OPINION: Something strange has happened to the perception of cyclists and cycling in the more than 200 years they’ve been around.
Once a novelty, bike riding has moved from being a critical transport mode to a children’s pastime, to now being popularly perceived as an elitist activity .
This was readily apparent after the recent “liberate the lane” protest on Auckland’s Harbour Bridge . Cyclists who broke a police barrier and rode onto the motorway were variously described as privileged, white, entitled and, yes, elitist.
Ask most people what a cyclist looks like and they’ll more than likely conjure an image of the stereotypical rider – decked out head to toe in lycra, absurd aerodynamic helmet, wraparound sunglasses and, of course, a futuristic bike capable of slicing through the headwinds.
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But that image owes much more to marketing than reality.In the 1960s and 1970s, the market was full of cheap and reliable steel ten-speed bikes. These were fantastic commuters with minimal sex appeal. At that time, the stereotypical cyclist was just an average person. Then the 1980s welcomed the newly-invented mountain bike and the cycling world splintered into different camps. Road cyclists split into high-speed racing, triathlon and long-distance sub-tribes. Along the way, marketing […]