Diversity In Cycling started as a conversation between two friends, Mani Arthur and Andy Edwards. Mani is British Ghanian and an experienced club rider and racer. Andy is white British, who joined his first cycling club and started racing in the early 1980s.
Both of them observed more riders from black and Asian backgrounds on their bikes and in Lycra, but this was not reflected in cycling clubs. Mani decided to put his experienced to good use and form Black Cyclists Network (BCN). Having been very involved with diversity and inclusion in the music business, Andy decided to write Diversity In Cycling, initially for his own cycling club Kingston Wheelers.
From that one conversation, black and Asian men and women came together to share their experiences of cycling. There were over sixty contributors and within that a core group of approximately a dozen who helped shape the report’s contents through multiple drafts as the report took shape. Andy took responsibly for writing the report, but the whole process was a collaborative effort from day one.
The resulting document serves to connect the overwhelmingly white cycling community with the subject of diversity. The essence of the report is in the words of contributors who share their own lived experiences of cycling from a black and Asian perspective. Intersectionality is a core theme, with the voices of black and Asian women often being the most powerful. The report also considers the experiences of Muslim cyclists, which was especially revealing. The report is not too long, only 46 pages. Please read it in its entirety. There are no edits or short cuts or summaries. Please do the work.
The final draft was shared with Chidi Onuoha, a communications executive at British Cycling. As a British Nigerian woman with a background in sports communications, Chidi was one of the most thoughtful and powerful advocates for Diversity In Cycling. It was Chidi who mobilised BC’s support for the report, which saw the governing body distribute the report to cycling clubs and organisations across the UK on publication in June 2019. Since then, it has been shared widely within the cycling community across the UK and around the world.
BC respected the grass roots ethos, collaborative spirit of the project but they did not commission the report, they did not influence its contents, nor did they pay for the report. The entire project, including the launch event, was done with zero budget. CEO Julie Harrington wrote the Foreword, admitting BC has fallen short on BAME diversity. This serves as a an excellent template for a CEO taking responsibility for any organisation’s lack of progress. The truth is cycling as a whole is way behind on this issue, that includes most governing bodies around the world, the UCI and World Tour level teams.
Grass roots cycling, however, is buzzing with progress. Diversity In Cycling, is a part of that change. The report does not pretend to be exhaustive or definitive, nothing concerning diversity could ever claim to be. It was simply an attempt to connect people and to be a catalyst as part of a much bigger conversation.
The intense scrutiny of the death of black man George Floyd at the hands of white police officers now charged with his murder, coupled with the global lockdown as a result of COVID has focused everyone's attention. Racism is being discussed on an entirely different level than was the case previously. It has also prompted a lot of soul searching within the cycling world to improve diversity and inclusion and to be more proactively antiracist and acknowledge unambiguously that #BlackLivesMatter. The global lockdown has also prompted more people of all backgrounds to discover cycling and this has added further to the buzz at grass roots level and which we see very clearly.
If you want to see more people from all backgrounds riding their bikes please read this report, act upon its recommendations and think what you can do. Please share it. This report is freely available to anyone across the global cycling community. If your brand or organisation wants to share and distribute the report, please get in touch and we will happily work with you, email us HERE and click on the link below to read the report.