Cycling’s in the media again.

All publicity is good pu

Yeah, I know. Any publicity is good publicity…

There was this article in the local paper, and its author was extolling the virtues of commuting by bicycle, and he was doing his best to encourage others to try it. The article outlined the compelling rationale to invest in cycling; the enormous personal and societal benefits. It reminded me that cycling is a marketers’ dream product. I mean, if people can be convinced to smoke cigarettes…

But from that point on, from a wheeled pedestrian’s perspective, the article missed the mark.

Cycling is becoming increasingly popular as a legitimate mode of transport…it is often a quicker option than driving in larger cities…local councils are investing more in infrastructure that supports pedal power.

Yes, it often is quicker. And it may well be a legitimate form of transport, but it is recognised as such in only the cities of a small number of countries in the world. I have been riding a bicycle on a daily basis for the last 16 years or so and I must say, those words have all the hallmarks of ‘boosterism‘.

The article then offers tips on how to commute by bicycle. It’s full of phrases that contradict the ethos of how simple cycling can be and, how it needs to be presented. It doesn’t use the language or imagery needed to really connect with the people who are misinformed or are sceptical about cycling.

…invest in a high quality bike…riding long distances…hi-vis accessories to make yourself visible and safer…wear something comfortable…get a bigger backpack…spare change of clothes, shower supplies, towel…think safety, be aware of driver blind spots…

Yes, cycling seems to be making it into the media more often. If that’s the case then it’s imperative that those opportunities are used effectively. There is an alternative narrative waiting to be told. Here’s a starter for 10 points…

Bicycles are ideal for short, utility trips…

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

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