One of the "mantras" of the cycling industry these days is to "get more people to use bicycles for utility", or just "to get more people riding bicycles". Sounds good, right? Health benefits, ecological benefits, and all the "green" stuff we keep talking about. Yeah. It's all good, right?
Well, that depends on who we're talking to.
The assumption that is made here is that "getting more people on bicycles" is referring to the people who "are not on bicycles". Seems simple enough, right? I mean, a lot of people are not cyclists and the more cyclists we get the better we get as a whole, no? More health, more green, yada,yada,yada. Okay, great. But where are the new people? I am not seeing a rush to the bicycle anymore than there has been over the past 20 years or so. So why is that?
It's because we, (as cyclists and as an industry), are talking to other cyclists, not to what I like to call "Non-cycling America". Here is what I mean....
Rapha Bicycle Collection. Rapha being that cycling clothing company that manufactures a romantic, mid-20th century cycling aura that you can buy in to. (I wonder, do you see everything in daguerreotype when you ride in Rapha clothing? Just curious.) Anyway, check out the simplicity, the utilitarian "monkey grip" to help haul it up stairways, the fenders, and useful rack all driven by an internal geared 5 speed transmission. Cool, right? Practical, no? Well, cool your passions folks, and check out the asking price: $5,195 + shipping. No, that isn't a typo folks. That's 5G of utility sitting there. How many of the "Non-cycling Americans" that you know will be interested in this?
Yeah.........not many, I'll wager!
This is the sort of thing I'm talking about when I say that the cycling industry, and cyclists are all hob-nobbing and slapping each other on the back with congratulatory salutations while speaking the right words but directing them all at the choir. All the while "Non-cycling America" is looking at us like we're speaking in some alien language, running around in ridiculous get ups, and pissing them off by getting in their way on "their" roads. (Well, because we are!) No wonder there is such a gulf between cyclists and everybody else on many cycling issues.
Think I'm crazy? Try talking "bike" with your non-cycling friends, relatives, or acquaintances, and get back to me on that. I'm betting you will "get the look" while they strain to comprehend what the heck that it is you are trying to talk to them about. Now look at the cycling industry, and tell me they are "talking" to these people any better. They are not, and that's a big problem if this industry really wants to get more folks on two, bi-pedaled wheels.
About $1000.00. Yup! (And I think that is still too spendy for "Non-cycling America", but hey! This is headed in the right direction.) Oh yeah.....by the way, notice the man's garb? Yeah......practical. Looks like the guy next door, no? And what's more, this fellow wouldn't sell typical bicycle helmets to his customers because he knew that they thought the racing inspired helmets we see in every bike shop were going to make his customers feel stupid. Well, ya know.....he actually is talking to non-cyclists. Gosh! Isn't it amazing what you'll learn if'n ya just listen? Wow!
While it isn't very romantical, cool, or inspired by Europe's hard men, this guy is going in the right direction to get more people on bicycles. You know, the people that are not already on bicycles that we all want to get on bicycles? Yeah, those folks. Not "us". We already have bicycles.
I suggest we use 'em as often as possible too.