“Everything changes and nothing stands still”. Heraclitus (535-475BC)
Over the past 40 years, the cycling environment has changed considerably. Forty years ago, it was relatively cheap to organise road races in the Far South municipalities. Mountain biking didn’t exist. Neither did carbon fibre frames nor GPS linked bike computers. Strava and WhatsApp were the things of science fiction, and sports nutrition was water; raisins; and a bar one. So too has the environment where we ride our bicycles changed. More cars and an ailing public transport system have resulted in more road users than ever before. This congestion sees more traffic on our roads around the clock and the days of finding quiet roads around Cape Town are all but a thing of the past. But ride we will. And the PPA needs to be there to represent the best interests of cyclists – across the spectrum.
Our membership levels have remained constant. I like to think this is because of the perceived benefit members get by being part of the PPA. And membership benefits have become a strategic focus for the organisation. Apart from discounted entry fees and guaranteed access to certain entries at events, we would like to make membership benefits more meaningful in the future. These offerings are being measured up at the moment. We compete against aggressive loyalty programmes in the market and – from a business perspective – we wish to protect the revenue stream gained from our membership numbers. Our membership numbers also give us the credence to act on your behalf and allow us to have a valuable and representative opinion on all things cycling related. Last year we had over 17,000 paid up PPA members, to my knowledge making us the largest cycling association in Africa. This is something we can all be proud of.
Our events basket is forever evolving as we cyclists demand more and new experiences to choose from. The Maluti Double 90 and Cyclosportifs are just some examples of how we have grown our events portfolio as well as extended our range outside of the Western Cape. And we won’t stop here either. The South African cycling events calendar is very congested and we are spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting events. PPA events have and always will be good value for money.
The Safe Cycling campaign will be rejuvenated. It’s simply too close to all of us. The original “1.5 keeps us alive” campaign has seen the Western Cape government introduce a 1-metre passing by-law. We are not satisfied that the Provincial government is fully able to implement this as yet – but it’s a step (pedal stroke?) in the right direction. The National Government is now considering a 1.2-metre passing law for cyclists – again, an indication that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. And this campaign must remain ever squeaky.
PPA continues to focus on Youth Development. Whilst careful not to infringe on the responsibilities of CSA (Cycling South Africa), the PPA feels that we need to make an investment into our Youth where realistically possible. We sent six young riders to Europe to compete last year and in the next edition, we aim at broadening our influence to create training camps for bigger numbers of young riders. With the heroics of South African Team Dimension Data on the global stage; newly crowned U23 MTB world champion Alan Hatherley; downhill star Greg Minnaar (to name a few) we clearly have the talent to perform on the global stage. But more support is needed in this regard – and we will do what we can.
On the other end of the spectrum, our successful #Bike4All campaign has been welcomed across a wide spread of communities. The PPA is all about getting people onto bicycles and we have combined our efforts with BEN and Qhubeka to help gain more momentum in this regard. Watch this space for more developments on this project.
In conclusion and on behalf of the entire PPA membership, I would like to extend our thanks to the PPA office for a job well done. They field many queries and are truly the soldiers of our organisation. Without our office, we would be unable to put these ideas into action and maintain the high standards as set out in the PPA Constitution.