What is CUK now?

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CJ
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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby CJ » 30 Jun 2016, 5:27pm

Philip Benstead wrote:QUESTION

Is cycle touring and leisure cycle a sport?

• Sport comes from a shortening of disport (Middle English), formed, via French, from Latin dis ‘away’ and portare ‘carry’ used in much the same way as the expression ‘to take someone out of themselves’. Sport meant any kind of entertainment, and only started to be used in the modern sense of physical activities with set rules in the late 18th century.

Nice research Phil.

So: had the bicycle been invented in the 17th century, cycle touring might perhaps have been called sport. But it wasn't and the key phrase I take from the above passage is: "in the modern sense".

In the modern sense, as defined by the Sports England a few years ago (much to Kevin Mayne's misplaced indignation) the kind of cycling CTC is, was and IMHO should be concerned with, is NOT sporty.

We are, were and should be about the use of the bike for some other purpose than the tail-chase pursuit of merely getting 'better' at cycling. The great thing about our kind of cycling, as a way of going places - a most delightful way if I may say so - is how it nevertheless smuggles healthy exercise into the lives of those who are too lazy or simply don't have the time to walk that far. We are not sporty, but we get fit anyway.

To me it seems that touring and transport cycling are two sides of the same coin. Indeed it is difficult to say where one ends and the other starts. If I go the pretty way to work, although it takes longer, am I not in some sense touring? Perhaps you think my definition of touring is too broad. Well I could say the same about your definition of practical transport. If you ride to work so fast you need a shower when you get there you have indeed re-purposed the journey as sport. (NOBODY takes a shower after walking to work - or cycling there in Holland.) Or perhaps you need to change your clothes because your MTB has showered you with mud from the filthy bridlepaths you took. You may find that fun, but it's not really a practical way to go. Most people do not cycle like that in countries where most people do cycle. And for many cyclists, their definition of what is practical has a strong eco-political bias. They'll put up with all manner of inconveniences in order to keep true to their beliefs. And there's nothing wrong with that. I've done all of these things myself.

So lets get back to touring - in the broadest sense of the word. What's so great about that? How did it ever come to pass that a bunch of 'mere' touring cyclists founded, funded and governed Britain's main cycle campaigning organisation? It's inevitable. Every cycle transport campaign is by definition composed of people who like using bikes to go places so much that they want to campaign about it. If going to work by bike is nice, going to nicer places is even nicer, so the same people tend to be into 'touring' too - even if the only touring they have time for is the long way to work or a ride out into the countryside at the weekend. The proof of this is that all the successful cycle transport campaigns in other more cycle-friendly countries are also heavily into cycle touring - in the broad sense of the word. The ADFC in Germany for example, does far more for touring than CTC has lately done: it has researched and established all the long-distance routes that criss-cross that country and publishes a national series of cycling maps covering the whole country at 1:150k scale and favourite touring areas at 1:75k.

Touring, when it comes down to it, is nothing more than a whole lot of using a bike for transport. And it's the fun part. Lets face it, cycling to work can be pretty grim, and repetitive. It does not of itself inspire any great enthusiasm or campaigning zeal. And you don't really need to join anything in order to do it - not any more than you need to join something because you walk to work. (There used to be a Pedestrians Association, but almost nobody joined, so it rebranded as Living Streets and became a grant-seeking rather than member-supported charity.) Third party insurance? Pah. You are no more likely to damage another person or their property by riding a bike than whilst doing a whole lot of other normal everyday things.

Fact: if people are to part with significant amounts of their hard-earned they need to be getting more out of cycling than the journey to work. They need to be some kind of cycling enthusiast. And which cycling enthusiasm has the best fit with promoting cycling for all? That will be cycle touring of course. And that's because touring is a mild enthusiasm. Tourists are criticised for that by cyclists who consider themselves more serious, but being less serious is what keeps tourists grounded in reality. Tourists are easily put off from cycling in less pleasant places, places where only the brave, thrill-seeking or no-option cyclist will go. I'm talking about main roads tolerated by roadies in pursuit of speed, rough trails sought out by MTBers, and the stupid barriers plus third-rate shared-use footways tolerated by those who have no option but to cycle there. What is wanted for the promotion of cycle-touring is exactly the same mix of traffic calmed roads and traffic-free paths (built to Dutch standards) as will be required to make cycling so pleasant and convenient that even the non-cycling British public will do it. CTC/CUK needs to hook into the touring enthusiasm in order to ensure a continued and reliable stream of membership funding, from the one group of cycling enthusiasts who are completely and unreservedly in favour of the infrastructural changes needed to get non cyclists cycling.
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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby reohn2 » 30 Jun 2016, 6:29pm

CJ
Never a truer word was written,and which yet again also proves (to me at least)how CTC/CUK lost it's way a while ago,when it went corporate/charity.
It seeks grants and does just enough for it's donors to secure those grants,and no more,and why I for one opted out.
Thanks again CJ for the post above,your insight and your years of service that was swept aside by the 'club' you love.

PS,Sorry for getting soppy :wink:
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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby Bmblbzzz » 1 Jul 2016, 9:03pm

Very interesting post, CJ.

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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby Bmblbzzz » 1 Jul 2016, 9:05pm

Just a thought: if sport is "carrying one away from oneself" does it result in ecstasy? (from "standing outside of oneself") :D

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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby mjr » 2 Jul 2016, 9:28pm

CJ wrote:And which cycling enthusiasm has the best fit with promoting cycling for all? That will be cycle touring of course. And that's because touring is a mild enthusiasm. Tourists are criticised for that by cyclists who consider themselves more serious, but being less serious is what keeps tourists grounded in reality. Tourists are easily put off from cycling in less pleasant places, places where only the brave, thrill-seeking or no-option cyclist will go.

And that's the main reason why I disagree that tourists are good campaigners. When faced with difficulty, most will just ride another way. It's the riders who have to face that difficulty every day who are motivated to pressure councils to fix specific problems. I feel that may be why the LCC model for the space4cycling campaign got a bit lost in CTC's national version which focused on generalities, rather than specific problems in each division arising from those.

Tourists also seem generally more willing to accept short stretches of road that are difficult enough to discourage most transport cyclists. No need to open a greenway: there's already a road on the edge of that industrial estate!

What is wanted for the promotion of cycle-touring is exactly the same mix of traffic calmed roads and traffic-free paths (built to Dutch standards) as will be required to make cycling so pleasant and convenient that even the non-cycling British public will do it.

While I agree, I'm not convinced that UK touring cyclists care about that much as long as there are enough quiet country lanes left. So they don't seem like a sustainable funding stream for campaigning...
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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby Bmblbzzz » 2 Jul 2016, 10:11pm

There are plenty of country lanes left but they're generally not that quiet nowadays.

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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby JohnW » 2 Jul 2016, 10:25pm

reohn2 wrote:CJ
Never a truer word was written,and which yet again also proves (to me at least)how CTC/CUK lost it's way a while ago,when it went corporate/charity.
It seeks grants and does just enough for it's donors to secure those grants,and no more,and why I for one opted out.
Thanks again CJ for the post above,your insight and your years of service that was swept aside by the 'club' you love.

PS,Sorry for getting soppy :wink:

+1 to that John - except I'm still a member and currently I've no intention of changing that.

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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby CJ » 5 Jul 2016, 12:11pm

mjr wrote:
CJ wrote:And which cycling enthusiasm has the best fit with promoting cycling for all? That will be cycle touring of course. And that's because touring is a mild enthusiasm. Tourists are criticised for that by cyclists who consider themselves more serious, but being less serious is what keeps tourists grounded in reality. Tourists are easily put off from cycling in less pleasant places, places where only the brave, thrill-seeking or no-option cyclist will go.

And that's the main reason why I disagree that tourists are good campaigners. When faced with difficulty, most will just ride another way. It's the riders who have to face that difficulty every day who are motivated to pressure councils to fix specific problems.

Very few cycletourists do not also use a bike for everyday transport. Be that as it may however, I agree that a mild enthusiasm does not make a good campaigner. For that we also need those who are enthused by the eco-political dimension of cycling. Left to their own devices however, cycle-campaigns fall too easily into the trap of measuring their success simply in miles of path - no matter how poor. An alliance of eco-political and sporting cyclists meanwhile, favours a two-speed approach to campaigning, where narrow, circuitous and interrupted side-paths are accepted as a solution for the timid, so long as the brave can still use the road. Thus the illegal footway riding of a great many 'distress cyclists', who have no option due to youth, poverty or lack of driving license, is legitimised, without affecting our rights. But it's quite another thing to exercise those rights, once the big round blue bike signs go up on the pavement! Far from keeping everyone happy, the two-speed approach satisfies only the two extremes of cycling, whilst punishing the majority in the middle.

For an example of this fatally flawed approach to I give you the Bedford Turbo Roundabout, which according to CTC's campaigner, Chris Peck, is okay since one can still cycle on the road! Chris Peck has since left CTC to work for UCI - the World cycle racing organisation. If CTC/CUK policy were still shaped by touring cyclists, I do not think we would be lending our approval to half-baked schemes such as that!

mjr wrote:
CJ wrote:What is wanted for the promotion of cycle-touring is exactly the same mix of traffic calmed roads and traffic-free paths (built to Dutch standards) as will be required to make cycling so pleasant and convenient that even the non-cycling British public will do it.

While I agree, I'm not convinced that UK touring cyclists care about that much as long as there are enough quiet country lanes left. So they don't seem like a sustainable funding stream for campaigning...

But there aren't enough quiet country lanes. Some 'lanes' are now as busy as a B-road and the network is increasingly fractured as new main roads are built across them and old ones 'improved' to virtual motorway standard. Plus a lot of us have now toured in the more cycle-friendly countries of northern Europe. We know what a PROPER cycle path looks like, that it serves all cyclists (apart from the speed-obsessed fringe) perfectly well, and we want nothing less over here. And touring is not an exclusively rural pursuit: many of us like exploring towns too - if they're cycling-friendly towns. And I shouldn't have to, but feel I must repeat: most of also use bikes for everyday transport.

Tourists need campaigning and are happy to pay for it, so long as the campaigners don't insult us with indifference. And campaigners need tourists, not just for their money but also to maintain perspective. I reckon that if what you're campaigning for isn't good enough to attract cycle-tourists TO your area, it isn't good enough to attract non-cyclists FROM your area.
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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby Vorpal » 5 Jul 2016, 12:35pm

IMO, it takes all sorts to campaign successfully. That advantage of touring cyclists is that they know what it is like in other places. They have something to compare against. Transport cyclists may not know how good it can be.
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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby mjr » 5 Jul 2016, 5:16pm

CJ wrote:Left to their own devices however, cycle-campaigns fall too easily into the trap of measuring their success simply in miles of path - no matter how poor.

That's a lovely stereotype but it's more true of national cycling charities like Sustrans than grassroots cycle campaigns who adopted a pragmatic approach to functional cycling infrastructure that embraces non-path measures like modal filtering and 20mph long before CTC.

Far from keeping everyone happy, the two-speed approach satisfies only the two extremes of cycling, whilst punishing the majority in the middle.

Vigorous agreement on that, but:

For an example of this fatally flawed approach to I give you the Bedford Turbo Roundabout, which according to CTC's campaigner, Chris Peck, is okay since one can still cycle on the road! Chris Peck has since left CTC to work for UCI - the World cycle racing organisation. If CTC/CUK policy were still shaped by touring cyclists, I do not think we would be lending our approval to half-baked schemes such as that!

And yet, the system that led to that approval was set up while it was still the CTC and we know of no action to stop similar schemes being approved in future, do we?

Meanwhile, although I'm personally disappointed that we didn't succeed to get our comments revised or convince the local campaign to withdraw its support, the CycleNation campaign groups made some changes inside CycleNation that aim to avoid a repeat (including changing representatives and adopting space4cycling more widely).

It seems rather perverse to use an example of CTC approving junk and refusing to change its view as an example of why touring cyclists are better campaigners than campaign groups.

Plus a lot of us have now toured in the more cycle-friendly countries of northern Europe. We know what a PROPER cycle path looks like, that it serves all cyclists (apart from the speed-obsessed fringe) perfectly well, and we want nothing less over here. And touring is not an exclusively rural pursuit: many of us like exploring towns too - if they're cycling-friendly towns. And I shouldn't have to, but feel I must repeat: most of also use bikes for everyday transport.

A lot of campaigners have now toured or day-tripped in the more cycle-friendly countries of Europe, too. I've ridden in France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain in the last few years. They don't demand one's CTC card before letting you ride a bike abroad.

Maybe many tourists explore towns and maybe most tourists use bikes for transport - but all transport cyclists use bikes for transport and that's why cycling transport groups should lead the campaigns. It's a core interest for cycling transport groups and only a side interest for touring groups. Touring cyclists who also use bikes for transport are welcome in transport groups, of course, just like sports cyclists who also ride for transport.

Tourists need campaigning and are happy to pay for it, so long as the campaigners don't insult us with indifference. And campaigners need tourists, not just for their money but also to maintain perspective. I reckon that if what you're campaigning for isn't good enough to attract cycle-tourists TO your area, it isn't good enough to attract non-cyclists FROM your area.

I'd agree that cycletourism is a good benchmark and something to encourage areas to cater for, as there is a lot of overlap, but it's frankly insulting to suggest that only tourists have perspective or money. Campaigners should lead campaigns. Tourists are welcome to be campaigners too, if they really can maintain perspective and not only think about tourists.

CTC/CUK often hasn't been good at maintaining perspective. One example which comes to mind: this year's CUK-delivered Bike Week artwork was all-helmet, no trailers, no trikes, no 'bents, no e-bikes. It borders on unusable by broad cycling groups.
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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby John Catt » 5 Jul 2016, 10:30pm

CJ wrote:So: had the bicycle been invented in the 17th century, cycle touring might perhaps have been called sport. But it wasn't and the key phrase I take from the above passage is: "in the modern sense".

In the modern sense, as defined by the Sports England a few years ago (much to Kevin Mayne's misplaced indignation) the kind of cycling CTC is, was and IMHO should be concerned with, is NOT sporty.


I'd point out that for the purposes of the CTC M&AA it is the definition used for charity law that applies. To quote from LawInSport http://www.lawinsport.com/blog/blackstone-chambers/item/how-does-the-law-define-a-sport


S.2(2)(g) of the Charites Act 2006 includes the “advancement of amateur sport” in the list of descriptions of purposes that are capable of being charitable if advanced for the public benefit. That Act contains a specific (and broad) definition of “sport”: “sports or games which promote health by involving physical or mental skill or exertion”. Perhaps unsurprisingly in the light of that definition, the Charity Commission decided on 28 February 2011 in Hitchin Bridge Club2 that bridge was “a game involving high level mental skill and exertion of the type which Parliament would have contemplated as falling within ‘the advancement of amateur sport’”. It also relied on research evidence of the potential health benefits of playing bridge.

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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby CJ » 6 Jul 2016, 4:51pm

mjr wrote:
CJ wrote:Left to their own devices however, cycle-campaigns fall too easily into the trap of measuring their success simply in miles of path - no matter how poor.

That's a lovely stereotype but it's more true of national cycling charities like Sustrans than grassroots cycle campaigns who adopted a pragmatic approach to functional cycling infrastructure that embraces non-path measures like modal filtering and 20mph long before CTC.

At the time when grassroots cycle campaigns sprouted, I was an ordinary CTC member in Nottingham and saw exactly this "never mind the quality just count the miles" approach from the young Pedals Nottingham campaign. Nottinghamshire CTC, on the other hand, withheld its approval from the likes of the Castle Boulevard tree-dodging slalom and preferred that the council spend its limited cycling funds on such measures as one-way exemptions and gaps in residential road closures. But back then we didn't have a buzz-word like "modal filtering" for that kind of thing.

To their credit, the leaders of Pedals Nottingham eventually learned that bad paths could be worse than no paths.

mjr wrote:
CJ wrote:For an example of this fatally flawed approach to I give you the Bedford Turbo Roundabout, which according to CTC's campaigner, Chris Peck, is okay since one can still cycle on the road! Chris Peck has since left CTC to work for UCI - the World cycle racing organisation. If CTC/CUK policy were still shaped by touring cyclists, I do not think we would be lending our approval to half-baked schemes such as that!

And yet, the system that led to that approval was set up while it was still the CTC. ...SNIP... It seems rather perverse to use an example of CTC approving junk and refusing to change its view as an example of why touring cyclists are better campaigners

Still called CTC, but already a full-blown charity, with 'sport' now at the top of its revised aims and objectives, management and council ruled by erstwhile racers and yours truly just about the only touring cyclist left in the office. Having worked there for 30 years I was SHOCKED that one of our campaigners could approve such a thing. I cite approval of the Bedford roundabout as an example of what you can expect more of now it's called CUK, now the organisation no longer feels it has any special relationship with cycle touring, and is thus set to become ever more dependent upon public funds. And we know that he who pays the piper, calls the tune.

mjr wrote:A lot of campaigners have now toured or day-tripped in the more cycle-friendly countries of Europe, too. I've ridden in France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain in the last few years.

Good for you. So you are a tourist too, whether you like the title or not! And when you've added a few German-speaking lands to that touring tally, you may have a better idea of the interim measures by which a country with a similar population density and historical level of cycling to Britain, may progress towards the Dutch model.

mjr wrote:I'd agree that cycletourism is a good benchmark and something to encourage areas to cater for, as there is a lot of overlap, but it's frankly insulting to suggest that only tourists have perspective or money. Campaigners should lead campaigns. Tourists are welcome to be campaigners too, if they really can maintain perspective and not only think about tourists.

And it's just as frankly insulting to suggest that they can't.

It has been said that the promotion of cycling is far too serious a matter to be left to serious cyclists. And I've met some scarily serious campaigners! Their eco-political motivations often mix up a load of unhelpful side-issues with the cycling, that detract from the general usefulness of the end result. For example I've seen cycle campaigners far too readily agree that a tarmac surface would be unnatural and "urbanise the countryside" - even when it runs through a town! Result: a filthy and skid-prone gravel path that hides broken glass, wears out chains and is washed away whenever the river floods!

As for money: someone has to be getting a lot more out of cycling than a cheap commute before they'll shell out more than 40 quid a year to support an organisation. That quite a few people who don't do much more cycling than that nevertheless support Sustrans and/or CUK, is down to the fear factor of cycling in a non-cycling country. Every time the Gubment or Police did something nasty, CTC would put on members. Daniel Cadden's case was worth thousands! The corollary of that is if/when we actually succeed in our intention of making this a more cycle-friendly country, any increase in the number of people cycling is unlikely to be reflected in the membership of cycle campaigning organisations, which may paradoxically decline. Germans, for example, are estimated to do five times as much cycling as Britons, and yet the ADFC, Germany's really go-ahead national cycling organisation, had only twice as many members as CTC (at the time I made the comparison). ADFC maintains that membership by also appealing strongly to Germans' wanderlust. In addition to the maps I mentioned before, their magazine is stuffed with lovely photos and articles about places to tour by bike, in Germany and further afield (but contains nothing about cycle sport). It is clear that travel and transport go hand in hand and that CUK neglects the former at its long if not short-term peril.

mjr wrote:CTC/CUK often hasn't been good at maintaining perspective. One example which comes to mind: this year's CUK-delivered Bike Week artwork was all-helmet, no trailers, no trikes, no 'bents, no e-bikes. It borders on unusable by broad cycling groups.

Correction: The Charity that now calls itself CUK hasn't been good at maintaining perspective. I do not recognise anything done since it became about sport, as being done by CTC.
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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby CJ » 6 Jul 2016, 5:23pm

John Catt wrote:I'd point out that for the purposes of the CTC M&AA it is the definition used for charity law that applies. To quote from LawInSport http://www.lawinsport.com/blog/blackstone-chambers/item/how-does-the-law-define-a-sport SNIP.

Whatever: I'm darned sure Sustrans didn't have to be about sport in order to get approved as a cycling charity.

I foresee the day when, just like in Holland, Germany, Denmark etc., the right to ride on fast main roads must be sacrificed in order to get good-quality cycle paths built beside them, paths that all but a sporty minority are very happy to use. How much simpler would it be for CUK to represent the transport needs of the majority, if it did not also pretend to be about sport.
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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby Bmblbzzz » 6 Jul 2016, 5:44pm

To say that tourists or utility cyclists do or do not make good campaigners is surely a vast generalisation. You wouldn't think that racers would make good campaigners, and several might be cited as unwitting bad influences (pronouncements on helmets etc) but then Chris Boardman seems to make a very good campaign frontman.

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Re: What is CUK now?

Postby reohn2 » 6 Jul 2016, 6:07pm

Bmblbzzz wrote:To say that tourists or utility cyclists do or do not make good campaigners is surely a vast generalisation. You wouldn't think that racers would make good campaigners, and several might be cited as unwitting bad influences (pronouncements on helmets etc) but then Chris Boardman seems to make a very good campaign frontman.


Chris Boardman is a tourist/utility rider and ex racer.

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