Today, a mail came through on the Marrickville BUG mailing list, detailing a meeting between a representative of Macquarie BUG and BNSW. There’s more detail here, but the following points (with my comments interspersed) were discussed:
- BNSW will not put any resources (by which I mean funds or paid staff) into supporting BUGs – Andrew Dodds, who runs the BUGs Council does so as a volunteer and if I wish to support Andrew, I would be welcome, but also as a volunteer.
- Any improvements that BUG members would like to see must be implemented by the BUGs themselves through Andrew Dodds or amongst the volunteer BUG members themselves.
Great! The state-level bicycling advocacy group isn’t interested in grass-roots cycling advocacy, nor the people cycling within the state. It’s almost as if BNSW sees the BUGs as competition. Also, it’s all about the money. BNSW will graciously accept the hard work and time that others donate – you should all feel lucky to be working for such a glorious organisation, and for such a worthwhile cause.
- BNSW wishes to restrict its dealings to implementing the 2007-2010 Strategic Plan, as presented at the 2007 AGM.
The plan is available here. It reads like something out of The Hollowmen, last Wednesday on the ABC (more goodness from the old Frontline team): “Set the vision for policymakers for infrastructure; Communicate role of BNSW, clarify and document relationships with stakeholders; Seek and undertake initiatives that can be carried out with stakeholders that produce a mutually beneficial outcome – more people cycling more often; Focus on delivering behavioral change programs; Leverage partnerships to allow scale economies and other mutual benefit”.
Admittedly, I did a bit of picking and choosing… there is mention of working with BUGs, but I read it as top-down – imposing the will of BNSW in a Father Knows Best way. They’ve got a good slogan “More People Cycling More Often” – that’s the important thing, not actually getting more people on bikes.
- BNSW sees itself as operating at the Federal and State levels and will not put any resources into local or regional projects.
Following on from the previous point, BNSW is too important (too up itself) to bother with the mundane work of doing actual work, when there are important policy statements to be made.Â No need to do things when you can be seen to be “doing things”.
- The only events that BNSW are interested in allocating resources to are the Spring Cycle, Gear-up Girl and as co-hosts of the Ride to work and Ride to School programs with Bike Victoria.
No more Big Ride; the ‘Gong ride can take care of itself. Still, I got mail from the MS Society, about ‘Gong early registration, so I guess they have it all in hand.
- The stated policy of BNSW is to get “more people cycling more often”, which does not mean they will place resources into building the membership numbers of BNSW as people can ride bikes without being members.
So why doesn’t BNSW expect me to cease being a member, and stop paying them membership? There is the public liability and personal accident insurance, that comes with membership, but it might be time to look for other places offering cycling insurance. It seems strange that BNSW doesn’t want to promote membership and increase the awareness of itself, getting more people involved – more membership fees, for a start.
- BNSW employ a “Volunteer and Operations Coordinator” (currently Michelle Herbert), who is the contact person for all Volunteers who wish to communicate with BNSW.
They don’t want to pay people for the work done – they want it all done for free.
- BNSW have no intention of running a NSW Big Ride in the future, but both Alex and Jenny said if I was interested in doing so, then that would be great. Â However, BNSW will not provide any resources (as above – funds or paid staff). Â All Big Ride equipment has been sold.
No more Big Ride… I know it’s always been expensive, but it was one of the flagship events – something that created a sense of camaraderie, and of shared experiences. Something of which you could ask “Did you go on the last Big Ride? Wasn’t it fun? Didn’t we see some interesting places?” How else could you spend time exploring the state, being an ambassador for cycling and for a charity (well, at least some of us), in relative safety… cyclists in collaboration with the RTA and the police, proving that we could all come together in an event that showed harmonious road use?
The state cycling bodies of all three eastern states have had big rides for some time now. Is BNSW’s decision a sign of the times, where Bike Victoria and BQ will go, or is it just Alex Unwin’s inept leadership that is the problem? Note again, that BNSW are happy to see someone else run the Big Ride, and for BNSW to benefit from it. Obviously someone out there with deep pockets should feel obligated and privileged to take over real work, so that state cycling can benefit, and BNSW can claim the credit.
Maybe the new management saved BNSW from bankruptcy aÂ few years ago, but they ripped out its heart and soul in the process…