The Bicycle Association has released a 14-page report on the 14-year-old Bike Hub industry levy. Created in 2003, the Bike Hub levy is “one of the most successful and long running industry levy schemes in the world, playing a vital role in promoting cycling in the UK,” says the report, adding that “it is a testament to our committed and enthusiastic industry that it continues.”
The report stresses that the Bicycle Association will continue to operate the scheme but it is to be merged into the proposed new Bicycle Industry Fund, which is launching soon. “Investment in the future will be even more targeted – particularly on advocacy work – as we tackle some of the biggest issues to face cycling, and our industry,” said BA operations manager Steve Garidis.
The 14-page report includes a spreadsheet on Bike Hub investments between 2004 and 2016.
Bike Hub funds are largely invested in young cyclists, and new ones.
“From the very first days of the fund it was recognised by all concerned that children should be at the heart of the scheme because children are the future,” says the report. “This has undoubtedly been the major focus of the fund and its investments – from national programmes designed to give children the opportunity to cycle more such as Bike It, and British Cycling’s Go Ride, to major promotional projects such as schools awards and competitions designed to engage children, schools and parents.”
The report says the fund has a “proud record of supporting those at the sharp end of cycle promotion. In particular, it has stepped in to provide funding to bring cycle advocacy together at a national level, to speak with one voice and pool expertise and resources.”
Bike Hub has given funds to the Cyclists’ Public Affairs Group (to lobby government for cycling), the UK Cycle Alliance (bringing cycle organisations together to co-ordinate lobbying) and CycleNation (the group bringing together local advocacy campaigns). Bike Hub has also seed-funded Space for Cycling campaigns from London Cycling Campaign and CTC (now Cycling UK).
“These high-impact campaigns advocate for protected cycleways: essential to boost cycling signicantly in cities,” said Garidis.
Bike Hub is also active in the digital space, having produced a ground-breaking cycle satnav app for iPhones and Androids.
“Building the innovative Bike Hub app involved behind-the-scenes digital work that not only benefitts our journey planner and app, but also enables a whole cycling route ecosystem,” says the BA report. “Bike Hub provided Cyclestreets of Cambridge with £23,500 to develop its cycle-specific routing technology (it’s this which powers the Bike Hub journey planner). A more recent investment of £2,250 has helped Cyclestreets to continue developing the technology, which is now used by other apps, by desktop cycle journey planners and by local authorities. Bike Hub also supports Gravitystorm, a service which ensures maps load quickly to smartphones. Gravitystorm operates OpenCycleMap, a layer within OpenStreetMap, the world’s leading crowd-sourced map-base. Because it uses this cycle-speciic map, the Bike Hub app can use bike paths; many other cycle navigation apps can only route on roads. The app was developed for nervous, would-be cyclists, showing them where bike paths are, or directing them on quiet side streets.”
A completely new build of the Bike Hub app was released in 2016, and the app is regularly refreshed. A soon-to-be-released feature adds “haptic” buzzing turn alerts on Apple Watch, and there will also be synchronisation between sports apps so cyclists can continue using the Bike Hub app to navigate while also tracking their fittness progress in other apps.
Bike Hub’s digital outreach also extends to viral videos. Levy funds paid for a ”How to overtake cyclists” video fronted by Chris Boardman. This generated 250,000 views in its first week on YouTube and Vimeo, and has now had more than 500,000 views across a number of platforms. It was also sent out as a training video to driving instructors by the Driving Standards Agency. A follow-up video, “Side by Side”, showed how and why cyclists ride two abreast, pointing out it’s perfectly legal. The videos also garnered considerable positive publicity for Bike Hub, with articles in The Guardian, The Telegraph, Cycling Weekly, road.cc and motoring.co.uk.
Supplier contributors to Bike Hub over the years have included Acorn, Adcal, BikeBiz, Booost, Bohle, Brompton, Clark Cables, Concept, Cybertill, Cyclemotion, Cycling Sports Group, Dawes, Evans, Falcon, Fibrax, Fisher, Giant, Halfords, Hot Wheels, Ideal, Kinetics, Kona, Madison, Mission, Moore Large, Moulton, Orbit, Pashley, Paligap, PCM, Procycling, Raleigh, Schwalbe, Specialized, Trek, Ultimate, Universal and Weldtite. “Great thanks are also due to the many hundreds of cycle retailers who participate in the scheme via the levy mechanism,” says the report.
“Ever since 2003, the Bike Hub cycle industry levy scheme has provided vital funding for those working to build a stronger cycling future in the UK,” concludes the report. “To this day, it continues to raise significant funds for promoting cycling. There are new challenges in cycling, and in our industry, and Bike Hub is due a revamp and a re-structure. This is now taking shape under the Bicycle Industry Fund banner, which will see a new much greater focus on advocacy, as well as continuing the important outreach and promotion work needed to secure the future of cycling.
“Across 14 years of Bike Hub, the cycle industry has invested heavily in the future of cycling. As we celebrate that achievement, let us also focus on the task ahead: this work must continue, and industry support for the Bicycle Industry Fund is vital. Together, we must secure the future of cycling.”