In choosing the name and the branding with it, it was important that this was vibrant and meaningful and gave an immediate sense of the pleasure of this wonderful thing we all do for different reasons. There was an extensive piece of work in testing out names and comparisons etc and just like some of you have identified to me directly, we had many varied personal opinions and preferences but in the end Council was almost unanimous (with only one not voting for the name) in agreeing the recommendations in full.
If I were to say Cycling UK has gone down a storm it could be read in a number of ways. Predominantly it has had overwhelming support and positive reactions and from all kinds of members, communities and stakeholders. For some I know you may feel it is a storm of a more troubled kind and although I don’t share your fears I do share your passion and fondness for what we are and how we have got here.  From the beginning I fought for retaining the CTC branding for local groups where you feel you would like to retain it. That in the end was agreed and I am very proud of this. I think for some that continued identity is important. For others you may decide that moving to the new brand is an opportunity to develop your group further or simply just want to have this new vibrant image. Whatever you decide it will be right for you and I am just delighted that you have that choice.
Brand guidelines have been issued to all our groups and this I have to say was very impressive indeed. All marketing materials including event collateral, branded merchandise, clothing, advertising and any membership benefits related comms have redesigned bringing in line with new brand, plus distribution – this including materials required for promoting Cycling UK to new prospects, plus materials required by staff/development, volunteers, trainers and member groups/affiliate groups. Member groups have been supplied with new materials – some already used Cycling UK materials at events/have events imminently featuring the new brand.
 AGM
It was good to see a number of my members from the region at the AGM, it had a lively start with some very good debate. You will be able to see the results of the motions on the main website so I wont repeat that here.
Website
A great deal of work has gone into not just rebranding the website but also in making the navigation, content and usage match our new strategy. I had a really good look around this week and felt it was much improved.
Competition’s
The 2016 Tourist Competition is now underway and has a large number of events registered so far and results have started to come in. We have made some changes this year to the competition to try and facilitate a far easy process for result collection and processing. The key change is that all participants must register once to enter the competition, allowing us to capture the unique identifier which then will enable us to process results at a much faster speed. The relationship between Cycling UK, participants and organisers is being strengthened this year by a more robust communications plan, which we are able to deploy due to correct data being captured earlier on. We expect that this will increase participation in events and support from organisers. Another new web function to compliment the competition is an interactive map of this year’s events.
The Touring Competition is being reviewed with a working group including Jim Brown, and regular winner Lowri Evans has been invited. A new proposal for 2017 will be a developed by mid summer.
The 2016 Tri-Vets is shaping up to be a very exciting challenge series, with 19 groups registering events. We have had over 465 registrations through the Cycling UK web site and great feedback from the organisers. The Tri-Vets certificates for this year have had a slight redesign to incorporate the new brand, whilst holding on to the wing wheeled history. Badges and date stamps have been ordered accordingly.
Bike Week
Bike Week 2016 is nearly upon as: 11th – 19th June 2016, with the MP bike ride on 8th June. The 2016 theme is ‘Cycle to Work’. Our partners: NSPCC as charity partner (bringing PR support, celebrity endorsement, local fundraising network including corporates), Daily Telegraph as Mainstream media and Immediate Media (Bike Radar, Cycling Plus etc.) as Cycling media partner (bring online content, prizes, data acquisition), Cyclescheme (for penetration into businesses) and Love to Ride (personal challenge website to log miles etc).
2016 will see us working with Love to Ride to incorporate their challenge platform into our activity. Individuals taking part in the ‘Bike Week National Challenge’ will be able to log their miles and compete to win prizes.
Our partnership with the NSPCC will allow us to reach out to their corporate networks, public databases to encourage registration, participation and donations.
Close

I fear I may now be writing too much and boring the poor reader, so I sign off for now and will be back again when I can to update. In the meantime enjoy the outdoors on foot or on wheels and the companionship of being part of Cycling UK.

Jaki Lowe

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Veloforum 2015 in the Ukraine





This is a video of the Ukraine Veloforum which I attended in my role as Vice President for the ECF. This brings together a group of young activists and advocates from across the country who work hard on behalf of cyclists in a challenging context. Enjoy

Sunday, 15 November 2015

November Update

As we approach the final few weeks of the year I have summarised some of the activity at National Office and more locally to help us reflect on progress and future work. I think it has been a successful year and we have started to see some important outcomes for cycling from the new management team.

Training:
Following the member group survey into how CTC could best support groups, groups are being offered the opportunity to attend a single day ride leader course. The course covers route planning, insurance, data protection, how to lead a ride, running events, safeguarding and incident management. All participants take away a professional 60-page course manual for future reference.  The first pilot events were held in Guildford and Blackpool with ~ 50 participants on the 20th September. These went very well with great feedback from participants, and 30+ courses will follow across the UK. See: http://www.ctc.org.uk/news/20150901-free-1-day-ride-leader-course-ctc-members  
  
PR
The CTC media team has grown since last year. The team now comprises, David Murray, Head of Communications and Campaigns, Victoria Hazeal, Senior Communications Officer and Tony Upfold, Communications and Media Officer. The team are available to support local groups with advice on how to build effective media relations and write press releases and can be contacted on 01483 238 315 or via publicity@ctc.org.uk.

Campaigning update
One of our campaigns successes with the ability to make a big impact this year has been that the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy which reached the statute book earlier this year, through the Infrastructure Act. This legislation creates an obligation on government and local authorities to make clear their cycling infrastructure spending plans in the same way that they do for roads investment.

The Trails for Wales campaign took up the opportunity in Wales to support the Welsh Assembly Government’s proposal to widen off-road cycling access across the public rights of way network. The campaign saw over 4,000 people send in letters of support to the formal government consultation, which is the highest volume of responses that the Welsh Assembly has ever received for any formal consultation.

Our Zero Stars for Eurostar campaign working alongside the ECF (European Cyclists Federation) started on 14 October. It is in response to Eurostar’s plans to force cyclists to breakdown and box-up their bikes to carry them on their train services, at a cost of £30. In the first 24 hours we received the support of 6,000 people, who wrote to Eurostar’s CEO asking that he rescind this decision before it was planned to come into force on 1 November 2015. I am delighted to say that this combined effort achieved its aims with news last Friday of the backdown of Eurostar, A huge well done to  Roger, the media team and all involved.



Elections in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: ‘Vote Bike’ and ‘We Walk, We Cycle We Vote’
Following the success of Vote Bike in the run-up to the UK General election earlier this year, we are in discussions about how to mobilise the ‘cycling vote’ for the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish elections in May 2016.  However we will need to develop different “policy calls” for each of the three devolved countries for voters to ask their candidates to support.

The policy-calls for Vote Bike in Wales are likely to be (a) the funding needed to implement the Active Travel (Wales) Act and (b) implementing the Trails for Wales proposals.  Likewise in Northern Ireland, the call is likely to be for the funds needed to deliver the very promising Bicycle Strategy for Northern Ireland, launched in August by former Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy AM. 

In Scotland, CTC’s New Cycling Development Officer in Scotland, Suzanne Forup is  leading on a campaign for a jointly agreed walking and cycling manifesto, under the banner ‘We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote’, collaborating closely with Pedal on Parliament.  This will greatly strengthen CTC’s campaigning visibility and credibility in Scotland.

Inclusive Cycling
During the Spring half term holidays, we launched our Big Bike Revival campaign, aimed at people who own bikes but have not ridden them for a year or more. By joining forces with 90 bike recycling centres across England, Halfords and Raleigh, we ran over 1,600 events in a two week period, encouraging over 30,000 people to take part and fixing over 24,000 bikes. The campaign also reached over 3 million people online with our message to fall back in love with cycling. We hope to repeat this campaign every year with Department for Transport funding.

Branding
CTC is working with branding agency, Campfire, to review our brand. Member groups, partners and a sample of CTC members have been surveyed as part of the research phase. The aim of the review is to develop a brand and associated materials in order to provide CTC with a strong proposition for existing and prospective members and supporters. We aim to have rolled out the refreshed brand ahead of the 2016 cycling season, with a view to launching in April/May 2016.

Members’ conference
Based on feedback we received at our 2014 AGM, we saw the value of running various workshops that cover the breadth of our work, as an engagement tool with our members. On 10 October, we hosted our first annual Members’ conference at the University of Warwick. We were joined by Joe Saxton, a leading light in the voluntary sector, and Mark Colbourne, the London 2012 gold medal-winning Paralympic cyclist, to share ideas and best practice on effective campaigning, group and events promotion and cycling development. Feedback from the conference has been really positive and so we aim to run these events annually.

Local News
I am delighted that Jean Lakin from our Leicestershire and Rutland Member Group achieve 'highly commended' in the annual awards. Jean works relentlessly to support cycling in the group, across Leicestershire and the East Midlands. She steadfastly provides catering, often single handedly and volunteers to help with the many events that take place. Where would we be without Jean, a well deserved award.

In addition to this Andy Townsend from our Lincolnshire Member Group was nominated for and awarded a certificate of merit for his sustained and successful work on behalf of the county. Andy working with Rodney Jelfs has successfully made the council halt plans for a bypass in order to make better provision for cycle crossings as well as being a pivotal in getting new members and current members to cycle in the area. He launched a womens ride earlier this year, enticing a really great ambassador of cycling Melanie Carroll to take a lead role following her work with Breeze (BC). Finally I couldn’t miss the significant success when achieved when Andy managed to get the CTC exhibiting in the castle grounds at Lincoln for the National Championships which took part in the summer during a festival of cycling over the whole weekend. It was great to see the CTC in the centre of things and I was very proud to support Tim Newberry and Andy at the event. So for Andy a more than deserved this award.

My Election as Vice-President of ECF (European Cyclists Federation)
I was absolutely delighted at the beginning of the summer to be voted in against stiff competition from many other countries. I intend to link my work with CTC and ECF to maximize campaigning and supporting better, more and safer cycling for all.

Mince Pie Run
So my final words are to keep safe during these short days and long nights and decreasing temperatures and if you want to join hundreds of other cyclists  - The annual Mince Pie Run is on the 20th December when cyclists from near and far assemble at Belton Village Hall 10.30-12.30am. Most will arrive by bike and be rewarded by a hot drink and mince pie.

Jaki Lowe

East Midlands Regional Councillor and Trustee