Bicycle Association manifesto to target advocacy and driving forward cycling from a young age

The Bicycle Association of Great Britain has today announced a new industry manifesto dubbed “start cycling”, which places emphasis on seeding a modal share increase for the future.

The focal point of the new manifesto, delivered on the back of commissioned SQW research, is on children, with key advocacy points detailing how the BA sees great value in campaigning for Bikeability training for all school kids, as well as measures to halt the decline in access to bicycles. A VAT exemption on children’s bike sales and schemes to restore access to disadvantaged youth are also flagged as angles to assist uptake. At the present time 4% fewer children aged 5 to 16 have access to a bike when compared to 2010 levels and fewer than half are given Bikeability training.

The long-term aim is to create cyclists for the future. With cycle to school levels having not surpassed 2% in the past 20 years, the Manifesto outlines that the industry has little hope of progress on the streets among adults in the future without investment in bringing about a culture change from a young age.

As a result it is believed the annual £2 billion worth of cycling to the UK’s economy is at risk of hitting the reverse gear, something the members-only report suggests will need a concerted effort to keep in check. It is for this reason that the BA later this year plans to launch the Bicycle Industries Fund, something which will directly fund “Start Cycling” promotions. It is hoped that this pot will deliver £500,000 a year in funding, though this relies on bike trade participation. The industry alone delivers £1 billion of cycling’s overall contribution to the economy and is believed to be a conservative estimate.

“The total annual GVA (Gross Value Added) of cycling and its principal related industries is well over £1 billion per annum at a conservative estimate, and it is probably much higher”, says BA Operations Director Steve Garidis. “Even more compelling is the industry’s contribution to the economic value of cycling as an activity. Based on our new analysis, the cycling industry makes possible at least £1 billion of additional health benefits per year.”

It is the perception of danger that is reportedly keeping the bulk of adults from cycling, perhaps lending further weight to the argument for safe cycling infrastructure advocacy delivered in tandem. Evidence shows that the number of cyclists killed per distance cycled fell between 2012 and 2015, yet the perception of danger has gone in the other direction. Some 64% in the 2014 British Social Attitude Survey agreed or strongly agreed that “it is too dangerous to cycle on the road”. In 2012 59% agreed with this statement.

There are however silver linings in the data. Older age brackets are cycling more and further, racking up twice the distance in 2015 over 2010 levels.

To become a Bicycle Association member and gain access to the full SQW report, contact the BA here.