BIKE HUB NEWS
Bike Hub is the UK cycle levy
British bicycle industry’s voluntary levy continues to grow and thrive By Phillip Darnton
This year marked the seventh anniversary of Bike Hub. How successful has Bike Hub been? BikeBiz last published a progress review in July 2011, and since then the industry’s voluntary levy scheme has continued to thrive. In his speech in the House of Commons in March, the Transport Minister Norman Baker expressed his appreciation to the cycle industry for their continuing support for initiatives to promote safe cycling, especially to young people. He singled out Bike It, The Big Pedal, and the Bike Hub app. for special mention. Contributions in 2011 have exceeded £400,000; or, to be precise, £404,993. The final
quarter of the year was particularly encouraging with a total of £120,300, which is the best 4th Quarter recorded since the scheme began. In three out of the four last calendar years, contributions have topped £400,000; at £439,000 in 2008 - £434,000 in 2009 and £376,000 in 2010. The independent auditors, Dafferns, do point out that there are a number of variables in the numbers, of which of course the English weather is the biggest. Poor weather inevitably depresses retail sales, meaning a stock build-up with distributors, and hence a slacking of new orders to suppliers. So the dip in contributions in the year 2010 is in part offset by the increase at the start of 2011. But whichever
way you look at it, the cycle industry has donated over £3 million, mainly to schemes to get a new generation riding bikes. The figures are all the more remarkable, since there are few of the biggest retailers engaged; not Halfords; not Wiggle or Chain Reaction. The supermarkets are not contributing, nor the mail-order or internet suppliers. It’s all the more credit to the famous cycle brands, Specialized, Giant, Trek among them, and wholesalers like Fishers – and the hundreds of Independent Dealers who have really made the Bike Hub idea work. At just £1 for every £1000 of purchases, the achievement in total is truly remarkable – and it’s unique to the UK. It’s the only market
BIKE HUB NEWS May 2012
where suppliers and retailers work together, and continue together, “to safeguard the future of cycling.”.
APPROACH From the start in 2004, it was recognised that Bike Hub would need to meet a series of criteria: * Invest only in well-managed, professional projects * Ensure that funds were properly spent and properly evaluated * Achieve a good national spread of investment * Focus on the new generation of young people, to ensure that they did not become the “generation lost to cycling” * That all the contributions went to the projects selected, and did not have ‘administrative’ costs For all of these reasons, the Bike Hub projects have been consistent over the past seven years to create continuity and expertise, and have been with large well-organised charities and NGO’s. Administration is handled by the Bicycle Association for Bike Hub at no on-cost, and the only charges are the auditor’s fees.
‘trigger’ for other contributions, both from National and regional government. By the end of 2011, Bike It had over 80 full-time officers across England, Scotland, Wales and in Northern Ireland, working in 950 schools (mainly, primary schools), getting kids on bikes and learning to ride, and parents and teachers supporting their efforts. In these ‘Bike It’ schools, regular cycling to school – not necessarily every day, but on a regular schedule – has, in almost every case, at least doubled. There is still lots to go for – since there are over 21,000 primary schools in the UK, so Bike It is only just a small start; but Bike Hub’s contribution of £250,000 p.a. is a vital contribution.
The Big Pedal This, too, is a Sustrans’ project. Each March, children are encouraged to take part, over a three week period, in a ‘virtual’ bike race, called ‘The Big Pedal’. Using up-to-the minute software, with a lot of appeal to 9-11 year olds, the Big Pedal gets kids to log their trips to school, and with some smart tech to make it “fairer” for everyone – new cyclists, girls and boys, long trips and short – a PROJECTS series of schools can win prizes for their effort. It’s a competition which always appeals to children, In 2011, Bike Hub once again invested the majority of its contributions with Sustrans, and their schools. It was so successful in 2011 that Bike Hub has just funded it again in 2012, with the national cycling and walking charity. the target of 1000 schools together pedalling 1 million (virtual) miles. The scheme has been run Bike It This was the brainchild of the Bicycle Association, on 340,000 p.a. from Bike Hub, and looks set to and has been managed by Sustrans since the start. become a fixture in schools’ Spring Activities calendar. Good fun – and good for healthy It began with just four officers: young men and exercise too! women who worked full time with ten schools each to create a National Bike Week ‘cycling culture’ in every one. Although Bike Week is always a Since those early days, Bike June event, when retailers are It has grown and grown. The usually at their busiest, it is Department for Transport is on nevertheless also the time when record as considering it “the most the weather is at its best (!), and successful single people are most willing to get on initiative for a bike. cycling” in the Bike Week has worked to promote just that last decade. for over 75 years and since Bike Hub began – with Despite the economic difficulties a challenge from Government to put some money of the past two years, Bike It has where its potential customers were – it has continued to grow with Bike contributed £30,000 p.a. to the overall costs of Hub support often as the
BIKE HUB NEWS May 2012
this National grass-roots scheme. In 2011, however, the Coalition government stopped their support (£75,000 p.a.), and Bike Week looked as if it might not continue; so, to keep this long-standing event, and with it the MP’s Annual Bike Ride, Bike Hub agreed to increase its support for one year to £65,000. About 1200 organisers are involved, and up and down the country over 400,000 people get on their bikes to celebrate the pleasure of cycling. It’s a worthwhile cause, and increasingly is catching the eye of potential sponsors – hopefully 2012 will be a “bumper year” for Bike Week. Bike Hub app As smart-phones conquer the market – along with tablets and notebooks – so the app market has really ‘taken off ’. The Bike Hub app runs on both Google and Android systems, and provides, quite simply the best journey planner a cyclist – any cyclist – could wish for. It’s free to download and over ¼ million people have the app on their phones now. It provides a choice of routes – direct, quiet, easy – and in 2011 was improved to include “circular tours”, ideal for a Sunday afternoon ride out and back again. Bike Hub
invested £36,000 in update/development in 2011, and as it hits all the cycle shops in the country, it’s probably the Bike Hub scheme’s cheapest advert! Don’t have a smartphone and want to see how the app works? There’s a new “how to” video on YouTube: www.tinyurl.com/bikehubvideo These are the main projects which Bike Hub has been able to support again in 2011, and in line with our guidelines, will feature in the 2012 programme too. Inevitably, since contributions do fluctuate quarter-by-quarter – and who knows if the retail market will grow in 2012? – it is
BIKE HUB ROAD TRIP Velocity global Conference 2012 in Vancouver has asked for a presentation on the work of Bike Hub for an international audience. Phillip Darnton, the Executive Director of the Bicycle Association, will attend the conference at the end of June; the registration fees will be paid by the Bicycle Association and travel and accommodation will be a personal expense.
BIKE HUB NEWS May 2012
appropriate to be cautious in the forward allocation of funds, especially since most of our projects are reliant on people, and so cannot be terminated at short notice without a serious impact on employment. So far the programme for 2012 has committed £200,000 to ‘Bike It’ with Sustrans; £40,000 also to Sustrans for the Big Pedal, and £30,000 for National Bike Week beginning on June 17th (with the MPs’ Bike Ride as the ‘trailer’ on June 13th in London). The industry is also the prime
sponsor of the “Summer of Cycling” in 2012, which has the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group as its patrons. Its aim is simple – but quite challenging! It’s to get every single cyclist in the UK to find a colleague, a relative or a friend who doesn’t cycle, and get them on a bike in Olympic year. If all cyclists could get just one “saddle shy” friend on a bike, we would double
“There are many organisations whom Bike Hub would like to attract – no reason why we should not collect £1m per year.” PHILLIP DARNTON Executive director Bicycle Association
If you are interested in supporting Bike Hub please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02476 553838.
cycling in 2012. Find out more at www.summerofcycling.net. Small grants from the Department for Transport as well as several Train Operating Companies have got the idea going, and Bike Hub is planning to give its support, as the scheme gathers momentum.
LOOKING AHEAD Bike Hub has given a tremendous boost to a range of activities, particularly focussed on young people, the cyclists of the future. The contributions, and the enduring support for Bike Hub are a tribute to the commitment of hundreds of small businesses across the UK to their vision of cycling for years to come. Unfortunately it has so far proved impossible to get the biggest forces in the market to join in, but nevertheless the achievement of many small businesses, and the backing of the major brands, have demonstrated that great schemes can be created with individually modest contributions: £1 for every £1000 of purchases has generated over £3 million so far!
The message is simple – Bike Hub works; it works well; and it gets real results. So please just keep doing it!
May 2012 newsletter for the Bike Hub industry levy.