The envy of the world: The UK cycle industry’s own Bike Hub levy is a virtually unique phenomenon around the globe, proving Britain’s bike trade is willing to invest in its own, and cycling’s, future. BikeBiz charts the progress of the levy…
Eight years old and counting, the voluntary Bike Hub levy has given hundreds of thousands of pounds each year – over £2 million in total – to help secure the future of cycling across the UK.
Around £400,000 is generated each year via contributions from suppliers and IBDs through the levy, which was created by the Bicycle Association and the Association of Cycle Traders back in 2003.
But where has that cash been spent, I hear you cry? Here are some of the highlights…
Bike It is a scheme run by sustainable transport charity Sustrans’ designed to encourage children to cycle.
Bike Hub helps pay the wages of 58 full-time Bike It officers who work with schools to promote biking, organising cycle activities and helping make it easy for kids to cycle to and from school. The scheme currently reaches 600 UK schools each year, and 94 per cent of headteachers said that the tuition has helped pupils become more physically active, as well as encouraged active transport to and from school.
Training up wee nippers to be confident and safe on their bike is a no brainer and Bike Hub has pledged £30,000 over two years to Cycling Scotland to help establish Bikeability training in Scotland.
The Big Pedal
Sticking with the theme that today’s children are tomorrow’s (er and indeed today’s) cyclists, the levy has given youngsters significant focus, not least in the Big Pedal. In another team up with Sustrans, the Big Pedal was a cycle race pitting schools against each other across the land. Staff and pupils clocked up cycle miles for prizes and as a result the Big Pedal saw a whopping 990,000 bike journeys made in just three weeks by schools taking part in the race.
New Ideas Fund
In 2009 Bike Hub established the New Ideas Fund to try new schemes to encourage cycling. The three schemes to benefit targeted some diverse demographics.
Age Well on Wheels, run by the London Cycle Campaign, aimed to help over-50s get back on their bikes, while Darlovelo was pitched at encouraging young women onto bikes. The final scheme – Get Cycling – was a Sheffield and Hull-set initiative, encouraging people to rent a bike, gain confidence through training and then go on to buy their own bikes.
Bike Week has been encouraging the nation to cycle since the 1920s and an impressive 500,000 people took part in over 1,900 events in the week last year. The contribution to its operation from the Bike Hub levy has been more crucial than ever this year, with the Government pulling the plug on Cycling England and with it, its £75,000 contribution to the nationwide event. The week is also backed by Transport for London and Team Green Britain, part of EDF Energy. This year dealers have been polled, via the ACT, on how best to grow business as a result of Bike Week. A retail partner will now operate for this year’s Bike Week as a result of that.
Journey planning apps
There are over 11 million smartphone owners in the UK and Bike Hub has cunningly tapped into that market to direct business to the door of bike retailers, all via the Bike Hub smartphone app. The free piece of software is a navigation tool for cyclists with a shop-finding feature, directing users to the nearest bike shops along routes, wherever they are in the country. First released on iPhone, the Bike Hub app was made more widely available with an Android app release at the end of last year.
Those are just a few of the projects Bike Hub has been a part of during its first eight years. Find out more about the levy at www.bikehub.co.uk.