#CyclingIsNormal – Promote the beauty

The campaign #CyclingIsNormal in Ireland is a powerful antidote to the the car industry’s (R. “S”. A.’s) campaign to de-normalise getting around by bike.

#CyclingIsNormal is essentially a campaign of people posting selfies, in their everyday clothes, getting around by bike. And it’s the right way to go about things for us who see cycling as a way to help transform life for the better in Irish cities and towns.

In the fantastic book How to Save The World by Katie Patrick, the author advocates using positive imagery to bring about the change of behaviour you’re seeking:

“Be careful not to use negative images”. On the left are mockup ads using negative imagery. The right are actual positive imagery ads. Learn from the advertising industry – the R. “S”. A. has. Their imagery is indeed negative, depending on your view, but I think the point is that visualisation of the world you want to come about is powerful.

The negative imagery deploy by the R. “S”. A. has been shown by Nadia Williams to make people scared of cycling. See her YouTube presentation from Velo-City 2019, and the full thesis. What they have been doing (and whoever advocated for the traffic act to be brought about that established that organisation) has been working. They have been very successful.

We can go a step further from current-day imagery, according to Katie Patrick, by visualising how the world could be after your change:

Visualisation of positive imagery, of how the world could be if it makes the change in behaviour that you’re seeking.

Liveable Limerick did this very well (although their idea here didn’t catch on with councillors voting on such potential changes):

What O’Connell Street, Limerick could be. Zeso Architects on liveablelimerick.com.

I suspect that Twitter is a place to connect with like-minded people, but I haven’t seen discussions on it that do anything but polarise the opinions of the people involved. For that reason, #CyclingIsNormal is a good way to find other like-minded people but perhaps not to convince people.

An additionally powerful way to change perceptions is to be the change you want to be. In this case, that means living by principles based on logic and science, and not being a tool of the car industry by following their R. “S”. A. messaging.

P.S. I do recommend the book:

How to Save the World, by Katie Patrick. On IndieGoGo and Book Depository (where I bought it).