Whether 2008 is the year of the bike or not. It is time to start re-thinking how we do advocacy. Yes, we should continue to teach kids how to ride and wear helmets. Yes, we should continue to have as much face to face as we can with local, state, and national leaders. But if we want real change. I mean change on a national level. A level that law makers can no longer ignore or ridicule on the floor of the Senate. We need only to take a page out of the auto makers, beer and tobacco companies play book. Slick and shiny ads.
People are sheep and if you convince them bikes are the new cool thing. They will ride bikes. If you sell them on the fact that they will look better and have more sex they will be lining up at local bike shops. The bike industry may finally be starting to figure this out.
The major bike manufactures (With the recent sale of Canondale. I think that leaves something like 3) along with smaller builders (Surly, Swobo etc.) custom frame builders and suppliers need to start working together and create an advertising co-op.
Here's an idea to help the newly formed co-op cover the cost of producing those commercials. Add $10 or so to the price of every bike and 50¢ to a dollar on parts, clothing and every thing bike related and set up a fund to produce those slick and shiny ads. The local shops could do the same. For example, here in Florida our airwaves are constantly bombarded by ads from the likes of "The Southeast (Insert auto maker here) Dealers". I for one would love to see those slick and shiny ads with a closing tag line of "visit your local Southeast cycling retailer".
Now here is were current advocacy thinking has gone wrong. They theory has always been that you need infrastructure before you can get the masses to ride. Nope. All wrong. Produce the slick and shiny ads and watch the dominos fall. The ads will get new people on bikes. Still others will be more resistant and will have to see the ads along with all the other new people on bikes before they get on the slick and shiny bike train. But get on they will. And guess what happens next?
The bitching starts. That's right, all those new slick and shiny people on the bikes will start bitching about the lack of bike lanes, paths, racks, showers and lockers. And guess what happens next? Yep, you got it. Government and corporations have no choice but to take action.
I personally am looking forward to the Trek Nascar Team.
Below are a few of the ads done by other much more bike friendly countries.
Ok, so I'm not sure if that's an ad or not. But, come on. Don't you want to buy a bike after viewing it?
This is a Dutch Cialis ad.
British Awareness Ad:
You can bet your lycra covered ass that if I get hit by a car and the driver tells me that they didn't see me because they were watching the moon walking bear. I'm stomping the crap out of them.
Here are several ads strung together. Not sure if they are Danish, German or both. Some you'll get. Some you won't.
And finally a truly American Ad: