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Amy Gillett Foundation for cyclist safety to close after federal funds cut off
Cycling Sport

Amy Gillett Foundation for cyclist safety to close after federal funds cut off

Unfortunately, the organization responsible for the successful A Metre Matters campaign promoting cycling safety in Australia is being shut down due to the discontinuation of federal government funding.

The Amy Gillett Foundation was created in 2006 following the passing of Gillett, a previous Olympic rower who had transitioned to track and road cycling. While training in Germany with the Australian national team, the 29-year-old and her fellow cyclists were struck by a car.

The foundation has initiated multiple cycling safety advocacy movements, aiming to establish a legal mandate for drivers to maintain a minimum distance of one meter when overtaking a cyclist. The campaign was initiated in 2009 and concluded in 2021, with Victoria being the last state to implement updates to its road laws.

The organization has also managed a scholarship initiative for up-and-coming female competitive cyclists. Some of the most recent beneficiaries have been Sarah Gigante, a former national champion, and Grace Brown, a two-time runner-up at the world time trial. It sponsors a yearly cycling event, Amy’s Gran Fondo, along the scenic Great Ocean Road.

Lisa Jacobs, chair of the foundation, stated in a letter to stakeholders that the board has made the decision to no longer continue operating the foundation due to the lack of funding from the federal government.

Escape Collective, a cycling website, initially reported the news.

In March of last year, Carol Brown, the assistant minister for infrastructure and transport, officially launched the program of work for the foundation, which received a budget of $6 million in 2022.

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Shaun Matthews and Rachel Burdett from Cor Cordis have been selected to close down the foundation. In their statement, they noted that many not-for-profits have faced financial challenges in recent years and seeking philanthropic funding has become more challenging. They also stated their intention to examine the foundation’s finances before beginning the orderly shutdown of its operations.

Before the article was published, the foundation was asked for a statement but did not reply. The Australian Sports Commission chose not to provide a comment.

In a statement to the Guardian, Senator Brown, the assistant minister, stated that a total of $4.5 million has been distributed from the allocated $6 million for the Safe Roads for Safe Cycling Program by the foundation.

Funds must be utilized in compliance with conditions established during the funding procedure. The Department has been engaging with the foundation since prior to December in order to gather the required information required by the grant’s terms. These discussions are still ongoing.

The Albanese administration is dedicated to establishing safer conditions for every road user across the country.

The bright pink branding of the foundation is now a familiar sight at cycling events, and it has developed strong connections with governments at the federal, state, and territories level. This has been aided by influential board members, including past chairman and prominent Liberal party figure Mark Textor.

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However, in recent times, concerns have been raised regarding the ongoing effectiveness of the foundation, especially following the conclusion of the A Metre Matters campaign. Other organizations, such as Bicycle Network and Bicycle NSW, also play a role in advocacy efforts. In a blog post published in 2020, Bike Melbourne posed the question: “Has the Amy Gillett Foundation become obsolete?”

The organization AusCycling, which governs the sport of cycling, stated to the Guardian that it will assess the consequences of the foundation’s shutdown on its own efforts in promoting the sport. While AusCycling and the foundation had collaborated on certain projects, they did not have a monetary agreement. On Friday, AusCycling revealed that it had not been informed by the foundation about its financial difficulties.

The CEO of AusCycling, Marne Fechner, expressed her disappointment at the announcement. She also stated that the Metre Matters campaign will serve as a constant reminder of the organization’s 20-year history.

According to data from the Amy Gillett Foundation, there is an average of 20 cyclists hospitalized each day due to serious injuries across the country. Additionally, there is a fatality of a cyclist every 10 days on Australian roads.

Jacobs urged for ongoing efforts to tackle these numbers in her letter.

“Our organization may no longer be active, but the pressing matter of enhancing cyclist safety remains,” stated the author. “Despite progress in road safety measures, design, infrastructure, and relations between drivers and cyclists, the ultimate aim of zero fatalities among cyclists has not been attained.”

Source: theguardian.com