Wednesday, 15 February 2012

British Cycling Federation, "the voice of cycling" in Manchester?

I have just received the reply to my FoI request for the Memorandum of Understanding between Manchester City Council and British Cycling. Much of the document has been covered in black ink on the usual excuse that "the requested information is exempt from disclosure under the following qualified exemption - section 43: Commercial Interests."

There are very strong "commercial interests" in this agreement, not least because, as far as I know, Manchester City Council own the Velodrome, so British Cycling are their tenants. One can only assume that Manchester City Council would like to ensure a stable income from the rent paid and so it is in their interest to keep British Cycling here as long as possible, otherwise we will all be paying more council tax.

However, the one small section which was of greatest interest to me has come through unscathed, "7. Transport, Environment, Health Education and Social Cohesion."

The really worrying thing is the way in which the BCF, an organisation concerned with cycle racing, and maximising income for sports training is somehow given pride of place in the city of Manchester as "the voice of cycling" within the relevant policy forums.

This is a real problem for cycling in Manchester, because the BCF are advocates of the dangerism view of cycling. For example they strongly promote the wearing of helmets, even for closed road events like the Sky rides.

The biggest challenge facing Manchester City Council in increasing the level of cycling in the City is the need to significantly reduce the level of traffic in the city. British Cycling is hardly likely to support such moves when it receives a significant amount of money from a car manufacturer!

Still with the ConLibDem government squeezing the council's finances they need every penny they can get...


  1. Good Grief. That Fiat sponsorship article on the British Cycling website is like some kind of bad joke...

  2. Assuming the response was a PDF file, can you stick it up for us to see how well-redacted it was.

    for the BCF to say "we are the voice of cyclists" is indefensible. Nobody can say that any more than they can claim to be the voice of motorists (oh, wait, the AA, RAC and ABD do that), or the voice of taxpayers (oh, wait, the AA, RAC, ABD and the Taxpayers Alliance do that).

    The fact that the council accepted the BCF proposal shows how out of touch they are themselves

  3. BCFs riders do at least use the local roads - it's not at all unusual to see them on my commute, once I get out of the centre, heading towards Cheadle. (I do sometimes wonder if the BC Kit buys them any greater consideration from drivers - I suspect not, but you never know).

    So consider me agnostic in the "waily, waily, it's all sporty" detraction stakes.