More and more bikes (2)

Another thing that is changing is our discourse on cycling. If you look at ads for bikes over the last century you will see a perceptible shift from a very inclusive discourse to an increasingly exclusive discourse, from a ‘bikes are for everybody, the prices are coming down, gain more access to your world’ discourse, to a discourse of specialized knowledge, high tech materials and clothing and skyrocketing prices.

1920s ad

modern ad

How much does the bike community’s own discourse on cycling negatively affect the number and type of people who are willing to give life on two wheels a try? How many people are put off by this discourse and avoid cycling because they feel excluded by esoteric vocabulary, physical requirements and price.  On the other hand how many people buy expensive bikes only because of the exclusivity they feel it gives them and actually have no interest in cycling.

Those of us who do cycle are all complicit in this discourse.

On the other hand, in reaction to this ‘exclusivity discourse’, there is a growing back to basics bicycle thing happening. There is even a Bicycling for Dummies book – a series of books usually reserved for explaining the complex and technical for the layperson.

Bicycle designers and builders are also speaking out. A guy by the name of Grant Petersen, a bicycle designer and the founder of Rivendell Bicycle Works,  has just published a book titled: Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Bikes, Equipment, Health, Safety, and Attitude. The PR for the book declares that ‘his wise words will muffle the noisy show-offs’.  He is not alone. The liner notes for another book I looked at recently said it was all about ‘deflating the smugness associated with bikes’. Wow!

So where is the discourse of the Tour d’Afrique?

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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