Adelaide, South Australia
New Bicycle SA CEO Brett Gillett knows all too well the importance of feeling safe on a bicycle and how vital that is in the motivation to ride.
Despite being an avid cyclist for the first four decades of his life and being bike mad as a child, a fall from his bike in 2011 robbed him of his confidence and has kept him from riding since then.
“Although my injuries were not serious – I admit I lost confidence and started to find excuses not to ride,” he says in an introductory message to Bicycle SA members.
“That ends now! Through my new position with Bicycle SA, and with the support of a passionate cycling community, I am already feeling motivated to jump back on the bike and go again.
“Every South Australian adult and child deserves the right to ride their bike in a safe environment, whether on our roads or on the many tracks and trails across our State,” Brett told the Micromobility Report.
“Road safety concerns are preventing 60% of Australians from enjoying the benefits of cycling and many say they would ride more often if they felt safe to do so.”
Brett said Bicycle SA’s vision “to get more people riding in SA” must include a focus on people not riding as much as they wish while advocating strongly for people already actively involved in cycling.
The 54-year-old was born and raised in SA and as a child aspired to be one of Adelaide’s renowned Findon Skid Kids.
“Although I never achieved that dream, I have always maintained my passion for cycling and at no stage have I ever not owned a bike,” he says.
Brett comes to Bicycle SA with a background in management and promotion of Australian Rules Football and health services.
He was Head of Brand & Partnerships with the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) and had previously served in the commercial role with AFL club the Adelaide Crows.
In between, he was the State Manager for Victoria-based allied health franchise Back in Motion.
Brett says he looks forward to using his experience in AFL football – which sits at the heart of South Australian culture – to boost the profile of cycling.
“While I am the first to admit that cycling doesn’t always capture the same limelight as the AFL, I look forward to drawing on my AFL commercial experience to further strengthen our network of corporate and media partnerships,” he said.
“The reach BikeSA can generate for our partners, through our member, social and digital databases and ride participants is extensive, providing partners and sponsors with a significant opportunity to tell their story directly to a very large community, whether it be as a strategy for promoting their brand, as a customer acquisition strategy, or as a community support partner.
“In the final analysis, cycling is very popular both here and around the world and, as a sport, a mode of transport and a leisure activity, it is only growing more popular, particularly with the widespread environmental and political changes trending societies ever more to the advantages to active transport.”
Outgoing CEO Redefined Role
He paid tribute to outgoing Bicycle SA CEO Christian Haag, who served in the organisation’s top role for 17 years. During that time, he redefined Bicycle SA’s focus and what it should be trying to achieve.
Christian said after starting as GM, he realised there were “a range of opportunities I didn’t have time to move on”.
He redefined his role to become the CEO and employed a GM to take care of the day-to-day business.
“That allowed the CE role to do some long trawling for events and opportunities, and the relationships I was able to build,” he said.
That significantly strengthened the organisation’s financial position, by identifying income sources through grants and events.
Christian said it identified all the aspects of society where cycling can and does play a role and found a range of funding opportunities that arose as a result.
“In addition, we now stage more events than any other State bike agency, which really is our bread and butter,” he added.
The outgoing Bicycle SA CEO called for greater advocacy from the growing ranks of Australian business leaders joining the cycling fraternity.
He said the bike advocacy groups were failing to harness the expertise and networks of the significant number of high-level business people who were regularly cycling, such as members of the International Cycling Executives (ICE) group.
“They are people who are big players in business, who are getting high rewards from their investment in cycling; who understand what it means to them, how it helps them to function in the rest of their lives, and what it can mean for everyone else,” Christian said.
“There’s no doubt that key business leaders are getting great personal benefits from their cycling activity, by getting out for their morning or afternoon ride with like-minded people. Yet they’re not really being represented, encouraged or harnessed to assist with cycling advocacy.
“There’s tremendous opportunity to give that network of individuals a platform, to enable them to pull together and make a massive statement. We need to impassion and inspire them to share our ultimate goal to get more people riding, so they can network in places where we often can’t get to but they can because they’re running a top 20 business.
“We Ride is certainly moving in that direction but we should all be looking at taking better advantage of this opportunity.”
Not Ready to Retire
At 58, Christian says he isn’t “using the R word”, retirement,” and is preferring to call it a sabbatical.
“I’m still invested in the World Cycling Alliance, as an Oceania representative on the board, and what we can achieve there,” he said.
“There are extraordinary opportunities for investment and international advocacy.”
He said he might also play a supporting role with future Bicycle SA activities.