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The Last Thing Toronto Needs is More Cyclists

8334 by 'Xander @416cyclestyle.

These are not cyclists - Photo by Xander N'Dante

It’s a controversial post title, isn’t it?   However, it’s true.

BikingToronto member Todd pointed me towards a great article over on Publicola about how if we want our cities to be more bike-friendly, we need less “cyclists” and more “people who ride bikes”.

Essentially, the point of the article is that no one should be identified as a “cyclist” unless they do it professionally (the same way race car drivers have “driver” as their occupation).  People who ride bikes are not “cyclists”… they are people who happen to ride bikes.

You may think this is a case of “splitting hairs” but think about it.

If you are a bike afficionado or spend all day thinking about cycling infrastructure or advocacy, you are in the minority in Toronto.  Do you think your neighbour/sister/friend cares what kind of bike someone rides, or if there is adequate cycling infrastructure in Toronto?

No, they don’t care.

They care about what they *should* care about… namely – themselves, their kids, and their lives.  They don’t have time to obsessively track how many KM of bikelanes are painted every year in Toronto.  They don’t care what a sharrow is or that there are organizations in Toronto who lobby City Hall on bike issues.  It doesn’t matter to them nor should it.   They have their own lives.  If they bike to work or bike on weekends with their kids, it’s because they enjoy it… not because they are “cyclists”.

I'm taking a ride with my best friend... by 'Xander @416cyclestyle.

"I'm Going for a Ride with my Best Friend!" - photo by Xander N'Dante

What Toronto *needs* for cycling to be more mainstream is less “cyclists” and more people who just happen to ride bikes.  People who don’t feel any desire to spend more than $1000 on a bike, or dress up in spandex, or protest some imagined political or legal injustice by riding around downtown with a big group of other cyclists.

I’m one of these people.    I feel uneasy being indentified as a “cyclist” because it’s such a small part of who I am.  I’m a guy who rides a bike (and runs a biking website that does a pretty good job of organizing Toronto biking info), but I also have a regular office job, a new house I’m renovating and many many interests outside of biking.  I’m not a cyclist… I’m a guy who likes to use his bike to get to work.

These people can do more for riding a bike in Toronto than any organization.  They can make it mainstream.

Just by riding.

Not as a cyclist, as a person on a bike.

That is what we all are.


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