O.K., who has not heard the expression”bloody cyclist” before? It has been said and it has been said by many. But who wants to be the bloody cyclist? Who wants to see themselves as being a part of the group that other people call bloody cyclists? I know that I don’t and I am not the only one.
Seattle in America saw the way people are speaking about traffic and especially cycling as a big de-motivator, and looked into the words that were used. This happened around 5 years ago and now there are more people riding bikes than ever before! They worked on getting the words people and person back into the game. Why you might ask: because if you put everyone in the traffic into the same group called people or humans instead of dividing them into “tribes” called drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, people are forced to realize that we all got the same goal: to get from A to B in a safe and comfortable way and by doing that, you will be more acceptable towards other people you meet on the road.
So instead of saying (bloody) cyclist, people got used to say “a person who rides a bike” and believe it or not, it did make a great difference.
What’s a Fietser I hear you say?
You may have noticed our Twitter name: @wearefietsers? So, what’s a fietser? A Fietser is a Dutch word to describe someone who uses a bicycle for ordinary errands, like to the shops, work or school. The best way to describe the meaning of the word is to show you some fietsers:
I ride my bike almost every day, but I don’t see myself as a cyclist, I see myself as a person who is riding a bike.
The other day I read a blog about the language around bikes of Katja Leyendecker. She pointed out the fact that even big organisations like SusTrans tends to use different words for the same thing over and over again, in this example it was bike route, traffic-free routes, off-road cycle ways, shared-use footpaths, cycle lanes on roads, cycle lanes, protected bike lane. All these descriptions were used in the same rapport describing the same thing.
I think Kat is mentioning something very essential, because as she says:” Language is a communication and a campaigning tool.” So if you need to campaign for something, you do need a clear and concise language.
It was very interesting to read for me and one thing is for sure, I am looking forward to hear more from her, especially at the Women and Cycling Conference 2016.
Be safe this winter
With the days getting shorter and colder, please make sure you are seen. If you have already signed up as an ambassador, you will have received a fabulous set of bike lights which are super bright and will help you be seen.