Cycling: Creating a Culture of Positivity

News about accidents and fatalities on our roads – regardless of people’s mode of transport – is always terribly sad. If the incident involved a person on bicycles it can be particularly intimidating for other people on bicycles.

Unfortunately bad news is always a great angle. Media outlets thrive on it like mushrooms on manure. We love to focus on problems. Accident between two people – one in a car the other on a bike – makes great headlines and it solicits opinions. We love problems and love our opinions about the problems even more!

If there’s any doubt about that have a read of any random news article and scroll to  the ensuing comments. The follow a reoccurring pattern: blame, shame, entitlement (I pay tax and you don’t), introduction of licensing for bicycles, further escalation. This is terribly good click bait (read: money).

What it also inadvertently does is creating an aura of threat, humiliation, negativity and fear. Riding a bicycle becomes dangerous undertaking were the perceived risk is disproportionate to its actual risk. For those who could hop on their treadlie for a short commute the mere thought of swapping to a bicycle becomes absurd. Why would you put yourself into harms way if you can drive and it’s much safer?

It’s very easy to get caught up in focusing on the dangers of riding a bicycle. With any activity there’s no denying that it involves some risks. However, the truth is, you can also slip in your shower, chop your vegies mistake your index finger for a carrot. Would you a) consider giving up showering and eating vegetables? and b) continuously talk about the perils of personal hygiene or food preparation? And c) would they actually stop you from doing either? No, I didn’t think so.

Many aspects of our daily life contain high levels of risk. In fact, you’re probably sitting comfortably in front of your computer or mobile phone reading this and completely disregarding the fact that sitting for prolonged times will cause serious diseases, shorten your life and eventually kill you. Will you stop you from sitting? Nah, didn’t think so.

Tragedies and accidents, unfortunately, are newsworthy and paint a stark picture of an activity that brings joy, ease and exhilarating happiness to many. The mundane daily ride may not a story that makes the front page. The routine is not news, but it doesn’t mean it’s completely boring.

Just it’s not a page turner it doesn’t diminish the impact of this daily dose of happiness which people experience when they swap their bicycle.

So, how do we find a balance between acknowledging the perils and sharing the good stuff? How can we make positivity part of how we talk about riding a bicycle? Exploring the many facets of the culture of riding a bicycle in Australia is certainly a way to do it.


  1. Thorsten says:

    I very much agree with you on these aspects of focussing on negativity in the public eye. It is easy bait and that’s what media loves to take (Facebook is very much part of it…). I’d love to hear stories of people and their experiences of what made cycling special, something they might not have experienced when/if driving a car. I for my part don’t regularly commute, but love cycling for fun and relaxation. A little bit of competitive behaviour on the bike, yes, guilty of that as well. But my best moments are when I forget about everything else, just cycle and the rhythm of the motion – and then hear nature’s sounds, like birds. Just lovely and so in the moment!

  2. emma says:

    For me I think it’s about trusting in the infectious power of positive energy and continuing to share the joys as you and Thorsten discuss!

    As far as I understand car registration fees in no way contribute to road maintenance costs so that sense of greater entitlement is entirely false. Maybe someone can confirm that?

    And on the risks front there’s the much higher risks you run in harming someone else when driving a car. The perceived risk of cycling is so much greater than the actual risk. How do serious bicycle accident injuries vs equivalent in car accident statitics fare??

    For my part the… the exhilaration of arriving in fresh winters air, with blood pumping – all senses fully alive – beats a dreary, sleepy ride in a car anyday!

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