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2017 CEO’s report

2017 CEO’s report

Dear Members

Welcome to the 2017 AGM and thank you very much for your continued support of the PPA.

Thank you to our Chairman and the Executive Committee for their guidance and input over the last 12 months. A big ‘Thank you’ also goes to my team, who make sure the wheels of the PPA turn smoothly every day and that we are able to deliver on our constituted mandates.

My report will provide a brief overview of the last 12 months and highlight successes and challenges along the way.

Membership and Communication

I am happy to report that membership has increased by 1 156, from 17 158 members at the end of June 2016 to 18 314 members at the end of June 2017. We have managed to contain the decline in membership experienced over the past two years. I am optimistic that we can grow our membership across the country, especially in Gauteng where we currently have over 2 000 members and where our Safe Cycling campaign is generating a lot of positive interest for PPA.

It is interesting to note that the free memberships remain stable at around 1 000 per year. PPA still offers free first-time membership, but we ask that people either come to the office, or sign-up at one of our own or supported events. Offering free PPA membership online led to a low conversion rate in Year 2, probably due to the free membership being so easy to get, or not really wanted in the first place.

Last year I emphasised the need for better communication with our members and the broader cycling community. We keep improving and the regular interaction with members seems to support this. Members get in touch for advice, give us a heads-up on issues they feel PPA might not be aware of and yes, we receive a fair number of compliments too. The team feels appreciated and motivated to keep improving our service to our members.

The weekly email to database and monthly CEO letter provide members with a basket of information that keeps them abreast of what PPA is doing. Members have an improved understanding of the organisation and what their membership fees are used for, and I hope our members feel part of the PPA community and see value in their membership.

Our social media platforms are well supported and we use them not only to engage with the cycling community, but also to keep in touch with what is going on in the cycling world.

  • Our Twitter Followers have increased year on year by 40%, currently standing at 4 462.
  • Our Facebook ‘Likes’ have gone up by more than 30%, to 10 298.
  • The ‘Stay Wider Of The Rider’ Twitter handle has 1 904 followers and the ‘Stay Wider Of The Rider’ Facebook page has 2 986 ‘Likes’.

Bike4All

At the last AGM, I introduced the Bike4All as part of a strategic shift in our project funding approach. We wanted to be more focussed in our approach and we are achieving this through the Bike4All distribution project.

PPA partnered with the Bicycle Empowerment Network (BEN), around the shared vision of “getting more people to ride bicycles safely”. BEN’s network has proved invaluable in setting up the Bike4All Project and together we have put together a holistic bicycle distribution plan which ensures that we distribute bicycles responsibly and sustainably.

We assess the needs of the community, we educate the youth about road safety and bicycle awareness through our jointly developed “Cool Kid on a Bike” programme and we have the capacity to establish a BEC (Bicycle Empowerment Centre) that offers mechanical support when a critical mass of cyclists is reached in a community.

Two containers of bicycles have arrived since January, with 500 Bike4All BMX bikes scheduled to arrive at the end of September or soon thereafter.

A recent exciting development has seen Qhubeka partner with the Bike4All project in the Western Cape. The multiplier effect of this 3-way collaboration has already been felt by Ocean View High School, where 10 bicycles from BEN turned inti a 40-bicycle distribution.

We have been distributing bicycles to a number of initiatives, but currently PPA and BEN are focussing on the Kommetjie Corridor as a bicycle mobility demonstration project. We are engaging with the communities of Ocean View and Masiphumelele and plan to distribute around 200 bicycles in the next 6-8 weeks.

As we do our work in Masiphumelele, and when appropriate, we mention how important the Cape Town Cycle Tour is and that it provides PPA with the means to distribute bicycles in the community. We are hopeful that such positive reinforcement will not make the Cycle Tour a target for protests in 2018.

We are also in the early planning phase of an exciting upliftment project in the Elgin Valley, where BEN have already trained bicycle mechanics as part of the support structure required to sustain a large-scale bicycle distribution.

We are looking at various “earner-ship” models to ensure that our Bike4All has value in the eyes of the recipients and is earned, amongst others, through good grades for scholars, recycling, community service, club commitment and others. Here we also look to Qhubeka for guidance.

Safe Cycling

Our single largest investment is our ‘Stay Wider of the Rider’ awareness campaign.

In a recent survey, 87% of over 500 respondents said they had seen some element of the campaign in the last 30 days. That is good news for us, as it indicates that the message is sticking.

We are making a concerted effort to raise awareness in other urban centres and organised an awareness ride in Johannesburg in July after the Cape Town awareness ride, held in May.

We’ve invested in large billboards in Cape Town, exposing our safe cycling message to over 1 million motorists every month.

We partnered with Bidvest Car Rental to cover some of the cost of the 200,000 stickers we give away every year. As part of the sponsorship agreement, the Bidvest fleet of 11,000 rental cars have the ‘Stay Wider Of The Rider’ sticker on the rear windscreen. 

The Safe Cycling team has visited taxi ranks, Medupi power station in Limpopo, and stood at traffic lights and street corners, handing out flyers and chocolates. We have held activations on Chapman’s Peak, in Nomzamo and Diepsloot, to name a few. We have partnered with the Lion’s Club in Pretoria and a cycling club in Port Elizabeth.

We have spent just under R50 000 in legal fees this year, assisting the next of kin of cycling crash victims with advice and guidance. There are ongoing cases, such as the State vs Merrick, that we have been supporting for almost 4 years. In February, we offered legal advice to the families of Delene Boonzaaier and Greg Basson and we have been in touch with friends or family of a number of other crash victims  across the country, offering advice and guidance where we can.

The death of Greg Anderson has galvanised the Joburg cycling community to take action and start the “Right2Ride” initiative. I will be meeting with a representative next week to see how we can work together to improve road safety and force a behaviour shift amongst motorists.

We send out media releases throughout the year  that highlight the vulnerability of cyclists on our roads and provide advice on how cyclists need to be visible and motorists should be more aware of cyclists, how they’re movements are affected by road and weather conditions, and how critical it is to give a cyclist space when passing. 

In the past year PPA also launched a “Crash Map” which logs all accidents and crime incidents that involve cyclists across South Africa. As soon as an incident is reported to us (either by a member of the public or an official source), we add it to the map. The map not only raises awareness for crashes and crime, but also warns cyclists where the hot spots are.

We are working hard to drive the message home that cyclists need to be respected by motorists and given space when passing. After all, you’re not just passing a cyclist. You’re passing a father, a mother, a son or a daughter. Make sure they make it home. At the same time we are educating and encouraging cyclists to behave responsibly on the roads too. We can only ask for respect if we give it ourselves too.

Project Funding

While our shift in project funding favours the Bike4All going forward, external projects will still be supported, but budgets will gradually be re-allocated each year. We will still select a pre-determined number of projects annually, based on a theme and/or focus area. Where possible, external projects will be supported through the Bike4all Project, instead of a cash-only allocation.

Clubs will be supported with a fixed amount for a maximum of 3 years, after which they should be able to make do without PPA support, making way for new clubs.

PPA Academy

The PPA Academy was mentioned at last year’s AGM, amongst others born out of a comment made by Les Salo at the 2015 AGM. I don’t know if Les had this kind of bursary in mind, but I think we have created something of value for aspiring racing cyclists. The PPA Academy launched in June, with 6 junior road cyclists spending 6 weeks in Europe, racing against their peers in Belgium and Spain.

I think for all of them the trip was a real eye opener, in terms of skill and fitness levels. All 6 riders seem more determined than ever to forge a career in cycling. Some good results were achieved, but the purpose of the Academy is for junior riders to gain experience, learn and see whether they have what it takes to become a professional cyclist.

At the same time, 14 juniors – girls included – were given the choice of a 3-month mentorship programme at the African Sports Academy or financial support for 3 months with their current coaches.

PPA has budgeted for another Academy in 2018 and I look forward to seeing a competitive girls category in their category next year, in order to send deserving junior female cyclists overseas as well.

We are currently in discussions with the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA), to develop a high-performance programme for junior cyclists and will report on this in due course.

Events

For 2018, we have set ourselves the goal of making PPA-own events break-even, while still offering our members a value-for-money proposition. It is a tough ask, I admit, but it is important that we invest in the right type of events and consider quality over quantity as a primary objective.

“Not enough road events”, “PPA is killing road cycling”, “PPA focuses on MTB”.

These are some of the comments that I hear when it comes to the highly emotive subject of road cycling in the Cape. Urban creep, congestion and road works are just some of the reasons why road cycling events have all but vanished from the Peninsula and the “Deep South”. We keep requesting updates from the City traffic authorities, but to date no change is in sight.

Some members are not happy with events moving north, but for others, events are now on their doorstep.

In the last year, PPA has added six new road cycling events to the calendar, bringing PPA’s own road cycling events portfolio to eleven. The Coronation Double Century is also on the list. Although organised by the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust (CTCTT), it is a PPA-owned event. The Token Double90 and Mangaung Cycle Tour might not be on a Capetonian’s doorstep, but they are PPA-owned and they are road cycling events.

In comparison, PPA only owns one major MTB event, the Elgin Valley MTB, which is sponsored by Tiletoria.

For 2018, we have 42 events on the provisional PPA calendar. Nineteen of these are PPA-owned events. The remaining 22 events are not organised by PPA, but we offer our event support services at a highly subsidised rate to the organisers. This includes timing services, crew, the use of our route marking equipment, event promotion and more. To qualify for this support, the event must raise funds for charity. The fact that supported events display PPA branding at the venue does lead to cyclists thinking these are our events, which may be a reason why some cyclists think we favour MTB over road.

We refer to the ‘League’ as an event since it requires a significant amount of organisational and operational input from the Office. Having experienced the drama of the previous PPA League, we consulted with officials and league riders and incorporated their input into the new Vida League, which started with the West Coast Express this past weekend.

Challenges and Highlights

PPA is 40 years old, or young, depending how you look at the glass of water. We are a Public Benefit Organisation, a funder, an event organiser, an advocacy group and a club. That’s a unique combination, which comes with its own set of challenges.

We are not immune to the current economic climate and we feel the pinch just as much as any other business. Our members are our ‘customers’ and we rely on their subscriptions to fund our budget.

When cyclists cut their discretionary budgets, they generally cut down on the number of events they enter.

PPA keeps entry fees for our own events low as part of our commitment to making our events accessible to everyone. This has created an expectation that our events will be “cheap” and makes it difficult to increase our prices to keep pace with increasing input costs.

PPA does subsidise a number of events as part of our mandate to further the interests of cyclists, but at the same time, we need to keep an eye on the costs and contain them at acceptable levels.

Cyclists demand more events, specifically road events. There is hardly an open date on the calendar these days and the possible knock-on effect of squeezing in another event has to be carefully considered. There are only so many cyclists; events end up stealing entries from each other and in the end, both events may lose out.

PPA needs to keep working on getting more members participating at our events. We are up against the “What’s App Clubs”, where friends get together to ride where they want to, when they want to. 

Combined with Apps like Strava, these social groups are ‘clubs’ in their own right and have the ability to time themselves and pretty much participate in an ‘event’ every time they ride together.

We must also not forget that we have members all over South Africa and they also expect something in return for being PPA members. There are clubs and projects outside of the Western Cape that may also want to access our project funding and other support.

The biggest challenge of all is road safety and the vulnerability of cyclists on South African roads. PPA wants to put “more bums on bikes- safely”, but how do we as an organisation ensure that roads are safe? It is an impossible task and we can’t tackle the issue alone,but we need to practise responsible advocacy.

In the course of the year, we have strengthened our relationship with Rotary Claremont, by meeting and communicating more regularly and giving them a better understanding of the inner workings of PPA. As joint beneficiaries of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, it is critical for our partner to understand what motivates us to take the decisions we do and to support us in our work.

The basket of member benefits keeps increasing and I hope that members find them useful and add to the value-for-money-proposition of PPA membership.

PPA re-convened the Bicycle Forum, renaming it the Bicycle Mobility Forum. The Forum brings together like-minded advocacy groups, individuals and any other organisation that has an interest in bicycle mobility in Cape Town. Together, the members of the BMF are guided by the recently approved Cycling Strategy, to work with the City of Cape Town in improving cycling infrastructure, safety, access to bicycles and hopefully start a culture of cycling.

In December 2016, PPA and Amarider achieved a major milestone in local mountain biking advocacy by working with San Parks to start a “trail sharing” initiative on a number of footpaths in Table Mountain National Park. The willingness of the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to open a transit route for cyclists through their property was the catalyst that convinced San Parks to open up their trails. The response from the local mountain biking community has been overwhelmingly positive.

The opening of a section of the Constantia Greenbelts to cycling in 2016 has further added to the trails network and provides a beautiful and non-technical space for families, kids and novice cyclists to enjoy riding their bicycles.

 CSA and the relationship with PPA

Contrary to what people may think, PPA and CSA have a good working relationship.  PPA events are sanctioned and we pay levies for the racing groups at our events. We also appoint commissaires as required.

We make an annual payment of R150 000 (plus CPI) to Western Cape Cycling (WCC) as per the MOU signed with CSA two years ago.

The current financial situation at CSA is concerning and I have been in touch with Mike Bradley.

I have also met with Bonga Ngubane (CSA’s newly appointed Chair for Youth, Transformation and Development)) to share thoughts and ideas for future cooperation.

Advocacy and the Cape Town Cycling Strategy

At the end of last month, the Cape Town City Council finally passed the Cycling Strategy for Cape Town.

This is a significant milestone as it now commits the City of Cape Town to promoting cycling as a legitimate form of transport. I’d like to mention Gordon Laing at this point. He is one of the authors of the original strategy document that was submitted in June 2016 and we are indeed fortunate to have him serve on our Executive Committee.

The Mobility Indaba held in October 2016 and co-sponsored by PPA was a tipping point for PPA in our efforts to participate meaningfully in lobbying the City to improve cycling infrastructure and promote utility cycling. We have since been included in many meetings by the transport authorities to provide input from a cycling perspective.

Last month, a company of civil engineers, tasked with planning large transport infrastructure projects in Strand/Somerset West, invited me to provide input on the positioning and type of cycling infrastructure in the local informal settlements.

This was a significant first step in including a “cyclist’s perspective” in the pre-planning phase of road infrastructure. Non-motorised transport (NMT) facilities, specifically cycling facilities, have to form part of spatial and transport planning in any large city.

As roads become more congested and the cost of public transport takes over 40% of low-income earner’s monthly wage, cycling is a cost-effective, healthy, sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative. While PPA does as much as it can for its members, every cyclist is an advocate in their own right. We ask members to raise any cycling-related issues with their local politicians or officials directly and hold them to account. The more aware of cycling they become, the stronger our collective case is. We now have the Cycling Strategy as back-up.

  In closing

PPA has listened to our members. Improved communication allows our members to understand what we are doing as an organisation. We continue to deliver on our core mandates.

  • We look after the interests of cycling through all of our current activities.
  • We look after the safety of cyclists through our Safe Cycling campaigns.
  • We organise events that are accessible and challenge all levels of cyclists.
  • We strive to increase access to bicycles through the Bike4all and project funding.
  • We assist other event organisers with timing, crew and logistical support.
  • We seek to establish relationships with other organisations and are most proud of our partnership with BEN, through the Bike4all project.

I look forward to building on the projects and initiatives that are currently underway and I trust that I can keep counting on your support.

Thank you.

Robert Vogel

Chief Executive Officer