DfT provides £1m for the marketing of cycling in UK

Thanks to the launch of Bike Hub, the UK cycle trade's self-help levy scheme, the Department of Transport has pledged £1m to part-pay for the marketing cycling plan proposed by Bicycle Association president Phillip Darnton. This is in addition to the £50m recently announced by the Departments of Education and Transport for Safe Routes to School.
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The National Cycling Strategy Board is linking with the cycle industry and the Department for Transport (DfT) to launch a £1m marketing initiative to get more people to cycle.

This marketing initiative is the idea of Phillip Darnton, the unpaid president of the Bicycle Association, the former MD of Raleigh, seen above at Cycle 2003 which finished Sunday.

The cash to pay for the modest marketing campaign will come from the DfT which unlocked its coffers because the bike trade was willing to 'help itself' by creating the Bike Hub levy scheme.

This scheme is run by the Bicycle Association and the ACT and kicks off on 1st October 2003. It's hoped £350k can be raised each year.

Later this week, BikeBiz.com will publish a list of the many companies supporting the Bike Hub scheme, and the precious few who are holding out. At least one of the stragglers is holding out because of concerns over cash being wasted on "expensive web design agencies" and worries that the scheme's logistics have yet to be fully described.

Halfords is not contributing to the Bike Hub scheme. All of Britain's bike mags and major websites are, including MBUK, Cycling Weekly, Bikemagic.com, singletrackworld.com and BikeBiz.com.

Steven Norris, chairman of the NCS Board, is not a huge fan of marketing but has warmed to the idea thanks to the persuasive efforts of Phillip Darnton.

"I am absolutely delighted that the Bike Hub is being launched to help secure the future of cycling in the UK," said Norris.

"The commitment of the industry is an essential element in our discussions with government over action to increase levels of cycling. The partnership of the industry with Government will ensure a really cost-effective result for everyone – taxpayers, the industry and cyclists themselves. These are very worthwhile initiatives and I will be pushing hard to ensure that we get on with bringing them to life quickly."

The DfT's cash will be partly spent on an all-encompassing web portal for every aspect of British cycling, a whycycle.com with knobs on.

The portal will be developed with initial funding by the Department for Transport, with the Bike Hub paying for its daily maintenance.

The £1m will also go to supporting Bike Week 2004 and the Parliamentary Bike Ride, as well as a marketing exercise to get more children cycling to school. A pilot programme will build on existing local and national initiatives in up to 40 primary schools to bring together the elements needed for safe cycling to school. The aim is to start this pilot scheme early in 2004. The DfT will contribute to the development of the marketing package, while professional co-ordination at a local level will be managed by Sustrans.

Phillip Darnton, who is also an NCS Board member, said:

"The collaboration between the BA, the ACT and the Department for Transport has been outstanding. We have developed a series of exciting and timely marketing plans, which the industry and the DfT will jointly fund. For me the encouragement of cycling among young people - from nine or ten years old - is essential and urgent. We know that as many as 48 percent of this age group would like to cycle to school; equally we know that teachers and parents will agree if all their concerns have been catered for - safety, security and proper training are paramount. That's what this scheme is designed to bring together. With obesity among our young people being the highest in Europe; with fewer youngsters than ever learning to ride bikes - and with the known benefits that moderate exercise of just 30 minutes a day can bring - this project is a must for the cycle industry and government alike."

David Wilsher, president of the ACT, said:

"At last we've got the key players working together for the future of cycling. These are really worthwhile initiatives, and I know IBDs right across the UK will be giving their full support to such a unified initiative. Bike Week is a wonderful example of the grass roots support for cycling in the UK - there were over 1,200 events this year. We've got to promote that, and make it a major annual event. Bike Hub can bring new momentum to this immediately. Whilst the Schools project is complex to organise and get started, now we are all working together, we will make rapid progress."

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