"Although National Bike Week has not had very much direct support from either the Bicycle Association or the ACT, I have been impressed by some of the facts which I have learnt at Bike Group Steering meetings recently."
DARNTON'S BIKE WEEK FACTS
So far this year, some 770 street events have been notified to the Bike Week website. 170 of these are in the London Boroughs.
It is anticipated that the final total will be over 1,000 separate events. The list already runs to 118 pages on the website. [Note: 1000+ events have now been registered]. All these are locally organised, open to non-members of any club, and generally free. Among the organisers, the local authorities are the biggest single group, some 20% of all events. Sustrans will be organising over 80 picnic rides. Statistics from last year show that about 200,000 people took part, of whom 11.7% were beginners/novices and 53.7% were not members of any cycling club or bike users group.
In media terms there will be help for the week on the BBCs Blue Peter website; Tescos Healthy Living website; and even the Archers are taking a lively interest in cycling in their current story line. We hope that they will also plug Bike Week specifically.
The Department for Transport agreed to fund the organisation of Bike Week until the end of the 2003 event. Steve Norris, chairman of the National Cycling Strategy Board, has said that he will not recommend further government funding unless some sponsorship money is also forthcoming for 2004 onwards.
Darnton said: "On behalf of the NCSB I am trying to find such a sponsor or partner. The total cost of the organisation is not high about £77 000. This year, the Department for Transport will fund £56 000; the BA and ACT together contribute £4000; the Regional Assemblies £13 750.
"A sponsor for the scheme who contributed, say, £25 000 to £30 000 would ensure that national and regional government contributions make up the balance required.
"I wondered whether any bicycle company would be interested in such a promotional opportunity? If so, do contact me before we embark on a serious search in a wider potential group.
"Looking at this years activities, I feel that the Bike Week organisers have been unable to galvanise the retail trade to get behind the event as a motivational opportunity. I am proposing to hold an initial meeting with Nick Harvey of Bike Week, representatives of the Bicycle Association and the ACT to explore how together we might make more of this Week."
Bike Week organiser Nick Harvey welcomed Darnton's letter but said "if Bike Week is to be developed in the future to meet the needs of the NCS board and the cycle industry then we'd want to ramp up the budget to at keast £100 000 for 2004, half of which could come from the industry or an outside sponsor, and we would reasonably expect match funding to come from the Department of Transport."