Wednesday, October 14, 2009
 

Fear of Cycling

Copenhagenize.com recently completed a series of articles on the Fear of Cycling by David Horton, a British sociologist. He explores one of the main reasons people don't cycle. Often the dangers of cycling are stressed so strongly that many people are put off; and yet cycling is safer than driving (40,000 people killed every year), swimming and other activities. In fact, it's probably more dangerous not to cycle.

The article is in five parts and the final part was just completed, on "how the identity of 'the cyclist' tends to invoke fear." In the article he explores some reasons why the image of cyclists has been marginalized. Horton is a sociologist, so the writing style is academic, but the message is certainly thought-provoking:
Newspaper editors are attuned to knowing what their readers and advertisers want (and we should note how a high proportion of those advertisers belong to the system of automobility, on whose revenues newspapers depend). Media accounts are therefore likely to reproduce dominant representations of the cyclist as a 'yob', law-breaker and outsider (for example, Hoey 2003).

Such stereotyping works by isolating certain behaviours, stripping them from their meaningful context, and attributing them to 'everyone associated with a particular group or category' (Pickering 2001, 4). And these stereotypical representations contribute to the maintenance of the cyclist as a strange 'other' (Basford et al 2003; Dickinson 2004; Field 1996; Reid 2004).

Against the context of socially and ecologically destructive automobility, the reproduction of concerns about cyclists' behaviour is a classic example of scapegoating (Cohen 2002). Scapegoating deflects attention away from greater crimes, by in this case sacrificing the cyclist in the ideological pursuit of 'motoring-as-usual'. Through representing the marginal practice of cycling as 'deviant', the dominant practice of car driving is reproduced and reaffirmed as 'normal'. Representations of cycling as deviant and cyclists as outsiders both contribute to, and are facilitated by, low levels of cycling which mean that few people are able to take, and defend, the cyclist's point of view.

But times are changing.

Labels:


(1) comments
Contact FABB via email: info@fabb-bikes.org

Subscribe to the
FABB e-newsletter


Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]


  Bike to Work Day 2004 at Reston Town Center

  Transportation choices

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Archives

February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010