Don’t cycle to work, it’s for dorks

That’s the message in this TV advert from State Farm, a US insurance company:

“To save money due to the rising cost of gasoline, a businessman rides his bicycle to work.”

Jim: “Oh, man I’m dead.”

Thanks to Spinopsys who got it from Streetsblog, which has this take on the ad:

The idea flickers across your medial prefrontal cortext, that part of the brain the neuromarketers are always trying to get to, Hey, maybe I could get fit and healthy by biking to work like Jim. For $369 a year and whatever gas money I’d save by not driving I could buy a really nice bike. Until this State Farm ad interrupted the ballgame I was watching on TV, it never even occurred to me that I could bike to the office park.

“Start saving your way.” And thus idea is implanted: I’m going to start saving by biking to work every once in a while. Thanks, State Farm.

Not all ad agencies are anti-bike, pay them and they’ll promote anything. Sometimes they come up with decent, pro-bike ads for their mainstream clients, such as:

Expedia’s video viral nicely executed

I have had problems with Expedia in the past. Always read the small print, there’s a ‘no changing any details’ reason the flight tickets are often so cheap!

But their latest video viral – all about funny Johnny-Foreigner hotel signs – is smile-worthy. Humour is a good viral tactic, although I can’t see this one being passed on in huge numbers. It’s not very edgy, but probably good for the demographic.

WARNING: contains zero bike content, another minus point in my book…

Moonwalking bear vid nearly tops viral list

According to the Viral Video Chart, Transport for London’s ‘Do the Test’ video is now at number two in the list. Yesterday it was at number eight.

The British video has had 1.18m views on YouTube. Very few viewers will know – or care – that the idea for the video was plagiarised from an American academic.

Save the planet: cycle into the sun

Now, if only US eco-retailer Gaiam could scale up this solar reflector and attach it to a real bike…

“Swivel the adjustable solar panel on this unique lamp toward any direct light source and watch as its artful bike rider instantly starts pedaling toward a sun-powered future.Whether you turn on its conventional lamp to provide illumination or simply place it in a sunny spot as a fascinating mechanical object d’art, it puts the promise of solar power on creative display.”

Mind you, as it stands, this is a cute, planet-friendly gizmo for your windowsill. A snip at only 49 bucks!

Spend less on advocacy, more on awareness

John Burke of Trek has committed a whole bunch of his company’s cash to bicycle advocacy. In this video I released last year, Burke urged other bike companies to do the same:

Globally, bicycle advocates (UK trans: ‘cycle campaigners’) welcomed Burke’s stance.

But not everybody agrees that funding advocacy is a panacea.

Yesterday I published a trade-specific video of a presentation to UK bike shops from US retail guru Jay Townley. Jay Townley has been in the bike trade for 51 years, in all manner of guises, such as bike shop worker and president of companies such as Giant and Browning.

Jay Townley told a room full of Britain’s best bike shops that the UK closely mirrored the bike business in the US. This wasn’t a good thing as he revealed that the US bicycle business has not kept pace with the growth of the US economy over the last eight years.

The total US bicycle market in retail dollars has stalled out at $6bn and has been essentially flat for the last three years. 2008 will see a continuation of this flat market trend:

“There is no factual reason to believe this will change in the near future,” said Townley.

“There is no imminent bicycle boom on the horizon. Unless the bike industry changes strategy there will be no real growth in the size of the total retail bicycle market.”

He complained that the US bike industry doesn’t pull together very well. It might not be able to afford a ‘Got milk‘-style* promotional campaign but it doesn’t even try. Instead, millions of dollars is put into pro bike teams, a marketing expense that influences enthusiasts, said Townley, but not a mainstream audience, which is where market growth will have to come from.

He said too much money is being funnelled into advocacy. He said fifteen years of funding advocacy programmes had resulted in no market growth. He would like to see money channelled into an awareness campaign instead, to influence new people to come into cycling. Obesity is at epidemic proportions but there’s no bike business campaign to explain the benefits of cycling to a mainstream audience.

Of course, he’s not totally against bicycle advocacy but he doesn’t want the bike trade to put all its eggs in one basket. And especially not now. In the US, the administration will soon change and so will Congress. Who, in Washington, is listening?

>Lobbying on Capitol Hill (and in Westminster) might leverage Government money into bike schemes but along with the delivery of infrastructure there’s got to a perception shifting campaign, too.

And here’s a good example of why. It’s by Andy Scaife of the bicycle recycling BikeRescue Project of York and was taken from the Moulton mailing list:

“Had a fantastic ride over some of the North York Moors last week, going for it up the 1-in-3s (33%) in a style not normally adopted by such a pootler as I. Needless to say, the Bob Jackson coped with it better than the rider, who suffered a ‘Cardiac Episode’ while driving the last half-mile home… Paramedics pulled me out of the van, and I’ve just been relased from the people workshop, back into the community.

“Anyway,the interesting bit was the reaction when I mentioned the possibility of getting back on a bike some time soon – the mere mention that I am a keen cyclist engendered the reaction from the ‘professionals’ that I was about to go run a marathon, or worse. The usual “Cycling is a strenuous athletic activity” perception. Wouldnt you think that the health professionals would know better? One Idiot consultant recommended I join a gym and go on a treadmill. My reply that I own about 30 bikes, and did not intend to go near a sweaty germ-infested gym got a look that clearly implied “Well dont come to me if you burst your aorta and fall under a bus, you smelly beardy”.

“Oh yes, and a nurse, when she read that i had just been cycling before the ‘episode’ (for that seems to be the correct name now), asked if I had been wearing a helmet! I can think of lots of replies now, but all I could muster at the time was ” I was driving, so maybe I should have been”. It was totally lost on her of course.

“We still have a loooooonnnggg way to go…”

* Funny Got Milk? commercial:

Fat Face: The Big Fat Guide

Fat Face launches Big Fat Resolutions!

Following the massive success of the Fat Face ‘Face Book Christmas Gift Thrower’, the active lifestyle brand is back with more fun to throw round.

Instead of the usual New Year resolutions, like going to the gym, eating less chocolate and other such punishing practices, Fat Face is trying to encourage Facebook users to try learning a new activity!

Fat Face has produced an application for the social networking site that allows you to send your friend a new activity that you should try together. These range from learning to surf, how to ride a mountain bike, learning to sail or perfecting a windsurfing trick.

Apart from having a great deal of fun throwing surf lessons and mountain bikes around, you can actually WIN, so you and your friend could actually find yourself doing the activity!

Check it out here.

The Big Fat Guide

Fat Face is using the application to promote its newly launched ‘Big Fat Guide’, so has named the Facebook application ‘Big Fat Resolutions’!

The Big Fat Guide is Fat Face’s definitive bible for all active enthusiasts across a range of sports. The Big Fat Guide shows you how to get ‘out there’ by recommending activity centres across the UK; events to take part in and watch; the clothes to buy; the kit you’ll need; basically everything you need to help get you ‘out there’.

So, if you can’t wait to see if you WIN the real thing, and want to learn something new, check out for some great ideas.

Vote in North East England comp!

Hello, Friends of Fatty. Here’s one of the voting links mentioned by Fatty. Thanks for your time.

Best podcast

The original article now continues…

My home city may not be getting 12 two-wheeler superhighways and the local campaign group may be in a state of suspended animation but Newcastle is still a fine place to bicycle. Newcastle cyclists generally don’t cut through red lights like Londoners and aside from a few ugly pile ups here and there, Newcastle doesn’t have quite the same them-and-us, bike-v-car problems.

Newcastle also has the stunning, and bike friendly, Town Moor, the country’s biggest HomeZone and a load of scenic cycle paths on former waggonways thanks to the city’s industrial heritage.

The city has hosted top class MTB events such as the Nissan Qashqai Urban Challenge:

The race and ride scene is pretty lively, too. Of course, there’s Newcastle Phoenix, the utterly fantastic youth cycling club for which I’m a coach; August’s Great North Bike Ride, and there’s the Northern Rock Cyclone sportive, now one of the UCI’s Golden Wheel events. On 11th September Newcastle is hosting a stage of this year’s Tour of Britain pro bicycle race.

“On its first visit to the North East, [the Tour] will begin in Darlington and wend its way northwards past key iconic locations in the North East, with a planned stage finish in NewcastleGateshead.”

In 2002, Newsweek nominated Newcastle as one of the world’s top eight creative cities. No other British city was listed.

And it’s also a thriving digital city. In recognition of this, regional development agency One NorthEast (ONE) and The North East Regional Portal (TNERP) have created the North East Digital Awards 2007. These awards are “designed to recognise and celebrate digital advancement within the region in a unique and practical way. The Digital Awards will showcase the best of the region’s talent, and will help inspire those who haven’t yet joined the digital age to embrace the significant opportunities it offers.”

Which neatly brings me to the shameless plug. is up for three of the awards. The site will be judged by an independent panel but you – pretty please – can help influence the judges by voting for the site in the following categories:

Best blog

Best podcast

Best use of video


This is a very funny viral ad for the latest Lynx deodorant spray, ‘Dark Temptation.’ Women on exercise bikes run to gobble a chocolate man wearing the stuff.

It’s the start of the Christmas repeats

Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman has been shown on British television every year since 1982. Nobby Holder is wheeled out every year because of Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody from 1973. Could the bicycle world’s equivalent be last year’s wonderful composition commissioned by Specialized?

The US bike company commissioned experimental musician – and cyclist – Flip Baber to produce a short orchestral piece to accompany an animated rear cog. And, yes, the road and mountain bike used for the twanging, banging and plucking were from the big squiggly S.

Flip Baber – aka Johnny Random – was commissioned to write the Christmas card piece in November last year.

He said: “”I recorded all the takes at different points during one day since there was construction going on near my studio. The next day I edited the sounds and took the best takes and then everything was interpreted and composed within about 4-5 hours, including the mixdown.

“I came up with some really far out sounds in my bike recordings, but couldn’t use them on this project because they were either too dissonant or weren’t easily recognizable as ‘bike’ sounds.”

The ‘happy holidays’ card and music still lives on the Specialized website. The piece is a glockenspiel-free rendition of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ from ‘The Nutcracker Suite.’

The glockenspiel and clarinet melody was created with spokes. The cello and violin pizzicatos were created with plucked derailleur cables. The tingly triangle was a bash on to a disc brake.The percussion was a medley of shifting, coasting, finger over turning spokes, chain pulls, braking, clipping into pedals, back-spinning, and air pssssing out of tyres.

This isn’t the first time bicycles have been used in a musical composition. In 1980 Godfried-Willem Raes first staged his Second Symphony for ‘Singing Bicycles’, an “open air event scored for a minimum of twelve cyclists with their own bicycles.”