PERTH’S Bicycle Transport Alliance has folded.
Despite the city’s bike network being riddled with gaps and blackspots, there will no longer be a lobby group to put pressure on the state government to fix them.
The alliance wasn’t about lycra warriors or circuit racers, but ordinary bike riders heading to work or school.
Chief executive Heinrich Benz, said the main reason for folding was that the state’s peak cycling body WestCycle wouldn’t support it financially.
“This is sad news for the members and supporters of the Bicycle Transport Alliance, but more importantly it’s an even greater loss for the people of WA who support the kind of places where ordinary people, mums and dads, senior citizens and school children can safely pedal about their communities,” Mr Benz said.
Matt Fulton from WestCycle says while the alliance had made significant contributions to bike riding throughout WA, it had never been directly funded by his organisation.
“We offered them a significant funding package for the 15/16 financial year, which included paying a full-time salary, free office rent and marketing support to strengthen their business model—which they declined when their CEO resigned.”
Mr Benz quit in August last year and the organisation limped along until this week.
“I must say it’s an incredibly disappointing statement from an organisation we offered to support so strongly,” Mr Fulton said.
Former BTA board member Peter Bartlett said paying a full-timer wasn’t nearly as flexible as getting direct funding to spend on programs, and being under WestCycle’s umbrella could’ve dampened their ability to speak out.
“The conditions didn’t really suit [Mr Benz] and he decided not to take up that offer,” Mr Bartlett says.
“The BTA didn’t have enough funds to employ a new CEO, our income stream isn’t that good, and we’d been winding down for some years. We knew we would reach that point at some stage.
“It comes down to the issue that if you operate independently, but your main advocate is employed by a third party, there’s always some constraint on how outspoken you can be, and we really valued the ability to be critical about things that needed criticising.”
by DAVID BELL