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File:CTClub logo.jpg

Logo of the Cyclists’ Touring Club.

CTC and the UK's national cyclists' organisation are the trading names of the Cyclists' Touring Club[1].

CTC is the United Kingdom's largest cycling membership organisation. It also has members and district associations in the Republic of Ireland. It was established in 1878, originally as the 'Bicycle Touring Club', making it the oldest national tourism organisation of any description in the World, and was renamed the Cyclists' Touring Club in 1883. Since January 2007, CTC's president has been the newsreader and journalist, Jon Snow.[2]


CTC was founded at Harrogate, 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, a 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, London EC4.[3]


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.[4] 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.[5]

Cycling accommodation[]

File:City Hotel Fife.jpg

CTC plaque on the wall of the City Hotel, Dunfermline. The original colours would have been black and gold

In earlier times, the Cyclists' Touring Club gave seals of approval, in the form of a cast metal plaque 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 plaques 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. Nowadays, 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.

CTC and motorists[]

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.[6]

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.[7]

Modern CTC[]

Today CTC is concerned with the promotion of cycling for recreation, travel and transport, and has about 70,000 members[8]. Among its 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 a district level, with CTC Local Groups organising cycle rides on most Sundays and often 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 asTemplate:By whom "Café To Café" or "Coffee, Tea and Cakes".

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.

In 2008, the CTC Charitable Trust launched their Cycle Champions' programme. Utilising 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.

CTC is a member of the European Cyclists' Federation.


  1. Annual report for the CTC Council for year ending 30 September 2009, page 2. Publishing in 'Cycle', Apr-May 2009.
  2. Template:Cite news
  3. CTC website
  4. Cycling On, Ray Hallett, Dinosaur Publications 1978
  5. John Pinkerton, int. Wheels of Fortune, BBC Radio 4, 1988
  6. Penguin Book of the Bicycle, Roderick Watson and Martin Gray, 1984
  7. Template:Cite news
  8. Template:Cite web

External links[]