Caps off to those detroiters whose cranks are turning all winter long, but pity on all those who thought it clever and productive to broadcast their ignorance and malcontent by publishing silly and unseemly comments that serve no purpose.
Alas, unless we let go of old ways (ironically, in favor of even older ways in the case of bicycling for transportation), we’re destined to find ourselves rusting away in a silent heap amidst refuse and overgrowth like so many of these gas-powered machines. Wouldn’t it be the coolest thing to see Michigan, and Detroit in particular, the United States’ mecca of the automobile industry, transformed into a bastion and beacon of alternative transportation?
I’ve been paying much closer attention to car commercials on TV of late, and thinking about them in relation to the ongoing bits of conversations I read in various blogs given primarily to bikes-as-transportation. It fascinates me how much of the discourse surrounding automobile marketing centers on the connection of the car to the identity of the owner/driver. I occasionally see hints of this in bicycle advertising (which, incidentally, I only ever see in print, never on television), but I wonder if there shouldn’t be more of it. After all, I’m quite sure that most riders view their bicycle as an important if not integral part of their identities. And aren’t Copenhagen Cycle Chic, the Slow Bicycle Movement, and all the photo-journals and bike culture trends they’ve inspired fundamentally about this very issue?
So, I’m not a marketing expert by any stretch, but it seems to me that the real challenge is not how to market these ideas to people who already think this way and who just need to be convinced to buy another bike. Consider how much car advertising is focused not on getting a car for the first time but on getting something newer, better, bigger, sexier than what you have already, because what you have already isn’t as new, good, big, sexy as you think, or as it once was. Of course the reason for this is that no one needs to be persuaded to take up driving as if it were a new thing. Rather, it’s how to convince SUV drivers that bicycles can be solid and safe and utilitarian, too, and how to convince Lexus, BMW, Cadillac, and Lincoln drivers that bicycles can be fast, tricked out, sleek, and powerful, too. So how do we do that?
Meanwhile, to advocate and raise awareness, consider this budding campaign from The Epicurean Cyclist, along with The Lazy Randonneur‘s “ode to the bike commuter,” which, come to think of it, remind’s me of Chicago Bike Blog‘s own little ode to winter wanderers.