Twenty three cycle organisations have joined forces to promote cycling under a unified banner in 2012. Businesses such as Halfords, Brompton and others have also pledged support. The campaign is called the Summer of Cycling and will be open to any and all organisations, businesses, clubs, magazines and individuals.
Details for exactly what the promotion will entail are still being worked out but an initial meeting between twenty three cycling organisations was characterised by an unusual degree of consensus. Racing organisations can promote Summer of Cycling just as easily as local cycle campaign groups. And, unlike previous attempts at joint promotions, all the major orgs were present, there were no major omissions.
The initial meeting was held at the back-end of November in an upstairs committee room in the House of Commons. Present were executives from British Cycling, CTC, Sustrans, London Cycling Campaign, Cycling Scotland, the Bicycle Association, Bike Week, Transport for London, the Association of Cycle Traders, Halfords, the Tour of Britain, Cyclenation, the Cycle to Work Alliance and other organisations. Chairing the meeting was Julian Huppert, the workaholic LibDem MP for Cambridge. He's the co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, a cross-party bunch of bicycling MPs and peers.
The APPCG has no axe to grind, it's neutral. It could therefore bang heads together - gently - to call for the meeting to discuss a joint promotion for Olympic year. What was anticipated to be a heated meeting, with cycling factions splitting along the usual party lines, turned out to being a session of nodding heads. Instead of objections, there were offers of help, and from all quarters.
The promotion won't be location-based: Cycling Scotland could flag-wave with the Summer of Cycling just as easily as Transport for London could tie it in to the Olympics. The promotion is cheap, it requires the organisations to submit their events to a database and then link to this central database via their own websites. Cost? Small banner-sized space for a clickable Summer of Cycling logo; the logo printed on business cards, or placed below email signatures. Later this week it may start to appear on corporate Christmas e-cards.
Introducing the concept, Huppert said:
"There needs to be a better cross over between all the cycling groups. We need to bring all the interests together. In 2012, we need cycling to say the same thing at the same time. Events could be linked together to flow from one event to another."
By linking together, cycling becomes bigger, stronger. This would pique the interest of ministers, said Huppert. He added it would also be a good hook for the media. With sport cycling expected to do well at the Olympics - with a potential gold medal winner at the opening event of the Games, Mark Cavendish in the road race - 2012 could be the year when cycling goes "top of mind," said Huppert.
Phillip Darnton, vice president of the Bicycle Association, agreed: "2012 ought to be year we sell more bikes than ever before. It ought to be the year more kids get cycle trained than ever before. More children should be cycling to school than ever before. And after the Olympics, more people than ever before should be lining the roads to watch the Tour of Britain."
The execs from the wide variety of cycling groups agreed to agree that the Summer of Cycling had great potential, and importantly, didn't conflict with any existing or planned promotions.
In March, Sustrans' Big Pedal - supported by Bike Hub, the industry's levy fund - will aim to get children in 1000 schools cycling for one million bike-to-school miles. This would be the kick-off event for the Summer of Cycling, with summer being a loose term, a very loose term, for March through to October.
The idea that most galvanised the meeting was the +1 concept: those taking part in events would be encouraged to bring one other person along. A proselytising pledge campaign could get new people to try cycling to work for the first time, or riding the wooden banks of a velodrome for the first time, or taking part in a long-distance challenge ride for the first time.
A website was turned on this morning. Summerofcycling.net has little more than the logo and an email sign-up box right now but will get much more content in the new year. There's also twitter feed at @summerofcycling. The logo was designed by Peter Thompson of Peloton Design: he's the graphic artist who created the look for the Tour of Britain.
The Summer of Cycling isn't exclusive to the 23 cycling organisations present at the first meeting. It's a promotion open to any business, any organisation, any club, any individual, any blogger, or any magazine.