CTC (cycling)

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Cyclists' Touring Club
CTC's logo.  A yellow and blue drawing of a cycle above the text "CTC" and to the left of "the national cycling charity".
CTC's logo
Abbreviation CTC
Motto The national cycling charity
Formation 1878 (1878)
Type NGO
Legal status Private company limited by guarantee & Registered charity
Purpose Support cyclists and encourage bicycle use in the UK.
Headquarters Guildford
Coordinates 51°15′36″N 0°35′24″W / 51.260124°N 0.590059°W / 51.260124; -0.590059Coordinates: 51°15′36″N 0°35′24″W / 51.260124°N 0.590059°W / 51.260124; -0.590059
Jon Snow
Chief Executive
Paul Tuohy
Main organ
Cycle Magazine
Website www.ctc.org.uk
Formerly called
The Bicycle Touring Club

The Cyclists' Touring Club, universally known as CTC, is a charitable membership organization supporting cyclists and promoting bicycle use; it is the largest such organisation in the UK. It works at a national and local level to lobby for cyclists' needs and wants, provides services to members, and organises local groups for local activism and those interested in recreational cycling. CTC began in the nineteenth century with a focus on amateur road cycling but these days has a much broader sphere of interest encompassing everyday transport, commuting and many forms of recreational cycling. CTC currently operates under the brand CTC, the national cycling charity. Since January 2007, CTC's president has been the newsreader Jon Snow.[1]

Present-day activities[edit]

CTC, the UK's national cyclists organisation, promotes cycling in the UK, and had about 70,000 members in 2013.[2] Its objectives (registered with the Charity Commission) are to[3]

  1. "Promote community participation in healthy recreation by promoting the amateur sport of cycling, cycle touring and associated amateur sports;
  2. "Preserve and protect the health and safety of the public by encouraging and facilitating cycling and the safety of cyclists;
  3. "Advance education by whatever means [CTC's] trustees think fit, including the provision of cycling, training and educational activities related to cycling;
  4. "Promote the conservation and protection of the environment."

CTC works to encourage more people to take up cycling, to make cycling safer and more enjoyable, and to provide cyclists with the support and resources they need. Its activities vary from road safety promotion to the provision of organised cycling holidays. CTC does not focus on competitive cycle sport, since that has its own organisation, British Cycling.

CTC's successes have been a benchmarking project to spread best practice in cycle-friendly infrastructure design, and a grant of nearly £1 million to promote national standards for cycle training, standards CTC helped to develop.

CTC is organised at district level, with CTC Local Groups organising cycle rides on Sundays and during the week. The more leisurely rides are planned around café stops, the quality of the ride often being judged on the standard of the cakes; CTC has been referred to as[by whom?] "Café To Café" or "Coffee, Tea and Cakes".

In 2008, the CTC Charitable Trust launched the Cycle Champions' programme. Using funding from the National Lottery's Wellbeing Fund, CTC employ 13 Community Cycling development Officers around England to promote cycling in all sectors of the community, particularly those not traditionally associated with cycling. They recruit 'Cycle Champions' within the community to work towards these goals as volunteers.

In 2009, CTC, in partnership with ContinYou and UK Youth, launched Bike Club, a programme funded by Cycling England with the intention of promoting cycling, and its associated learning experiences, among children and young people aged 10–20. Locally based officers advise on the establishment of clubs and the application for funding.

The members' magazine, Cycle, covers subjects including ride reports, product reviews and legal and technical advice. Members benefit from public liability insurance, which is extended to cover rides organised under the auspices of CTC Local Groups.

The CTC is also the organisation behind the British Cycle Quest, an informal competition which challenges members to visit six designated places in each of the counties of England, Scotland and Wales.

CTC is a member of the European Cyclists' Federation.

CTC believes that UK cyclists should continue to be free to decide whether or not they wear cycle helmets, and campaigns to keep the UK's laws as they are. CTC says that this is because putting too much emphasis on cycle helmets makes people think that cycling is much more dangerous than it actually is, and can put people off. CTC believes that health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks, so it is important that people are not discouraged. CTC also feels that the real risks faced by cyclists, such as excessive vehicle speed, are often forgotten when all the discussions concentrate on cycle helmets. CTC reviewed the current Highway Code before it was published, and helped reword some sections that could have been detrimental for cyclists.

CTC is a founder of the Slower Speeds Initiative, an unincorporated association dedicated to reducing traffic speeds on all roads. CTC works with organisations such as Transport 2000 and Sustrans, and has charitable offshoots, the CTC Charitable Trust and the Cyclists' Defence Fund.


Old CTC sign on display at the National Museum of Scotland

CTC has been known by various names over the course of its history:

  • The Bicycle Touring Club (1878-1883)
  • The Cyclists' Touring Club (1883-2009, remains CTC's legal name)[4]
  • CTC, the national cyclists' organisation (2009-2012)[4][5]
  • CTC, the national cycling charity (from 2012)[5]

The change from "Bicycle" to "Cyclists'" emphasised the fact that the club was also open to tricyclists - adult tricycles enjoyed considerable popularity at the time. The more recent branding changes were intended to reflect CTC's current activities and avoid placing an undue emphasis on its historic touring focus.


CTC was founded at Harrogate, in Yorkshire, on 5 August 1878 by an Edinburgh medical student, Stanley Cotterell. It was originally called the Bicycle Touring Club and its headquarters were wherever Cotterell happened to be living. It had 80 members, all men. The first woman, Mrs W. D. Welford, joined in 1880. In 1883, the Bicycle Touring Club was renamed the Cyclists' Touring Club to open membership to tricyclists. Membership rose to 10,627 and CTC opened a headquarters at 139-140 Fleet Street in London.[6]

Members, like those of other clubs, often rode in uniform. CTC appointed an official tailor. The uniform was a dark green Devonshire serge jacket, knickerbockers and a "Stanley helmet with a small peak". The colour changed to grey when green proved impractical because it showed the dirt.[7] Groups often rode with a bugler at their head to sound changes of direction or to bring the group to a halt. Confusion could be caused when groups met and mistook each other's signals.[8]

Cycling accommodation[edit]

CTC plaque on the wall of a guest house in Ingleton, North Yorkshire
1895 cartoon contrasting the bicycle suit (left) vs. conventional feminine attire (right)

From 1887,[9] the Cyclists' Touring Club gave seals of approval, in the form of a cast iron plaque (later replaced by an enamel plate) showing the winged-wheel symbol of CTC, for mounting on an outside wall of hotels and restaurants which offered good accommodation and service to cyclists. A few of the metal signs still exist, as do a handful of road signs put up by CTC to warn cyclists of steep hills: usually steep going down, which was as much a problem for riders of large-wheel ordinaries, or "penny-farthings", as going up. The CTC no longer puts up general road signs—although the right to do so is retained—and approved establishments are offered a plastic window-sticker carrying the blue and yellow logo shown above.

In 1898 CTC became embroiled in a court case to defend a member denied what she thought adequate service at a hotel carrying the club's badge. Florence Wallace Pomeroy, Lady Harberton (1843–1911) of Cromwell Road, Kensington — wife of James Pomeroy, 6th Viscount Harberton and president of the Western Rational Dress Society — cycled on the morning of 27 October 1898 to have lunch at the Hautboy Hotel in Ockham, Surrey. Her campaigning for society to accept that women could wear "rational" dress on a bicycle and not ankle-length dresses led her to wear a jacket and a pair of long and baggy trousers which came together just above the ankle. She walked into the coffee room and asked to be served. The landlady, a Mrs Martha Sprague, showed her instead into the bar parlour. CTC went into action, mounting a prosecution for "refusing food to a traveller". The landlady was acquitted and CTC lost the unusually large amount of money it had allotted to the case, which had been considered at the root of cyclists' rights and the values of CTC.

Attempt to include motorists[edit]

In 1906 CTC asked the High Court to amend its constitution so that it could admit all tourists, including car-drivers. A majority of members - 10,495 to 2,231 - had voted the previous year for the change to take place. The court ruled that CTC could not protect the interests of cyclists and drivers at the same time and denied permission.[10]

In 1926 the CTC discussed an unsuccessful motion calling for cycle tracks to be built on each side of roads for "the exclusive use of cyclists", and that cyclists could be taxed, providing the revenue was used for the provision of such tracks.[11]

Conversion to charity[edit]

In September 2012, the Cyclists' Touring Club was merged with the CTC Charitable Trust, forming a single charitable organisation.[5] This followed approval by The Charity Commission for England and Wales in June 2012.[12] It was stated that conversion to a single unified charity would result in financial savings, allow the income of CTC to be boosted by up to £100,000 by reclaiming Gift Aid, and help to build public recognition and support.[13] CTC members had voted overwhelmingly in favour of amending the CTC's Memorandum and Articles to enable the registration as a unified charity, with almost 9,000 members voting at the AGM, and 92.7% voting in favour.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jon Snow new CTC President". Cyclists' Touring Club. 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  2. ^ "Membership". Cyclists' Touring Club. 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  3. ^ "1147607 - Cyclists' Touring Club". Charity Commission. 17 May 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Annual report for the CTC Council for year ending 30 September 2009, page 2. Publishing in 'Cycle', Apr-May 2009.
  5. ^ a b c "Structure, Governance and Management". Cyclists' Touring Club Report and Financial Statements 30 September 2012. Guildford, England: Cyclists' Touring Club. September 2012. p. 1. On midnight on 30 September 2012 the CTC Charitable Trust merged with the Cyclists' Touring Club and the new financial year starts with one unified charity. 
  6. ^ CTC website www.ctc.org.uk
  7. ^ Cycling On, Ray Hallett, Dinosaur Publications 1978
  8. ^ John Pinkerton, int. Wheels of Fortune, BBC Radio 4, 1988
  9. ^ "History Of CTC". Cyclists' Touring Club. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  10. ^ Penguin Book of the Bicycle, Roderick Watson and Martin Gray, 1984
  11. ^ "The Cyclists' Touring Club: Proposal for Special Cycle Tracks Defeated". The Times. 12 April 1926. 
  12. ^ "CTC is awarded full charitable status". CTC. The Charity Commission for England and Wales has approved CTC’s application to become a charity. The decision recognises that all the work of the UK's largest cycling organisation, with its 68,000 strong membership, is of benefit to the public. 
  13. ^ "Voting on CTC's future" (PDF). CTC. All these activities now qualify as charitable. With these benefits protected by the Council it must be in the interest of members to also grasp the benefits of Gift Aid on subscriptions. We can boost the income of the CTC by up to £100,000 a year – funding that can be used to support more cycling, more local groups and more campaigning. If we vote ‘no’ we are also turning away from public recognition. Society supports charitable organisations like ours financially because we can prove we make the world a better place – through charitable services to members and through our campaigning and promotion. 
  14. ^ "CTC AGM Results" (PDF). CTC. CTC members voted overwhelmingly in favour of amending CTC’s Memorandum and Articles, in order that the organisation can be registered as a unified membership charity in England and Wales. (CTC is already registered as a charity in Scotland.) Almost 9,000 members voted at the AGM on 12 May, just before this issue of Cycle went to press, with 92.7% voting in favour. 

Further reading[edit]