Money makes the wheels go round

How much did you spend to buy your bike? £1000? £2000? £3000? More? Fair enough, you might have bought it second hand and so this question won’t apply to you, but there are thousands of riders out there who take advantage of the various deals available or simply save up to buy new.

When you think about it, spending that amount of money on something that when you were a kid you’d happily drop on the floor in a pile outside the sweet shop is crazy – but you know how it goes, when you love something, you cherish and value it. You’ll spend the money on it. And that’s no bad thing.

But do we apply that to where we ride? Can we all really claim that we cherish and value the paths we ride on? Even more so, would you spend money on them? Aside from doing the KoftheP thing, buying a few t-shirts, chipping in some crowd-funding and having been along to a few trail days I can’t claim to be a shining beacon of trail heroism, but it’s something.

Time’s always the challenge for me – family, work, life – balancing them all means that when I do get some ‘biking’ time I’m going to dedicate it to riding rather than trail maintenance. I dare say that I’m not the only one who has that dilemma.

So what can we do about it? And why do I care how much your bike costs?

Well you’re on KoftheP, so I’ll take a guess that you care about the places you ride. And you’re a ‘mountain biker’ so I guess that from time to time you spend inordinate amounts of money on bikes or frames. Perhaps then you wouldn’t mind a small proportion of that spend going directly into the places you ride.

What I’m suggesting is a tiny contribution from the cost of a new bike going directly to the groups that look after, protect and campaign for the paths we ride. Totally voluntary. A scrap of a percentage of the total cost of your bike going to protect the places you love to ride.

Let’s have an example.

Spend £1000 on a bike. Voluntarily choose to pay a 0.5%* contribution to the local trails.

£1000 bike ÷ 100 (%) = £10
£10 ÷ 2 (to get 0.5%) = £5.
So, a £1000 bike = a £5 contribution to the trails.

It’s not a lot is it? The price of a tube. Not that anyone uses tubes these days of course.

Ok, now let’s extrapolate that.

In 2013, Mintel had UK bike sales at £745 million. Apply the contribution above and in 2013 you’d have a pot of £3.75m.

Of course, not every bike sale is a mountain bike. Not every mountain bike sale is in the kind of shop who would support a contribution like this. And not every mountain biker who buys a bike from a shop who would support a contribution like this would choose to make that contribution. So let’s be pessimistic.

Of that £745m, let’s say just 5% choose to make that 0.5% contribution. That’s a trail ‘pot’ of £186,250. That’s a lot of spades, wheelbarrows and mattocks.

Could it work? Would you chip in that half a percent of your new bike cost? I know I would.

Next question then – who holds the purse strings? Well, in lieu of the Bank of Keeper of the Peak, you’d need a constitutionalised, accounted, responsible and representative body. Open MTB seem to fit the bill nicely.

Clearly, there’s some thinking that needs to be done but I think it could work. So how would you share the money out? Let’s say you’re a bike shop in the Quantocks. Over a few months, you’ve raised about £1000 for the pot through sales. How do you know that money isn’t going to go straight to the well organised, busy areas rather than you’re local trails? It’s a simple case of registered interest. The overall pot gets divided proportionately to where the investment comes from. Say 80% of the overall pot is raised in the Peak District, it would make democratic sense to reinvest that back in those trails. Give or take a little round the edges for national campaigns and similar campaigns and you have a model which could work.

So where does the money go to? Well that’s simply the Dragon’s Den model. It’s a pot that anyone can apply for.  Yes there would have to be some rules or agreed terms; some basic standards to qualify for investment – but that’s admin. That will come with debate. Bouncing the thought around.

So while this may well be the ramblings of an eternal optimist, it feels like a kernel of an idea.

Happy to know your thoughts. You can comment below!

*suggested tiny contribution

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4 thoughts on “Money makes the wheels go round

  1. Absolutely excellent idea. I would like to point out that the money wouldn’t necessarily have to go into ‘trail building’ as many may see that as bermed corners, jumps etc. But maintenance, and conservation of trails and the areas the area the trails lie where it could be affected by mtbs. I know a lot of trails in the Peaks where any perceived alteration to trails is a big no no, but to improve access (parking, gates, etc) and contribute to the upkeep of those areas we use could go a long way to helping the cause for open access as well as help the broader public see that mtbers aren’t just users and abusers of the countryside, they’re contributors.

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    • Yep you’re absolutely right and that is essentially what I’m getting at. There are loads of costs that people don’t even consider that are ancillary to the more well known trail maintenance – digging drains and so on – I know, for example, that Peak District MTB have so far spent hundreds of pounds on campaigning against work on Rushup Edge; with a fair whack of it on producing a professional report which has provided the core argument for them. The #TrailsForWales campaign too won’t be cheap. But there’s simply no fund out there to support this stuff.

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  2. PS I realise that is your intention and worded much more betterer than my rambling. I just noticed as some were discussing this in a forum and the focus has turned to ‘trail building’ and buying mini diggers rather than the campaign groups, open access and conservation. Trail sanitisation is a popular topic at the moment.

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