At the end of a recent article, North America’s Most Bicycle-Friendly Cities, I wrote the following:
Let’s take bicycling back from the sports enthusiasts!
which then resulted in some negative comments:
Matth: [...] As much as I despise them (Team Poseurs!), I can’t help but say that I see countless commuters in road gear (chammy, jersey and clips)” People like sports cars” they also like sport bikes” I’ll even admit being guilty. I’m a commuter before all, but my commute is my sport. But hey, that’s just my 2 cents.
Shay: I, too, have to object to “taking back the sport” – can’t we all just get along? We’re all cyclists, we just approach it differently, with different gear for different goals. If we can’t get along with each other, how can we be effective advocates for bicycle rights – for ALL of us?
Mauricio Babilonia: Wha? Isn’t there room for both?
Even so, I stand by my statement.
In this country, the bicycle is seen merely as an exercise or recreational device. Most anytime you see a bicycle in the media it’s portrayed as some sort of hardcore sport. Either it’s a lycra clad roadie or a hard core mountain biker taking his SUV to the top of the mountain. Or, if it is portrayed as an actual mode of transportation, it’s being mocked by State Farm.
This is a huge problem!
I in no way mean that we should stop selling mountain bikes and road bikes. I’m an avid mountain biker myself. However it makes me sick that the bicycle has been reduced to the lowest common denominator in this country.
Walk into (almost) any “bike shop” and it’s loaded down with the latest mountain bikes and sport road bikes with maybe a cruiser and some fenders tucked over in the corner. And this is still the case even as the commuter specific bike market explodes. (I wrote more about this here)
So yes, we need to take back the bicycle from the sports enthusiasts.
And this is coming from a sports enthusiast.
Cycling as a sport should be the minority, not the majority.
The public perception of the bicycle has to change in this country.