Bickerton hands over Bicycle Association presidency

BA's latest AGM, set at the Manchester velodrome, was busier than ever; Bickerton delivers impassioned plea to support 'lifeblood of the trade' local bike shops
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Yesterday (April 29th) saw the Bicycle Association of GB hold its 2014 Annual General Meeting at British Cycling's Manchester head quarters.

The very well attended meeting including representation from many key names in the UK bike business, including newest BA member Cyclescheme. 

Cyclemotion's Mark Bickerton passed on the President role after holding it for three years at the meeting, with Paul Stewart, bicycle director for Moore Large, taking on the role.

Bickerton said: "I feel that I am stepping down and leaving the Bicycle Association in a good state for Paul Stewart to continue with as my successor. He is extremely well qualified to take the helm, being a keen road cyclist, having previously run Eurobike UK, and has been a long time employee, and was last year made “Bicycle Director” at one of our larger members - Moore and Large."

The AGM saw a wide ranging set of presentations, including from British Cycling (and Go-Ride's) John Mills, Sustrans' Vincent Goodwin and London Cycling Campaign's Ashok Sinha, all presenting how those organisations are working with the Bicycle Association and Bike Hub to grow cycling in the country.

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Other speakers included BEBA's Mark Loveridge, Sports Marketing Survey's John Bushell, BA exec director Phillip Darnton OBE, Cyclescheme's Daniel Gillborn, Carlton Reid and Blue Hippo Media's Pip Piper.

In his final address, Bickerton urged BA members to work closely with and support local bike shops: "One thing that has become ever more relevant to the industry and trade alike, is the growth of online sales, and the urgent need for the local bike shop to react imaginatively to ensure that their market share, is not eroded. The local bricks and mortar bike shop has been the lifeblood of the cycle trade, and it is my firm belief that the trade will be a much sorrier place if too much business is lost to online. I would encourage you all to help the local bike shop as much as you can."

Here's outgoing BA president Mark Bickerton's final speech in the role (in full) - tackling bicycle statistics, technical matters and a general state of the Great British bicycle market.

"I have now had the pleasure of being your president for three years, and now it seems my parole has come around. The time has gone by very quickly, and it was preceded by 4 years as Vice President……yes, I have really enjoyed these 7 years!

I would like to look back on some the successes that the BA has had over that time. But before I do that I would like to say how lucky I have been to have had such a competent executive team….namely, Phillip Darnton, Mel Payne, Alan Cater and of course our secretary Pat Morris. It is largely down to them and particularly Phillip’s relentless activity on behalf of the industry and wider cycling interests, that so much success, has been possible over the period of my presidency.

Dick Pashley

On a sad note, you may know that that Dick Pashley, of Pashley Cycles, who was a long serving council member, and President of the BA during the 1980s, died last year. Dick was also a past secretary and then president of the Centenary Club. I was just a youngster when he was President of the BA, but I remember him quite well, as very kind and interesting man, and his well-attended funeral was a fitting occasion to mark his passing.

Sport’s Influence

I would like to mention the fantastic resurgence of the “Act of Cycling”… The Sport. I am sure this is due, in large part, to the great success of British Cycling in the Olympics and that of Team Sky at the Tour de France, and many other occasions. This has inspired so many more people to ride bikes for fitness, fun and increasingly transport. Indeed both weekend cycling and commuter cycling, have grown exponentially over the last few years, so now bikes are a very integral part of urban transport infrastructure and there cannot be any mistaking the interest as shown by the number of cyclists out at the weekend.

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Bike Hub

Something the BA is very proud of, is the Bike Hub Levy Scheme, which has supported a whole host of exciting projects, over the last 10 years. This is, of course, the second BA Levy Scheme. The first, instigated in 1995, was in response to the Government’s condition that the industry contributed one million pounds, so that Sustrans could be granted forty three point five million of the Millennium Lottery funding.

Now we have the second levy scheme ….Bike Hub. Sustrans has until this year, also been the major, but by no means only, recipient of Bike Hub funds allocated.

Indeed the recipients of Bike Hub funds, is quite a long list, which as well as Sustrans includes: The Big Pedal, The Bike Hub web site, The Bike Hub App, Bike It, Bike Week , Best Schools Cycling Project, Cyclenation, Space for Cycling, Bike-ability, Cycling Scotland, Darlovelo, Age Well on Wheels, Get Cycling, the forthcoming film “Bicycle” and I am sure there have been more that I can’t think of just now.

In February this year, we were delighted to announce that for 2014 a large portion of Bike Hub funds is now to be directed to British Cycling’s “Go Ride”, their children's development program.

This Bike Industry linkeage with Cycling – “The Sport”, is something that we can feel very proud about, and is totally on message for Bike Hub’s aspiration to promote the “Future of Cycling”. In my view, this is a really exciting change of direction for Bike Hub.

Statistics and Sales

Every year we talk about Statistics, and we are constantly in search of the bicycle statistical holy grail, that is accurate statistical information. Today, we are very pleased to have John Bushel from Sport Marketing Surveys, who will speak on the subject later.

What we do know from the import stats, is that cycle sales have continued to be strong again this year, with imports running at about the same level as the last few years, at three and half million bikes. I noticed that Mintel have just published a report indicating sales in 2013 were valued at £745m.

In terms of sell through, in the shops, whilst the English weather is always a contributory factor, I have heard, anecdotally, that sales remained pretty buoyant even through the very wet winter, despite all that awful flooding! Thank goodness it stopped raining, and it has been pretty good, warm and dry, cycling weather since. Fingers crossed for a good summer.

One thing that has become ever more relevant to the industry and trade alike, is the growth of online sales, and the urgent need for the local bike shop to react imaginatively to ensure that their market share, is not eroded. The local bricks and mortar bike shop has been the lifeblood of the cycle trade, and it is my firm belief that the trade will be a much sorrier place if too much business is lost to online. I would encourage you all to help the local bike shop as much as you can.

Technical

Next, I want to pay tribute to the really great work that is undertaken by Alan Cater, who heads up our Technical Advisory Group. Behind the scenes, there is always a lot happening. The BA is represented on all the national and international technical and standards committees including BS, CEN and ISO. We also engage, contribute and comment, on everything from train carriage design, to regulations on ebikes. We have even been involved in the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill!

For those who have not attended one, we hold one or two specifically Technical meetings per year. These meetings are extremely useful and informative for members, so I would encourage all companies to send some of your more technically minded people, to these meetings.

So I re-iterate, a special thanks to Alan and his Technical Group, for their hard work again this year.

Advocacy and Lobbying

Another very important part of the activity of the BA is our role in Whitehall and Westminster. This stems from our leadership and involvement in the UKCA- The UK Cycling Alliance. And through the UKCA, our role in supporting the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, which promotes the interests of bicycles and the cycling lobby, at Westminster.

The BA is also invited to participate in a consultative role, with the Dept for Transport, both in one to one meetings with the Minister, and attending high level groups, such as the Cycling Stakeholder Forum. Separately, Phillip Darnton, on behalf of the BA, also chairs the Minister’s Cycle Rail Working Group.

You may remember that last year, through Bike Hub, we paid for the printing of the well-received, All Party report called “Get Britain Cycling”. All the stakeholders involved in putting the report together, are using the report’s findings to try to influence future Government policy on cycling. We are trying to get the recommendations of the report included in the election manifestoes of all the major parties. 

In Conclusion

In Conclusion, the Bicycle Association, as the cycle industry leader, is promoting cycling through it’s many involvements. We are supporting all four national cycling charities – Sustrans, British Cycling, Cyclist Touring Club and the London Cycling Campaign…all of whom, we will hear from in a few minutes.

We represent members’ interests in Government and in Technical matters and we engage with all aspects of the industry, trade and sport on your behalf.

Looking back over my time as President, the BA has been increasingly relevant, useful, influential, and I hope an interesting organisation for members and partners alike.

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I feel that I am stepping down and leaving the Bicycle Association in a good state for Paul Stewart to continue with as my successor. He is extremely well qualified to take the helm, being a keen road cyclist, having previously run Eurobike UK, and has been a long time employee, and was last year made “Bicycle Director” at one of our larger members - Moore and Large.

In handing over, I again would like to thank Phillip Darnton, Pat Morris, Mel Payne and Alan Cater, for their hard work which has made the BA such a dynamic representative for the industry.

And, lastly, thanks to YOU - the Council and Members of the BA, for being, well….. the UK bike industry….a place in which I have worked pretty much all my life, and I will, I hope, continue to do so for many years to come. I cannot think of a nicer bunch of people to be working amongst."

We'll have a fuller account of the meeting in our forthcoming June issue of BikeBiz.

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