Thursday 21 June 2012

Selling Cycling as "green" is a mistake

Cycling is often marketed as "Green". That's by the cyclists, and by the DfT, when they announce fuck all for walking and cycling, while giving billions to what must clearly be "brown" transport.

Selling cycling as "green" is a mistake

  • Daily Mail readers who think Global Warming is a myth will think that "green transport" is a NuLabour conspiracy -and will rant against the green hippies in capital letters.
  • It becomes too easy to cry "hypocrite" to people who commute to the North Fringe to work on aircraft (BAe), tanks, bombs and nuclear submarines (MoD), computers (HP) or those tech companies east of UWE that do satellites. 
  • Those Daily Mail people -lets call them the population of Patchway- can view the cyclists as "them", and then in their thousands sign petitions demanding that the cycle/bus only route be kept open to cars. Because cycling is for other people. 
  • It makes cycling vulnerable to the electric car marketing weasels. Look at Copenhagenize for coverage of this -a german car rental advert saying "you don't have to cycle to be green"
Electric cars are going to be the next enemy of cycling. 
  1. They take "Green" money away from cycling programs.
  2. They demand tax free and congestion zone free concessions.
  3. They take up as much fucking space on the road as any non-electric car
  4. They take up as much parking space as a normal car
  5. They will be driven by fuckwit drivers who are on the phone as they run you over.
Electric cars are useless for long journeys -everyone knows that. They are being sold as good because "most car journeys are six miles or less". Which is the journey you don't need a car at all -bicycles work.

The car manufacturers would rather we all drove to work in back in electric cars than cycled their on bicycles. We are one of their threats. They are our enemy. 

Electric cars can only be sold as second cars -and Patchway is their target market. Fat lazy gits who will soon be demanding that e-cars are allowed down Highwood Road because "they are as green as bicycles"

We must not fall into this trap.

What to do? 

  1. Sell bicycles as low cost ways to avoid congestion and parking problems, giving you exercise for free. Because they are. 
  2. Talk to the motorists in the language they understand: congestion, money, time, parking.
  3. Don't go into detail about how the S Gloucs cycle team are a waste of space who fritter away cycle city funding, or how the bicycle lanes abandon you at places like the M32 crossing. 
Here are ways to justify cycling in S Gloucs that may appeal to someone who drives

  • "I was spending half an hour every evening stuck in the ring road by the aerospace roundabout, and had better things to do"
  • "I hated having to stay at work until after 6 pm just so the ring road traffic got quieter"
  • I discovered there was a direct route from stapleton to MoD/UWE that meant I didn't need to be stationary on the M32 every morning
  • I was paying fifty quid a week to get stuck on the ring road.
  • I was paying 10 quid a day to park in the Bristol city centre.
  • I save a thousand pounds a year by cycling to work.
  • We sold off the second car, cutting out the fuel, insurance, breakdown, servicing and MoT costs -this lets us put 2-3 thousand pounds a year towards (holidays, schooling, a second home -whatever the driver aspires to)
  • It's faster to cycle to school and work than it is to drive.
  • I don't get held up by the car in front -if I'm late I pedal harder.
  • I don't have to waste time going to the Gym for exercise.
  • By not looking for parking by the school, we could set off later.
  • There's nowhere to park at work.
  • There's nowhere to park at home.
  • There's nowhere to park on gloucester road/Southmead Hospital, wherever else you shop other than Cribbs causeway or ASDA there.
  • I hated having to get in by 8 am to get a parking space.
  • I didn't want to pay 10 quid a day to park in the Bristol city centre.
  • I hated spending 15 minutes driving round a bit of bristol (your choice of Cotham, Montpelier, St Pauls, Southville (for people from S of the river)
  • The only places in Bristol where I could park were places you'd never be sure your car was when you came out at night.
These are the ways driving hurts -and apart from cost, electric cars can't do any better than petrol cars. The car companies know that -which is why they want tax breaks, subsidies, -and bus lane access. Here TfL said "no", but S Gloucs aren't so concerned about cycle safety -which is why they allow HGVs down the ring road bus, HOV & bike lane

Fight the electric cars where they can't win: congestion and time! Even on cost, electric cars cost so much you'd have to drive many tens of thousands of miles on one -but the limited battery life (measured in years, not miles) makes that hard for a toy you can only use in town.

Sell cycling with the benefits that person you are talking to cares about -not something abstract like "green" that they don't give a fuck for.


  1. Yes indeed. Sell the benefits. However, don't give the S Gloucs cycle team too easy a time because if conditions aren't good enough, many people who are convinced to try because of the benefits will give up when they find out what it's really like to cycle. When driving is the least bad option, even if it takes a long time and costs a lot, people will keep driving.

  2. INteresting perspective in yesterday's Observer (or was it Sunday Times?) about electric cars. Apparently, they all currently rely heavily on a handful or rare-earth metals to build the magnets used in their engines, to deliver the kind of bhp needed to drive a car.

    Rare earth metals are not actualy all that rare, the trouble is that they are all around us but in very small concerntrations which makes them expensive to extract. More interesting is the fact that China has cornered the market in Neodymium and two other rare-earth metals, controlling literally 90% of world supplies.

    That, of course, is also a factor in the raw material used to power conventional cars. China and other hyper-sized emerging economies such as India, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, are now competing with us for a finite supply of oil and minerals, and that inevitably drives up the prices. It is not that we have reached "peak oil" - I very much doubt that we have, we just have to dig deeper, or go into deepr oceans, to find it, withthe cost and risk that entails. also, those nefarious chinks have followed the example of the British Empire, and effectively colonised most of Africa and other continents to gain access to minerals and agricultural land. The difference of course is that instead of sending troops to steal the resources off the unfortunate natives, they have bought them, perhaps at too low a price.

    Either way, car ownership costs are escalating to the point that, with other inflation factors like housing costs, young people are beginning to be turned off motoring entirely.

    Or so I hope. I love my car, I just don't see the need to have it govern my entire life.

  3. Excellent post - needs republishing everywhere. I started cycling to be green but now the daily benefits far outweigh that original motivator.

    To shamelessly quote the Bristol Cycle Festival. "It is our chains that set us free"