Bicycle Network: Our Organisation
The bow-tie bows out
3 April 2012
After 20 years in the saddle Harry Barber is resigning as CEO of Bicycle Network Victoria and will leave office later this year.
Under his leadership the organisation developed into a powerful force for good, transforming Melbourne, regional Victoria and beyond and stimulating widespread take up of bike riding for recreation and transport.
Mr Barber recognised earlier than most that bike riding had to be shifted from the social fringes to the mainstream if it was to become a central element of day-to-day life.
He campaigned unflaggingly to get more people on bikes, recognising that a more visible presence of riders on the streets would inevitably lead to a breaking down of prejudices, increasing political influence, and the provision of better facilities for riders.
Mr Barber has spent a total of 20 years with the organisation during which it changed from an organisation that ran great rides into one of the nation’s most influential community organisations. Endorsed recently as a charity, the organisation is largest in the world of its type on a per head of population basis.
“The past 20 years has been a wild and exhilarating ride”, Mr Barber said today. “So much has been achieved by the bike riding community in that time.”
“As I ride through Melbourne today, and stop at the traffic lights with 20 other bikes lined up, I sometimes have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.”
“It was tremendously rewarding last month on National Ride2School Day to help get hundreds of thousands of school children experiencing riding to school.”
Mr Barber said that after 20 years he had realised the time had come for another leader to take the organisation forward.
“I feel satisfied that I have been able to help lay the foundations of a durable, even formidable organisation, but it is time for others to build the superstructure than can accommodate the challenges ahead,” he said
The President of the Bicycle Network Victoria Board, Janice Simpson, said the next five years were going to be critically important. “Cycling is growing at a staggering rate around the country and the demands for change on all levels of government are reaching a crescendo.”
“Mr Barber’s successor will have the task of developing an innovative, forward-looking team of people who will drive these changes and help make bike riding a normal part of everyday life.”
In the early 1990s Bicycle Network Victoria, which was formed as the Bicycle Institute of Victoria in the 1970s, had about 3000 members. In 1996 the annual turnover was $2.2m and last year the figure was $13.5m. Now it has 46,000 members and 150 000 friends across the nation. It runs a number of programs across Australia and New Zealand under the banner of the Bicycle Network.
“The changes of the last 20 years have been significant, but they are nothing compared with what we will see in the next 20,” Mr Barber said.
Mr Barber said he wanted to continue to make a contribution to the world of bike riding after stepping down.
Ms Simpson said the Board of Bicycle Network Victoria has started the process to recruit a new CEO, and would assess internal candidates first, and if required, move to an external search.
A likely time for the formal handover will be at the annual general meeting in November.
The organisation will recognise Mr Barber’s contribution at an appropriate time, Ms Simpson said.