The CTC - is it vulnerable?

JT
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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby JT » 15 May 2012, 3:21pm

horizon wrote:
JT wrote:Please could you explain to me the CTC's powerful, marketable values?
Also, which parts of cycling are BC not set up for?


Sure, as long you accept that this is off the top of my head - I'm not writing a report!

Well, let's say that the CTC wants to differentiate itself from BC: the CTC is closer to the the National Trust and BC is closer to the Olympics. The CTC is a political body, BC is a regulatory body. BC is about participation events (maybe), the CTC about individual achievement (maybe). BC is about competitive cycling, the CTC is about cooperation and supporting others. The CTC is about using a bike as a means to an end (exploring the countryside, getting to work), BC is about using the bike as an end in itself (like going round and round in circles on a velodrome).

It may be that BC has enough clout to absorb the CTC but it would never be the real thing - it's not in its DNA. How the CTC markets its values is up to the CTC but I would still say that it has values and that these values are valuable.


Thanks for clarifying. With all due respect I'd say you're out of touch with what BC are up to and that your view of CTC's values is somewhat rose-tinted.

However, this thread is about the CTC's vulnerability to rivals. BC are not going after your typical CTC member. They are targeting people who cycle commute and new or returning cyclists, and doing so in a big way (thanks to the backing of Sky). In other words they are targeting people who've probably never even heard of CTC and wouldn't dream of joining a cycling club. That makes the CTC vulnerable because they need to recruit those people too.

I'm part of both organisations, and trust me, BC do a much better job of this while at the same time offering tons of support (some of it even financial) to the people like me on the ground who are leading the rides that inspire these new members to take cycling seriously enough to join an organisation.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby thirdcrank » 15 May 2012, 3:24pm

To me, the CTC is the reason why it's still possible for cyclists to ride on the roads of this country as of right. It's easy to forget that there was a very lean period when this wasn't guaranteed: with the growth in moror vehicle use an the latter half of the 20C, cyclists might easily have been shuffled off onto non-existant farcilities and IIRC, the CTC was pretty much a lone voice in the wilderness. The situation changed quite dramatically with the realisation that the concrete pouring and tarmac rolling couldn't go on forever. Sustainability was in and the pedal cycle was back in the limelight. Norris commissioned the NCS and there was a brief chance to improve things for cyclists. Up popped S*******s and seized the opportunity and that was the NCS down the tubes. The targets were abandoned, the really promising things like Cycle Audit and Review was sidelined by the vested interests and so on. This was all without any obvious protest from the CTC. Meanwhile, commuting by bike grew in popularity but in a policy vacuum. Commuting became equated with a sort of street fighting. A new generation of energetic cyclists decided that RLJing, pavement riding and all the rest of it was the only way forward. At a time when cycliists could have been the non-pollting sustainable good guys, we are the villains: all for the want of a banner to follow. If all that youthful energy had been captured, all us BOFs would have ridden of into the sunset, with a warm inner glow.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby horizon » 15 May 2012, 3:45pm

JT wrote:
Thanks for clarifying. With all due respect I'd say you're out of touch with what BC are up to and that your view of CTC's values is somewhat rose-tinted.



I do know what BC are doing. What I am trying to say is that they cannot do quite as well what the CTC can do instinctively. Of course, if the CTC were to go to the wall, then it would be nice if BC picked up the pieces. You're right about the rose tinting - but that is part of a set of values and people value rose-tintedness highly. It also gives the CTC elbow room in attracting people and resources that BC's corporate values cannot do.

However I would also note that what you describe is two organisations fighting for turf - i.e. it is self serving and that is a much bigger problem if the only reason for the CTC's existence is ... its existence. And in the battle for that turf you are 100% right, BC will win. Tesco sells organic food, don't forget, and free range eggs alongside their battery hens - no problem with awkward values there - though I wouldn't tar BC with the same brush.
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby JT » 15 May 2012, 3:47pm

Si wrote:I would add to that with the CTC's main resource is it's people and their years of experience and enthusiasm.

Just a couple of examples....

How many experienced leisure ride leaders has the CTC got vs how many experienced leisure ride leaders has the BC/Sky got?
And how much experience and knowledge has each of these groups got?

How many grass roots cycle campaigning people has CTC (RTR) got vs how many grass roots cycle campaigning people has BC/SKY got?

How many leisure rides does my local CTC put on (answer = at least one ride on every day except Monday - actually I think about 15 last week) vs how many leisure rides does my local BC / SKY put on (about two a month I think).

In this debate CTC's problem, to my eye, is not that it doesn't have the benefits, but rather that it is not marketing them as well as it could, and (as Simon points out) given that the market place is becoming more competitive the CTC might be over charging a bit.....On the other hand, BC/Sky appear to be running loss-leaders: if it works they'll do great, if it doesn't they could get burned.

We all hear different things coming down from the upper echelons of the CTC. Simon has a little less trust in some of the things he hears, which is understandable. What I hear suggests that these problems are now being admitted and that action is being looked at. Which, to me, is a positive.


Your first point is valid. CTC's greatest resource is the experience and enthusiasm of its membership.

National Office do not provide any help, support, for local clubs to grow and attract new members. There are no guidelines or, even, directives for putting on rides to attract new cyclists/members. They do not offer any incentives for people who volunteer their time to help run local clubs.

Sky Ride Local ride leaders get £45 per ride! They get a free year's membership to BC. Assistant ride leaders (without a first aid qualification) get £35. All ride leaders get free kit - this year a rather nice soft shell jacket and a funky technical tee-shirt, all branded, naturally. Everyone attending a ride gets a Sky Ride bib and takes it home with them. CTC cannot compete with this even if they wanted to. They could go after sponsors/partners in the way BC has with Sky/Fiat/Jaguar.. Oh hang on, the charity thing probably puts a stop to that. And in any case who in their right mind would give our council £millions?

Regarding your other points, I don't know how many RTR reps there are, but I know there isn't one in my area and CTC haven't done much to recruit one.
I know how many rides we put on this week: two. One at the weekend and one on Wednesday. But how many of the 15 in your area were targeted at beginners or were women-only rides? That's a valid comparison until BC's social cycling groups become more established (the initiative only launched a few weeks ago). An initiative, I remind you, that has a full-time employee managing it in addition to the full-time regional recreational cycling managers. Compare that to CTC Member Groups which are looked after on a part-time basis.

Trust me, CTC is very vulnerable.
Last edited by JT on 15 May 2012, 3:53pm, edited 1 time in total.

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horizon
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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby horizon » 15 May 2012, 3:49pm

JT wrote:[
That makes the CTC vulnerable because they need to recruit those people too.



Why do they? I know the answer but I'm suggesting an alternative. It's what I meant about being fixated on product and not focussing on values.
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby horizon » 15 May 2012, 3:51pm

Quip removed. :)
Last edited by horizon on 15 May 2012, 4:22pm, edited 1 time in total.
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

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Simon L6
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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby Simon L6 » 15 May 2012, 3:54pm

Si wrote:I would add to that with the CTC's main resource is it's people and their years of experience and enthusiasm.
not that you'd know it from the treatment of local groups

Si wrote:How many experienced leisure ride leaders has the CTC got vs how many experienced leisure ride leaders has the BC/Sky got?
And how much experience and knowledge has each of these groups got?
probably less - but they have a programme for training and rewarding them. And, in London at least, it seems to be working in a very big way.

Si wrote:How many grass roots cycle campaigning people has CTC (RTR) got vs how many grass roots cycle campaigning people has BC/SKY got?
they've got none. But they're investing in the rhetoric. And that's what sells memberships.

Si wrote:In this debate CTC's problem, to my eye, is not that it doesn't have the benefits, but rather that it is not marketing them as well as it could, and (as Simon points out) given that the market place is becoming more competitive the CTC might be over charging a bit.....On the other hand, BC/Sky appear to be running loss-leaders: if it works they'll do great, if it doesn't they could get burned.

We all hear different things coming down from the upper echelons of the CTC. Simon has a little less trust in some of the things he hears, which is understandable. What I hear suggests that these problems are now being admitted and that action is being looked at. Which, to me, is a positive.
it's to be hoped. But it's going to take a bit to turn the rudderless ship of (not very much) contracting charitywonkism in to a reflexive, product based, high service level full speed ahead modern vessel.

And the rub is in the numbers. Forget the 67,000 member schtick. It's the full £41 bods who keep the thing going, and (I'm guessing) there's about 30,000 of them. Worse, that's where the churn is greatest. Last I heard it was running at 17%. So the CTC needs to recruit 5,000 full members a year (there's been a fair number of Fridays join as full members this year, so, despite pulling in 200 new affiliate members I'm still doing my bit). So, how many of those 5,000 are going to be tempted by a cheaper, more attractive offer backed by Victoria Pendleton (fans brow) and Chris Hoy?

All of this is fixeable - but Council is fixated with the contracting side of things and comprehensively lacks the skills that are needed to (again) make the offer good, make the product better, and market the product. They're weighed down by people who share a 1950s public sector outlook which is wedded to pyramid organisations in which information is restricted to those who 'need to know' and doesn't recognise the flighty, instant nature of modern consumers - and, having dispensed with the 'club' consumers is what they've got.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby JT » 15 May 2012, 3:58pm

horizon wrote:
JT wrote:[
That makes the CTC vulnerable because they need to recruit those people too.



Why do they? I know the answer but I'm suggesting an alternative. It's what I meant about being fixated on product and not focussing on values.


Looking at the age profile of my group, in 10 years time the membership could well have halved if no new recruitment took place.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby Simon L6 » 15 May 2012, 4:01pm

and, sorry, Horizon, but I am no nearer working out what the values are. We are talking, are we not, about a body that colludes with the Charity Commission to conceal material facts from the members?

On the other hand, if you're referring to the values that inhere within the rides and the local campaigning, then you've got to start thinking of these as products that will, hopefully, embody values. Be that as it may, the product has to be improved. I do see that the RtR successes are being bigged up in the e-newsletter, which is all to the good, but as for the rides.......six people average age 65 sipping warm beer in a pub at lunchtime isn't going to capture the imagination any time soon. Not (before you jump down my throat) that I haven't done my share of warm beer sipping, and not that I won't again - but as a product it's got a very limited appeal.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby robgul » 15 May 2012, 4:12pm

Si wrote:
If groups like LCC start up and are successful that is excellent but unlikely to occur in any city/town with populations of less than half a million, out in the rest of the country you are struggling to find even a dozen old men and women. The Fridays is a wonderful group with possibly a hundred hardcore riders BUT it has a catchment area of millions attracting people from all over the UK.


Again I have to fall back on citing Stourbug....Stourbridge is nice enough but it is a bit of a backwater (not meaning to insult it here - I'd be happy to live there) - hardly big city or massive population. Yet it shows what can be done as the group goes from strength to strength.


People keep quoting Stourbug ... yes it has worked ... but it started (in essence) as a women-only alternative to a post-Christmas Weight Watchers group ... ... with CTC just being "used for insurance" - via the affiliate route at twelve quid a pop or whatever it is - it then had MEN begging to join and expanded into a cycling club, although still predominantly women.

The original emphasis was on a highly-structured training plan for each of the ladies .. with a "target ride" (Stourbridge to Stratford-upon-Avon) as the goal for the ladies to strive towards.

Ru88ell (I know him quite well) or someone may be along to comment, but I think my statement is a fair summation.

Rob

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby Si » 15 May 2012, 4:13pm

But it's going to take a bit to turn the rudderless ship of (not very much) contracting charitywonkism in to a reflexive, product based, high service level full speed ahead modern vessel.


Yes, but the question was: what has the CTC got. It still does have certain resources that are superior to BC/Sky.

No one is going to argue that BC/Sky doesn't offer a better remuneration/training package* or that the CTC couldn't do much better for its volunteers or that the CTC isn't vulnerable. Rather the point I'm making is that the CTC can still offer benefits that others can't yet match - but it needs to find a way to support and utilise them better if it is going to compete (assuming that BC/Sky doesn't burn itself out - as I'm sure that it has measurable goals to achieve and if it doesn't reach them then it'll pull the plug pretty fast).

* although that in itself can cause problems - for instance we are not inhibited by having to have a professional leader for our ride to go ahead.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby Si » 15 May 2012, 4:24pm

robgul wrote:
Si wrote:
If groups like LCC start up and are successful that is excellent but unlikely to occur in any city/town with populations of less than half a million, out in the rest of the country you are struggling to find even a dozen old men and women. The Fridays is a wonderful group with possibly a hundred hardcore riders BUT it has a catchment area of millions attracting people from all over the UK.


Again I have to fall back on citing Stourbug....Stourbridge is nice enough but it is a bit of a backwater (not meaning to insult it here - I'd be happy to live there) - hardly big city or massive population. Yet it shows what can be done as the group goes from strength to strength.


People keep quoting Stourbug ... yes it has worked ... but it started (in essence) as a women-only alternative to a post-Christmas Weight Watchers group ... ... with CTC just being "used for insurance" - via the affiliate route at twelve quid a pop or whatever it is - it then had MEN begging to join and expanded into a cycling club, although still predominantly women.

The original emphasis was on a highly-structured training plan for each of the ladies .. with a "target ride" (Stourbridge to Stratford-upon-Avon) as the goal for the ladies to strive towards.

Ru88ell (I know him quite well) or someone may be along to comment, but I think my statement is a fair summation.

Rob


A fair summation (although you missed out the issues with the local CTC MG) but not really that relevant. The important point is that it worked, and it worked big time - in an area where the local CTC was inward looking and stagnating Stourbug managed to rope in some of those not normally attracted to cycling clubs (and by this I don't mean just women, but people who wanted to enjoy cycling but didn't see themselves as cyclists). It is a model that can be learned from and reused. Sure some of it was make-it-up-as-you-go-along but in doing so they learnt valuable lessons that, in a refined state, could be used by others to produce vibrant, inclusive and forward looking member groups.

I'm sure that there are other groups around that could be used as similar models too - I only use Stourbug as it is local to me and used to ride with some of the members now and then so I'm more familiar with it than I am with other such groups.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby JT » 15 May 2012, 4:25pm

I know I'm constantly waving the BC flag in this thread but, like most of you I suspect, I can see the potential that CTC has. Although it feels weird to be talking about potential for an organisation founded in 1878.

Here's another example of the difference in the way I'm treated as a member.

Something that really [inappropriate phrase removed]me off recently was getting an email from my councillors. It made a show of imparting some news but given the close proximity of the AGM I suspect it was yet another clumsy attempt at persuading some "yes" votes - there was something akin to that in the email. It's only the second unprompted contact I've had from my councillors since I first joined CTC in 2006 and the first was one of those "yes" propaganda emails in the run-up to the first charity vote. They also informed they had been re-elected to council unopposed in December but that I should consider standing for council in future as its very worthwhile. It's hardly surprising they were elected unopposed as I certainly never received any information that nominations were being sought. So for some reason, rather then me thinking how nice it was to be contacted, it just really wound me up. One of the councillors is Jim Brown who heads-up CTC Stevenage who are a pretty vibrant and successful group by all accounts. You'd think Jim might have taken an interest in a new group starting-up in his region and offered some advice.

As a Sky Ride Leader, my last contact from my local recreational manager was him inviting me for a get-together to chat about the new social groups initiative and to discuss ways to improve things. Oh and he'd pay for the pizza. I make that the fourth such get-together in a year.

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby robgul » 15 May 2012, 4:27pm

The suggestion BC & CTC are, quote from up-thread "... fighting for turf ... " is nonsense ...

BC has a JFDI attitude while CTC sets up a committee to consider appointing a consultant to recommend whether it should consider what it might do ... and then may perhaps react after a couple of years - while BC has loads of riders on the road.

BUT, and it's a BIG BUT - how many of the people that go on SkyRides carry on riding? ... from the 2 or 3 I've been to I would guess that the vast majority of the punters got a bike out to ride and get free T-shirt/bib/bag of Sky leaflets .. went home and put the bike back in the shed until the next one .... the closed-road rides seemed to have an even greater number of people that fitted my surmise (I'm thinking of the Birmingham SkyRide last July as a prime example)

Rob

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Re: The CTC - is it vulnerable?

Postby Simon L6 » 15 May 2012, 4:30pm

the thing that strikes me about Stourbug is this. The CTC gave them an award, but didn't seek to replicate it elsewhere, other than the 'five miles to fabulous' thing, which was really just a head office e-mail to local groups. Now, looky here. BC is going hell for leather for women's rides, and good luck to them.