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Old 04-15-02, 07:07 PM   #1
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Why do so many people avoid cycling?

I believe, in my gut, that everyone who has ridden a bike loves it.
I think everyone who has ridden a bike would do it more, except...
too many of them are afraid. Afraid of cars.

What can be done to break down the wall that stops people from doing what they love?

I think if this barrier of fear were destroyed, cycling would be among the most popular pastimes ever.
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Old 04-15-02, 07:54 PM   #2
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Originally posted by LittleBigMan
I believe, in my gut, that everyone who has ridden a bike loves it.
Unaccountably, this doesn't in fact appear to be the case. There are, believe it or not, people that don't like cycling. I think we'll just have to accept that this is the case, and rather than presenting cycling as the only alternative to the car, to help them consider other options: Public transport, walking, electric bicycles, motorcycles or even a smaller, more efficient car. It all counts.

On the other hand, I do hear 'I'd like to cycle to work, but...' a lot. All you can do then is to answer the 'buts' as best you can. Most hurdles to cycling people have in their minds are usually easily surmountable. It just requires a modicum of effort - and that's usually the problem. Most of the 'buts' usually are just a justification for 'I really can't be bothered making the effort.'

You can't do anything but wait for the opportunity to present itself. Answering a question is far more likely to yeild a change in behaviour than 'preaching' to an unwilling audience.
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Old 04-15-02, 08:12 PM   #3
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Why do so many people avoid cycling?
1) They haven't owned a bike for 10+ years, so they would have to buy one, probably the biggest hurdle for most adults is spending money on something they might not enjoy.
2) Intimidation, a lot of adults think that to ride a bike you have to wear lycra and all sorts of other colourful clothing, which they feel isn't their cup of tea.
3) Helmets, being compulsory adults think these things are for children only.
4) Lack of any fitness whatsoever, some people haven't done exercise for years, so the first ride virtually kills them, and their bums, wrists, neck and feet hurt for days so they give up.
5) Perceived danger, due to cars being everywhere there is little opportunity for adults to get back on a bike without riding on busy roads, so they don't bother trying.

There are plenty of reasons....ahem... excuses.

CHEERS.

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Old 04-16-02, 07:42 AM   #4
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Most common excuse for not cycling: fear of motor traffic.

Real reasons: 1) fear of motor traffic; 2) laziness.
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Old 04-16-02, 10:52 AM   #5
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too many of them are afraid. Afraid of cars.
I think that they are afraid of making an effort.
They're lazy!
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Old 04-16-02, 10:59 AM   #6
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I think all of you are right! There are lots of reasons. I think there's also a stigma about having a bike- people will think it means they'll be perceived as losers who can't afford a car. Or that it's "frivolous" in some way. And there's also the environment- a lot of people live in cities which are car-obsessed. We just went for a ride with a couple who have lived for about 8 years in Toronto. The woman was impressed with how many people she saw out on bikes, especially roadies, but also just seeing bikes. "You don't see that at all in toronto," she said. It's a real car city. Everyone is obsessed with getting to work and the traffic is incredible. I'd be terrified to ride in that city! Also, commuting in Toronto is a MAJOR trek- too much for most people to ride bikes. Small wonder that most ontario-born cyclists hail from the smaller cities, like Ottawa or St Catherines! Actually, Mike Barry is from Toronto, go figure.
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Old 04-16-02, 05:42 PM   #7
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Originally posted by wabbit
...commuting in Toronto is a MAJOR trek- too much for most people to ride bikes.
This is another drawback imposed upon us as we have overslept.

I have a 14 mile commute, one way. This is almost too far, about an hour. But I love cycling, so it's and excuse to ride!
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Old 04-16-02, 09:22 PM   #8
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Well, there's all sorts of reasons posted here. I think it's much more basic than that. The reason people don't do it is simply because they don't want to. End of story. I mean, who knows? If I had ever driven a car, I might have enjoyed it... But I have refrained simply because I have never particularly wanted to. That works both ways I guess.
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Old 04-16-02, 11:43 PM   #9
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I think fear of what other people will think of you is the #1 deterent to bicycling. In our culture people are judged by the size of their car payment. If you are seen on a bicycle it is assumed (by some) that you can't afford a car and so you will be viewed as unsucessful.

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Old 04-17-02, 05:54 AM   #10
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Originally posted by cycletourist
I think fear of what other people will think of you is the #1 deterent to bicycling. In our culture people are judged by the size of their car payment. If you are seen on a bicycle it is assumed (by some) that you can't afford a car and so you will be viewed as unsucessful.
The best status symbol is no status symbol - think about it.

I believe it is the lazy not in shape thing coupled with a fear of multiple wheeled monsters.
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Old 04-17-02, 06:32 AM   #11
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Chris: I drove a car once, in driver's ed 22 years ago. Didn't like it one bit... not one bit.

All: There's another issue, of course, and I think wabbit hit on it. Bikes are frivolous [not to us, but to most people] in North America, particularly in the US. Bikes are things that children ride, and have ever been so since the rise of Car Culture. Just look at the symbolism: Schwinn flyers that looked like motocycles, Stingrays and other high rise bikes that looked like motorcycles, pseudo-MTBs that look like motorcycles. The bicycle is not a vehicle in itself in Car Culture, it is a trainer for a motor-driven vehicle. It's what jids ride until they become adults and drive cars and motorcycles. Who wants to be a kid when you can be an adult. [Okay, okay, keep it down everyone, I know... that's why we ride bikes.]

I was in a local wrench shop the other day, and the wrench [Matt] was working on one of thos bright shiny X-Mart, full suspension bikes. [Typical: it had been ridden foe about 10 km and it was already in the shop, but I digress].

I picked the beast up and I swear it weighed 25-30 kg. It was so heavy that the "suspension" was bottomed out just sitting there.

Velocipedio: CAn you imagine riding THAT?

Matt: Yeah, but it LOOKS so cool.

Velocipedio: Whaddya mean? It looks like it has an ENGINE!

Matt: Exactly; that's why the kids buy this crap.

Interesting exchange.
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Old 04-17-02, 10:06 AM   #12
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There is definitely a stigma, or perceived stigma that a bike, like Trix, is for Kids! Kids ride bikes, and if you're an adult and rie one WILLINGLY, it's either because you're immature or you're a loser.

I remember a few years ago, when we were looking for a place to live. We went to look at a nice duplex for rent, and because it was a warm day in may/june (one of those), we rode our bikes. They were mountain bikes but are both very good bikes- specialized rockhoppers. The landlord took one look at us with our bikes, shorts and helmets and automatically wrote us off because we didn't ride up in a Saab. He kept making remarks about how this place maybe wasn't what we were looking for and how there was a place up the street that was better. Obviously because we were on bikes we can't afford a car and must be on welfare! He probably would have done the same thing if lance Armstrong rode up on HIS bike. As it turns out, the place up the street was very nice and less expensive. The landlord did rent to the perfect yuppie couple with an SUV but they left after a year because he drove them nuts!
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Old 04-17-02, 09:41 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by velocipedio
Chris: I drove a car once, in driver's ed 22 years ago. Didn't like it one bit... not one bit.
Thanks for the reminder.

Quote:
Originally posted by wabbit
I remember a few years ago, when we were looking for a place to live...
The landlord took one look at us with our bikes, shorts and helmets and automatically wrote us off because we didn't ride up in a Saab. He kept making remarks about how this place maybe wasn't what we were looking for and how there was a place up the street that was better.
This kind of reminds me of my situation a few months back when I was looking for a place to live in Coolangatta. I seemed to have a lot of people telling me about how there was "nothing about" or how prices seemed a little too expensive for that part of the world (it was the tourist season, but maybe there was something else).

Well screw them. Since I've stayed at Mermaid Waters, (in a much nice place than any I looked at down there) my passionfruit vine has started to bloom, and I couldn't be happier. so all those stupid f*cks who didn't like my bike can shove it until it bleeds for all I care.
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Old 04-19-02, 10:19 AM   #14
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Why do so many people avoid cycling?
1) They haven't owned a bike for 10+ years
2) Intimidation, you have to wear lycra, etc..
3) Helmets for children only.
4) Lack of any fitness what-so-ever, so the first ride virtually kills them, and their bums, wrists, neck and feet hurt for days.
5) Perceived danger, due to cars being everywhere.
Mark
Been there, done that. I didn't ride for years mainly due to these reasons. From being there, let me put my spin on these.
1> OK I had a ATB (precurser to MTB) so wasn't an issue. Bought it when my first daughter was old enough to ride with dreams of riding with her. We did, but not much more than 3 miles or there abouts before wrist and back pain set in.
2> Naw, never cared what others wore, I was fine in shorts and a T-Shirt.
3> Didn't wear one, now I do as I have to set an example for my youngest daughter.
4> Big time, now I am 5' 10" and 300 pounds. Last few times I rode my ATB my butt, and back hurt, my wrists REALLY hurt bad.
5> Riding in the subdivisions wasn't that big of an issue, but you were either on the sidewalk (hated the curbs) or in the street. Not too much traffic to be a real issue. Mostly just boring!
6> Lack of interesting places to ride, Oh, there was no 6, but what got me started again was having bike trails to ride on when we moved (75 miles of hiking/bike trails) in a wooded/subdivision area, plus groups like these with people directing me in trying different bikes. After riding a recumbent I actually got excited about it again, then it just became an issue of finding the right 'bent for me. So after many years I have started, and just love riding again. Now a short ride is 4 miles, and our long rides are 7 - 10 miles. And I have only been back in it 2 months now.
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Old 04-21-02, 06:38 PM   #15
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A person should be required to drink one gallon of oil for each gallon of oil that they burn. At the end of the day, motorists will be in bad health and look terrible, whereas the bicyclists will still be kissable.
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Old 04-21-02, 06:57 PM   #16
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A person should be required to drink one gallon of oil for each gallon of oil that they burn. At the end of the day, motorists will be in bad health and look terrible, whereas the bicyclists will still be kissable.
I proposed a similar thing in one of the articles on my website. I suggested that rather than spewing it into the air, the particulate waste from the internal combustion process be stored in something like a vacuum cleaner bag in an easily acceble place, and the contents sprinkled on the owner's cornflakes every morning.

The gaseous waste could simply be directed straight back into the passenger space of the vehicle.

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Old 04-21-02, 07:18 PM   #17
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Originally posted by Allister


I proposed a similar thing in one of the articles on my website. I suggested that rather than spewing it into the air, the particulate waste from the internal combustion process be stored in something like a vacuum cleaner bag in an easily acceble place, and the contents sprinkled on the owner's cornflakes every morning.



The gaseous waste could simply be directed straight back into the passenger space of the vehicle.
Yeah, but we know where the automobile reigns supreme, and we all know how un-American the idea of "self responsibility" is.

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Old 04-22-02, 09:35 PM   #18
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Originally posted by cycletourist
I think fear of what other people will think of you is the #1 deterent to bicycling. In our culture people are judged by the size of their car payment. If you are seen on a bicycle it is assumed (by some) that you can't afford a car and so you will be viewed as unsucessful.


Unsuccessful?

<sigh..>

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Old 04-30-02, 07:53 PM   #19
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Maybe it's a West Coast thing (you know, laid back Vancouver and all), but it seems to me that many people are rather positively disposed to the idea of biking, even if they don't do it. They tend to say things like, "hmmm, I should really do that, too" or "wow. good for you!".

I've gone through long stretches of not riding my bike much. I've never owned a car, so my alternative modes of transportation were (a) public transportation, (b) walking, and (c) rides from friends and boyfriends. I only came back to dedicated bicycle commuting because of a summer-long bus strike; I might still be riding the bus today were it not for the fact that I was forced to realize that I could do the ride, and then forced to stick to it because the strike just wasn't going to end (it's a 28 km round trip that crosses a municipal boundary, and it *seemed* far by bus).


For those who toy with the idea of commuting by bike (I'll focus on commuting, because it's what I know), the biggest barriers, I think, have to do with missing information:

(a) not knowing what the ride will be like
(b) not knowing if they can do the ride, or if it will be practical for them to do it
(c) not being sure about how to ride in traffic
(d) not knowing what they don't know, not knowing who or what to ask, and not knowing where to start

Making any significant change in your habits is actually pretty hard -- it requires commitment and focus and it requires a person to actually think about what they need to do next in order to make something happen. When there are a lot of unknowns, like, "I don't know how to ride in traffic" or "I don't know a good route to take" or "I don't know how long it will take me or if I'm in good enough shape" or "I don't know what kind of bike to get" -- you can't choose what to do next because you actually don't know what choices you have. Moreover, when things are all kinda fuzzy and unknown, it's also really hard to visualize yourself doing the thing you're pondering -- and being able to see yourself doing the thing successfully is probably key.

What's surprisingly easy, however, is imagining what you're afraid of: nasty motorists, traffic accidents, exhaustion, flat tires, hating the ride, rain, etc. And of course all of that is pretty de-motivating. The unfortunate thing is, people don't necessarily know that the reason they're not doing a thing is because they're missing some crucial information, and that getting that information can make all the difference. Instead, they, and others, attribute their reluctance to laziness, lack of time, lack of ability, danger, cowardice, or other things that seem out of their control.

Still, if I had to pinpoint a specific item as being the biggest barrier to using the bike as a significant mode of transportation: it's not knowing how to ride in traffic. Not fear, but not knowing how. The not knowing creates the fear, and the fear is what creates the avoidance.

-Cathy

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Old 04-30-02, 08:22 PM   #20
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Originally posted by hunterseeker
...if I had to pinpoint a specific item as being the biggest barrier to using the bike as a significant mode of transportation: it's not knowing how to ride in traffic. Not fear, but not knowing how. The not knowing creates the fear, and the fear is what creates the avoidance.
After learning how and doing it, bicycle commuting is never as hard as it looks. In fact, it's so fun, it's addicting.

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Old 05-01-02, 02:00 PM   #21
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I quoted the whole thing because that was great. This should be published in every bike shop across north america! Great, great advice for bike commuting and so truthful!
Thanks for taking to time to write that out hunterseeker

Quote:
Originally posted by hunterseeker
Maybe it's a West Coast thing (you know, laid back Vancouver and all), but it seems to me that many people are rather positively disposed to the idea of biking, even if they don't do it. They tend to say things like, "hmmm, I should really do that, too" or "wow. good for you!".

I've gone through long stretches of not riding my bike much. I've never owned a car, so my alternative modes of transportation were (a) public transportation, (b) walking, and (c) rides from friends and boyfriends. I only came back to dedicated bicycle commuting because of a summer-long bus strike; I might still be riding the bus today were it not for the fact that I was forced to realize that I could do the ride, and then forced to stick to it because the strike just wasn't going to end (it's a 28 km round trip that crosses a municipal boundary, and it *seemed* far by bus).


For those who toy with the idea of commuting by bike (I'll focus on commuting, because it's what I know), the biggest barriers, I think, have to do with missing information:

(a) not knowing what the ride will be like
(b) not knowing if they can do the ride, or if it will be practical for them to do it
(c) not being sure about how to ride in traffic
(d) not knowing what they don't know, not knowing who or what to ask, and not knowing where to start

Making any significant change in your habits is actually pretty hard -- it requires commitment and focus and it requires a person to actually think about what they need to do next in order to make something happen. When there are a lot of unknowns, like, "I don't know how to ride in traffic" or "I don't know a good route to take" or "I don't know how long it will take me or if I'm in good enough shape" or "I don't know what kind of bike to get" -- you can't choose what to do next because you actually don't know what choices you have. Moreover, when things are all kinda fuzzy and unknown, it's also really hard to visualize yourself doing the thing you're pondering -- and being able to see yourself doing the thing successfully is probably key.

What's surprisingly easy, however, is imagining what you're afraid of: nasty motorists, traffic accidents, exhaustion, flat tires, hating the ride, rain, etc. And of course all of that is pretty de-motivating. The unfortunate thing is, people don't necessarily know that the reason they're not doing a thing is because they're missing some crucial information, and that getting that information can make all the difference. Instead, they, and others, attribute their reluctance to laziness, lack of time, lack of ability, danger, cowardice, or other things that seem out of their control.

Still, if I had to pinpoint a specific item as being the biggest barrier to using the bike as a significant mode of transportation: it's not knowing how to ride in traffic. Not fear, but not knowing how. The not knowing creates the fear, and the fear is what creates the avoidance.

-Cathy
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Old 05-26-02, 02:21 PM   #22
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Originally posted by LittleBigMan
I believe, in my gut, that everyone who has ridden a bike loves it.
I think everyone who has ridden a bike would do it more, except...
too many of them are afraid. Afraid of cars.

What can be done to break down the wall that stops people from doing what they love?

I think if this barrier of fear were destroyed, cycling would be among the most popular pastimes ever.
Ride in bike path, like in Toronto, ride the Humber river Bike Path you'll not encounter any cars, and eventually encourage you to develop your ride biking skills
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Old 05-30-02, 03:09 PM   #23
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Since my bicycle accident a week and a half ago, I've had several people try to talk me out of riding again. I'm almost recovered at this point, and have been giving it some thought.

Why, when someone almost is killed in a car accident, isn't there people saying "you should stop driving?" Each year we loose almost the equivalent of the number of people killed in Vietnam on the highways to motor vehicles, yet there is no one out there trying to convince people not to drive after a bad auto accident. In fact, if a person has a really bad driving record, he or she only has to wait a few years to get their driving priveleges re-instated (the Portland, OR area a few day ago lost most of a family to a truck driver who was driving 5 years after having a very bad driving record, including repeat drunken driving arrests).

I don't think the perceived level of danger is there for driving, where it is for bicycling.

People seem to like to delude themselves into thinking they are safe in a car because of all that metal around them. But it only takes a bigger vehicle to render this a liability rather than an asset. Years ago, as an EMT/Paramedic in Eugene, OR I responded to a high school student trapped in a pickup after colliding head-on with a log truck (he was passing in the uphill lane, and the log truck was coming over the crest of the hill--trying to get to school on time when late). Someone, whom we later found out was his father, literally tore the side door off the pickup he was trapped in. He died as I worked on him in back of the ambulance. I felt bad at the hospital until a nurse took me to his body, and asked me to watch her. She pulled away the sheet from his head, lifted his nose about an inch, then made a circular motion with his nose around his head in about a 2 inch diameter circle. Every bone in his head had been crushed by the impact.

People don't realize these forces, and the car advertising doesn't help them see it either.

A bicycle, on the other hand, has nothing around the operator. Cyclists hit the ground, and get scraped up and bruised up. This reinforces the visual impact that cycling is somehow more dangerous than driving.

I could add more, but I need to get back to work.

John
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Old 05-30-02, 05:34 PM   #24
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It's advertising plus the fact that some folks feel safer in a cage. Actually you are probably safer on a bike since you can jump off and roll.
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Old 05-30-02, 09:23 PM   #25
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John, people still think what I'm doing is more dangerous than their time spent hurtling down the pavement at 65, 75, 85 mph in a flimsy tin can, in a sea of hundreds of other flying objects.

Who invented this wierd system?

:confused:

(I like my bike --and I watch out for the "other guy." )
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