Seeing all the bicyclists and their interactions at Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place, in my home town of Seattle, and many other places I travel makes me wonder. Is bicycling a non-electronic version of social media?
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines social media as forms of electronic communication (as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages and other content (as videos).
Bicyclists do feel a sense of community and they interact a lot (communicate), which is what social media is about. Many people personalize their bicycles and riding clothes like they personalize their web pages and Facebook pages.
I ride a folding bike and it is customary for people that ride that particular brand to stop and talk, if not at least give a hardy wave as they pass each other. It is our version of a “Like.” Interestingly, owners of this particular brand have clubs all over the world, many with websites, and the company has a very active site. Electronic social media grew because of the bike. I am sure this is common with other brands also.
Like social media, this is a great phenomena. I don’t know of any other form of transportation where this behavior and sense of community is so common. With the explosive growth of commuter and utility bikes and the popularity of Momentum Magazine and riding clubs for women and children, this phenomena is becoming a day-to-day part of our culture, as has social media.
And this is leading to a greater demand for Safe Routes to School Programs and Complete Streets. So the explosive growth in bicycling is creating a demand for more programs and facilities which is helped organized by electronic social media. Students that participate in Safe Routes to School programs typically value and are social media savvy. And many ride their bikes. Let’s make sure they see the connection, because as bicycling continues to grow and we get more facilities, everyone benefits. It is social media at its best.