Today there is an interview with me on funsherpa, whose tag line is “uncovering what interesting people are interested in.” What a compliment! In my experience people who ride bikes to get around tend to be pretty interesting – they are independent people who take the time to question and challenge the status quo.
One of the most thought-provoking questions funsherpa asked me was:
Lets say you worked for a marketing firm tasked with getting Chicagoans to switch over from cars to bikes – what would you do?
I would use all the tactics that automobile advertisers use. They show the car as sexy, safe, freeing, fun, attractive, normal, necessary. In my experience, these adjectives describe bicycling more accurately than driving, especially in the city. Bicycling delivers the kind of freedom that car advertising promises. We need images of successful and happy people on bikes dressed nicely, going on dates, smiling and laughing. Exposure to such images, like those on Copenhagen Cycle Chic, is necessary to show the public the possibilities that the bicycle presents. Most women here have no idea that riding a bike with a skirt and heels is easy; that bicycling does not have to be a sport; and that the bicyclist does not have to get sweaty.
My answer is a start, but I’d like to hear all of your ideas. We’ve touched on this in The Bike Commuter Stereotype, and now we’d like to take the issue head-on. What would you do with unlimited resources, or what can you do working with the resources you have? How do we go beyond preaching to the choir and reach the general public – posters, commercials, product placement in movies? Let’s hear your ideas!