Monday, 23 August 2010

Marketing cycling using pretty girls: just fancy that!

William Slack of Cambridge, saw our photograph, from 1948, of two be-shorted sporty gals pausing with their bikes by a country road, and immediately recognised it.

"The two girl cyclists were not members of a cycling club, but were used by the cameraman Charles 'Slim' Hewitt to 'sex up' an article in Picture Post. I was working there at the time and had suggested a feature on my cycling club, the Becontree Wheelers. Slim Hewitt followed us from Dagenham into deepest Kent, but when the pictures were developed, the editors thought they weren't glamorous enough. So two girls from the office were persuaded to be taken by Slim to near Box Hill, where they were photographed. I would be surprised if they had cycled more than a few yards for the shot."

Gutter Bunny notes that

Tour of Britain is looking for women cyclists to (wait for it) become their podium girls! Alas, it seems that the only way a female cyclist can make her way to this contest is to stand on the podium, looking pretty and kiss the winner.

But, hey! As any British cycling campaigner will tell you, the way to get people cycling isn’t safe, convenient infrastructure (we leave foreigners to invest in that kind of nonsense) but to defend all elements of the existing road and trail network as safe and comfortable places to ride.

We must defend to the bitter end our right to cycle among lorries, buses and BMW drivers and be knocked down by them. We must tell the majority who are frightened of cycling to get a grip on themselves (especially women). We must quote statistics at them to prove that is scientifically safe to cycle. And we must

Associate cycling with health and fun, not danger, in marketing materials.

Because at the end of the day it’s not about infrastructure. It’s about marketing. It’s about promotion. It’s about telling all those non-cyclists that cycling is cool and – phwoaar! - sexy.

So, hey! Don’t listen to the whingers. Just Catch Up With the Bicycle.