The goal is for £350k to be raised each year, to be spent on projects that will encourage cycle use.
The last time that a levy scheme was organised was in 1997 when the BA undertook to raise £1 million over three years to support the development of Sustran's National Cycle Network. On that occasion, some major bike companies were missing from the roster of participants, this time round all the big hitters are in place from the beginning, including Concept, Universal, Falcon and Raleigh.
The participants in the Fund will be able to promote their participation via a scheme logo, decals on bikes, window stickers and other ideas still in development.
An independent auditor acting on behalf of the BA and ACT will administer the Fund.
"This is a very important initiative by the industry, which has – after lengthy discussion – recognised that it must take action now if there is to be a flourishing demand for cycling in the future," said BA president Phillip Darnton, who has cracked heads together in the nicest possible way to smooth through the creation of the Fund.
"The industry has been dogged by falling prices and margins, and hence very low profitability as well as by a series of marketplace setbacks over the last three years, ever since the foot and mouth outbreak. Despite this, the creation of a new Fund, supported so widely, indicates the seriousness and the commitment of the industry to its future," said Darnton.
"The Department for Transport has received this initiative very favourably having made it clear that maximum funding for cycling schemes will only be forthcoming if the industry itself contributes and participates. The idea of a public/private partnership underpins the marketing initiatives for cycling which are being developed by the National Cycling Strategy Board; some of the funds raised by the industry are planned to be used to help finance these schemes."
The NCSB is presently reviewing the marketing Business Plan – which details costs and timings – and an announcement about the next steps is expected in the next few weeks.
Full details of the way in which the Cycle Industry Fund will be used will be announced simultaneously, but it has been agreed between the BA and the DfT that one of the beneficiaries of the “partnership” will be Bike Week 2004. In future, Bike Week will be jointly supported by the Cycle Industry Fund and the DfT.
Other cash is likely to go to a Sustrans Safe Routes to School initiative.
"Without investment, particularly in support of a new generation of young cyclists, the future for everyone involved with industry would look difficult," said Darnton.
"The reasons, and justifications, for not encouraging youngsters to ride bikes are many and various – and it is all too easy for parents not to get their children to learn to ride safely. We now have the highest percentage of obese 10 year olds in Europe."
David Wilsher, president of the Association of Cycle Traders, warmly welcomed the creation of the Fund:
“It’s a great day for cycling. ACT has been urging that there should be a new scheme to promote and facilitate re-investment in the industry for some time, so naturally we fully support the launch of the Cycle Industry Fund on behalf of the IBD sector.
"ACT has been in ongoing liaison with the BA with regard to the Fund and we are jointly reviewing the details of its administration, so that it works smoothly from the start. It is essential that the industry work in unison if we are to increase future participation in cycling. ACT views the Fund as a great opportunity for the industry to move forward and forget any differences in the past. The Cycle Industry Fund is an important first step in presenting a united promotion of cycling to the public and to the Government.”
The first confirmed participants are:
Concept, Bohle, Giant, Cyclemotion, Ideal, Fisher Outdoor Leisure, Kona, Madison, Moore Large, Weldtite, Raleigh UK, Mission, Specialized, Tandem plc, Trek, Universal, R.J.Chicken & Sons.
And from the world of publishing, all the major mags will be contributing cash, including MBUK, Cycling Weekly, ProCycling, BicycleBusiness, Singletrack and Ride.
Companies expected to join include Hot Wheels, Marin, Orbit, Saracen, Zyro and Toys’R’Us. Halfords has decided not to participate.
Any company in the UK bike industry – large or small – willing to make a contribution to the Fund can lodge their details with email@example.com
For more information pleased contact Phillip Darnton, c/o Pat Morris at the above address/Tel.No. 02476 553838/e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.