Friday, 30 August 2013

CTC: who do they represent these days?

This is not a critique of the CTC membership, nor of their magazine. It is a denunciation of their political approach.

So far this month we have

  1. The CTC endorsing the niceway code -the victim blaming shite from Scotland.
  2. The CTC issuing a welcoming note to the DfT's complete denial of the APPCG proposals. Yes, there's a hint of dissatisfaction, but it doesn't come out and say "a few months after announcing billions to be spent on roads, the DfT confirms it is prepared to do nothing to address the growing numbers of cyclists and pedestrians being killed on our streets, failing to even accept that cycling has a role to play in Britain's transport options, and instead trying to put us off with yet another recycled announcement of the crumbs pushed our way"
  3. It becoming clear that the CTC's school policy "more training needed", is actually at odds with how the CTC staff let their children cycle -because they know that infrastructure is the solution.
Given the CTC claims to represent cycling in Britain -and it is the organisation with the largest membership- it need to look hard at its actions and rethink them. In particular, it needs to stop thinking about the needs of its members -a niche group in a minority activity- and think of the needs of the cities -what will transform them without waiting for the cars to go away.

That comes down to quality infrastructure, which comes down to a government providing serious funding and the technical guidance needed for it. Which they are not going to do with the current DfT policy -so "welcoming" is a complete waste of time. 

The CTC needs to stop with the politeness, and come out with condemnation that makes headlines. The ABD do it after all, and they are three people who won't even let their dog join.

  1. Accept that massive infrastructure changes are the solution.
  2. Push it using the "save the children" argument, instead of "train the children and all will be well".
  3. Condemn failures of the DfT like this weeks announcement.
  4. Refuse to support victim-blaming niceway code campaigns -particularly when they divert funding from the cycling investments we really need.
It's too late for the CTC to re-issue a press release on the DfT report -but not too late for them to have a a harder hitting one ready for any unsatisfactory outcome from next weeks debate. Get the quotes ready from the vocal campaigners -including hembrow, get the the plans ready to double up the campaigning, not be fobbed off with DfT "nothing we can do" toilet-paper-grade reports.

And, the same week, publicly withdraw support for the niceway code on the basis that it is a victim blaming failure. 

There is no time to be wasted trying to politely hint that things could be better: that has been tried for 40 years and done nothing whatsoever.


  1. Hear Hear. The current approach of training, training, training, the odd splash of paint has comprehensively failed as a mechanism to get people riding bikes in any sizable numbers.

    Change is needed from our national cycling orgs as well as from national and local Govt

  2. One fine line to walk - being within delivered the Good Friday Agreement but equally staying cosy let the 'Lebensraum' of Sudatenland past and mission creep lead on to Poland, and the hell of Mr Schickelgruber's aspirations let loose.

    I am minded of the saying attributed to Theodore Roosevelt "Speak softly and carry a big stick" The skill here is to have the power of being able to speak softly with everyone well aware of that big stick.

    The fact that a cyclist's death in London can in just 24 hours get over 2500 cyclists out on the street, and the first debate in the Get Britain Cycling delivered a similarly large ride around Parliament Square. Those inside, with a place at the table will then see that Big Stick who are in many cases the membership of those cycling representatives at the table.

    Both the cycling reps and those they are negotiating with need to remember that big stick outside - even if you are the person carrying that big stick you have to keep it within your grasp - break that link and.....

  3. Good article. The CTC represent people who are into cycling but not particularly for sports. They do not represent the millions of people who, like the majority of the Dutch, would cycle as a means of transport but aren't interested in being defined as "cyclists".

  4. As a CTC member and Sustrans volunteer I'm dumbfounded that both organisations have lent their names to the nasty NiceWayCode. I'm now considering joining British Cycling when my CTC subs are due next month.

    1. Yes, do! I did! Moved from CTC to BC, that is! Bizarrely BC seems to "get" utility cycling better than the CTC. And they also give you insurance!

  5. All true.

    I'd just add, the CTC's bizarre approach to cycling to school isn't just a one-off - they did the same thing in "Cycletopia" a while back, using an example from Oxford and totally ignoring the infrastructure!