Cycling and Politics?
It’s that special time of year when voting is still far away but politicians are using any topic they can find to gain attention from the public and hopefully a few votes. With campaigns, fundraisers debates and town hall forums you are sure to hear the usual topics including jobs, education, taxes and more. But there has been a new topic hitting the campaign trail and many politicians are jumping on it.
Cycling has become a serious topic used by several men and women running for office as they try to grab some headlines and get more interest. Why and what good can come from it?
- Strength in Numbers: There is no debate, cycling is now the fastest growing recreational activity in the United States and professional cycling is one of the fastest growing sports in the US as well. In fact the United States just hosted the UCI Road World Championships at Richmond 2015 which saw nearly 500,000 people in attendance and over 300 million television viewers worldwide. Those numbers drastically exceed those of the Super Bowl.
- Donations and fundraising: Cycling is challenging golf as the number one recreational activity for middle aged, upper middle class and upper class men and women. Cycling is fun, it improves health, you can enjoy it with your family and you do not have to pay high club dues every month. This is believed to be a direct reason for the drastic increase in full carbon bike sales which are the same bikes you see used in races like the Tour De France. Carbon road bikes are becoming so popular in fact that they are beginning to outsell standard aluminum ones in many cities despite the drastic difference in price. If you are the politician who is seen riding a carbon road bike as well as made the bike lanes in your city bigger and safer for cyclists to enjoy that’s going to get you a lot of pull with some of the residents in your community who have deep pockets.
- More Races: There are several pro cycling race leagues already well established in the United States and races bring in revenue for local businesses and communities. Races attract fans as well as cycling enthusiasts who aren’t familiar with the pro circuits but have an interest in local events.
- Visible Recognition: Let’s say you are the mayor of Miami and you cut costs of something no one is aware of that saves the city an extra $50,000. Big deal! No one is going to know and more importantly no one is going to care. You bring that up during election time during a debate and you lose the interest of the public. Now let’s say the same Mayor spends money to create better bike lanes on A1A and US1 in Miami and gets one of the big race leagues to have a pro race in Miami. Even if you lose money with those moves you have something visible that you can brag about at the next debate. You made cycling safer for cyclists in your city, you brought a major pro event into the city which raised thousands of dollars for local businesses and was a lot of fun for residents. That’s how you build a campaign for re-election.
Again what is going to get you more votes come election time; cutting costs to something no one is aware of or cares about or creating events that bring in revenue to your city as well as passing laws that make a very popular activity safer?
You have probably already seen a few campaign ads where a politician is riding a carbon road bike and talking about bicycle safety. There are so many advantages to this type of marketing campaign because it makes the candidate seem friendly, more approachable and it is a topic that interest everyone. College kids ride bikes for health as well as transportation. Parents ride cycles and even if they don’t their children do and they are concerned about safety. Adults over the age of 50 ride carbon road bikes for recreation, health and even transportation. The point is people are riding bikes in the United States more now than they have in years. They do it for fun, they do it to work out, they do it to travel and they do it to get to work.
It doesn’t matter if you are trying to save the environment or simply save money on gas. If you own a bike and you see a politician riding a carbon road cycle in their campaign ad and you notice the new and improved bike lanes in your city they already have your attention.