My year at CTC

In 2010, I took a job with cyclists’ organisation CTC as their Interim Communications Officer, covering the press officer’s maternity leave, at their national office in Guildford. When I completed the contract, Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign asked me to write a review of my year. Here’s what I gave them.

 

Alex Bailey cycling in Manchester

As a certified bike geek, my friends and family are perplexed by my enthusiasm for cycling. GMCC meetings were, for four years, the only place I could exercise my cycling obsession with fellow cycloholics. So, eighteen months ago, if you’d said I’d be able to blether about cycling all day long and be paid for it, I’d have said, ‘I wish.’ But as it turns out, my ideal job was just around the corner.

Everyone loves a league table

I hardly dared cycle to the office back in December 2010 for fear of coming a cropper on the sheet ice that covered the roads that month. Once I’d made it in of a morning, work consisted of the press and publicity for the Fill That Hole Awards initiative, where we deployed questionably rigorous methods to find the highway authority with the best pothole fixing performance. In a campaign that captured the interest of journalists during the big freeze, various local newspapers reported the position of their local authority on the Fill That Hole league table. And so I learnt the first lesson of media campaigning: the local press loves slating the Council.

When is a campaign not a campaign?

The snow had barely melted from the treetops when the Coalition Government announced its intention to sell large swathes of English Forestry Commission land – and we geared up for a battle to protect cycle access through that woodland. The forests received an early reprieve with the Coalition’s first U-turn, after rural England got hot under the collar. Campaigning lesson two: anything can happen.

Sometimes you win by accident

So we turned to Northern Ireland, where Assembly member Pat Ramsey had gained approval for a Bill seeking to outlaw cycling without a helmet, which could have had a disastrous effect on utility cycling levels. In collaboration with Sustrans, we launched an online petition and a publicity campaign. The bill ran aground when the Assembly dissolved for a general election.

A tweet is worth a thousand words

Our Autumn campaign opposed the DfT’s trial of longer lorries after its own research showed that these vehicles pose an increased threat to cyclists and other road users. We encouraged cyclists to contact their MPs, garnering more than 1,000 emails in a week, thanks in part to the awesome power of Twitter. Lesson three: less is more.

The job’s a good ‘un

I returned to Greater Manchester in December 2011, keen to share the lessons I had learnt and to help GMCC represent cyclists on the rainy streets we call home, where I’ve since set up freelance, offering publicity solutions to the non-profit sector.

CTC is a good organisation to work for, with skilled managers, a shared purpose among the team and a collegiate ethos where junior employees participate in decision making – and added to this, they don’t roll their eyes when you talk about bikes all day long. If you’re considering applying for a job with CTC, I recommend it.

Fact file

CTC’s pothole reporting website is still live at www.fillthathole.org.uk

The Government’s plans to sell 50% of England’s forestry were cancelled in February 2011 but it is entitled, under existing statute, to sell 15% of the national estate annually.

The Government went ahead with its trial of 18.55m lorries but the trial was limited in size.

 

This article was originally published by Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign in their newsletter.