‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bike’ is everyday activity.

Children being active is a good thing.

Image via NZ Herald

‘Bike the Bridge’ is back. It was first held in 2013 and is open to young and old, experienced and inexperienced. The really serious riders get to ride over the Auckland harbour bridge. (The bridge that currently only provides access to motor vehicles). Money raised from this cycling event goes to a good cause and is worth supporting.

But can we just be clear that this is a ‘cycling’ event. It promotes cycling in the form that we are currently very familiar with ie. sport and recreation. By its very nature and branding, it ends up presenting cycling as an activity for a special/exclusive group of people. Like any special interest sports group.

Shifting the perception from ‘cycling’ to ‘riding a bicycle’ requires more nuance and wider engagement. While riding a bicycle for short, urban, utility type trips is also about fitness and fun there is much more to it. The views of avid cyclists fill the vacuum. There is minimal aspiration or inspiration.

The two images below may clarify what I mean.

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat. As easy as walking, but faster.

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  1. I think the difference between ‘cyclist’ and ‘bike rider’ is a significant one and I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling this way. ‘Cyclist’ is not a term I use to refer to myself, because I don’t see myself as one. I certainly didn’t buy a heavy, hub-geared bike with basket and rack so I could speed around town!

    And like you, I’m sick of seeing this insane focus on safety when it comes to promoting bike riding. In Melbourne, it’s apparently ‘Safe Cycle Month’, and I foolishly hoped such a campaign would involve a focus on making roads and bike riding in general more appealing. No. The main message is that people on bikes should wear helmets, preferably hi-viz and make sure they obey the rules. Nothing about how motorists should behave or how local councils could look at making their areas more attractive for the casual bike rider. It’s sad and it’s a missed opportunity.

    On the up side, at least there are people who are trying to make a difference, despite all the obstacles!

    (Sorry for the long comment – I didn’t realise I was going to ramble on for so long!)


  2. Hi Katie, Thanks for the ‘ramble’. It’s nice to have a kindred spirit out there. It really is early days in the evolution of things. We are just at the leading edge. And that always leads to a degree of dissonance and discomfort. One of my biggest gripes is when bicycle advocacy groups buy into this victim blaming mentality. “Let’s all just try to get along”. Yeah, right.


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