Mikael Colville-Andersen, who runs Copenhagenize.com and Copenhagen Cycle Chic. In his own words: “The main point with my blogs is that if cycling is to be an everyday activity then it can easily be done in everyday clothes, like millions of Europeans do every day”.
In a post about the Velo-City conference, he points to a post by Guillaume Van der Stighelen, co-founder of marketing company Duval Guillaume, where Van der Stighelen talks about marketing cycling as a ‘hero brand’
“Most arguments are rational. Less CO2, more mobility, healthier. Well, those drivers know that. But that doesn’t convince them apparently. Let me tell you what the argument is: status it is”.
I suppose Colville-Andersen himself has gone some way in helping branding cycling — on his blogs, talking to the press from a few countries, and in video form:
So, in Ireland, if government at local and national levels are serious about increasing cycling they need to stop the scaremongering nonsense and the misuse of taxpayers’ money on promotion of yellow vests and helmets. If you want to make sure cyclists are visible enforce the law of bicycle lights use. If you’re going to push cycle helmets which have flawed research backing their use, then promote motoring helmets too.
Oh, and that’s not Copenhagen in the photograph above, it’s Dublin. And just to prove it’s possible to cycle like a normal person and it’s not a once off, here’s six more people cycling in Dublin, just one is wearing strange gear:
(the 6th person is behind the camera)
ADDED: Pushing ahead with the measures outlined in the recently published National Cycle Policy is needed too, but the importance of marketing is still a missing part of government plans. And not only is government at different levels not marketing cycling, their cheap but false safety promotion makes cycling appear more dangerous than it is — they enforce the myth that cycling is dangerous.
There’s been a good few anti-cyclist letters appearing in Irish newspapers in the last few years, it looks like it prompted this rant by Trevor White on cycling and motorists, note the quote from a Dutch ambassador to Ireland:
Motorists are remarkably impertinent. Despite constituting a very real threat to their own welfare, to pedestrians, to cyclists and to the environment – in other words, a very real threat to everyone – they still lecture people who ride bicycles on the etiquette of getting from A to B.
Hence our newspapers are full of windy missives from Irate of Killiney, on the menace that cyclists apparently represent. In a sane world such menaces would be locked up. But this, as we well know, is not a sane world. Hence drivers think it perfectly normal to behave like lunatics, indeed to accuse cyclists of madness, when in fact it is the other way around. Compared to motorists, cyclists are moral angels.
Some years ago a Dutch ambassador to Ireland was asked, on the eve of his return to Holland, to say what most surprised him about Dublin. “That’s easy,” he said. “The contempt with which your motorists treat your cyclists.” That rudeness is officially sanctioned. Indeed despite the fact that there are now two Irish government ministers who cycle to work, cyclists are discouraged at nearly every turn.
Journalist George Lee apparently loves Segway. He talked about the “green” “commuting” vehicles when on the Cafe on RTE2, the Evening Heardquoted him as saying he’s its “number one fan”, and at the it@Cork conference he went around the crowd on one and started again to speak of the merits of the devices (video above, via Damien Mulley).
Fun maybe, but beyond this I’m a bit concerned with Lee’s views on the Segway. I couldn’t hear too much of what he said on the video, but caught the bit about journeys within 9km in Cork. Walking and cycling are two solutions which can already accommodate such journeys.
The benfits of cycling over using Segway include:
The law “We have been lobbying at Government level for two years to try to get progress on this,” Segway Ireland’s spokesman told the Evening Herald. “Until then, we cannot aggressively pursue the commuter market. That market is what distributors around the world are working towards.”
And Segway.ie says: “we must continue to advise customers that the Segway should be used on private property only”. Yet, on the same site “Green Commuting” is one of the product sections, and Lee says he uses one for commuting and advocates such.
The site also says: “We are still working to obtain clarification and are pursuing legsilation in line with that of other EU states,” but fail to mentions where it is – effectively or otherwise – banned.
Cost A pricing PDF linked to from Segway.ie puts the most basic model at just under €6,000, and the “Commuter” Segway at nearly €300 extra. You could pick up a decent bicycle for a fraction of that at around €300 to €400, folding bikes can be picked up between €400 to €600 (or a little more or less). And if you look at second hand bikes, its less again. Electric bikes are even cheaper than these “green commuters.”
As the link to the Hearld says, fully charging the Segway costs 15c, but the cost of running a bike are virtually nil. Cycling is the most efficient form of transport, and that’s even above walking which burns three times more energy [Source: Link / Marcia Lowe, The Bicycle: Vehicle for a Small Planet (Worldwatch Institute, 1989)].
Age and size restrictions The company’s Irish website says: “Users should also be 16 years of age and have a minimum weight of 45kgs.”
Health Segway use takes less effort than commuting by cycling. Getting exercise has physical and mental health benefits for the user and, for the State, there’s a healthier population which lowers health care investment costs. A bicycle can also be used for extra excise.
The environment The Segway may be ‘greener’ than car use, but it’s not as green as cycling. As above: Cycling is the most efficient form of transport. Segway says it uses little electricity, but we’re still getting most of our power from coal and gas.
Parking Lee says:“There is an electronic key which growls and beeps if anybody touches it, so it’s not easy to rob. It’s so versatile and moveable.” … I hope the Herald joined these to sentences together, as saying “it’s not easy to rob” and “so versatile and moveable” so close together is quite funny.
I feel somewhat twitchy locking my bike which was just shy of €500 anywhere outside. I’d crack up leaving something worth six grand around the city centre.
Transport Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann commuter services, the Dart, Commuter trains and the Luas won’t carry bicycles unless they are folding bikes*. So, it’s unlikely drivers or other staff would allow Segways on. On intercity rail there’s limited bike space which does not suit Segways. And would one be safe in a Bus Eireann coach’s storage?
Nor can they be taken on airliners: “You can ship your lithium-ion battery-equipped machine anywhere by ground transportation. However, our lithium-ion batteries are not appropriate to be shipped by air at this time (including airline travel)”.
* = SIDE NOTE: For rail, this is different in many EU states at least off peek and others have bicycle carriages where people sitting down have to get up for bikes. And for buses, some US city bus services carry bikes.
Government should not be using or promoting a proprietary technology when there is a cheaper and healthier option available. This also brings up maintenance and accessories issues as below.
Maintenance While parts from some bikes are hard to find, most things are standardised across makes. On the other hand, Segway.ie says: “Replacement parts are available for an estimated three-year time frame from the last wholesale delivery of the product”. Bike parts haven’t changed much in 100 years, bikes can be self repaired, and there are bike repair shops in most towns and cities in Ireland.
Accessories Bicycle accessories are largly standardised across makes and models. With a Segway however it more undefined, Segway.ie says: “Segway and its distribution partners will continue to offer accessories for first-generation Segway PTs as long as market demand exists for those accessories.”
Use by police forces The Segway would have an advantage indoors where turning spaces is small. But bicycles can mount mount kerbs quickly. A lot if the above problems should also be taken into account — mainly cost.