Australia's most experienced
team of city cycling experts.
Providing excellence in cycle training and
consulting services to organisations and individuals.
- SERVICES & COURSES
- BIKE WISDOM
When you ride regularly, conversations with friends and colleagues often turn to cycling. It seems that everyone has an opinion! I remember one workmate jesting to me that I must be crazy to ride on Sydney roads. Other friends have told me that they’d like to ride, but for various reasons, thought it was too difficult. As someone who lives and breathes cycling, in can be hard to make any headway in such conversations. Perceptions of cycling as risky and dangerous are widely shared, difficult to contest, and sometimes warranted. However, using rational justifications to start cycling: ‘it’s not dangerous’, ‘it’ll improve your health’, ‘it’s good for the environment’ etc… are rarely effective. The ‘carrot’ of a free coffee and muffin at a Ride to Work Day is only going to motivate so many people.
So what are effective ways to change peoples behaviours? According to Les Robinson, a behaviour change strategist at Enabling Change, it's no simple task:
It's a delusion we can change peoples' behaviours. Instead, people change their own behaviours. Our role is to create an enabling environment and provide opportunities for people to become inspired... We humans resent unwanted advice, especially when it threatens our comfort zones. Behaviour change is therefore rarely achieved by persuasion or marketing but almost always requires modelling how to carry out unfamiliar behaviours with ease, aplomb and dignity. (The Guardian, 18 Jan 2011)
In other words, behaviour change requires a combination of experience, skills, knowledge, self-efficacy, and a supportive environment (both social and physical).
Recently BikeWise began work on a program called Try2Wheels for the City of Sydney. A key focus Try2Wheels events is to motivate people with the task of going for a short ride and to support them with expert instructors as their guide. The simple task of getting on a bike is an important first step for many people who don't own or haven't ridden a bike for years. Try2Wheels events also include a display of different styles of bicycles that people can test ride -- including some less common bikes such as folding, electric and cargo bikes. The bicycle 'podium' allows people to have a hands-on experience of many bicycles and to think about how different styles of bike can be used for different trips, needs, and purposes. As was identified in one New Zealand study on cycling promotion:
trialling a new or unfamiliar product or experience can be a catalyst to change, particuarly as it allows second-hand preconceptions and misconceptions to be replaced with first-hand experiences. (NZ Transport Agency, p47)
Of course you don’t need to go to a Try2Wheels event to motivate someone to start cycling. If you have a friend or work colleague who's interested, one of the most powerful things you can do is to simply loan them a bike and take them on a ride that they will enjoy. When you’re having fun, you don’t need to convince people to do anything. The experience speaks for itself.
To learn more about upcoming Try2Wheels events, go to: http://sydneycycleways.net/try2wheels
(Image credit: http://sydneycycleways.net/)
Leave a Comment