Sunday, 13 December 2015

Veloforum 2015 in the Ukraine

This is a video of the Ukraine Veloforum which I attended in my role as Vice President for the ECF. This brings together a group of young activists and advocates from across the country who work hard on behalf of cyclists in a challenging context. Enjoy

Sunday, 15 November 2015

November Update

As we approach the final few weeks of the year I have summarised some of the activity at National Office and more locally to help us reflect on progress and future work. I think it has been a successful year and we have started to see some important outcomes for cycling from the new management team.

Following the member group survey into how CTC could best support groups, groups are being offered the opportunity to attend a single day ride leader course. The course covers route planning, insurance, data protection, how to lead a ride, running events, safeguarding and incident management. All participants take away a professional 60-page course manual for future reference.  The first pilot events were held in Guildford and Blackpool with ~ 50 participants on the 20th September. These went very well with great feedback from participants, and 30+ courses will follow across the UK. See:  
The CTC media team has grown since last year. The team now comprises, David Murray, Head of Communications and Campaigns, Victoria Hazeal, Senior Communications Officer and Tony Upfold, Communications and Media Officer. The team are available to support local groups with advice on how to build effective media relations and write press releases and can be contacted on 01483 238 315 or via

Campaigning update
One of our campaigns successes with the ability to make a big impact this year has been that the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy which reached the statute book earlier this year, through the Infrastructure Act. This legislation creates an obligation on government and local authorities to make clear their cycling infrastructure spending plans in the same way that they do for roads investment.

The Trails for Wales campaign took up the opportunity in Wales to support the Welsh Assembly Government’s proposal to widen off-road cycling access across the public rights of way network. The campaign saw over 4,000 people send in letters of support to the formal government consultation, which is the highest volume of responses that the Welsh Assembly has ever received for any formal consultation.

Our Zero Stars for Eurostar campaign working alongside the ECF (European Cyclists Federation) started on 14 October. It is in response to Eurostar’s plans to force cyclists to breakdown and box-up their bikes to carry them on their train services, at a cost of £30. In the first 24 hours we received the support of 6,000 people, who wrote to Eurostar’s CEO asking that he rescind this decision before it was planned to come into force on 1 November 2015. I am delighted to say that this combined effort achieved its aims with news last Friday of the backdown of Eurostar, A huge well done to  Roger, the media team and all involved.

Elections in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: ‘Vote Bike’ and ‘We Walk, We Cycle We Vote’
Following the success of Vote Bike in the run-up to the UK General election earlier this year, we are in discussions about how to mobilise the ‘cycling vote’ for the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish elections in May 2016.  However we will need to develop different “policy calls” for each of the three devolved countries for voters to ask their candidates to support.

The policy-calls for Vote Bike in Wales are likely to be (a) the funding needed to implement the Active Travel (Wales) Act and (b) implementing the Trails for Wales proposals.  Likewise in Northern Ireland, the call is likely to be for the funds needed to deliver the very promising Bicycle Strategy for Northern Ireland, launched in August by former Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy AM. 

In Scotland, CTC’s New Cycling Development Officer in Scotland, Suzanne Forup is  leading on a campaign for a jointly agreed walking and cycling manifesto, under the banner ‘We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote’, collaborating closely with Pedal on Parliament.  This will greatly strengthen CTC’s campaigning visibility and credibility in Scotland.

Inclusive Cycling
During the Spring half term holidays, we launched our Big Bike Revival campaign, aimed at people who own bikes but have not ridden them for a year or more. By joining forces with 90 bike recycling centres across England, Halfords and Raleigh, we ran over 1,600 events in a two week period, encouraging over 30,000 people to take part and fixing over 24,000 bikes. The campaign also reached over 3 million people online with our message to fall back in love with cycling. We hope to repeat this campaign every year with Department for Transport funding.

CTC is working with branding agency, Campfire, to review our brand. Member groups, partners and a sample of CTC members have been surveyed as part of the research phase. The aim of the review is to develop a brand and associated materials in order to provide CTC with a strong proposition for existing and prospective members and supporters. We aim to have rolled out the refreshed brand ahead of the 2016 cycling season, with a view to launching in April/May 2016.

Members’ conference
Based on feedback we received at our 2014 AGM, we saw the value of running various workshops that cover the breadth of our work, as an engagement tool with our members. On 10 October, we hosted our first annual Members’ conference at the University of Warwick. We were joined by Joe Saxton, a leading light in the voluntary sector, and Mark Colbourne, the London 2012 gold medal-winning Paralympic cyclist, to share ideas and best practice on effective campaigning, group and events promotion and cycling development. Feedback from the conference has been really positive and so we aim to run these events annually.

Local News
I am delighted that Jean Lakin from our Leicestershire and Rutland Member Group achieve 'highly commended' in the annual awards. Jean works relentlessly to support cycling in the group, across Leicestershire and the East Midlands. She steadfastly provides catering, often single handedly and volunteers to help with the many events that take place. Where would we be without Jean, a well deserved award.

In addition to this Andy Townsend from our Lincolnshire Member Group was nominated for and awarded a certificate of merit for his sustained and successful work on behalf of the county. Andy working with Rodney Jelfs has successfully made the council halt plans for a bypass in order to make better provision for cycle crossings as well as being a pivotal in getting new members and current members to cycle in the area. He launched a womens ride earlier this year, enticing a really great ambassador of cycling Melanie Carroll to take a lead role following her work with Breeze (BC). Finally I couldn’t miss the significant success when achieved when Andy managed to get the CTC exhibiting in the castle grounds at Lincoln for the National Championships which took part in the summer during a festival of cycling over the whole weekend. It was great to see the CTC in the centre of things and I was very proud to support Tim Newberry and Andy at the event. So for Andy a more than deserved this award.

My Election as Vice-President of ECF (European Cyclists Federation)
I was absolutely delighted at the beginning of the summer to be voted in against stiff competition from many other countries. I intend to link my work with CTC and ECF to maximize campaigning and supporting better, more and safer cycling for all.

Mince Pie Run
So my final words are to keep safe during these short days and long nights and decreasing temperatures and if you want to join hundreds of other cyclists  - The annual Mince Pie Run is on the 20th December when cyclists from near and far assemble at Belton Village Hall 10.30-12.30am. Most will arrive by bike and be rewarded by a hot drink and mince pie.

Jaki Lowe

East Midlands Regional Councillor and Trustee

Thursday, 23 July 2015

York Rally and Eroica Britannia

What a month June was for cycling events. Most notably for me the return of the York Rally as well as the second run of Eroica Britannia in Bakewell. 2 events in spectacular cycling areas bringing people together socially around our passion for cycling.

York Rally

Martyn Bolt, Councillor for Yorkshire and Humber, provided me with his comments on York Rally: 'It was an absolute pleasure to see York Rally back on the calendar this year, now under the stewardship of a fully voluntary committee. I toured the event and went out for a ride chatting to cyclists & CTC members as one of the region's CTC Councillors and there was unanimous praise from everyone I spoke to.

Naturally there have been changes to the format to reflect this but the foundations of this historic & traditional CTC event are in good hands, as seen by the camp site being very busy, and a good attendance from families

Trade tents, saddlebag sales & auctions were complimented by the displays from  cycling clubs & bodies and refreshment stalls along with a comprehensive ride programme and the return of the Sunday church service which I am told was at capacity.

The event is also supported by a sportive in September ,
Whilst the organisers are now hoping to return to an annual event, as we write the date cannot be confirmed  as it has to fit in with the small matter of horse racing on the Knavesmire

Watch the website  for future news'

I also spoke to Reg Tuckwood, a stalwart of our Nottinghamshire member group and he went along for the day and had a fabulous time meeting up with long and enduring acquaintances.

Eroica Britannia

I was torn between the events, and the only thing I can say is please please please plan better organisers to have these on different weekends next year. I had already committed to go to Eroica with friends when the dates for York came out. It was a fabulous event drawing people from all cycling backgrounds to a family event in the centre of Bakewell. Quite honestly it also drew in a lot of people who would never class themselves as cyclists but may use a bike from time to time. Over 40,000 people attended for this extravaganza. I was a CTC volunteer on the rides on Sunday and spent from 6am in a cool and wet busy road junction encouraging the brave cyclists on their way. A great weekend was had by all.

Jaki Lowe
East Midlands Councillor

Member Conference 10th October

We have been talking this year about the changes in National Office and too often that has felt like giving bad news. This year the format of events surrounding the AGM changed. Instead of having the networking event bolted on this year sees the first member conference being launched on 10th October at the University of Warwick and this feels like a really positive step forward.

This is something that I have been very keen to see to build better and more productive relationships and connections between our staff in National Office and our members. So here is some information and I hope that we will see many of you there.

This is the link to register your attendance:

There will also be information in the edition of Cycle coming out this week.

In summary (overall and then summarising each strand of workshops):
Cycling as a spectator sport and as sport to take part in has won over many more hearts in recent years, with some of our greatest British cyclists becoming household names too. So what could all of this mean for CTC? How could we benefit from this surge in public support for cycling? Is there a way that we could harness this admiration for the good of cycling? Can we turn would-be-cyclists into always-cyclists? Does this public support make for fewer barriers to cycling?
Our members’ conference is designed to answer these questions and more. We will explore how CTC could benefit most from this bicycle boom - We will showcase our successes and share our challenges with you. We also hope to inspire and equip you with new ways to support CTC’s work at a local level.
We are running six workshops as part of our members' conference. These are all designed to share best practice examples from local groups, members and volunteers, and to equip you with the resources and knowhow to take forwards great support and promotion of CTC in your area. Three will be held during the morning session and three during the afternoon session. As the sessions run at the same time, you can only select one morning workshop and one afternoon workshop.
In our Campaigns Workshops, we will be introducing you to the tools and methods you could use to make positive changes happen for cycling. Whether that's securing greater funding investment in infrastructure, improving and standardising the design standards used by local authorities when they create new cycling spaces, or taking action on cases of injustice through the courts, we will be showcasing our success stories and showing how to take positive steps locally in support for cycling.
In our workshops on making cycling accessible and welcoming to all, we will be joined by some of our colleagues who have taken part in either delivering or benefitting from our inclusive cycling projects. They will be telling us about the positive impact of our work on them and on their local communities. We will also be setting out some simple ways for you to make cycling accessible to all in your area.
In our workshops on promoting cycling in your local area, we will be talking about some of the great successes our local cycling groups and affiliate groups have experienced in recent months in recruiting new members to join them on their rides, and on their positive efforts to raise the profile of cycling and CTC in the local media. We will also be sharing some new resources and 'how to' guides to show you the simple steps to take to create a new CTC group.

Jaki Lowe
East Midlands Councillor and Trustee

Sunday, 12 July 2015

John Radford Memorial Ride

On Sunday 2 August 2015, Huddersfield and District CTC will hold a ride to honour and remember John Radford, a CTC Councillor who tragically lost his life on 5 November 2014 from injuries sustained after being knocked off his bike in July 2013. The ride is free but donations in aid of CTC’s Road Justice campaign, which John supported, will be gratefully accepted.

Jaki Lowe

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Recent Changes in the CTC

Over the last 12 months there have been many changes in National Office, with the executive team having to respond to a ever more challenging budget. Sadly many of those changes have impacted on staff. Recently I have had a number of representations from my members in connection with the latest changes which impacted on the function providing dedicated touring support.

The CEO Paul Touhy and his team of directors have a very challenging job, tasked with sustaining and growing CTC with a reducing budget and as a result had to look hard at how to achieve this. In reality in such a small organisation the options are few. The reality was that a very small number of people accessed the dedicated technical assistance that was available and this did not sustain retention of that function as it was. Council were consulted on this change and we could see that whilst it was regrettable, it was a decision taken in the best interests of the organisation.  Matt Malinder, the Membership Director intends to strengthen support to member groups as a result and will be liaising with you in coming weeks and months as he will want to know what you would like to see happen.

Paul and his team have already been very successful in bidding for central government funding so crucial to our long term plans and which also allows the CTC to get involved in activities which will raise its profile nationally and to all those cyclists who currently are not aware of its existence, or do not think its for them. Amongst other things this has enabled a successful pilot of The Big Bike Revival and puts the CTC in a more optimistic position starting 2015.

The emails I have received talk of technical touring functions being eradicated completely and this is not true. Members will continue to be able to access Technical and Touring features, Q&As and reviews in Cycle magazine, on CTC website and by dipping into the breadth of CTC members’ experience via the CTC forum.

Cycle touring remains a key strand of our strategy along with the many other forms of cycling in which people participate. What is different about the CTC is that we are potentially able to attract and represent the interests of all those cyclists. However as much as this is a unique positive feature of CTC it also presents a challenge for the executive, who have to determine how best to serve all of those interests. 

I assure you also as your councillor and someone who is very active in matters in and supporting council, that we are all fully involved and there is no sidelining taking place. In fact as well as being on the Operations Committee I have also undertook additional work supporting events for members, recruitment of the CEO, organising discussions with council itself on future facing challenges. I usually go to all the formal national committees and meetings. At AGM time I try to get to 2 or 3 member group meetings and I attend the East Midlands AGM and meetings a couple of times a year. I am also the equalities champion. I feel very strongly about the issues faced by cyclists in rural areas, as is the case in many parts of our region, more recently I made representation on the consultation on closures and changes to rail crossings across the region and how this impacted on the wonderful lanes we enjoy.

I can assure you also that for me personally it is important that CTC continues to be the natural home for people who see themselves as cycle tourists. I don't get out as consistently as many of you reading this might but I enjoy nothing more than a ride around the Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire countryside and touring across the UK and beyond. For the first 8 months of this year I was doing a lot of rides trying to improve my cycle fitness and during this time undertook some sportives. Whilst I enjoyed these I can honestly say that a perfect cycling day for me involves being with friends on a leisurely bike ride, at least one long stop for coffee, cake and a chat and being able to soak in our beautiful ever changing scenery.

I will be at the East Midlands AGM later this month and I hope to see you there. Your emails and views are shared with Matt Malinder, the Membership Director as they arrive and I will provide updates to this blog accordingly.

Jaki Lowe
CTC East Midlands Councillor