How #quaxing Became a Rallying Call for Everyday Cyclists

The humorous twitter trend highlights the possibilities of a car-free lifestyle.

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Thea Baker's bike loaded up from a quaxing trip. @Taezar

Tae Baker’s bike loaded up from a “quaxing” trip. @Taezar

It began, like so many of the Internet’s most endearing trends, with a seemingly innocent statement made on social media.

Back in January, Auckland, NZ, councilor Dick Quax and another tweeter, Bryce Pearce, were engaged in a lively Twitter debate regarding the transportation options at a local shopping center. Responding to the suggestion that the Sylvia Park mall needed better transportation options, Quax responded, “No one in the entire Western world uses the train for their shopping trips…the very idea that people lug home their supermarket shopping on the train is fanciful.”

When Pearce replied that he gets his groceries by bike, Quax added, “Sounds like that would make great Tui ad. ‘I ride my bike to get my weekly shopping – yeah right.'”

Never missing an opportunity to make a point, the Internet was quick to respond. People slowly began posting pictures of themselves doing their shopping by non-car means and tagging @DickQuax and the term #quaxing.

The photos trickled in and the trend slowly gathered steam until April, when Twitter user Non-motorist formally defined quaxing for the online dictionary with this tweet:

Soon enough, the trend was picked up by everyday cyclists worldwide. Twitter users from Germany to Canada began posting photos of their daily errands, quaxing by cargo bike and regular bicycle alike for everything from groceries to hardware to sports equipment.

While quaxing in its “official” sense includes shopping by any form of non-car means, it is unsurprising that the trend has been embraced so wholeheartedly by the global everyday cycling community. In debates about cycling – particularly in the North American and Oceanic contexts – cyclists are often assumed to be lycra-clad road racers who ride for sport and fitness. The growing ranks of people who ride bikes for transportation are almost entirely overlooked in the conversation. Quaxing highlights the possibilities of a lifestyle where cycling is just a regular, everyday part of a person or family’s routine.

In this sense, quaxing is much more significant than just a humorous internet meme. It makes the oft-forgotten point that cars are not the only – or best – transportation option, and serves as a visual instructional guide for the those who couldn’t imagine a car-free lifestyle. Quaxing is rallying call to politicians to take the needs of cyclists, pedestrians, and transit users seriously. At this point Dick Quax is definitely listening, let’s hope others are too.

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  • James

    Ah – the point isn’t that it’s new phenomena – it was originally a term used on NZ twitter to make fun of Dick Quax!

  • Nix

    This is so new they need a new term for it??? In Holland it’s called “boodschappen” and that’s been going on for decades. Everything is done on the bike. We used to move families on the bike (bakfiets). And yes, there some people shop by train too.

  • Great article. I’d not heard of the quaxing term before. I often ride my bicycle to the local shops here but a lot are not very bike friendly. If a store doesn’t have a place for me to chain my bike up to, I take it inside and walk it around like a shopping cart. My bike has a wire basket on it and doesn’t take up much more room than a cart would but I have been asked to take it outside by several shops. When pointing out they don’t have bike racks or a place to secure it, they don’t usually have anything more to say or offer to let me keep it with me. I guess in this day and age where everyone seems to have not one, but several cars in a family, bicycling is not an option anymore. My local ALDI store is very accepting of my bicycle and I am thankful for that. As are a few of the local small businesses near me. I just wish more places would realize how great bicycles are and openly accept them.

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