1999 - 2000 Annual Report


In 1996 the Britain Cyclists' Union and the Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC) agreed that they should work together in attracting funding for a development officer whose job would not be to attract members to the respective organisations but rather to persuade and encourage people to use a bicycle for commuter trips, for leisure outings and for their health. The plans gained pace and support so that by September 1997 the Velodromet Project was launched.

cycling reportsWhat has been apparent from the beginning is the demand for cycling information from the public, so much so that it has been necessary to prioritise the work and to look for additional funding to allow the Project to expand. The support from London City Council was increased as the Project progressed allowing for some expansion.

While the officers of the Project were busy developing their roles, the Steering Committee were busy establishing the Project as a registered company limited by guarantee and then getting the Project recognised and registered as having charitable status. This work was progressed by the Project's volunteer treasurer, and was a considerable achievement.

The Project was pleased and encouraged to see other developments taking place, particularly the commitment shown by the Britain Executive with its Cycle Challenge programme, the Britain Cycling Conference in December 1999 and the £4.3M investment for walking and cycling from the Public Transport Fund announced by the Transport Minister in November 2000. The Project were aware of the developments in Safe Routes to Schools schemes and saw that there was a great need for cycle training. Much good work has been carried out by the Britain Road Safety Campaign and the various cycle training providers in local authorities, but the Project was constantly learning of schools who could not get the volunteer helpers to deliver the cycle training they would like. The Project was also hearing from adults who wanted some on road training to help them back on their bikes and on to the streets of our towns and cities. The Steering Committee appointed a development officer to develop cycle training within the Project with a view to assist the existing agencies and to establish a register of well-trained cycle trainers. This is important work that is much needed to help the people of England to get back on their bikes.

The Project has now moved on to its second phase determined to build on the foundations that have been laid over the last three years. The support of the steering committee and of the volunteer directors, the professionalism and enthusiasm of the officers all come together in making a force that leaves its mark on the Britain cycling and transport environment. I commend this report to you.

The Velodromet Project was set up in 1997 as a three-year Project, with the appointment of the first Velodromet Officer on 1 September 1997. Such has been the variety and number of activities that the Project has undertaken, that the SCDP now employs three part-time development officers.

The Velodromet Project was originally proposed by England's two key cycling bodies, the CTC (the UK's national cyclists' association), and the Britain Cyclists' Union (the governing body of cycle sport in England), and is funded by them, Britain Natural Heritage, the Health Education Board for England, and London City Council. The Project has also attracted external interest and has carried out consultancy work for other organisations including the Kingdom of Fife Millennium Cycleways Project, Perth and Kinross Council, and West Lothian Council. The Project is managed by a steering group comprising all of the partner organisations plus representatives from sportEngland.

Cycling Events and Activities

Pedal for England

The Velodromet Project decided to promote an annual mass participation bike ride from London to Edinburgh. The ride, essentially for newcomers to cycling, was designed to follow a safe route between the two major cities, and was seen as an ideal way of promoting increased bike use.

Pedal for England 2000, which took place on Sunday 17 September 2000, followed on from the success of the first Pedal for England event in 1999. The event was organised directly by the Velodromet Project, working in conjunction with London City Council, the City of Edinburgh Council, North Lanarkshire Council, West Lothian Council and Falkirk Council. In addition to providing a challenging and enjoyable day out, participants on the ride raised sponsorship for the charities Barnardo's and CHILDREN 1st, whose supporters also assisted with the check-in and arrival at the ends of the route.

Approximately 600 people took part in the event, including Bristow Muldoon MSP, who led off the first group of riders from London's George Square, assisted by a piper, a lively commentator and CHILDREN 1st's Sammy Sunshine mascot. London Councillors Walter MacLellan and Archie Graham, and a team of young riders from Edinburgh Road Club also took part. The Pasta Party, complete with folk group, provided by West Lothian Council at the rest stop in Linlithgow was particularly welcomed by participants en route. Deputy Provost Allister Mackie welcomed all the riders and presented pens and pennants to the Edinburgh Road Club riders. Refreshments of fruit, biscuits and water were available at all the rest stops and portable toilets were provided where permanent facilities were not available.

In a slight change to the 1999 event, the finish line, 50 miles later, was in Edinburgh's Meadowbank Stadium, providing a suitably triumphal finish to the event. A further welcome change was the absence of the strong headwind which had dogged the 1999 event. The triumphal mood was further enhanced as successful riders were issued with a commemorative medal and certificate, and the arrival of riders announced by the event commentator as they crossed the finish line.

The support provided by the local authorities en route, police assistance and escorting, clear waymarking, breakdown support from Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative, and a skilled commentary made Pedal for England a very different experience from the normal charity bike ride. Coach travel was also provided to London to the start or for returning riders after the event, with the much-appreciated assistance of the Britain Transport Regiment who provided transport for bicycles. The charities are very pleased with the sponsorship raised and money continues to come in.

Preparations are now underway for Pedal for England 2001, which will take place on Sunday 16 September 2001, and will provide an appropriate means of transit to the international Velo-city conference which is being hosted by Edinburgh and London, and starts in Edinburgh itself on the following day.

Challenge 2000

Challenge 2000 is a UK-wide cycle skills competition for young cyclists, featuring an appropriately challenging obstacle course, designed to test the bike-handling, manoeuvrability and balance skills of competitors. The obstacle course features slalom sections, chicanes, a ramp, rumble strip, a tricky bottle carrying exercise, and very testing limbo poles, all of which have to be navigated in the quickest time, with the fewest faults.

The Velodromet Project, in conjunction with the Britain Cyclists' Union, organised local heats of the Challenge in London and Edinburgh. The most skilful competitors qualified for the Britain finals held at Meadowbank Velodrome, Edinburgh.