Hello regular readers and everybody else,
IrishCycle.com is reader-funded journalism which is sometimes involved in campaigning journalism, and the Irish Cycling Campaign is a campaign group. Both are separate entities.
IrishCycle.com is my registered business name for this publication and for me legally acting as sole-trader. While Irish Cycling Campaign is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity.
To make things more confusing the Irish Cycling Campaign was formally Cyclist.ie but it was actually using the Dublin Cycling Campaign’s legal structures for years. Now the Dublin Cycling Campaign’s membership has been consumed by the new group and it is a member group.
After this issue was raised, two replies pointed towards the similarities making it all sound like the People’s Front of Judea which featured in the 1979 film Monty Python’s Life of Brian. The fictional group were quite insulted and said that they hated the Judean People’s Front, whom Brian had confused them with.
Apologies to anybody who is confused, IrishCycle.com has tried to take steps to avoid all of this but cycling campaigners pressed on and proceeded with changing their group’s name with little regard for the public’s confusion.
While there’s a key difference in that this website follows journalistic principles and Irish Cycling Campaign is a campaign group which lobbies for better conditions in other ways, but this will be lost on many people and others may use it to their advantage too.
IrishCycle’s independence also keeps it separate from the internal politics of such a group — so, when Cyclist.ie was an umbrella group of campaign groups, IrishCycle.com covered news from their members but it also covered non-member groups including groups which have re-joined them and another group which is likely to stay outside that fold.
There are a lot of similarities too, and that’s where confusion can arise. IrishCycle.com covers similar areas to the focus of the Irish Cycling Campaign. That includes this website covering what campaigners have said about different projects, law changes etc. Another similarity is that IrishCycle.com and spokespeople from the Irish Cycling Campaign appear in media interviews — sometimes featuring on radio shows on the same day about the same issue.
The likely confusion is particularly an issue for members of the public who are not highly involved in details of cycling groups and for some councillors etc who might not fully be focused on cycling. The radio example alone has a high potential for confusion given that often people are listening to the radio while engaging in other activities.
Please trust me when I say there’s already confusion between different cycling groups and organisations, both public and private. I found out about Cyclist.ie’s then planned name change while I was drafting an article with an aim of helping counter that confusion. That article was on my list for some time but a revival of the idea was prompted by a situation where a Cyclist.ie member group contacted IrishCycle.com about an internal issue thinking IrishCycle was Cyclist.ie. This confusion was before the name change.
On finding out that cycling campaigners were to use the name Irish Cycling Campaign, I asked them to please not do so. The names are too similar. They denied the similarities.
So, I talked to a good few people, including people involved with communications and cycling, and the vast majority of them agreed there was a high potential for confusion. But the board of Cyclist.ie still maintained that there were no similarities.
Because of this I then ran a Twitter poll to get an idea of if there’s an issue. A Twitter poll is of limited value but with 470 responses it gives a reasonable idea of what people think — a lot of people who aren’t involved in communications aren’t too pushed by these issues one way or another, so I wasn’t expecting over 73% of people to say the names are too similar (32.8%) or somewhat similar (40.4%).
I was still told by the board of Cyclists.ie there were no similarities and was even told cycle and cycling are two totally different words — which is clearly not the case when one is a derivative of the other.
They were ultra-focused on the concept that their members had ratified the use of the name but with little consideration for any confusion.
The similarities to Cycling Ireland, the sports body which had been subject to some controversy, were considered. But I was told — in writing — that the similarities to IrishCycle.com were not even considered until I raised the issue.
The whole thing has been odd to me from the start. But I thought that the striking denial was the strangest point until the group renamed itself formally and then days later on January 8th it pronounced that “over the coming months” it would be working on a logo likely to be launched “around mid-year” and they’ll also be working on “developing a new web address, email addresses and social media handles to reflect the new name”.
Only at that stage did it become clear to me that the name was a blind focus of some within the group — a singular focus which not only did not consider the similarities and the likely confusion, there was no proper consideration of a logo, or how the name would work with social media handles etc to the extent that such would be ready in reasonable time for the name changeover.
It’s not actually clear to me what has been done at this stage besides getting a name a committee can agree on. The things that the group says will happen within months are the kind of things that should be ready for any name changeover. It could be said that a charity campaign group which is made up of mainly volunteers don’t have the budgets for things like brand strategies but I cannot help to think if they asked for help somebody out there with professional experience would have helped them.
I’m left disappointed that my pleas for this issue were dismissed. It’s claimed otherwise but when a derivative word is claimed to be not at all similar to its base word, that’s like something straight out of Monty Python.
PS: I’ve already been given off to for tweets including the below poll about this issue but I have a responsibility to be clear and open with readers about issues like this.