RETAIL COMMENT: Cycling in the media - BikeBiz

RETAIL COMMENT: Cycling in the media

Last month’s Tour de France has to be the most widely covered in history. Interspersed amongst headlines of Swine Flu and footballers selling for the cost of a private jet, coverage is as widespread now as during cycle racing’s first heydey.
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The press, however, is notorious for picking a flavour of the week and rolling with it until our eyes and ears are sore. Touch wood, cycling doesn’t seem to be one of those fads.

For several years I’ve picked up the Live supplement, delivered with the Mail on Sunday. Every week there’s a bike featured among the various gadgets and technology. Never anything within reach of the average buyer, mind. Nonetheless, the read is educational at a basic level and no doubt attracts the curiosity of many non-cyclists.

So, with the launch of a dedicated cycling lifestyle blog on Guardian.co.uk, surely the promotion of everyday cycling has hit another plateau? Or is there another horizon in sight? The Evening Standard is actively campaigning for more cycle parking at London’s many stations. What’s more the campaign has political backing from London’s fluffy-barnetted, cycle-friendly Mayor, so you can bet it’ll be in and out of the news pages for some time to come.

Whether it be in the sports pages where two-wheelers now frequently have a dedicated section, or in the news pages, adoption of press releases and, more importantly, self generated news, has never been greater.

The sustained barage of content and CTC pressure seems to be gradually prompting local authorities to plan better infrastructure and facilities for cyclists. Surely that’s got to result in more customers?

Now, time for a minor rant. My ride to work is little over a mile long. On a sunny day I’ll set a steady cadence so as to draw out the time I spend on a bike. The revolution (no pun intended...) that comes with each pedal stroke is relaxing. And yet, most mornings there is a mile-long car park leading into town. To me, it’s just plain bizarre to pass stressed-out motorists fanning themselves as the sun beats down. What would be the harm in walking or cycling?

Many of those in the press have chosen to play the same broken record when explaining the rise in cycling – health concerns, contribution to reducing carbon emissions, congestion, the price of fuel – and as an industry magazine we’re as guilty as any other for trumping these reasons for boosted numbers. Why, though, must we make cycling sound like a chore. My justification for cycling is none of the above. It’s all down to the sheer enjoyment and the freedom of two wheels. And the fact I’m faster than cars...

Mark.sutton@intentmedia.co.uk

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