Sunday, March 29, 2009

What do you mean by 'cycling'?

Some of my friends, like D., don't have a car on their own. Cycling and public transport are their modes of mobility. Talking to them about cycling is talking about rain trousers, bike lanes and commuting routes, transport solutions for D.'s cello.

Talking about cycling to my stepfather is about carbon frames and aero spokes, personal records for Alpine passes, and the latest doping scandal in professional sport.

Talking about cycling to my mother is about Sunday afternoons riding a bike instead of going for a walk for half an hour in the countryside. It's about loveliness and fine weather and wellness.

In my opinion most cyclists fit in one of these groups. While D. sometimes goes for a recreational ride, most recreational riders like my mom wouldn't go to work by bike. My stepfather wouldn't even think about it.

I really wonder why these groups hardly mix. Two different surveys on everyday cycling in Linz suggest that sportive and recreational riders underestimate the transport capability of bicycles as motorists do. I think that's true, but is that all? And, what do you mean by 'cycling'?


keithmo said...

I guess I'm a cross between your friend D. and your mother (that's got to be a terrifying thought for you). I own a car, but I bike commute to work much more often than I drive, and try to bike for most shopping trips. I'm in the early planning stages to build a Surly Big Dummy; once that's completed, I'll probably do *all* shopping by bike.

I also enjoy recreational cycling, whether it's a lazy cruise along the local paved river trails, mountain biking, or a strenuous century ride.

There's a fourth category to consider: bicycle tourist. This is something I hope to dip my toes into this summer.

Dottie said...

Interesting description of the three categories. I am most firmly in the first category, since cycling is my number one mode of transportation. In the city I don't go on recreational rides per se, although I often cook up shops or restaurants to visit as an excuse to cycle somewhere. I do love to go on weekend trips to the countryside, stay in B&Bs, and take recreational rides. Much more pleasurable to be away from the daily grind of the city streets or the same lakefront trail I take to commute.

anna said...

I'm definitely cycling in a way D. does. Every day to the university, shopping, cinema etc. On the weekends I sometimes just have to get on my bike too and cycle to the Danube island or so. Basically, as Dottie mentioned, I'm just looking for an excuse to ride my bike in these cases ;-).

Btw, I think there's a forth category: People that never tried to cycle or never even thought about it. I know many people in my circle of friends that never cycled, but once they got on a descent bike they just couldn't stop cycling anymore, because they enjoyed it so much and found out that a bicycle simply is a very good mode of transport.

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