Islington Cycling Club: From 0 to 550 on two wheels

PUBLISHED: 17:13 03 August 2016 | UPDATED: 12:13 04 August 2016

David Shannon at an Islington Cycling Club time trial. Picture: David Shannon

David Shannon at an Islington Cycling Club time trial. Picture: David Shannon


David Shannon masterminded Islington Cycling Club’s growth from zero to 550 members in just three years. James Morris finds out how.

David Shannon, of Islington Cycling Club, riding at Crater Lake in Oregon. Picture: Brian GaileyDavid Shannon, of Islington Cycling Club, riding at Crater Lake in Oregon. Picture: Brian Gailey

There aren’t many cycling clubs bigger than Islington Cycling Club.

Two, in fact. They are Kingston Wheelers, founded in 1924, and Dulwich Paragon, founded in 1935.

Islington is different, however, in that it formed only three years ago.

In that time, club secretary and founder member David Shannon has overseen its growth from zero to 550 members.

For him, it was about “hitting the right recipe”. This involved riding on the back of the success of the London Olympics and sustaining it with an inclusive attitude.

David, who works as a cycling officer for Islington Council, says: “It seemed there was an opportunity in 2013. The London Olympics and first British winner of the Tour de France [Sir Bradley Wiggins] was like a gold rush for cycling. It was the perfect wave.

“People wanted to cycle, so I put together a group of founder members and a constitution.

“We grew so quickly, and I think it’s because we’ve hit the right recipe. Our key policy is that no one gets left behind. We ride at several speed categories. What a lot of clubs do is get very good together, but are then not prepared to slow down for newcomers.”

David, of Finchley, has been cycling for 26 years: “I was a long distance runner for a long time, but by 1990 couldn’t go on any more. I switched to cycling in 1990, did my first London to Brighton and never stopped. I’m not super fast, but I’m not bad for an old duffer of 52.”

But at the helm of Islington CC, he wants to get people involved at a much younger age: the club is about to embark on a new junior programme. This is off-road, with specialist coaches. But for adults in general, is it safe to cycle in Islington?

“If you look at stats from TfL, collisions for cyclists on the road have dropped 50 per cent in the last 10 years. Per kilometre, the risk of cycling is about the same as walking. Cycling is very safe to do and we promote that.

“We attract a lot of people new to cycle sports and as part of that, we provide guidance on how to use the roads. Islington is safe but in sport, cyclists riding together, it can be a higher risk. So we offset that.

“I think we are good for Islington. If you take part in cycle sports with the club, you are more likely to commute using cycles, and inspire friends and family to get involved.”

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