British Cycling Federation

Yesterday the annual report of British Cycling popped through my letter box. Normally it would go straight in to the recycling bin but as 2009 is the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of the BCF (and also the 50th year of my cycling “career”) I thought I would take a look. And yes, the President, Preston’s own Brian Cookson, referred to the anniversary in the opening sentence of his address.

There is a nice graph showing membership figures. Now either this graph comes from the Gordon Brown school of statistics, ie it is all bollocks, or my assumption that cycling is a dying sport is seriously mistaken. The BCF starts in 1959 with 23,000 members and steadily declines to the early seventies when the nadir of 10,000 is reached. Incidentally this coincides with my racing career when there seemed to be a race locally every week end. From the low point it is steadily upwards until 2008 when the 1959 membership is finally surpassed with another 4000 members added in 2009.

All this seems remarkable and at odds with what I see, or think I see, out on the road. But perhaps it is not too surprising that membership now exceeds the 1959 level as I see from the report that 100 full time staff are employed in “Participation”! In contrast my 1961 racing licence was signed by G.T. Bassett “hon. secretary” and I suspect that the sole employee at BCF headquarters would be a typist. By 1964 however Len Unwin was general manager and presumably the staff had doubled to two.

I am sure it all makes perfect sense and I know that Brian Cookson is an honourable man. I just can’t understand why I don’t see more people riding bikes.



  1. Well it must be, that the growth in membership of British Cycling is because part-time cyclists need membership to insure themselves against accidents.

    British Cycling does offer some good services if you get knocked off your bike which I have not had to use yet thankfully.

    I believe there are movements in British cycling to get people racing again — and you only have to see the growth in Cyclosportives as a good thing. Like the events run by SRS Events

    Although Cyclosportives do need some policing by cycling bodies before things get out of hand in my opinion.

    The growth in traffic in most places is a problem for road races but closed circuit racing like the nocturne series is a great way to promote the sport to the general public.

    Mind you I am a few generations behind you green jersey I expect when you talk of less people riding bikes your comparing it to the days when most peoples place of work was only 5 miles away maximum and they would cycle to work, cycle to the shops, cycle to the pub, & YES Cycle everywhere the with friends to explore their area they lived in. They were different times, although due to the rapid approach of peak oil we may see the return of the bicycle as the major form of transport again very soon.

    House wives on EPO just so they can get the shopping done quickly on their push bikes, that’s the future.

  2. leopard said

    I would like to report the Southport cycling club now has a record number of members. Maybe its the flat roads or is it something in the water?
    Could it be the friendliness of you northerners (deep irony).

  3. Wislon said

    I dont know why Greenjersey has the misguided belief that northeners are unfriendly – can he provide facts to back up his assertion?

  4. Great story, I didn’t thought this would be so great when I read the link.

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