Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Safety First and Last

AGM reacts to spate of club’s riding accidents


The restaurant room of Burmarsh’s Shepherd and Crook reverberated to the whoops and high enthusiasm of about twenty members (not forgetting Scout the only canine member) of the Thornton Road Club  who attended their 2010 Annual General Meeting on Saturday 23 October. Chaired by Michael Windsor and orchestrated by Secretary Gordon Davis (who requested forbearance for his temporary aural insensibility), the meeting was informed of the club’s rapid growth during the last two years, when membership had doubled.
An expanded membership however may have exposed the club to new hazards. More members had led to bigger riding groups on Sunday runs, and bigger groups may have contributed to a spate of accidents during the summer. For that reason, the AGM agreed that some of the club’s most experienced cyclists should compile a forceful list of hints and tips that would improve safety in group riding, including presumably group riding in traffic. In addition, the meeting unanimously endorsed the view that all riders should be asked to make sure that they had current third party insurance cover whenever they rode – just in case! We live in litigious times.
But the meeting had earlier become agitated and diverted from the cause of greater safety by a complex compound proposal in the agenda which sought first, the coaching of novice riders by club-member Graeme Pilcher, and second, undertaking the necessary coaching insurance whose premium would be funded by an increase in the annual subscription of ‘social members’ – a category that in 2009 replaced the archaic category ‘non-racing members’. Incensed by the proposed diminutive increase of £2/year in social members’ subscriptions, many voices were raised in favour of all types of adult membership – both social and active – paying the same subscription rate. That would imply that the social members’ rate would double from £6/year to £12/year. Passions aroused, the meeting noisily declared that there should be an additional resolution proposing homogeneous subscription rates, while the matter of coaching for novices was inadvertently forgotten.
Even Scout the canine is reputed to have voted in favour of this new resolution which was acclaimed almost unanimously, giving the club uniform subscription rates for all types of non-junior members. Operatively, a uniform subscription rate implied a disappearance of membership categories: from this day forth, everyone was de facto an active member. Fortunately for undeclared mendicant members, there was no democratic mileage in the attempt by some to raise the uniform subscription to £15/year; it remained solidly at £12/year for the time being.
Before and after the safety-related/member-category debate, which so disturbed the meeting’s protocol, a number of valuable procedural issues had been endorsed by the assembly, including shifting the AGM to June or July of each year; changing the club’s accounting year-end to 31 March instead of 31 October; affiliating with the Southeast division of the CTT (the time trials governing council) rather than London South; approving the establishment by the Social Secretary (Toni Spain), whose work was praised by Secretary Davis, of a computerised list of members’ data (postal addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc.); and experimenting with a system of sounding out club members’ views by means of circulated questionnaires – a so-called ‘survey system’.
Just as Alice’s white rabbit was startled by his own belatedness, so the meeting extended without warning beyond its allotted time. Consequently it could only cursorily discuss the merits or otherwise of the club providing inner tubes for its members (it won’t happen), and the possible scenario for future Sunday runs if and when the Railway CafĂ© closes.
No friend of the white rabbit, Scout the canine observed that although he couldn’t define time, he knew when there wasn’t enough of it. And so it was when the meeting ended mandatorily at 8:20 pm.
(A formal summary of the AGM proceedings may be obtained from Gordon Davis)

Eric Bates