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.)
If 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.