UK cycling industry is bigger than the UK steel industry

A new strategic report about the British cycle industry has today been published by the Bicycle AssociationThe Value of the Cycling Sector to the British Economy: A Scoping Study was unveiled at the International Cycling History Conference in London’s Guildhall by the BA’s operations director Steve Garidis.

The report explores the current value of the cycling industry and cycling in general to the British economy. Among other findings it reveals that the UK cycle industry is bigger than the UK steel industry.

The Bicycle Association wants the government to recognize cycling’s strategic potential, and how the cycling sector is important for Britain’s proposed new “industrial strategy.”


Industry panel at the International Cycle History Conference



THE FUTURE FROM THE PAST: an industry panel examining cycling’s future
Livery Hall, Guildhall, Thursday 14th June, 2–3pm

INTRODUCTION: New research findings will be announced by the Bicycle Association’s Steve Garidis.

Panel chaired by Ruth Cadbury MP, co-chair of All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group

Panel members: 

  • Fraser Seifert, Ofo dockless bikes
  • Ashok Sinha, London Cycling Campaign
  • Philip Taylor, Schwalbe
  • Jerry Lawson, Frog Bikes
  • John McNaughtan, 30+ years ex-Raleigh International
  • Dan Farrell, Moulton
  • Pippa Wibberley, Raleigh
  • Steve Garidis, Bicycle Association

This industry panel is part of the International Cycle History Conference which is part of the London Cycling Campaign and City of London’s City Cycling Festival which is celebrating the 200thanniversary with many events across three days, including public activities, debates and the London Cycling Awards. 


Cycling in Britain, 1818–2018

The bicycle wasn’t invented in Britain but it was perfected here, and the world’s biggest cycle manufacturers were once British, exporting around the globe. Think the Dutch bike is Dutch? Nope, it’s British, a roadster-type cycle of around 1911. And even though cycling is more than 200 years old it has a secure future because of its simplicity. The bicycle has the never-bettered ability to amplify human strength and extend the distance that a human can travel without the aid of a motor, or a horse.

And it was this ability – especially of the horse bettering kind – that some cycle historians theorise led to the creation of what would become the bicycle. The two-wheeler that would later morph into the bicycle was created, they say, in answer to a transport crisis brought on by a cataclysmic climatic event.

In April 1815 Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted spewing lava and ash until July of the same year. It was the biggest eruption in 1,300 years and the sky was so loaded with dust that average global temperatures dipped, and artists had a field day, painting scenes with dramatic sunsets. 1816 became known as the ‘year without a summer’.

On holiday by Lake Geneva in Switzerland, Mary Shelley, her husband Percy and John William Polidori were trapped in Lord Byron’s house by constant rain. Byron suggested a essay writing competition: come up with a ghost story. Mary Shelley created Frankenstein; Polidori wrote The Vampyre. Not too far Continue reading “Cycling in Britain, 1818–2018”

Britain’s first bike shop

Brompton is a British success story – it makes iconic folding bikes, sold around the world. The company’s flagship retail store at 76 Long Acre in London is currently taking orders for the manufacturer’s Electric model, due out later this in 2018. On the same site, two-hundred-years earlier, coach-builder Denis Johnson made and sold Britain’s first bicycle, a wooden “hobby horse”. There’s a history plaque on the exterior of today’s shop, and also one inside, commissioned by Brompton.

“We were struggling to find a location for our Brompton Junction, mostly because the funds that own most of central London didn’t think that a grubby bike shop fitted with their brand profile,” said Brompton CEO Will Butler-Adams.

“We heard that there was a chocolate shop that had gone bust on Long Acre, and that if we bought the business, we would also get the lease,” continued Butler-Adams.

“It was over our budget, but we went to look at it anyway. It was when we were standing outside that we saw the plaque – we couldn’t believe our eyes, so Continue reading “Britain’s first bike shop”

Britain’s first cycleway proposal

The first cycle paths in the UK were installed in the 1930s. However, the idea for such dedicated ways – segregated, and swept, even – was first proposed in 1821. The proposal was made by Lewis Gompertz, an industrious Jewish inventor (thank him for the drill chuck bit), who also happened to be vegetarian. His radical vegetarianism led him to campaign against the mistreatment of the animals that were at the heart Victorian street transport: horses.

Gompertz was one of the co-founder’s of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which later had the Royal added to the front, creating the RSPCA. He preferred walking to riding in a horse-pulled carriage and was therefore much taken with the German machine that meant ‘fast foot’ in Latin. The velocipede running machine – or hobbyhorse, a bicycle without cranks or pedals – was introduced to the world by Baron von Drais. He had created his Continue reading “Britain’s first cycleway proposal”