On why it’s important to make cycling look irresistible

First impressions

First impressions

I’ve finally figured out what it is about that phrase, “cycling’s booming”, that really grinds my gears. It’s a phrase used by advocates to present a message to transport budget holders and policy makers that members of the public are flocking to cycling and they would do so in even bigger numbers with the support of better funding. Meanwhile, the real rate of cycling remains stubbornly in ‘margin of error’ territory.

Claiming that cycling is booming in this way is an ‘inducement’. It’s an effective behaviour management strategy. Teachers and parents use it to great effect all the time. As the word implies, it’s a way of encouraging a desired behaviour to occur.

It works in the home or class setting because the person doing the inducing has leverage; is in a position of power. I love it when children in my classroom try the same strategy on me. It shows a great understanding of the fundamentals of human psychology, even if their sense of their own power in the relationship is misplaced.

Better funding for cycling will come about when transport budget holders and policy makers feel that they can no longer ignore the demands of an expectant public.

Whatever way you look at it, it all leads to the need to make cycling look irresistible. It’s time to go back to the drawing board.

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat.

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    1. Almost silly? That’s being generous. Why do helmet manufacturers spend so much effort into making ‘cool looking’ helmets? Helmets are a turnoff. They make riding a bicycle look weird, unappealing and dangerous.


  1. The budget holders you speak of are brick and mortar retailers. When they can identify a worthwhile portion of revenue as having cominge from consumers on bikes they will make accommodation. First in their parking lots. They they will support change on the roads. Soon urban developers will build for retailers who like people on bikes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No Jerold. I went to a presentation by one of NZ’s most well known commercial property investors a while ago. Those retailers are his tenants and he was very scathing of a number of them. The retailers firmly still believed that they needed more car parking spaces right outside their stores in busy downtown streets and that is what they lobby the local Councillors for. He said they wouldn’t wake up to the new world where it is pedestrian count that mattered and that they should reduce the traffic, takeaway the street-side parking and widen the footpaths. And this was a major developer/investor.

      Liked by 1 person

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