Publication Details

Fuller, G., Waitt , G., Buchanan, I., Lea, T. & Harada, T. (2019). Own a bike you never ride? We need to learn how to fail better at active transport. The Conversation, 13 November 1-5.

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The Conversation


Once upon a time when something was simple to do we said: "It's as easy as riding a bike." But switching from driving a car to riding a bike as one's main means of transport is anything but easy. The well-documented obstacles holding people back from cycling include a lack of proper bike lanes, secure parking arrangements, end-of-trip facilities and bike-friendly public transport, as well as lack of convenient storage space. Despite these obstacles, people continue to try to make cycling a central part of their lives, with varying degrees of success. While we know broadly what the impediments are, we don't know how individuals confront them over time. We tend to approach this issue as an "all or nothing" affair - either people cycle or they don't. Research is often framed in terms of cyclists and non-cyclists. But, for most people, our research tells us it is a gradual process of transformation, with setbacks as well as small victories. The hesitant maybe-cyclist of today is potentially the fully committed cyclist of tomorrow. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. We have taken a lead from research into smoking, which sees failed quit attempts not as failures but as necessary steps on the road to success. Part of our research is interested in the faltering starts people make in transitioning from motor vehicles to bikes. Our aim is to help identify new intervention points for cycling policy.