British Cycling ‘respect right to protest’ as cyclists demonstrate at HQ

BC stick to the party line as flares set off on roof of National Cycling Centre.

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The backlash is not quite finished in the wake of British Cycling’s sponsorship deal with Shell, which has coincided with the abrupt resignation of CEO Brian Facer. Now, Extinction Rebellion has protested on the roof of the organisation’s National Cycling Centre in Manchester.

Cyclists from the global environmental movement were joined by members of another organisation, Friends of the Earth, and other local cycling groups. They unfurled banners demanding “Get Shell out of British Cycling” and let off smoke flares while a samba band played.

The demonstration was held in Manchester on the same day British Cycling was set to hold its Annual General Meeting in Birmingham, but the event was moved online.

“All the science says fossil fuels have caused the Climate Crisis. Shell pretends it’s a green company but they’ve spent more money on advertising than on renewable energy,” said 34-year-old Mark Steven, a software engineer who cycled 30 miles to take part in the protest. “And British Cycling is actually helping them to look green when they’re carrying on causing the crisis. I’m just so angry.”

“Shell just wants to make itself look green – but cyclists can see through their game,” added 59-year-old Jo Blackman, an adult education tutor who was at the protest and is resigning her British Cycling membership. “British Cycling is so naive to have fallen for Shell’s greenwashing. The Chief Executive resigning isn’t enough, because they’re still taking the money. There’s a petition to sign asking British Cycling to drop the sponsorship deal.”

When contacted for comment by CyclingTips, British Cycling’s Acting CEO, Dani Every, reiterated the original claim by the governing body that the long-term partnership with Shell will help the organisation on its path to net zero. The statement was communicated via email, so we don’t know whether the sentiment was delivered with a straight face.

“We respect the public’s right to protest and have worked to engage with and listen to those within our sport and more widely on the benefits that our partnership with Shell UK will bring,” Every said.

“The eight-year partnership will see a long-term, shared commitment to: supporting Great Britain’s cyclists and para-cyclists through the sharing of world-class innovation and expertise; accelerating British Cycling’s path to net zero; and delivering ways to make cycling more accessible for disabled people.”

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