Say the word CTC to many IBDs and what does it conjure up? All too often its an image of penny-pinching cyclists asking for a discount on a puncture repair kit.
This is perhaps unfair most new members of the CTC are not spoke-sniffing bargain-hunters and CTC is keen to update its image with both IBDs and the public at large.
The CTC recognises that its public profile isnt as great as it could be. The Johnny-cum-lately organisation Sustrans has stolen a lot of the CTCs thunder in recent years and, although the two organisations now work closely together, the CTC is keen to regain its position as the UKs number one provider of cycle information.
In its new mission document Vision 2000 the CTC wants to be loved:
[The CTCs] local presence will be known and valued by both cycling and non-cycling members of the community. Other cycling groups, retailers, local authorities etc. will recognise CTC’s contribution. CTC groups will be easily identified both with their area and their range of activities.
To achieve critical mass the CTC will need to reach out from its heartland of cycle diehards and touch non-enthusiast cyclists. It aims to do this with a new raft of public-facing initiatives and increased member benefits.
In a controversial move the organisation is also to research into the need for a national cycling consumer/user organisation to assess products, safety, events, holidays, accommodation and cycle training.
This idea and others was revealed at the Vision 2000 launch held after the CTC AGM on Saturday. Feedback will be used to shape the five-year development plan which will come into effect in January 2001.
Pete Latarche, CTC chairman said: "CTC does not just work for its members but is trusted to represent millions of current and future cyclists whenever cycling policy is made.
We have a duty to set high standards and welcome the input of partner bodies and non-member cyclists because in the future we will all need to work together for the good of cycling."
The CTC claims it is the leading organisation representing cycling enthusiasts but now it wants to replicate that role for less regular cycle users.
MTbers, families, young people and commuters are the biggest groups CTC will target with new services and activities. Services to non-members will also be improved and new services researched.
CTC President Phil Liggett said: "This strategy will make a real difference to cycling and move the whole picture of cycling organisations forward."
The impetus behind the proposed national cycling consumer/user organisation comes from the CTCs desire to, again, be at the centre of British cycling. When it was formed in the late 19th century the CTC pioneered the accreditation of accommodation providers and cycle repairers with ‘CTC Approved’ being a mark of distinction. This method was adopted by motoring organisations and later by tourism agencies.
The CTC has identified that the majority of providers to cyclists are, in its own words, small organisations, local groups and small-to-medium sized businesses.
There are a limited number of large providers such as Halfords and Raleigh, says Vision 2000.
Research shows that cycling is highly vulnerable to negative factors that deter use. Highest is the perception of cycling as unsafe, with others such as cleanliness, weather, perceived difficulty and the presentation of cyclists as cliquey. Un-welcoming retail outlets and the use of technical jargon also have an effect.
Whether the CTC includes IBDs within this sweeping statement is not made clear in the document but Vision 2000 puts into solid form the widely-held CTC view that too many unequipped mountain bikes are sold compared to fully-equipped touring bikes and sports roadsters
One particular outcome of the lack of quality services to cycle-users is the continued sale of unsuitable cycles to many users, says Vision 2000.