The ultimate aim of cycling promotion is to change people’s behaviour so that they choose to cycle more in future. The key to changing people’s cycling behaviour is to change their existing perceptions, attitudes and beliefs that they hold towards cycling.
As long as the environment is then conducive to the new behaviour (eg. there is a safe space for cyclists on the road) you will achieve behaviour change.
Advertising is a form of promotion which can only go so far to achieving a change in people’s cycling behaviour. While advertising may be able to change perceptions about cycling by making it appear cool, desirable, good for you and the environment, it will have a hard time challenging and changing all the other beliefs and attitudes people have towards cycling. For instance the negative beliefs that biking is hardwork, scary or sweaty will not be challenged sufficiently by advertising alone.
The best way to change people’s attitudes and beliefs towards biking is to simply get them on a bike. I think this is the fastest way to breakdown people’s past negative beliefs about cycling, and create new positive beliefs and attitudes towards it.
Once people experience what cycling is actually like (as opposed to what they ‘perceive’ or imagine cycling is like) they find themselves saying, “Hey, this isn’t so bad after all. It’s actually quite easy to ride a bike, and it’s fun! I could do this more often in future”.
If your aim is to encourage more people to cycle then a great first step is to get as many people as you can who don’t usually bike to hop on a bike and give it a go for 10 minutes. For most people it is not a big ask to get on a bike and have some fun.
Making this 10 minute ride a fun and positive experience they can do with friends, family or colleagues is an ideal way to instill some new positive attitudes towards biking and therefore influence people’s future behaviour. This is exactly what The Bike Wise Business Battle achieved in New Zealand.
Encouraging people to experience what it is actually like to ride a bike is, in my opinion, the best way to promote cycling, and encourage more people to take up cycling.