Comments on: Cycling advocacy and the global future Re-making the world, one revolution at a time Mon, 13 Apr 2015 07:37:07 +0000 hourly 1 By: MJ Ray Fri, 04 Apr 2014 13:08:29 +0000 Is it doing it without help from government, though? I thought British Cycling (sport, £24m/year, income breakdown undisclosed) and Sustrans (leisure, £78m/year, 4% supporter donation funding) both got grants. I suspect governments see rural cycling as easier to support because it’s rarer that they’ll have to make the tough choices, like how to route multiple modes of transport safely through the same space. It’s also fairly easy to hand off some of those unpopular choices to Sustrans to decide (spend millions on a bridge or compromise the route?), whereas in towns, highway authorities want to keep full control and wouldn’t dream of giving away the final say on junction design.

Similarly, in urban areas, it’s safer to promote commuter cycling because commuters are on average fitter (they’re all fit enough to work) people who can and will muddle through the bodges because they need to get to work on time, rather than these pesky utility riders, some of who will stop, take photos and go out campaigning or turning up at council meetings (almost always on workdays!) asking for the worst abominations to be fixed. So I guess the upshot is that I agree that commuter cycling support is often a pretence.

Does urban cycling get more of the focus because it’s the biggest problem not yet solved?

By: Jai Cooper Fri, 04 Apr 2014 00:53:00 +0000 Thanks Dave, sorry to hear the Bicycle Politics collection wound up.

I managed to get a copy of Aurora’s work through Uni of Reading, thanks. Yes, a good read.

The ACP is in formative stages but got the members to form a party with the Electoral Commission. A reference group has been established to develop the policy platform… More info at:

Are things good downunder? In general, the permanent provocation continues. Our indigenous program is rolling along well. The inaugural Koori MTB Cup is scheduled for July.

It’s coincidental that you featured the “Cycletopia” concept in this post… I’m currently researching such concepts with Uni of Newcastle, watch this space.


By: Dave Horton Thu, 03 Apr 2014 11:29:19 +0000 Thanks Ian. Interesting. I don’t disagree with you at all (even though I can see you disagree with me!), which makes me wonder if there’s something important here – to do with tensions between the different assumptions and truths which we as differently located advocates are encouraged to adopt, do adopt, and then come to take as real.

I agree that the promotion of urban cycling (which we are seeing (and advocates are spending a lot of time talking about) currently in the UK, especially in London) is largely a pretence, which keeps the minority of advocates ‘sweet’ whilst keeping the grip of the car very firmly in place – we are being duped, have been duped for a long time, and will continue to be duped. But I also think that, in the UK at least, policy-makers and advocates alike are talking mainly about city cycling, even though it’s cycling outside of the city which is getting people interested in cycling, and onto bikes.

By: ianbrettcooper Thu, 03 Apr 2014 11:08:19 +0000 Hi Dave,

I agree with MJ Ray. To be honest, the idea that commuter cycling is what’s being promoted by cycling advocacy or by government strikes me as plain wrong, given the fact that very little focus (or money) seems to be spent improving road conditions or linking routes for commuters. If government has a strategy in all this, it seems to be focused on getting cyclists off the roads – i.e. pushing us out of the way so that the “real” road users (motorists) are not inconvenienced by us. As MJ Ray suggests, far too much money and attention seems to be focused on leisure trails that go nowhere useful for anyone that uses a bike on a daily basis.

The sense I get is that commuter cyclists, far from being some kind of moneyed “economically active” elite, are working class folks and are viewed by some influential cycling advocates as filthy lower class proles. So I think you’ve got the whole thing upside-down in terms of who are the elites here. The elites aren’t the working stiffs who use a bike to commute. The elites are the folks who use a bike for vacations and who DON’T use a bike to commute.

Also, I think you’re using the words “commute” and “work” too narrowly: work is not just stuff that generates a paycheck. It is what the vast majority of us have to do, whether we’re office workers, factory workers, stay-at-home dads or moms. Work can be getting the kids to school, grocery shopping, etc. – and many of us commute using a bike to do those things. My point, like yours, is that cycling advocacy should be focused on the day-to-day, not the summer vacation. The problem is, all too often, it’s focused on the latter.

By: Dave Horton Thu, 03 Apr 2014 11:06:52 +0000 Yes. I think it’d make an interesting investigation – what makes leisure and sport cycling so popular, whilst city cycling remains so repressed? What are the forces promoting sport and leisure cycling (role models? new enthusiasm for the Tour de France? Growing enthusiasm for active, outdoor leisure? the rural tourist industry?) and why do they seem to be more effective than the much more explicitly active forces (central and local government, big employers, cycle campaigns) trying to promote city cycling?

Are leisure and sport cycling doing well because they are rural (even though rural residents aren’t cycling more but less), whilst commuter cycling is struggling because it is urban? Or is it more complicated than that?

My point (I think!) was that most of the explicit institutional effort is put into boosting commuter cycling, but city cycling ought to be about much more than this. Rural cycling for leisure and pleasure and sport seems to be doing quite well without any help from Government, but this isn’t utility cycling.

By: MJ Ray Thu, 03 Apr 2014 09:48:05 +0000 I’m surprised by this. Personally I’m feeling that commuter cycling and all other transport cycling (including children exploring their world and people just getting places) are in danger of being written out by sports/leisure cycling. Some leisure riders seem quite happy to throw the bikes on/in the car and drive out of the cities to the end of a decent route, while transport riders need routes that actually link homes with destinations. I’ll happily support leisure routes, but I wish more people would/could ride to them.

By: Dave Horton Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:20:45 +0000 Hi Jai

Apologies for the long delay in responding. I’m glad you found the article useful.

1. No, I’ve never heard of a single interest party for cycling before. Cycling has usually appealed to some political movements more than others, but to form a political party around it – well ….! Interesting. I’d be interested to hear how the Australian Cyclists Party gets on, and what the consensus is about it as a strategy.

2. No, unfortunately the Bicycle Politics collection ran to a halt. We got a good way down the path, but our favoured publisher was being quite strict (reasonably and understandably so) with what they wanted in and out of the collection, and in the end it felt like we as editors couldn’t – based on what we had – give them what they wanted. So it’s gone onto the ‘discarded project’ pile, I’m afraid. (A shame because there was some very good stuff there.) Aurora now works for London Cycling Campaign, so you could try contacting her there, to see whether she’s happy to send you her stuff (which is excellent).

Hope things are good down under.

By: Dave Horton Wed, 02 Apr 2014 13:58:38 +0000 Thanks Ian. I’m very belatedly returning to and commenting on some of the responses to this article, which I neglected at the time.

I don’t have a problem with commuter cycling, but I do have a problem with how commuter cycling can easily become what gets promoted (especially by institutional – and especially governmental – discourses), and it can therefore become ‘what cycling is’. So cycling becomes what is done by the ‘economically active’, and thereby itself a kind of economic activity. But what about everyone else? In the current talk about an urban cycling renaissance it sometimes feels to me like children, and older people, and all kinds of people who might want/need/like to cycle in the city for any number of reasons get ‘written out’, and forgotten.

The city’s not just or even mainly about work. And we should be promoting cycling for everyone, not just commuters. (I know you know this – I’m just explaining my position ;-)

By: Different Worlds | Thu, 09 Jan 2014 16:22:55 +0000 […] it. Cycling is repressed but barely; it lies close to the surface. This is why, as I tried to say in a recent post, I think we need to create more seductive visions of the cycling future, to help people get more […]

By: Different Worlds | Thinking About Cycling Tue, 07 Jan 2014 14:53:36 +0000 […] it. Cycling is repressed but barely; it lies close to the surface. This is why, as I tried to say in a recent post, I think we need to create more seductive visions of the cycling future, to help people get more […]