I love seeing visual imagery being used to promote cycling, as a way of reaching out to a wider audience. It’s what the motor industry does so well. And even though all this imagery is quite fake and contrived, it doesn’t matter. It works. It’s all about connecting at an emotional level. Growing customers. Growing a support base. Growing a mandate.
It’s time to take cycling back. To reclaim it from the enthusiasts. To make it fun again.
Of course, the motor industry does not only have expertise at marketing. It is deeply involved in transport policy and all the other technical stuff. It’s very active in maintaining the status quo, the dominance of motor vehicles in our lives and in our cities. And all the stuff is done in back rooms by well paid technical experts supported by government ministers with a clear agenda. (Although their methods are increasingly coming under scrutiny). It’s a billion dollar industry. There is a lot at stake. And the industry is not going to cede territory willingly.
But while promoting cycling by making it look fun and attractive is to be encouraged, making falsely ‘positive’ statements (let’s give it a name – boosterism) about the current state of cycling ridership is unhelpful, at best. Cycling has a long way to go before it moves beyond its current ‘margin of error’ status.
The good thing going for cycling is its inherently attractive qualities. And thanks to the internet, we have examples of how it works so successfully in other cities around the world. But what’s working against it, is the massive status quo machine. That knowledge should be enough to wake us from our slumber and get us started on developing strategies and messaging that challenge this status quo. Should be. I won’t hold my breath.
‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat. As easy as walking, but faster.
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