The Importance of “Real People” Profiles

I’m in love with this recent article from The Guardian, “We wouldn’t be seen dead in lycra shorts.” The article profiles real London cyclists from different sub-tribes who all cycle for transportation. Their stories are presented simply, relying largely on the cyclists’ own words. The writer does not wander into cliched presentations of danger or car-bike wars.

Brompton Tribe

Brompton Tribe

“Bromptons have this whole personality,” Andrew Alleyne explains. “I hate to say this, because I don’t like smug Mac users, but people love their Bromptons like people love their Macs. People use generic bike hybrids like they do PCs but a Brompton is not just another bike, it’s like a pet or something.”

Cylce Chic Tribe

Cylce Chic Tribe

“We love the fashionable, desirable side of cycling. There’s this idea that cycling is a risky, blokey pursuit,” says Nicklin, “but it’s actually very elegant.”

Cargo Bike Tribe

Cargo Bike Tribe

“The whole thing of giant cars in a blocked-up city is ridiculous,” she says. “You never have any change, there’s never anywhere to park. And the bike forces me and the kids to get out in the fresh air. The other good thing about it is that no matter what [activity] you suggest, so long as you’re going on the pink tricycle, they’re happy.”

These types of profiles are the best way to promote cycling (as Mamavee of Suburban Bike Mama recently discussed in relation to local advocacy). “Cyclists” become “human beings” and their activity is normalized. That’s what I love about the blogosphere and something we aim for with Let’s Go Ride A Bike. When I started cycling to work, reading the commuter profiles on Bike Commuters and seeing picture of Miss Sarah at Girls and Bicycles riding in dresses made a huge difference. Those are only two examples out of many in the blogosphere, but the same cannot be said of traditional media. Publications on this side of the pond, like the New York Times, should catch on to this approach instead of offering models wearing extreme designer outfits.

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8 thoughts on “The Importance of “Real People” Profiles

  1. […] Bike Culture in the UK (Guardian via Let's Go Ride a Bike) […]

  2. anna says:

    While looking for “subtribes” among cyclists is somehow interesting and funny, I don’t think it really captures the majority of people out there cycling (especially in countries where basically everybody cycles). But of course there are huge differences between different individuals and this is also why I love to read other peoples’ blogs ;-). Still, the categorization is fun, and it makes people get interested and points out that cyclists are not simply cyclists. And that everybody can do it.

  3. Mamavee says:

    hey! how timely!

    That pink Trike is HOTT. I want! ( can I have a garage filled with Cargo bikes?)

  4. Will says:

    Not that it is a model of city-cycling promotion (it isn’t), but the Boston Globe offered one or two not dissimilar pieces last summer.
    E.g. http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/fashion/articles/2008/08/07/looking_wheel_good/
    and

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/07/13/you_are_what_you_ride/

  5. […] Bike Culture in the UK (Guardian via Let's Go Ride a Bike) […]

  6. Karen says:

    What a great post. I like the use of “their own words”, which really normalizes them and bike commuters should us not as strange beings from another planet but people with whom you might actually identify.

  7. sara says:

    Blogs and articles I could find on the internet were absolutely a key part in our decision to become family bike commuters. Love, love the section about the mama cyclist in this article. Damn right it is fun to ride with kids and in a PINK trike– it’s got to be that much MORE fun.

  8. … [Trackback]…

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