cycling needs a new social media trend to match cycle-chic

When I started my bike blog just over 6 years ago you could not buy a bakfiets in Australia, and the two leading blogs bringing “slow cycling” to the world, Lets Go Ride a Bike and Copenhagenize, were attracting up to one hundred comments per blog post. As far as IBM were concerned the proliferation of internet chatter around the “Cycle Chic” theme presented the perfect case study in social media crazes. (I like to think I had something to do with that dot just North of Sydney.)

IBMIf that map were updated now it would show no dots at all. There just aren’t the same levels of engagement. Let’s Go Ride a Bike has not had a post since last March. Cycle Chic looks as though it is updated from an Indian sweatshop from Mikael’s stock photos on Flickr. As for Mikael, his blog is what you would expect of a consultant: lots of case studies—no more the fiery rants setting forth the new doctrines. The only bike blog I’m aware of that still receives a hundred-odd comments per post is BikeSnob’s, but then no one ever did doubt the enduring appeal of apolitical dribble.

I’m not saying any of this should matter to readers of blogs such as these, namely advocates freshening their thoughts around issues. The advocates and crazy-eyed activists still come in droves to my anti status-quo rants, write their own blogs about local issues, and will continue to do their job of reminding politicians of the other 99 points still left on their wish lists.

What we have lost is the internet chatter, for a reason we all should be glad for: the cycle-chic message broke through. You would have to go to a dark place indeed, like Tasmania for instance, to find a town planner who still doesn’t get it. 

Job done. We can all go and start blogs on more interesting topics.

What I would rather see though is a whole new frontier. A new branded sensation, like cycle-chic, for the post cycle-chic period. What would it be though?

The mirror on my work that I get from the occasional flurry of media attention has shown me that my own most quotable quote is this one: “The city of the future won’t have bike infrastructure. It will be bike infrastructure.” If only I could boil that down to one or two words.

5 Comments

  1. crank says:

    #cyclechic was great advertising, like a Coke ad showing happy people having more fun than you. It works because the target is the individual, who can buy into the movement like tourists buying the best LV bag they can afford. It’s the allure to be a better you. ‘cycle’ was married to ‘chic’, while the mundane word of ‘cycle’ part became somewhat transparent, we all want to be ‘chic’. And presto, we’re on an upright bike now.

    This is a hard for Velotopia. I can’t simply go and look cooler and be there, it’s beyond personal effort. It takes the concerted effort of thousands of people to build, and thousands of Duncan Gays to be destroyed. And maybe this is what we need – an army to defeat the evil empire.

    I greatly enjoy Scott Adam’s blog (author of Dilbert). He is a trained hypnotist expert in persuasion. How to beat ISIS? Re-label them as ‘target practice for robots’.
    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/135736726376/target-practice-for-robots
    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/135383935731/renaming-isis-to-vztp

    The blog has been most entertaining the last year analyzing how Trump can persuade his way into U.S. presidency. Part of that has been analyzing the “linguistic kill shot”
    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Ablog.dilbert.com+%22linguistic+kill+shot%22

    Duncan Gay – minister for obesity? Let’s pull no punches, Minister for Murder. Sticky term, the term is open-ended to various interpretations (diabetes, heart disease, or straight up road trauma), alliteration. Not bad, me.

    On the flip side, how do we engineer the alluring term to get our dear Velotopia built? ‘cyclechic’ is an alluring word to look at, you repeat it in your mind. It’s open ended to interpretation of what ‘chic’ is to the beholder. What’s the idea we are selling? Beyond chic, the ultimate place to live? Safe, fun and productive… What would Coca Cola call their city? Futurama probably worked because people want to buy into a technological society of ease. What is our aspiration now? A human city? (Mikael uses the quite good term ‘human scale city’, and heck, ‘copenhagenize’ was a very good attempt.) I’d settle for a city free of lethal, speeding boxes, but I’m a glass-half-empty type of person. We already aim for ‘livable cities’ but that term is thoroughly, utterly diluted.

    • Steven says:

      Thoughtful as ever. #minister4murder @duncsoffice = lock it in. A stopgap while we wait for the perfect possible stretch target for people dreaming of better cities might be “sexy rich city” with font tricks to make the word look like a bike. Charles Montgomery’s “Happy City” is nice, just a little too nebulous to my mind.

  2. Clark in Vancouver says:

    Cycle Norm-core?

  3. Heeeellllloooo! I need to see you soon!

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