Learn more about BikingToronto and Singer Kwinter
Explore more posts like this: , , , ,

More on “Cyclists” versus “People Who Ride Bikes”

A couple weeks ago I posted an opinion piece entitled “The Last Thing Toronto Needs is More Cyclists” and attempted to make the point that any Torontonian should not be labeled, stereotyped or pigeonholed based on the type of transportation they like to use.

Photo by MBeauchamp on Flickr

The post fostered much discussion, both among people who understood what I was saying and those who thought I was saying that cycling advocates or people who eat-live-sleep bikes are not needed (I suspect these people may have just skimmed the post?) … when what I was in fact saying was that regular, ordinary “people who ride bikes” are more powerful than people who choose to label themselves as “cyclists”.

Cycling advocates are very important in the pursuit of better and more extensive cycling infrastructure… and here in Toronto, nobody does it better than the Toronto Cyclists Union and the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation.   They have a presence at City Hall, reach out to groups across the city, and generally are involved in policy stuff that regular non-advocates do not have time for.

My post “The Last Thing Toronto Needs is More Cyclists” made the point that the label of “cyclist” is not only a loaded one (media portrayals of cyclists in Toronto often involve mentions of rule-breaking and self-righteousness) but inaccurate (since most people who ride bikes in Toronto are also pedestrians, motorists and transit users) and that it is harmful to the promotion of cycling in Toronto to use it… because the vast majority of cyclists in Toronto do not identify themselves as such.

The following infographic shows the numerical ratio between “cyclists” and “people who ride bikes” and asks what group obviously would have more influence.   We’ve used the approximate number of members of the Toronto Cyclists Union (which does an excellent job of cycling advocacy) as a rough estimate of how many people self-identify themselves as cyclists.  These ~1000 cyclists should be commended for paying to join an organization with the purpose of lobbying for cycling infrastructure improvements. We’ve also used the 2009 City of Toronto survey which identifies dedicated and occasional users of bicycles in the city for utilitarian and recreational purposes.

INFOGRAPHIC: BY THE NUMBERS

cyclist-infographic

Click for full-size version

Essentially, the label of “cyclist” is helpful because it’s a form of identification and unification… but it’s also a hinderance, as it allows mainstream media and society to lump us all into the same group and marginalize us as a monolithic group instead of the diverse and varied individuals we are.

Copenhagenize makes this point very well with the comparison of bicycle afficionados with vacuum afficionados… sure there are some, but there are far more people who simply find bicycles (like vacuums) a very useful tool to help make their lives easier and/or more fun:

We all have a vacuum cleaner, we’ve all learned how to use it and we all use it. But we don’t go around thinking about our vaccum in the course of a day. Only when the bag is full do we roll our eyes and sigh. Kind of like when our tire is flat/chain is loose and we chuck our bike into the bike shop.

We don’t have a ‘stable’ of vacuum cleaners. We don’t buy vacuum cleaning clothes from our LVS or wave at other ‘avid’ vacuum cleaning ‘enthusiasts’ whilst we clean. The relationship to our bicycles is the same as to our vacuum cleaners. They’re both merely incredibly effective and useful tools for making our daily lives easier.

Copenhagenize

What do you think?  Is it better for all people who ride bikes in Toronto to be lumped into the “cyclists” label… or is it better for them to just be people who happen to sometimes (or always) use a fun, green, cheap way to get around the city?





RECENTLY ON BIKING TORONTO:

PHOTO OF THE DAY: King St Shadows

Source: Original photo – by PureWest on Flickr. via Flickr. See this and 7,000+ other amazing bike photos in the Biking Toronto Flickr Group. Also check out the thousands of amazing photos that have been shared on instagram with the #biketo hashtag!

PHOTO OF THE DAY: King St Shadows

Source: Original photo – by PureWest on Flickr. via Flickr. See this and 7,000+ other amazing bike photos in the Biking Toronto Flickr Group. Also check out the thousands of amazing photos that have been shared on instagram with the #biketo hashtag!

5133801801_54d7ee2889_b-e1432740027705-878x494

OH YEAH: Downtown Vancouver businesses’ attitudes towards bike lanes have changed in the last 5 years

“We want downtown to be accessible by all modes of transportation and I think if we say, ‘Well, we’re not interested in separated bike lanes because of this and that, we’re going to basically exclude ourselves from a growing market of people that commute to work by bike as well as people that are living […]

photo

OH YEAH: Prince Edward Viaduct may keep those Jersey Barriers for ALL of Bike Month!

Big ups to Councillor Paula Fletcher, who has requested that those awesome jersey barriers that have separated the eastbound viaduct bikelanes from car traffic (above) during a period of construction STAY for all of Bike Month, so city staff can study the impact of the jersey barriers from now until June 25th. Construction work related […]

School-Shot-3-1024x768

REVIEW: Bike to Work Day 2015 

What began in Toronto as Bike to Work Day  in 1989 has evolved to become one of the largest events of its kind in Canada and is now celebrated across the city for a full month with hundreds of community-driven events. Today, May 25, at Bike to Work Day, bike-friendly politicians (including an appearance by […]

MLandry_Sunnyside-140920-00967

OH YEAH: The Origin Story of Sunnyside Bike Park – An Advocacy Success Story

In early 2011, the High Park BMX jumps were removed as they were on the Seneca Wolf Clan’s Serpent Mounds in the south east corner of the park. A few members of the Toronto Off-Road Bicycle Association (TORBA) approached the new Ward 13 Councillor, Sarah Doucette to ask what the City was going to do […]

18060468762_4368abd3e7_b

PHOTO OF THE DAY: Bike Parc

Source: Original photo – by adsmultimedia@gmail.com on Flickr. The City of Toronto aims to provide a safe, comfortable and bicycle friendly environment that includes bicycle-friendly streets, bike parks and an extensive paved multi-use trail network. via Flickr. See this and 7,000+ other amazing bike photos in the Biking Toronto Flickr Group. Also check out the […]

TRAVEL Log Toronto Cycling 20140714

NEWS: Should cyclists be allowed to ride through stop signs?

Obviously, yes.  Just like drivers are.  Spend any time at a stop sign and watch how many cars do “rolling stops” if there ar no other moving vehicles near the intersection.  Spoiler alert: almost every driver does rolling stops, just like cyclists do. In fact, when I learned to drive in Newmarket, a stop sign […]

20150428-590-BMC2

SHOP: Brand new bike shop a shrine for serious cyclists

Well, the headline is a little stupid… it should read “…shrine for roadie cyclists”, as “serious” doesn’t only apply to those willing to drop thousands of dollars on a bike. It applies equally to the tens (hundreds?) of thousands of Torontonians who are serious about using their bike to get around the city – to […]

Sangyal-helps-rebuild-bikes-at-Bike-Pirates-c-Siva-Vijenthira-600x800

OH YEAH: Rolling Youth into Toronto’s Bicycle Renaissance

With countless community events being hosted from May 25th to June 25th, the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area is anticipating Bike Month 2015. Municipalities and community groups alike are hosting the A to Z in bike events, from food incentivized group rides to bike repair crash courses. Although cycling mode shares are still relatively low […]

Recommended Lights

"Frog" Lights

Planet Bike Light Combo

Planet Bike 5 LED Tail Light
Recommended Books
See More Books



RECENT NEWS POSTS: