The CTC - is it vulnerable?

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Simon L6
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The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby Simon L6 » 21 Jan 2010, 11:27am

I return to this matter because the risible suggestion of some kind of divorce between the Club and Trust is still doing the rounds. It is, however interesting to follow through the argument, because it shines a light on the reliance of the Trust on the Club, and, following from that, the vulnerability of the Trust to a loss of income to the Club.

At present, according to the paper to be presented to this Saturday's Council meeting, the Club donates £870,000 to the Trust. This includes about £170,000 for campaigning.

The subscription income of the Club is a bit above £1.5million

Members might therefore surmise that the Club could be run on a subscription income of about £20 a year, rather than the present rate of £36

If a competitor were to set up shop, and a percentage of members paying their subscriptions annually were to go to that competitor then the loss of subscription income would be £36 per member - but the saving to the Club would only be about £18 a member - and that's assuming that there are no economies of scale in the administration of the Club. So, were 3000 members to go to a competitor, then the Club's income would diminish by £108,000, and a decrease in expenditure of, at the very most, £54,000.

Now consider - if you were going to start a competitor to the CTC in 2010 you'd do things differently. It would follow the Amazon or Direct Line model. You'd only accept payment online. You'd publish a magazine online (there's already three excellent on-line free cycling magazines, and the latest is attracting mainstream advertising). So, while the per member costs or the CTC was rising, you'd be making economies. You wouldn't even have to have to make it a club - it could be a straight commercial deal.

Of course the USP of the CTC is the 3rd party insurance and the rides leaders insurance. People join for any number of reasons, but this is the one which is least subject to competition. You can go to BC, but it's pretty much the same deal, and BC doesn't offer the touring rider, or the supporter of campaigns, much, if anything. In London there's the LCC, which is, in many ways, a better bet, particularly if you live toward the centre of London where the LCC has signed up over 100 bike shops for its discount scheme. There's nothing to stop people in Newcastle joining the LCC, but they'd not be terribly interested in the Lambeth one-way system....But - to return to the insurance. There's a myth about that this is terribly hard to get - that nobody would touch any body other than the established organisations. I say myth, because ten minutes research turns up an underwriter who will do the deed for a new entrant. Bear in mind that the 3rd party cover costs about £2.30 per member (we do pretty well to re-sell it to members of affiliated clubs for (I think) £8.

Which brings us to another line of competition. The CTC does pretty well out of affiliates. A competitor would look at affiliates, some of which are pretty big, as an easy market to target. The Willesden Cycling Club, with 200 members, moved from BC to CTC because they could get more insurance for the money - but they'd be daft not to look at anybody coming along with a similar product for less money.

So those (presuming there is more than one) proposing a divorce should think on this....a small competitor could do a lot of damage to the CTC's balance sheet. The start-up costs could be low. Selection of members could reduce the admin costs. There'd be no need for expensive national coverage. And they wouldn't be carrying the 'burden' of life memberships.

All of which is very bad news - unless the CTC is in a position to make a transparent offer to members. Of course many members have 'CTC' written through them like a stick of rock - but the irony is that these are the very members who give the most and who have been so lamentably unsupported over the last few years.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby Edwards » 21 Jan 2010, 5:11pm

Simon L6 wrote:All of which is very bad news - unless the CTC is in a position to make a transparent offer to members. Of course many members have 'CTC' written through them like a stick of rock - but the irony is that these are the very members who give the most and who have been so lamentably unsupported over the last few years.


Simon are the above type of member the most likely to be vulnerable. As I understand they are the most likely to have life membership.

Personally I can not justify the cost of CTC membership. At the moment I am not very likely to need the insurance cover. The Cycle magazine list the CTC insurers to claim for you if needed. Yet the same company works on a no win on fee for anybody and the phone call is free.
I would imagine a lot of other people are watching finances as I. So a club that was even affiliated but with lower membership costs to the CTC might even get a foot hold.
The CTC is probably at its most vulnerable now due to the uncertainty they have created by appearing not to give real support to individuals who ride for non commuting purposes.
I wonder if most of the senior CTC management know how to get north of Watford without getting lost.
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Simon L6
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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby Simon L6 » 21 Jan 2010, 5:30pm

Edwards wrote:Simon are the above type of member the most likely to be vulnerable. As I understand they are the most likely to have life membership.

that's a thought. It might be a kind of double whammy - the members who are doing the most for the club, who have been let down, might find themselves stuck whereas the more casual members could jump ship.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby thirdcrank » 21 Jan 2010, 5:34pm

In the mid to late 1990's Patrick Field of the London School of Cycling was the guest speaker at Leeds Cycling Action Group's AGM. He mentioned then that he was looking at starting a national cycling organisation under the auspices of the RAC. I presume it came to nothing - perhaps the RAC looked at it from the POV of breakdown recovery and saw cyclists as a bit of an unknown quantity. At the time it made me - as a CTC member - feel really unhappy, worried even, as he suggested how easy it would be to provide something better and more relevant to modern conditions. I cannot now remember much of what he said, but I think he implied that the CTC was a bit of a lame duck, passed its sell-by date etc. I hope I'm not putting words into his mouth. Perhaps he was just being a bit provocative, although it was not a traditional CTC audience.

Occasionally, since then, I've thought through what you get for the £££ as a CTC member. (As the CTC has become more businesslike, that's the type of calculation it's easy to make, as in not "What can I put into cycling and the CTC" but "What's in it for me?) I know SimonL6 gave a pretty impressive list on another thread, but apart from the invaluable technical stuff, so much of what seems important to me comes from being a member of a cherished organisation rather than any cost-benefit analysis.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I fancy that if life members as a group felt they were being badly treated, they could, through judicial review, apply to have the voting separated by type of membership so that their long-term interests - reasonable expectations - would not be swamped.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby irc » 21 Jan 2010, 6:52pm

Edwards wrote:I would imagine a lot of other people are watching finances as I. So a club that was even affiliated but with lower membership costs to the CTC might even get a foot hold.


The Tandem Club seem to be able to operate a viable mainly web based club that provides forums, local group rides , rallys several times a year, and third party insurance , all for £10 a year. I wonder if you need to ride a tandem to join.

http://www.tandem-club.org.uk/nf2002/index.htm

They may show what a slimmed down CTC could look like and cost. If Tandem riders can do that when the potential membership is tiny compared to cyclists in general then why couldn't a slimmed down CTC work if it sperated from the Trust?
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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby byegad » 21 Jan 2010, 7:34pm

ETA offer 3rd party insurance cover and cycle recovery. Including optional puncture recovery I paid £50 last year IIRC it was £36 without the puncture cover.

This year I added both our cars to the policy the total was competative for just two car recovery from other firms and I'm still covered on my trikes.

I thought really hard before I renewed my CTC membership, after all £36 a year for 6 magazines is plenty.
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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby PaulB » 21 Jan 2010, 9:44pm

If "Cycling World" magazine gets its publishing sorted out and produces a good interactive web site (currently under construction) then that could provide what many touring and leisure riders want. The campaigning and charity stuff is all very well but that is not why I joined the Cyclists' Touring Club in 1988. I simply wanted to share the pleasure of cycling with other like minded people. The magazine and this web site are the only parts of the CTC I use. Sometimes the magazine is scanned and ditched within a day or so of its arrival because there is not much touring in it. I do not understand why someone felt that CTC should be a charity; it is, after all, a private club set up for the benefit of its members.

I hit the big 6-0 this year (or maybe it hits me!) and my riding consists of day rides about six times a month. Personal circumstances mean that laden touring to far away places is not an option but I enjoy reading about other people's experiences. I also prefer a magazine to web based accounts. My subscription is due in April but due to a big reduction in personal income, I may well let it go. Organisations need to evolve to reflect the changing times, the problem occurs when they change into completely different entities. CTC is in danger of doing just that.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby Karen Sutton » 21 Jan 2010, 11:54pm

irc wrote:
Edwards wrote:I would imagine a lot of other people are watching finances as I. So a club that was even affiliated but with lower membership costs to the CTC might even get a foot hold.


The Tandem Club seem to be able to operate a viable mainly web based club that provides forums, local group rides , rallys several times a year, and third party insurance , all for £10 a year. I wonder if you need to ride a tandem to join.

http://www.tandem-club.org.uk/nf2002/index.htm

They may show what a slimmed down CTC could look like and cost. If Tandem riders can do that when the potential membership is tiny compared to cyclists in general then why couldn't a slimmed down CTC work if it sperated from the Trust?


I am curently organising the 2010 Tandem Club Easter Rally. I've been a member of the Tandem Club for a few years now and I volunteered for the Committee last April. The Tandem Club UK events are quite low key, rather like the Mildenhall Rally I suppose. I've not been to any of the Tandem Club International rallies but they look really good and there is always a good attendance. There are many more families in the Tandem Club than the CTC. I'd say a large percentage of Tandem Club members are CTC members as well.

There isn't a rule which says you have to ride a tandem, but I don't think I'd like to go on the rides and rallies continually on a solo. It would seem very odd.
I used to ride my solo when I was on TC events with my husband and daughter, (they rode the tandem) but we did have a tandem and a firm interest in tandemming. I now ride a tandem with my daughter, who is 13.

I haven't read the full details of the Tandem Club Third Party Insurance (because I'm covered by the CTC policy), but I have a feeling it doesn't cover as much as the CTC insurance. There is no legal cover either as farvbas I am aware. When I get chance I'll check the details. You have to be a member to view the details.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby Edwards » 22 Jan 2010, 8:31am

thirdcrank wrote:(As the CTC has become more businesslike, that's the type of calculation it's easy to make, as in not "What can I put into cycling and the CTC"


TC as money is tighter for a lot of people, the CTC is making it easier for people to consider alternatives by not giving proper support the their own riders Mg's etc.
Transferring large sums of members subs money with out any explanation (this was known before this started) and other unexplained activities does concentrate the mind before paying out.
So if people are short of cash and there is a cheaper alternative that might represent a persons interest better, that makes a hard choice.
This will make the CTC vulnerable especially if complete Mg's leave.
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Si
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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby Si » 22 Jan 2010, 9:54am

This will make the CTC vulnerable especially if complete Mg's leave.


I was thinking about MGs this morning - what advantages a MG has rather than a single member?

Seems to me that there is the ride leader's insurance, but as said elsewhere, that can be sourced without going via the CTC.
There is the list of CTC members in the area. But that has been somewhat unreliable of late, plus I'm sure that we gain more new riders via our own advertising than by sending mailshots to newbies.
There is the payment of whatever it is per local member that we get - I think that it came to under £100 last year - we get far more from our events and could easily live without this.
There is the customised section of NewsNet that lists local events and news. Oh, no, my mistake, there isn't.
There's the DA news in the mag. Ah, no, wrong again.
Discounts at the LBS? Not in our case - the LBS is run by our Sec. so he gives MG members discounts anyway. And when setting up another cycling club I found that many local shops were happy to give discounts for clubs that mentioned them in their newsletters.
Campaigning support - don't think that we get much really. Indeed, in one case I found NO running roughshod over our local work and claiming it for themselves without a word to those actually doing the work. Although, I must admit that saying that you are part of a 70,000 strong organisation does add some clout.

One sometimes wonders if the only advantage of us being a MG is that it saves people paying twice - once to the CTC and once to us. If we did source our own insurance I think that, forced to choose, most of our MG members would choose us over the CTC. The MG to the north of us has ceased to be an MG and become just an affiliate last I heard. The one to the west of us has ceased altogether.

Whether it becomes a Charity or not, is it not time that the CTC started to big-up Member Groups again? MGs, to my mind, have an important role to play - they give people a sense of belonging, a feeling of loyalty. The 'being part of something' helps to encourage people to pay money into the club without expecting a direct material return - they do it for the greater good. The way that this Charity Proposal is being handled seems to be eroding that good will - one might even speculate that the way the proposal has been championed might do more harm to the club than the actual Charity Conversion itself (should it happen)?

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby glueman » 22 Jan 2010, 10:34am

Re. the Tandem Club I wouldn't advocate swamping it with ex-CTC riders looking for an alternative home but OTOH you're unlikely to get strange looks on a solo. Family members often accompany a tandem pair on their own bike, plus the usual Rann/Isla trailers, solos pulling child buggies, and anyone who is happy to put up with the social element is welcome whatever they ride.

The TC succeeded in catering for a large number of 'family' style groups (whether actual families or not) the CTC didn't and showed there was still a demand for a mixed age club run. My impression is tandem groups separate out into slow and steady and pretty quick, especially if there's a few retired racers in the mix.
The CTC still carries a considerable sentimental pull for many riders but that sense of history has to be reciprochal and if the club are intent on becoming a contractor and sidelining the social riding element my impression is any organisation that offers a little ingenuity in catering for non-competitive riders would clean up. In fact I'd go further and say there's an untapped demand for a national leisure riding and touring network that reflected the diversity of cycling people undertake today.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby Regulator » 22 Jan 2010, 11:42am

Si wrote:
Whether it becomes a Charity or not, is it not time that the CTC started to big-up Member Groups again? MGs, to my mind, have an important role to play - they give people a sense of belonging, a feeling of loyalty. The 'being part of something' helps to encourage people to pay money into the club without expecting a direct material return - they do it for the greater good. The way that this Charity Proposal is being handled seems to be eroding that good will - one might even speculate that the way the proposal has been championed might do more harm to the club than the actual Charity Conversion itself (should it happen)?



Why do that when they can boast to their compadres in other cycling organisations how much contracting they're doing?

Member groups just get in the way and take valuable time from chasing contracts... they are sooooooo last century.

:wink:

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby bikepacker » 22 Jan 2010, 12:53pm

The CTC - is it vulnerable? Sadly I believe it has been vulnerable for the last 10 years.

At the 2000 York Rally a small group was involved in a conversation with KM regarding the membership. As a result of this I predicted to fellow members and in an email to a then vice-president, the CTC would loose 20,000 committed cycling members within 10 years. Judging by those I know who have not renewed I am not far out. Also as a result we have lost local groups and had DAs disband. Yes other members have joined but are these as committed to the club and to cycling, as the members they replace? I don’t think so.

As previously stated in this thread, membership benefits have been eroded, member’s wishes ignored and member’s money spent in unsatisfactory ways. Since his appointment as Director, KM controlled the club as if it were his own organization. With few exceptions Council has danced to his tune. What if has got it wrong? A Council member once told me KM is sincere in his motives. My answer was; I know of many examples where people have been sincerely wrong.

Why are you a member of the CTC? This was the question I asked members as part of my own little survey in 2005. Out of 1755 members asked (yes I did keep a record) 928 gave their first answer as; for the insurance. Most home contents insurance carry just as much legal cover and now with NWNF lawyers willing to take on cases, there is no real benefit. Just a small example. A friend and forum member got knocked of his bike at an island, not his fault. The CTC lawyers got him compensation for his injury and damaged bike. I had a camping stool collapse on me. A lawyer recommended to me by an ex-employee got me 3 times the amount of his compensation for my slight injury. So is the member insurance really that good? In this day and age, probably not.

Simon writes about the ways of setting up an alternative club. It would not be difficult with modern communicatons and it could be very successful. But is that what we all want? My belief is that we can still save the CTC as a members club and reverse many of the poor decisions made over the last 10 years. So let’s give that a try first.
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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby Simon L6 » 22 Jan 2010, 1:44pm

I entirely agree that the CTC's service to members can be put right if the Special Resolution fails to get the required 75% vote. But if the Club is taken over by the Charity and we face competition I think you'll agree that the position of the Life Members would be unenviable.

Personally I'll go along with whatever my DA committee decides. Our DA is a great club, and it's afforded me an insight in to the joys of cycling that I'd never have got any other way.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby meic » 22 Jan 2010, 11:25pm

Bikepacker said,
"Why are you a member of the CTC? This was the question I asked members as part of my own little survey in 2005. Out of 1755 members asked (yes I did keep a record) 928 gave their first answer as; for the insurance. Most home contents insurance carry just as much legal cover and now with NWNF lawyers willing to take on cases, there is no real benefit. Just a small example. A friend and forum member got knocked of his bike at an island, not his fault. The CTC lawyers got him compensation for his injury and damaged bike. I had a camping stool collapse on me. A lawyer recommended to me by an ex-employee got me 3 times the amount of his compensation for my slight injury. So is the member insurance really that good? In this day and age, probably not."

The CTC offers Third Party Insurance aswell as the compensation seeking outsourced benefit. The NWNF sharks arent much use when it is the cyclists fault, at that point you want the 3rd party cover.
So I cant see me leaving the CTC unless another club is offering similar cover.
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