Voice of the Month: Dan Barnes

Newest member of the LCC Board of Trustees, Dan Barnes, explains how he got involved in campaigning and his hope to broaden LCC's supporter base  

My involvement with the London Cycling Campaign began in February 2011, when a close friend, Dan Cox, was knocked off and killed in Dalston by a left-turning lorry. Before then the LCC hadn’t really been on my radar; I was a relatively novice cyclist and had only started riding a bike in 2009. Infact two months after getting my first ‘adult’ bike through Cycle2Work, I was also knocked off in a hit-and-run accident and left with a variety of injuries, some of which are still being treated. So it’s safe to say that the relevance and  importance of the LCC rather quickly became apparent.

Dan’s death roughly coincided with the launch of the ‘No More Lethal Lorries’ campaign, so my involvement in both campaigning and fundraising happened at much the same time. It felt like Dan’s death had been avoidable, and that something had to be done to prevent other people going through a similar loss. The LCC were both sensitive and constructive; and their campaigning is crucial to the future of cycling in the city.  

I decided that riding that year's Etape du Tour, a gruelling stage of the Tour de France, would provide a suitably difficult challenge to base some fundraising around. The response was overwhelming; I had very quickly raised over £3,000 and smashed my target; this continued upwards until £6,800, sharedbetween the LCC and Bart’s hospital trust. The majority came from LCC members and complete strangers within the cycling community; I was absolutely overawed. A big push on email had really helped to get my activity out there, and it seemed to have struck a cord with a lot of LCC members.

The following year I decided to try and build upon the success of this ride, and upped the ante with a 7-day stage race from Geneva to London. The ride took in the equivalent of climbing Everest three times, and covered over 600km of Alps over its course. Once again members of the LCC and other London cyclists rose to the occasion and helped to raise a staggering £6,000; all the more impressive as it was raised in just over a month. The funds went solely on the LCC this time, supporting the Love London, Go Dutch Campaign. For the unlucky few who attended, there was even a sponsored leg waxing at Look Mum, No Hands (pictured above)!

However, this year I decided that it was going to be difficult to repeat another large-scale fundraising ride; it takes a lot of time, money and energy to commit to both the training and fundraising required, especially with the bar being set so high from previous campaigns. I still really wanted to be involved with the LCC, and was asked to help write some training and support tips for LCC charity riders taking part in the Ride London event. It was great seeing so many riders out raising funds on the day, and also great seeing the LCC represented at such an important and high profile event.

When the opportunity came up to get involved as a trustee, it looked like a great way to shift my involvement with the LCC to something a little bit more strategic, and less focussed on publicly punishing myself up mountains for money. But my initial concern was that I just wasn’t sure whether I had enough experience to offer; not of cycling, but of local cycling groups and of the LCC itself.

A lot of the other candidates and existing trustees had 10+ years of cycling and had witnessed many of the changes causing problems today. But in the end, I reasoned that a board needs to be built up of different experiences and skillsets – and I knew that the kind of fundraising experience I had wasboth specialised and successful, and extremely valuable to the charity. I also felt that there was a growing demographic within cycling that the LCC was failing to recruit; young, ‘serious’ racing types, and others new to cycling who perhaps failed to feel relevant in the LCC’s campaigns. I think this was a great opportunity to develop membership much further. These things combined felt like a good enough reason to run.

When I was told at the AGM I had been voted as on as one of the trustees there was a bit of disbelief. In some ways being at the conference had highlighted some of my own concerns about my experience and ‘fitting in’– I felt like an imposter! But the issues I had highlighted seemed to have had some resonance with members, and I think it will be great to work with such an experienced team of people in helping to shape the LCC for the future. Its exciting, challenging and a huge task ahead, but I look forward to bringing my own skills and experiences to the table, and helping the LCC really grow.

My advice to anyone else thinking of running in future is to just get yourself out there. The issues you raise may strike a chord with a lot of other members, and the skills you can bring could be invaluable. It’s a bit nerve-wracking to go through, but certainly no loss of face if you don’t make it tothe board. It might just raise the profile of something important to a lot of other cyclists. 

The LCC needs fresh ideas and people with different skillsets to help drive it forward, and there’s no reason you couldn’t be one of them.

• To read more about LCC's Board of Trustees, click here.