The Bicycle Dealers Association (BDA), set up in September by a number of independent cycling retailers, has launched a petition calling for reform of what it describes as “the broken Cycle to Work marketplace.”
The association, whose members include the London-based businesses Pearson Performance, Bespoke Cycling, Cycle Exchange, Cyclefit, Pearson Performance plus Marlow, Buckinghamshire-based Saddle Safafri and Cotswold Cycles of Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, is inviting “like-minded bicycle retailers to join us” in what it describes as an “earnest struggle” to make the scheme fairer for independent retailers.
“We are a group of bicycle dealers, and we are challenging how the administration involved in government’s Cycle to Work is currently structured,” says the petition, which is hosted on Change.org.
“We have tried, over an extended period, to positively engage with the bicycle industry, to discuss a more rational and fairer system.
“This, to date, has been an unsuccessful process – there seems to be resistance to change because of vested interests predicated on a history of excess profits within the Cycle to Work administration sector. In essence, we feel this is a failure of appropriate governance of the sector.
“The reason the sector is configured in this unfair way is because bicycle retailers were not represented when the scheme was devised or as it has been reformed over the years,” the BDA continues, insisting, “This must never happen again.”
One of the chief problems highlighted by the BDA when it was set up earlier this year was that since the former £1,000 cap was abolished last year, commission rates charged by Cycle to Work scheme providers remained unchanged, with the association claiming that as a result, they are taking more money on many transactions, despite “The costs associated with administering the scheme [being] largely the same if the bike is £500 or £5,000.”
It says that is “unfair and leads to excess profits,” and that levying charges solely on retailers “is a financially unsustainable model.”
The largest player in the market, Cyclescheme, did lower its commission rates in late September on unredeemed e-certificates to 8.33 per cent excluding VAT on all bikes, accessories and helmets, and from this month will cap the amount on which commission is payable at £3,000.
However, the insists in its petition that it remains “committed to working with all parties to achieve a fairer and more sustainable model for all stake-holders – UK taxpayers, consumers, bicycle-retailers, Cycle to Work providers and the UK bicycle industry.”
It says: “The current financial burden on the shoulders of bike-shops, cannot be what the UK government intended at the inception of the scheme?
“We suggest a more balanced scheme, where retailers, manufacturers and the UK cycle industry share the financial burden, based on reduced or capped fees, that benefits from structured government oversight.
“We would further suggest that a proportion of the fees contributes to a cycling advocacy and sustainable transport initiatives,” the BDA added, saying that it looks forward “to positively negotiating with all stake-holders on this basis.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.