“When it comes to cycle planning and policy, all parties involved (politicians, policy-makers, practitioners, advocates, etc) should remember that they are providing for “cycling”, not “cyclists””.
— Glen Koorey, University of Canterbury
A reader (who works at a local planning firm) emailed me a link to an amazing bit of research this morning. A 2007 paper written by Glen Koorey, a transportation researcher based at the University of Canterbury titled, Are You a Cyclist or Do You Cycle? The Language of Promoting Cycling.
This 10-page paper (PDF) blows my mind, not because of the subject matter itself, but because Mr. Koorey explores a topic I have thought and spoken about for many years. It’s as if he crawled inside my brain and then reported back what he found.
From the online abstract, it appears Koorey presented the paper at a cycling conference in New Zealand. Here’s how he introduces the topic:
“Promoting more cycling in New Zealand is still an exercise fraught with much adversity, both from the general public and from decision- and policy-makers. It is therefore crucial that anyone advocating for a better cycling environment is careful in how they present their case, lest they end up “scoring an own goal” or furthering existing mis-conceptions.”
Anyone who reads this site closely, follows my daily rants on Twitter, or has heard me talk about this in person, knows that I agree with much of Koorey’s thinking. While I was not previously aware of his work, I find it fascinating that he and I have come to some of the same conclusions about 1) how to talk about cycling and 2) the power and importance language has in general.