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Winter is nothing new. Citizen cyclists have been struggling through it since the beginning of bicycle culture. In many places, they still do.
One of my main focuses has always been on how Copenhagen has succeeded in increasing cycling levels by approaching the subject using mainstream marketing techniques. When subcultural groups start trying to indoctrinate and convert the public, it rarely ever succeeds.
With winter’s impending arrival, all manner of “how to cycle in the winter” guides are slapped up all over the place. Year after year, the subcultures put on their professor hats and look down their noses at the general population while they attempt to “teach” people how to be just like them. You know the type – real cyclists.
Now, let’s assume that a regular citizen wanted to ride a bike in the winter, as many do. What if they stumbled upon one of the guides with a long list of expensive and specialized clothes? What would this citizen – who, like the majority of the population, doesn’t want to be a member of a club or subculture – think about what they read?
What would it cost me – Joe Bicycle User – if I followed the “advice” on these websites? I did some quick searching online to find out some prices of specialized winter cycling gear. I didn’t spend an enormous amount of time on it, I must admit. So some of the items may be cheaper – or they might be more expensive because I didn’t discover “the coolest brands”.
If I don’t calculate my bike, I would be easily $1,100 out of pocket in order to be a real cyclist. Sure, there are many people who wish to take their hobby seriously and acquire all that gear. But let’s face it: most people do not. Most are just pondering riding their bike in the winter because they’ve gotten hooked riding it all year.
Imagine if the “avid bowlers” controlled the advocacy for bowling – a fine hobby that provides the bowler with some important exercise and social interaction – like cycling. What would people who just fancied some bowling be led to think?
A quick search reveals that bowling is cheaper than cycling, but at $574 for a ball, bags, shoes, and special hand wipes, it’s no picnic getting started.
Winter is nothing new. Citizen cyclists have been struggling through it since the beginning of bicycle culture. In many places, they still do. Bring on the winter. I don’t own any “cycling gear”. My winter wardrobe will serve me just fine. On a bike or on foot.
Mikael Colville-Andersen is an urban mobility expert and CEO of Copenhagenize Design Co. copenhagenize.eu