Marketing the Simple Bicycling Lifestyle, Part 2

Earlier this week I asked what you would do as a marketer tasked with getting people to switch from cars to bikes. The resulting discussion was impressive.  The main points were to emphasize the ease and desirability of cycling, while not being too pushy or preachy and remembering that infrastructure is the most important piece of the puzzle. Steven Vance is discussing this approach in his Making cycling normal series, and of course it’s a constant theme over at Copenhagenize. Today I was hoping to report back on how I had the opportunity to spread this message via the mainstream media, but life is never that simple.

I volunteered to participate in the filming of a segment on winter cycling for a show on the new ABC Live Well network, along with a few other people, including Elizabeth of Bike Commuters and Julie of The Chainlink. Prior to filming, the producer sent us the following instructions:

Please be bike-ready, that is, bring your bikes and gear. We don’t want anyone showing up to the shoot site coming off a bus in work clothes! And finally, please bring your winter gear. We want to capture some footage of you guys wearing balaclavas, your three layers, and someone applying gel toothpaste to their goggles! (emphasis added)

After reading this, I considered canceling. I have no balaclava, goggles or gel toothpaste tricks, and my goal is to dress in work clothes looking as if I could have stepped off a bus instead of a bike. They obviously had a story in mind that I did not fit into. I should have followed my instinct.

The Interview

The Guys

The three-man crew spent 45 minutes interviewing the one guy there, while the four women stood by and waited. And waited. And waited. Past the1-hour mark (they told us it would take only 1 hour), Elizabeth had to leave for work. Finally, the interviewer said he wanted to get some footage of us riding our bikes down the street and then he would be done.

Our little group exchanged looks.  Julie asked, “But don’t you want to talk to us and hear about what we do and how we dress?” He looked straight at us – Julie in her dress slacks and me in my skirt and heels – and said “You mean it’s not the same?”  I wonder where on us he saw clipless shoes, messenger bags and neon windbreakers.  She calmly explained that it was not the same, and he agreed to ask her a couple of questions later, but it seemed like he was throwing her a bone. I didn’t even get that much.  After the group rode past the camera four times in a row, I confirmed that they did not want anything else and left.

11-5 me

Me, waiting...

The situation upset me for two reasons. First, it was extremely rude. We volunteered to show up for one hour to talk as a group about winter cycling, not to stand around for more than twice that time and serve as props. My job pays by the hour and leaving for three hours in the middle of the day meant I was at the office very late to make up the time.

Second and more importantly, the media slant is frustrating. The public image of cycling, especially winter cycling, is of a niche, extreme, ridiculous, hard-core, crazy pursuit that is best left to a very small population of young men. The media have latched onto this image and happily perpetuate it, even when a totally different reality is literally staring them in the face. The guy they interviewed is a passionate cyclist and I’m sure he shared lots of fantastic information about winter cycling, but he represents only one part of the winter cycling story.

11-5 waiting

Elizabeth and Julie, waiting...

So how does an experience like this change our discussion of marketing and/or promoting the simple bicycling lifestyle? We really need a lot more people on bikes if we ever want to get real infrastructure. I’m tired of being squeezed on the road between parked cars and speeding cars.  How do we break through?

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74 thoughts on “Marketing the Simple Bicycling Lifestyle, Part 2

  1. adriennejohnson says:

    We just keep on plugging on. There is no one action that can do it, just the same action over and over and over again.
    Sorry the crew were such jerks. I have found the media to be a mixed bag about most things, and having worked in radio news for a short time, I know that there are very few “fair and balanced” news pieces out there.
    Time to make your own winter riding piece for YouTube. I would happily put it up over at the blog!

  2. Su Yin says:

    Bummer!

    That’s plain lazy journalism though (not to mention unprofessional!). Even a media student would know to do a little background research before interviewing people for a story.

    Do not despair and keep it up … slowly but surely things are changing. :D

  3. Charlie says:

    So… why didn’t you speak up and point out their errors?

    • dottie says:

      Good question. I guess their only error was not talking to the rest of us, and I would have felt odd insisting that they talk to me. Maybe a missed opportunity, but I didn’t have it in me.

      • Charlie says:

        I guess my point is that the producer’s instructions were off base, but it doesn’t sound like you pointed out something they obviously didn’t know- you CAN commute in work clothes. They probably saw you and assumed you didn’t follow instructions and concentrated on the guy that in their mind did. Not pointing out that important fact probably kept them in the dark about what’s possible. Seems odd to stand there for so long without speaking up, but I guess they can be intimidating.

        • dottie says:

          They definitely knew that I was dressed in my winter cycling “gear,” and did film me riding. I don’t think there was any confusion about that. I stood around waiting because they did not say up front that they would not be interviewing anyone else.

  4. Cosmo says:

    How lame! I am sorry that you and the other ladies were so disrespected. It is just not cool.

    As for marketing cycling, I think that it is interesting to think about cycling as a business. For many companies it would be a problem if everyone was a normal cyclist. There are companies and jobs based on selling gear. If people realize that they don’t need that stuff what are they going to sell? They have to market their product as necessary. They spend money to do it and normal cyclist aren’t selling anything really so we’re not spending the money and our message isn’t as loud. I would imagine that the show has sponsors that are selling something more than an idea which changes the story they are telling. I imagine if REI is a sponsor it would be hard to have people saying oh I bought this coat at a vintage store and I made the legwarmers.

    Also I kind of feel like the cycling industry is really working on keeping cycling the way it is. The Hubby is trying to start a web based bike business and so many distributors won’t work with him because they are trying to protect and support the Brick and Mortar LBS which makes money selling a lot of gear and they don’t want to change that. So there is a large part of “cycling” that isn’t super excited to see normal cycling as the standard because they would have to change. Also the maintenance on European style city bikes would be less profitable I would imagine since they seem to require less and bikes that can last for 50 or 60 years would mean selling less bikes to them. Having all cyclists and cycling related business support all cycling and cyclist would really help. Addressing that would help the cause however I am not sure how to do that. I wonder how bike shops in cycling cities make their businesses work?

    • Cosmo says:

      Sorry, I rambled on a bit there didn’t I?

    • dottie says:

      This is a fascinating point. I think you’re on to something. Somehow this thought makes me feel better, because I understand the tie between television and advertising money.

      • Sox says:

        Wouldn’t it be cool if the bike businesses sold clothes that were made specifically for cycling but didn’t look like it? Like coats and jackets that have reflective threads woven into the fabric? You can’t tell they’re reflective unless a light shines upon you.
        I’m sure there are other examples, but I am not that clever.

    • Mitch says:

      If some parts of the bike industry are hostile to “normal biking,” they’re acting against their own best interests.

      When people ride in normal clothes on simple bikes to work or doctor’s appointments, etc., they may drive less or spend less time on the bus, but they won’t stop buying high-end road bikes or mountain bikes, or expensive accessories, if that’s what they’re doing now.
      Utility bikers and sports bikers are two different markets. As more and more people start using bikes for everyday purposes, they add to the utility market without subtracting from the sports market.

      Furthermore… when utility bikers come into the bike shop to repair busted spokes or buy wet-weather chain lube, some of them might start to get interested in those high-end bikes and lycra outfits that also for sale, and they will be transformed into sports bikers on their weekends.
      In a way, “normal biking” is a gateway drug that leads to the hard stuff.

      I know that large segments of the bike industry — Trek, for example — are very happy to see bikes integrated into people’s daily lives. If other segments are hostile, they ought to rethink their position.

  5. Jansen says:

    The news media are like this today due to their time constraints and shitty metrics that they all have to ‘target’. Don’t expect them to tell a story unless it’s shrink wrapped and pre-packaged for them.
    Which brings me to an idea. Why not do just that?
    Write a PR release for your site and ‘highlight’ the upcoming ‘Simple Bicycling’ movement (I not too bright with PR speak) and organize a ride though the city filled with everyday bike commuting folks. And make sure 99.9% of the normal clothed commuters are in front of the reporters and camera.
    Good PR means controlling the situation and the message. Don’t leave it to a reporter who’s more interested in getting back to the office to clock out. Btw, I think that reporter was highly unprofessional.

  6. Lorenza says:

    What a disappointing experience must have been, it’s a shame and really their loss, because I have no doubt that you ladies would have spoken with such enthusiasm and passion about the joys of cycling everyday in your everyday clothes, because it’s fun! And not because it has be a ‘status’…

    About ‘marketing’ cycling, here in the UK the government is working towards cutting carbon emissions by 40% by 2020, the local councils have to work towards that (even if veeeery slowly). I don’t believe in preaching to people the mantra of ‘green, green, green’ because it’s rude to be so righteous and because people get fed up (rightly so) when they get told what to do… people change their habits when they realise a new way of doing things brings them benefit :) like a healthier body, more money saved, the fun of going ‘weeeee’ downhill lol!

    But writing to the council, getting involved, letting oneself heard about wanting more cycling infrastructure, I feel, is the way forward, because cycling indeed it is a direct route to reduce number of cars on the road = less CO2 and also contribute to a more healthy body (thumbs up all around!). And communicating with the council does work… albeit slooowly (like I said before) but things here are changing, and even if it is a microscopic change one has to be supportive and enthusiastic, we have enough of those negative ‘it will never work’ kind of people…

    And as few people on this blog say… give them infrastructure and they will come : )

    I too am tired of being squeezed by cars, rattle through side potholes because of lack of bike paths, etc…. so I say, let your council hear you : ) and keep on cycling because you and Trisha’s passion and fun attitude is positively contagious!!

    L x

    • dottie says:

      Great point about working with local government. In Chicago there is a Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council that has public meetings twice a year. I attended the last one and was impressed by the initiatives and obvious passion behind them. But I was disappointed that, with thousands of Chicago cyclists, the number of public in attendance was very small. If even 10% of people who bike in the summer showed up, it would be huge.

      • E A says:

        You’re right about the poor turnout at the last meeting. However, I’ve been at meetings where the space was overflowing – not enough seats. They have now been moving the meeting time/location to try to reach out and be available to more people. Meetings are 4x per year. Next one should be in December.

  7. Steve A says:

    Is this becoming “Let’s Build a Bike Lane?” Infrastructure may be nice, but it’s also terribly limiting. I always thought it was about going anywhere, wearing what you like.

  8. anna says:

    That sounds rather sad. I hope you’re not too frustrated and will still carry on to try to convince people. I suppose you should at least also complain to the producers and try to get your point across. Maybe then would somehow try to compensate, or at least explain you why they want to have that “winter cyclists are heroes” image.

  9. Erich says:

    I think your conclusions from this are totally wrong!

    First of all, it is plain that LGRAB needs to “EXTREME” it up more! You should be selling the public how dangerous and frightening it is to be on that cold steel contraption risking your life every day, doing battle with the rest of us wussies who drive in our heated SUVs. It would also be better if you both started dressing in spandex, insulated neon jackets, and balaclavas, to show the public how you’ll do ANYTHING to be out there combating the elements. Also, you may want to hire male stand-ins for photo shoots.

    This is just a joke of course, though it’s obvious that’s what the above filmed segment was going to be about. Safe, comfortable commuting is boring to these guys. Danger and hype is what they’re looking for.

  10. 2whls3spds says:

    If it isn’t bad, bloody, or bangin’ it doesn’t make the evening news. I gave up on broadcast “journalism” as well as most television websites. Their reporting of the “news” is a total joke, verbal, video and written.

    I took journalism courses many years ago and they are so far off the mark it isn’t even funny. Now everything is dependent on video clips and 45 second sound bites. Give me Walter Cronkite!

    The suggestion by Jansen to do a PR campaign is well worth a try. See if you can get someone from the Mayor’s council involved, hell see if you can get the mayor involved. Show people having fun in front of obvious landmarks, going to and fro.

    Infrastructure is a hard one and is going to take time, like Adrienne said, “just keep plugging along”.

    Aaron(who lives in the land of NO infrastructure unless you count 6 lane highways!)

  11. Scott says:

    That reporter is an idiot. He passed up an opportunity to talk to someone who has practical winter cycling knowledge and is doing something most people are not aware is even possible in favor of . . . a doofus on a fast bike who dresses in a way most office workers can’t and is probably quite uncomfortable anyway in cold weather. Lame!

    • dukiebiddle says:

      Yeesh, perhaps a bit overstated and divisive. Although I agree the news source missed the mark here, and I think it is obvious they already new exactly what kind of lame angle they were planning on reporting, I also think it is important to remember that the guy who they actually bothered to interview wasn’t doing anything wrong. There is more than enough room out there for more than one bicycle commuting philosophy. We don’t all need to be riding upright dutch city bikes and business attire any more than we all need to be using exposed drive trains and wearing neon yellow wind breakers. The news channel’s biggest failure was limiting their perspective. Let’s not do the same thing.

    • Dottie says:

      There is no reason to disparage the guy they interviewed. He is awesome and passionate about spreading the winter cycling message. Everyone commutes the way that works best for them, and there are lots of ways of doing it. My complaint is that the interviewer ignored the rest of us, but that does not reflect badly on that guy AT ALL.

      • Scott says:

        Ain’t no crime against dressing like a doofus (I have all that same stuff to wear when I ride my road bike). I was thinking this was a spot about bike commuting in the winter. But I guess it just says bike riding in the winter.

        Maybe I would have more germane comments if I ever get to see the finished product.

      • E A says:

        Well put, Dottie. Heck – I wear a bright cycling commuter jacket. It’s what I feel comfortable in – being visible and in a waterproof covering. Does that make me a doofus?

        It’s a shame the interviewer ignored the rest of us. We each have our style and we really could have shown how much more there is to the bike commuting scene. The guy would have loved to see us comparing our gear and trying on each other’s big ole mitts! ;-)

        • Sungsu says:

          If I had a bright jacket, I’d probably wear it, too, but I just put a reflective vest over my regular jacket.

  12. Cycler says:

    Sorry you had to go through with that.
    It’s sad that they turned an opportunity to get the message about normal cycling into an event that focused on the fringe.
    Stay warm and happy biking

  13. Dottie, have you considered writing a letter to the network? It would be especially powerful if signed by several women who feel similarly.

  14. Dean Peddle says:

    How do we break through?

    You can’t. Sorry…I’ve said this on other blogs and even probably this one but there is no secret to the success of people using bikes. It just takes MONEY. Large Cities like Toronto, New York, San Fran, Chicago…and Europe have 1 thing in common. It cost too much to own a car. In Europe it just cost more to own a car so more people use bikes….that’s IT !!! Gasoline is just too cheap in US and even though it’s a little higher in Canada…it’s still too cheap for people to change their driving habbits. When it cost too much for them to go around the corner to the corner store by car….only then will the consider.

    Sorry…it doesn’t help much with your discussion. The other things discussed here may drive up some small numbers but you won’t get the big numbers till gas goes up. Look at the increased numbers in cycling 2 summers ago when gas went up….and that was still probably less than half of what Europe pays.

    • I think that it is more about convenience than about money. I know some very wealthy people who live in the cities you listed. They own several cars and the price of gasoline is nothing to them. And yet, they would not dream of driving in the city and neither would 90% of the people in their circles – because driving is the worst possible way to get around: slow, inconvenient and generally unpleasant – even if you have a driver or take taxis. So they take public transportation – usually the subway or the trolley systems. The cars are kept in garages and reserved for long trips out of the city.

      • Dean Peddle says:

        Oh I agree. There is always going to be people like that…and you and me….people who love to ride. I certainly can afford to drive everywhere and I’m sure most of the people here can but we don’t. But not everyone has a passion for riding like us or can see the simplicity. If you go to Holland you will see that most people there really don’t have a passion for riding like us. It’s an easier and cheaper mode of transportation.. Sure things are closer, there are no jumbo supercenters, they have bike lanes and they make driving cars to city centers very inconvient and expensive on purpose but the main thing is it’s just very expensive to drive an automobile there for most people.

        • dukiebiddle says:

          I read somewhere that the Danish automobile purchase tax is 300%. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it would certainly make me think twice before buying a vehicle, even if I was rich. Anecdotally, you are going to find well off people who opt for bicycle transportation over automobiles within European cities, but only because automobiles are cost prohibitive to such a large percentage of a population that each of those societies are set up to cater to a population that is less car dependent. Markets, social settings, etc. are all set up within in human powered distances. It sucks to drive there because so many do not drive, and most drive less or not at all because of relative costs.

          • Scott says:

            Last I heard it was 180%. Although I have a fondness for Lego and Carlsberg, the car tax is the factor that makes me want to move there more than anything else.

  15. Deenie says:

    I think your blog alone is a great start to breaking through. This will be my first car-free winter, and though I plan on using the bus a lot, I’d still like to be a fearless biker. Just reading your thoughts on commuting in normal human clothes and not being intimidated has been a wonderful, encouraging thing for me. I might only be one person, but the internet is a great place to start reaching people, and you’ll only get more readers with time.

  16. Randy says:

    That sounds like a horrible experience. Most people i know, especially here in Oklahoma (i’m originally from the pacific NW), think i’m crazy for riding my bike when the temp is below 50 degrees. People honestly think a bike is just for leisure rides when the weather is perfect. So I agree with most other people hear and say that just getting the word out to your friends via word of mouth, example, social networking is the way it will happen. The media will only catch on once half the population is doing it, so we can’t wait for them. I personally don’t like bike lanes, I like the signs that just say “Share the road” with a pic of a cyclist, much more liberating.

  17. donna says:

    Wow how lame indeed. But don’t get discouraged. Bloggers like you have persuaded people like me to take up commuting to work by bike. I’m still figuring out a lot of things, and planning around the weather can be a bit of a pain at times, but your blog motivates me to use my bike to get around as often as I can.

  18. bongobike says:

    That’s what you get from the corporate infotainment media. I would have expected nothing less. As others have stated above, electronic “news” media in the U.S. are a joke–pure commercial crap that regurgitate whatever the powers that be feed them. Yes, Dottie, you should have gone with your gut feeling.

  19. bikinginla says:

    It’s taken me awhile to come around to understanding the Bike Chic movement. I’m an old school cyclist, for whom the point of riding is to work hard and sweat a lot.

    But I’ve come to realize that it’s a good thing for the entire cycling community. Not only are you expanding the pool of cyclists, you’re also showing a viable alternative to using a car to get everywhere. And shaming me into using my bike for transportation as well as sport.

    I also made another realization recently when I saw a young well-dressed woman riding her bike along the streets of L.A. Drivers — men and women both — were slowing down and turning their heads to look at her. And it hit me that women such as you are actually accomplishing what cyclists have been fighting to do for years; you’re making cyclists visible. People actually see and notice you as you ride, which helps make all of us more visible.

    As for marketing, you’re a great writer — and as a writer myself, I feel qualified to make that judgment — so why not tell your own story? Find out the requirements for an Op-Ed piece in the Tribune, and write something about why you ride the way you do. Or as an alternative, contact the style editor of the paper and pitch a story from the fashion angle, offering yourself and other local riders as the models. It’s a great story, and someone needs to tell it. So why not you?

    • cratedigger66 says:

      Agreed on the above. You are a great writer and putting something together as an Op Ed piece might buy you some personal piece of mind as well as getting your message out to some parts of a more “mainstream” audience.

      I have worked in media for years, and there is definitely an undercurrent of selling stuff based around many stories. That could be an issue in this case. It seems that there was an angle to the story before the filming started.

      I enjoy your writing and it has inspired me to ride even more than I normally do. Keep on keeping on!

    • G.E. says:

      I think this sounds like a wonderful idea! You should definitely do something like this with the paper – a great way to get another perspective out there, and perhaps vent a bit of the frustration of your experience with the camera crew (not mentioning them necessarily specifically, but getting to show another side of the story).

    • Steven Vance says:

      I like this idea, but I think you should stay away from the style/fashion angle unless that’s the only way to submit an article.

      I think the NYT and other publications have already written about the fashion angle. There’s even a bike fashion show at Interbike in Las Vegas.

      Is bicycling going to become the new small dog? Bikes aren’t fashion accessories.

  20. Dean Peddle says:

    I think another avenue other than my “it’s not possible rant” is it must be pushed thru government. Sorry to keep going back to Holland but this isn’t rocket science here….they have a model that works and all’s we need to do is copy it…we are not breaking new ground here. For example Holland visioned in the 50’s a growing number of people and that their cities wouldn’t be able to handle the growth in automobiles. So the started building the infrastrure and most of all made it really invonvienient to drive into the city. Single lanes, limited parking….very expensive parking. I think New York and some of the other larger cities have seen this vision and are making steps….I guess and hope it’s just a matter of time. Population and automobiles have increased how much in the last 20 years??? It can’t keep growing…there is no room.

  21. Chessie says:

    Too bad you didn’t get the big Media attention you were so intent on receiving, especially since you missed those hours at work. That sucks.

    Long before you, there was ALeX who rode a her brand new Dutch Oma and wrote a wonderful and very opinionated blog about riding/commuting EVERY day in Chicago including those harsh Chicago winters. I found out about her by reading RidingPretty some 18 months ago. She literally brought Dutch Bicycles to Chicago. Too bad her blog no longer exists. ALeX was an awesome inspiration.

  22. That’s a terrible situation! What’s upsetting is that in the effort to publicize and advocate for winter cycling, this made it seem inaccessible to a select few. How right you are to be upset!

    • E A says:

      I did listen in to how the guy they interviewed responded and he kept stressing that most of the “gear” you need is probably already in your closet or your drawers. And he tried to let it be known that it just takes a bit of pre-planning and layers to ride year round. But the guy asking the questions – you’re right – he didn’t want to hear that… just the hard core ‘gear’ stuff.

  23. RowdyKittens says:

    Booo to the mainstream media. I’m sorry to hear about such lazy reporting and what seems like a gender bias in who they chose to interview.

    You have every right to be annoyed and upset. Have you considered writing a letter to the station or the editor of the show?

    As for marketing, I think your blog is a great starting point. :)

  24. Horace says:

    I am sorry to hear about the rude treatment and the inaccurate story… but it doesn’t actually surprise me that much.

    My meager attempt at marketing bike commuting is simply to do it every day. When my co-workers ask on a rainy day whether I had biked to work, my response is to pointedly wonder why they were asking, why that day is different from any other day.

    But it’s easier for me in California. We don’t have real weather like you do.

  25. sara says:

    So the story was about sport cycling in the winter, not riding one’s bike to get to where one needs to go? Was it merely coincidental that the sport cyclist was the lone man in this volunteer group?

    I have no sense about how to market cycling over driving. I guess it does help that others see my family & a small, but growing, number of families who bike commute in my city. I did propose a story idea to a local glossy mag about the rise of family cycling in New Haven but got a “thanks very much; we’ll consider it” blow-off…

    • dottie says:

      No, the story was most definitely about bike commuting in winter, not sport cycling. The guy was talking about bike commuting.

  26. nuliajuk says:

    The problem is, you made it look too easy! :-D
    I think a non-cycling journalist might have a subconscious agenda in portraying winter commuter cycling as something difficult, complicated, and tough, because that gives him (and most non-cycling viewers) a built-in excuse for not doing it.
    I encountered this attitude while on a weekend Jasper-Banff tour with some club-mates once. We got to the top of Sunwapta Pass, stopped to enjoy the view, and met a motorist who smirked and said, “That’s really hard work, isn’t it?” His face fell and got a sour expression when we said “No, not really, we just took it easy and enjoyed the scenery.”
    So, you show up wearing normal clothes and making it look effortless, and you’re a mere female as well…the audacity! How dare you portray winter cycling as something that one does not have to be a super tough mountain man to do!

  27. Stephen says:

    Dottie, with all due respect, y’all were just too nice, especially for a coupla Chicagoans. You should have spoken up sooner. And yes, you should attend the meetings and speak up. People NEED to see ‘normal’ human beings riding bicycles in the city, and not urban pioneers fitted out for warfare on two wheels.

  28. […] local cycle chic blogger) has picked up on a similar topic, how to promote cycling (and part two), and Cyclelicious has reblogged the topic and Dottie’s […]

  29. Steven Vance says:

    You tell a great story about what a lot of your readers (including me) are thinking about what it means to “be a cyclist” and what it takes to get there: That to be a cyclist, you have to have “gear.” Your story is evidence about a view of bicycling a large portion of the American population holds – a view that doesn’t help the cause to promote bicycling as “an integral part of daily life” (as the Bike 2015 Plan says is a goal for Chicago).

    http://www.bike2015plan.org

    I recently “converted” to the position that bicycling is one of the most normal, daily activities in which we can partake and that you don’t anything except yourself and a working bicycle (for some, even a partially working bike will do!).

    The New York Times recently wrote about the Vélib bicycling sharing system in Paris (and suburbs) and how many disassociated youth and other residents are vandalizing the bikes as a statement about politics and class. (Some sociologists are relating this act to the 2005 riots where people were burning cars.)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/31/world/europe/31bikes.html

  30. Man…. that is RIDICULOUS how they treated you guys. It’s people like that in the media that the public doesn’t know about the benefits of biking!

  31. Karen says:

    I don’t think we can rely on mainstream media. They are stuck in their own marketing niche of the “tried and true”, which really just means they don’t want to take risks. I think we keep doing what we’re doing – modeling what bike commuting looks like and who we are. Not really so different from the next person, except maybe cooler and in better shape.

    I think by now reporter-guy has gotten clued in to your blog and maybe these comments. Maybe he is realizing he is missing a fascinating trend representing not just about transportation but about more and more people, especially young people are making decisions about how they want to live their lives. They’re breaking significantly with a decades of thinking that emphasized bigger, faster and shinier because they are discovering that there is a different way to live.

  32. grambev says:

    Lead me to those “joiks” I will kick them for you. :)

  33. […] Go Ride a Bike — Marketing the Simple Bicycling Lifestyle, Part 2 — […]

  34. isnain says:

    good article… :)

  35. Trisha says:

    Their loss. I agree with others who have said the reporter was looking for the story he already knew how to tell. So unfortunate.

  36. Michelle says:

    I’m a little late commenting on this…

    In my experience, the press have already decided on their “message” and are looking for examples of it. But a well-timed comment can get them to refocus, sometimes.

    As for ‘selling’ bicycling, the social side of it seems most important. The ability to chat with a friend for part of the trip and then effortlessly part ways. The chance to flirt and be seen. The ease of pulling up to a store or restaurant, locking up, and going in – no hunting for parking places. I think it also helps when I can pass other cyclists and even cars while wearing my skirt, heels, etc. A lot of people are afraid to get out of their cars, and I feel like I am saying, visually, ‘If I can do this so easily, what’s your problem?’

    Then you pass a parking tax to pay for bicycle infrastructure.

  37. Michelle says:

    PS – watch TV commercials some time. They almost always glamorize places where people are walking and bicycling, and feature pleasant streetscapes (except for car and car insurance ads).

  38. miss sarah says:

    So frustrating! I get that in interviews too. Where they obviously know what they’re going to write already, like that time this girl would ONLY talk to me about bicycle helmets. Then she got all up in my face about how my helmet isn’t bike certified. I bought it at a bike store! And I like it. So there.

    And in the article there were huge pictures of kids wearing helmets shaped like giant dinosaurs and stuff. One helmet looked like a ferocious shark. Um… although I am a fan of both dinosaurs and sharks… I assume there are plenty of pretty girls out there who would like to ride a bike… but would NEVER consider wearing a shark on their head.

    It’s transportation. Not the circus!

    I sympathize with your bad experience. Let us take solace in the blogsphere!

    S*

  39. the popular dudes ankle is showing. brrrr!

    don’t be surprised about media arrogance or incompetence.

  40. […] Marketing the Simple Bicycling Lifestyle […]

  41. The video is up…

    http://livewellhd.com/video?id=7206997

    Dottie, your basket in one shot!

  42. Milo says:

    A TV reporter is briefed at the station by a Features Editor:

    “Snubgrub!”

    “Yes sir.”

    “It’s winter Snubgrub. Rain-snow mix outside. Get a crew, go somewhere, get some footage on extreme-commuting. Shoot someone on a bicycle, Snubgrub. Capture the misery. Show commuting as it is. There’s always someone crazier than the rest of us. Look for someone underfed with a stare like Rasputin, riding his bike. Makes the rest of us feel better. We’ll edit back here.”

    “Yes sir.”

    “And Snubgrub…”

    “Yes sir”

    “Drive carefully, Snubgrub.”

    “Of course sir.”

    Maybe a possible weakness of ‘Let’s Go Ride a Bike’ is that it’s too refined, too ‘oriental’ and subtle to impress today’s managerial, masculine mind. Not in-your-face-enough. Too sane and unfamiliar for America’s competitive mind.

    Footage of a determined young man battling through the elements like a lone eagle, mixing it with SUVs, might offer a bracing counter-point for a mass-audience for a couple of minutes on the evening news. A TV crew and a Features Editor decide in advance what they want. They will take YOUR details on THEIR terms, according to their need. Formula news. It’s not too different from the footage of the W. Virginia mining tragedy, where the cameras do not turn away until someone cries on TV. Then it’s in the can. They’d got what they wanted.

    It’s a bit like the worst of modern war reportage, what Robert Fisk calls ‘Hotel journalism.’ Story-lines decided in advance, pools of journalists inside hotel compounds retail what’s been passed down to them from on high. Satellite calls, internet interviews and on-line confirmation can all be filtered and ‘managed’ from the Middle East through links to corporate headquarters in Atlanta. You don’t actually have to hit the street – you might get rained on! – or someone might speak to you in Arabic: ‘Hello!!
    Like Adrienne said, the answer to such cavalier treatment is to press on. As the flower reaches toward the light because it has no choice but to blossom, so should the living continue to live freely: neither waivers, bonded contracts, rights to sue, nor inviolability for the over-privileged and the blind cause anyone to feel less valued, reduced, or made plain furious..for very long.

    In general American media have little interest in iconoclasm; they prefer repeat sales. Every cyclist on a bike, alone or with others, in fair weather and foul, is penning an original story, and has the opportunity to broaden the understanding and vision of our fellows.

    Persist!
    Milo.

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