The 5 Stages of Cycle Advocacy

1. Denial

“Cycling is awesome! I don’t get why so few of my friends or family ever get on their bikes.”

“All people really need is a bit of training to give them the skills to ride safely on the roads.”

“If we give out free breakfasts it’ll persuade people to cycle to work.”

“People just need some help learning how to adjust their gears and brakes, and how to fix punctures and they’ll be back on their bikes.”

“We just need to make people aware that cycling can save them money, make them healthier and is good for the environment and they’ll start cycling more instead of driving.”

“Cycling rates in [city/town] are up 4% this year!”

“When the price of oil hits [£X], cycling is really going to take off again.”

2. Anger

“Idiot nearly killed me, he won’t be laughing when the price of oil hits [£X] and he can’t afford to drive.”

“If I can be bothered to cycle, why can’t all these lazy sods get out of their cars too?”


“If we can get the cyclists who go through red to stop instead, then we will finally be respected as legitimate road users by the motorists.”

“If we all ride our bikes as if they were cars, then we will finally be respected as legitimate road users by the motorists.”

4. Depression

“I’m so sick of the hostile roads and dangerous and aggressive drivers. I can’t see myself still cycling like this in ten years time.”

“I’d love for the UK to be like The Netherlands, but there will never be the political will to do what they have done over here.”

5. Acceptance

“If we want significantly more people to cycle, we will have to make some radical changes to the road network.”

“It’ll be hard work, but we have to start reversing the damage if we ever want to make cycling feel safe and attractive for the average person.”


6 thoughts on “The 5 Stages of Cycle Advocacy

  1. I think the acceptance part is just realising that life is too short to convert others to everyday cycling, especially as there is no real evidence that many people want to do it however safe the roads are. Most people simply adore their cars, and see them as a source of pride. I think the best form of action is to demand safer roads for the few of us who do cycle, and to point out to councillors and MPs out that this can best be achieved by more severe punishments for careless motorists. In contrast to the dismal failures of schemes to promote cycling and the general poor planning and execution of publically funded cycling facilities, there has been some encouraging progress in this area such as speed cameras and mobile phone bans.

  2. 5 brilliant points, rather than in stages I experience all 5 in 1 really. But I do stand firmly in not agreeing with jumping the red lights, drives me crackers when I am on the saddle. If we want drivers to respect the highway code we should do too… and if the cycling infrastructure is crap and unsafe than we should channel our energies in lobbying for change, not simply jumping the lights… you know how I feel about this matter ;P I get a bit heated when I see other people promptly wagging their fingers at others and failing to look at their own behaviour… it takes two to tango!

  3. I definitely experience most of these on a regular basis, probably most commonly flipping between 2 and 5.@naturallycyclingI do know how you feel about red light jumping, and it does annoy me when I see it too. What I dislike about, "If we can get the cyclists who go through red to stop instead, then we will finally be respected as legitimate road users by the motorists," though is that it feels a bit like playing into the motorists' hands; motorists as a whole break road traffic laws at least as often as cyclists (I suspect much, much, much more) but no-one is holding them up to the same standard, ie: "I won't respect any motorists until all motorists behave impeccably."@Pete,Whilst some people do get quite invested in their cars, I suspect that the number of the population who do so is about the same as those who become similarly attached to their bikes (ie: negligible). Most people just have a car because the environment in which they have lived their whole life has co-erced them into doing so. It is just a tool to them, they care not for the wider issues of equality between modes, casualties, oil and so on. If their environment was designed to make cycling the default option for most journeys, they would view a bike in the same way. When people aren't aware of the issues then a lot of their decisions are made on autopilot. See my post about recycling for more on this idea.

  4. I fully understand where you are coming from I have made the journey from 1 to 5. When you start trying to find what make cycling work in places where cycling levels are high, you find they have all changed the road network to make it more people friendly and less car friendly. There is no way to mix high levels of motor traffic with pedestrians and cyclist on a “share the roads” basis, it just doesn’t work.

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