As a bike user*, an everyday bike user, my transport mode preferences are hard to detect. So it would be easy for businesses to fail to recognise me. I leave my helmet on my handlebars, and my bike is outside where they can’t see it. Of course, they see plenty of cars parked outside, and probably that is how they travelled, so naturally they expect that I probably drove too. They would find it easier to recognise me as a cyclist if I were wearing lycra and walking with an odd gait due to cycling shoes. Hence the common conclusion of most business operators:
“My customers don’t ride bikes [to get here]”
If you’ve asked for bike parking may be familiar with that blank/incredulous look, followed by some scramble to suggest you just solve the problem yourself. Our worldview frames our thoughts, reactions, and actions. If people have only ever used cars to get around, that’s how they see the world. How could there be any other option? That’s how our minds work. How do we tweak that view, just a little, just to suggest that there might be other options?
Be a crowd
Whether you think of it as safety in numbers, group identification, herd mentality etc humans use their observations of others behaviour to decide whether something is a normal activity. If they decide it fits with norms, they are more likely to want to try it. The takeaway: Bike users need to be seen and be counted. More obvious, less apologetic. (Note, this doesn’t mean be rude!)
Be a peer
Broadly speaking we split the world into “people like us” and “people like them”. If we don’t relate to “them” we won’t be influenced by “them”. Takeaway: images of bike users need to represent many different types of people and demographics.
Some people see bike users as a pretty demanding lot, and of course there are those old [misleading] arguments that we don’t pay registration. (If you want to see how roads are really funded, check out this AA article). And others think we are light-running, traffic holding up pains. So approach this as an opportunity: for them to see the bike users as an ordinary, friendly, person. Takeaway: don’t demand, don’t whine, ask nicely.
Businesses want more customers. Businesses want customers who spend money and come back. Businesses want to make money, not so much to spend it. Takeaway: ‘sell’ bike use as an opportunity to attract more customers to their business.
“….drivers tend to pass through towns, and those on bike or on foot will spend time at local businesses. And the goal of business is to get more customers, and bike infrastructure will bring more of these not-cyclists down their particular street- with things to do, money to spend, time to stop. Ultimately it’s not about biking, but creating a neighborhood where people will stop biking… and stay a while” Bikeyface
That’s where BikesWelcome comes in: by visiting our website both you and the business get all the information they need to understand the benefits of bikes to their business and do something about it.
Be Persistent… and patient
Asking once may not be enough. And you may need to give them time to go away and think about it…. changing a world-view takes time! Takeaway: Be prepared to follow up ….. by asking more than once, you give them time to ponder the matter and you are establishing sense that there is demand.
Bikes Welcome can help……
Please help us establish Bikes Welcome in New Zealand and support our Pledge Me campaign.
*I like the term bike user. I look at it this way (thanks Helga!): I brush my teeth everyday, but I don’t call myself a toothbrushest. In the same way, I’m not a cyclist. I’m a person who uses a bike, most of the time, sometimes… whatever.