Are You a Cyclist or Do You Cycle? The Language of Promoting Cycling
Promoting more cycling in New Zealand is still an exercise fraught with much adversity, both from the general public and from decision- and policy-makers. It is therefore crucial that anyone advocating for a better cycling environment is careful in how they present their case, lest they end up “scoring an own goal” or furthering existing mis-conceptions. Some key examples of this include: • Referring to “cyclists” rather than “people who cycle”, the former often conjuring up images of a relatively small bunch of “weird” people who only ever cycle. • Asking to “provide cycle facilities” rather than “provide for cycling”, when many treatments that greatly benefit cyclists often involve no dedicated cycle facilities. • Publicly highlighting safety problems for cyclists in an attempt to get improvements, when the net effect may be to increase the general perception of cycling as “dangerous”. • Pushing strongly for on-road cycle provision, thus alienating the population who would prefer an off-road environment to cycle on; or vice versa. This paper will discuss some of the potential pitfalls encountered by the author over the years and try to suggest the best way forward. Other subtle examples of unintended bias against cyclists, often communicated by public officials and documents, will also be highlighted.