Video: Three prominent cycling minds discuss how to get more people on bicycles

Below is a video from September when I had a chance to have a discussion with three prominent figures in the current push to get more people using bikes as their normal mode of transportation.

Tim Parr owner of Swobo has worked together with Sky Yaeger to bring some very unique, fun and useful bike designs to the market. We’ve talked about them in several places here and it was an honor to have him as part of the group.

Brad Quartuccio is one of the founders of the Urban Velo zine that has quickly become popular across the net.

Tim “Masi Guy” Jackson is the brand manager that has brought the famous Masi road bike back from the dead and is now breathing a whole new life into it with a line of bikes designed specifically for the commuter.

It’s a rare thing to find all these guys in one place at the same time, not to mention sit them down for a full thirty minutes and pick their brains on how each of us can change our world one bike at a time.

Three Cycling Minds at Interbike 2007

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0 thoughts on “Video: Three prominent cycling minds discuss how to get more people on bicycles”

  1. Mike Myers says:

    Good job, Tim! Lots of good ideas there, and I understand exactly where you’re coming from, as I commute in a rural area. Well, semi-rural turning into big box store sprawl. It is difficult to ride in an area with very little cycling infrastructure AND where drivers are not accustomed to seeing cyclists on the road. Sometimes it’s like a battle out there.

    What can be done to get more people on bikes? LIke Tim Parr said, it has to be cool. Stylish design is a good place to start. BUT—not all commutes are the same. If I lived in a city like NYC, I could get by with a Swobo or a Masi Soulville. But my commute(and the commute of the few other commuters here) is long, and that means a road bike. Manufacturers are doing a great job of bringing touring and cyclocross bikes to the market, and that’s what guys like me need. Most people in the US don’t live within 5 miles of their office. So I think there are commuter bikes AND errand bikes, and if one bike can serve both purposes you’re a lucky person.

    I like the idea of an all-accessories-included short distance commuter bike, particularly the Raleigh Detour Deluxe. If you can get something like that in front of people(fenders, rack, bell, generator light) at a good price it should sell, but we’ll see. I wonder why manufacturers don’t go the final step with bikes like that and include luggage? Throwing in a pair of nylon panniers and a multitool can’t add too much to the bottom line. Price is key.

    I was hit while riding, as many of you know. It sucked. It kept me off the bike for a long time, both out of injury and fear. I’m back, but the punishment the driver received was minimal. I wonder if increasing penalities for drivers who hit cyclists would do much toward making cyclists feel safer? Probably not, but it’s a start.

  2. Jeff Moser says:

    Excellent interview! There are a lot of great ideas presented here. I really like the idea of preaching fun. Like they say, a lot off the other reasons we use for riding, obesity, gas prices, and environmentalism, are politically charged issues (sadly…). On the other hand, you can approach anybody, from any walk of life, and start talking about “fun” without fear of getting into a heated debate. I think everyone is on board with fun.

    Thanks for putting this up, and great job! It’s exciting to see the industry heading this direction.

  3. bikesgonewild says:

    …excellent interview w/ good points brought up….obvious forethought by all the participants but can we please get mr grahl a handful of decent clip-on microphones…

    …if i was not a cyclist & an industry person asked me to listen & learn, 5 minutes into this, i’d have to say, “sorry, if your sound quality is indicative of your business practices, i’m not interested…

    …tim, i applaud your efforts & the content but the sound is problematic, to my way of thinking…
    …best of luck in the future & i will be “listening” for more…

  4. JoelGuelph says:

    I don’t think the sound quality is an issue here. I don’t think the point of this conversation was to appeal directly to the non-cyclist, non-industry person. In fact I think the ideas were directed more specifically at the industry types who have the power to change the way the bicycle is marketed. Tim Parr is basically saying that bikes need to appeal more to the common person by increasing the ‘cool’ factor. Cyclists and industry types are the ones that have the power to make that happen.

    The key is the ideas presented and I don’t think sound quality (which isn’t too bad in my opinion) diminishes what these guys have to say.

  5. Guitar Ted says:

    bikesgonewild: Respectfully I would submit to you that Interbike is one of the most difficult places to set up audio/visual recordings/transmissions in that you can imagine. The place where Tim conducted the interview from was the Media Center, a venue provided by Interbike itself. The equipment was by Cyclingnews TV, a highly respected industry media producer. So, Tim wasn’t “to blame” for your poor experience, he was just availing himself of an opportunity that was presented to him.

    Secondly, I have been looking online at the media produced from The Detroit Auto Show. I think you can agree that the auto industry is mega times more flush with cash than the cycling industry. (One look at any of the car “introductions” would be enough evidence of this fact) The media that covers the auto industry is a multi-million dollar entity, vastly outstripping anything the cycling industry can even fathom or realize. So, as an appologist for the “poor experience” you had listening to the video from Interbike, all I can say is let’s look at this realistically.

    Finally, with a moniker of “bikesgonewild”, I would suppose that you would be willing to glean out the important information here and consider it as a fan of cycling to help further the sport that I am assuming you are interested in. Instead we get a diatribe about sound quality. Yes, the sound is problematic, but I feel you are missing the message, which I believes trancends the production here.

    Perhaps you disagree, but I am hopeful you don’t.

  6. bikesgonewild says:

    …joel, you’re quite right, the key would be the ideas & if you give my original post a quick perusal, you’ll note i was very positive in that respect…you made a good point, in that you mentioned the interview was directed more towards industry folks…i found ‘masi guy’ tim jackson to be quite articulate & therefore particularly valuable as an advocate both w/ in & outside the business…

    …personally, i benefited from listening to tim parr because i originally questioned why he & sky yeager, someone who i consider to have a brilliant ‘bicycle’ mind, would design such a limited range of trendy bikes…now i better understand & give props to their focus & marketing strategy as i’d never heard it discussed before…by the same token, joe breeze is directing his energies to the common person of a different taste, w/ his new ‘attitude’ bike, which has a ‘cool’ appeal for that commuting segment…

    …guitar ted, i don’t have the need (or desire) to go to interbike every year, but my first one was long ago & yes, i’m quite familiar w/ the big glass box known as the ‘media center’…
    …you’d be foolish to believe, even for a minute that any of the ‘message’ was lost on me & while i made a point about the sound quality, you yourself acquiesce to it being ‘problematic’…
    …if you review the tape, you’ll notice brad quartuccio, the man in the middle w/ the microphone in his hand, tries to follow the conversation back & forth & as time goes on, basically just holds it in his lap…i can’t blame him, it shouldn’t be his job as he is a valuable contributer to the discussion…

    …being someone who worked within the industry for a major cycling company & as one who still keeps a finger on the pulse of the biz, i heartily applaud tim grahl’s efforts & if anything, my concern was more in favor of both his & the industry’s success…
    …anything being discussed on that tape will have it’s ultimate affect as applied to those who aren’t yet serious cyclists…the idea is to continue to sell to those already involved but at the same time to find ways of broadening the marketing appeal of cycling…
    …unlike a lot of industries, the benefit of an expanded cycling industry is greater than just financial solvency w/ in the biz, in that we all benefit by the ‘quality of life’ factor as more people involve themselves…
    …ideally it might even become a safer society to become a cyclist in…

    …anyway, this as opposed to my first post, may be described as a diatribe, sir, but i venture to say it is, in general, a more positive one than your last accusatory remarks…

  7. Guitar Ted says:

    “”anyway, this as opposed to my first post, may be described as a diatribe, sir, but i venture to say it is, in general, a more positive one than your last accusatory remarks”” quote: bikesgonewild.

    It is interesting to note that you might feel accused. Please be sure that I only wanted to point out that your first post was negative and in a manner that I felt was unfair to Tim Grahl. I responded in kind.

    Perhaps this second missive of yours should have been the first? It would have been far more descriptive of your concerns than the first, as I read it.

    Be that as it may, I can certainly agree that the content presented in the video was very worthy of consideration even if the means of presenting it was some what lacking. At least it’s here for discussion.

    And with that, I would like to read some other thoughts from folks out there. I’ll be checking back………..

  8. rick says:

    I honestly did not notice the quality of the sound it was the message that caught my attention. As a urban cyclist and someone that sells and markets directly to urban cyclists it was spot on.

  9. I’m British, but recently moved to the Netherlands because we wanted to live somewhere with a better attitude to cycling. We live in the city of Assen in the north of the Netherlands.

    Coming from a British campaigning perspective I’ve seen how discussions can take place in a vacuum which doesn’t include influence from where what we’re trying to achieve has already been achieved.

    Cycling is definitely “culturally correct” here in Assen. The 63000 inhabitants of this city make around 70000 journeys by bike each day. All types of people can be seen cycling, from young to old, men and women, all races, and this is true whatever the weather.

    The wonderful infrastructure that we have here no doubt influences the use of bikes. We are organising a Study Tour this year for campaigners to see the way that cycling works in this country. There are details of that and also photos and videos linked from here:

  10. BunE says:


    Let the production value go. The message is in the words. The Bottom Line is that cycling suffers at the hands of the car culture in the US. We need bike lanes, bike racks, commuting credits, signs, driver education and so on.

    This is a slow process and all input is important and if it hits one person right than it is worth it.

  11. Human Amp says:

    Great subject and Great video .. thanks for posting this.

    There are some key gems here – like cycling as a whole being cool to the ipod generation.

    Like for all enthusiast based minority activities, as existing cyclists we are the worst offenders !! To get more people riding bikes we must avoid jargon and ‘in-terms’ which we automatically do with each other to sort of signal ‘we are in the club’ … who reading this hasn’t don this in a bike shop 🙂 ? . We must be much more tolerant about what is ‘right’ .. by this I mean not passing on the volumes of ‘folk law’ heard in cycling circles and dedicated forums, mainly aimed at getting the last 9/10ths performance … ie this frame or that gear is better than this or that, this posture is better etc. etc. [ better for who ?? the racer, the older lady, the fashionista ?? ].

    Like they said in the video, we must emphasise the fun and the cool, and not the competitiveness … keeping a 20+mph average, this bike/tyre/gear etc. is faster than that ….. maybe important for the enthusiast but totally off putting for the returning or non-cycling person.

    I hope you can do more of these video discussions, maybe include an opinionated non – or ex-cyclist too 🙂

  12. Gordy says:

    That was a great discussion. Thank you very much for that. Got me thinking big time.

    One fact that the bicycle indusry must take into account is that bicycles will not be the answer for all people. Most people who live in very cold areas will not ride year round. Most people who live in very hilly areas will not ride at all.

    Most answers for better transportation must come from the auto industry. I know that does not inspire hope, but it is the truth. I am not saying there is nothing the bicycle industry can do, but they must be realistic and focused in their efforts.

    With that in mind the bicycle industry should target the places where they can have the most and easiest success. Flat terrain areas with moderate weather should be attacked with all the bicycle industry’s strength.

    When you are faced with an enormous challenge, you have to carve out progress as soon as possible so that you have something to build on.

    Giant, Specialized, Trek and whoever else should join forces to do whatever it takes to transform one major US city into a “bicycle city”. As I said, a massive population area with mostly flat terrain and moderate weather.

    That is my two cents, plus some.

  13. Gordy says:

    I will say further that Portland, Orgeon should be looked to as a shining beacon of hope and possibility.
    Look at the progress that has been in a city that gets that much rain! And Portland is by no means a flat land.
    I grew up in Palo Alto, California. Now there’s a place! Miles and miles of flat land, and virtually no weather at all! 70’s in the summer, 50’s in the winter.

    The bike industry is a victim of its own love affair with itself. The bicycle industry should quit dreaming about how to wake the whole world up to how perfect the bike is. Bikes are a beautiful and useful thing, but not everyone is going to ride them. So figure out who are the people who WILL ride them and go after them with all you got.

    Boy I am really ranting and raving here. But I believe I have an extremely important point, and I hope somebody understands what I am trying to say. Especially you, Tim Grahl. I don’t know you, but I like you and admire you.

  14. thomas sherman says:

    there are bike lanes, bike short cuts, and bike boulevards. all 3 make sense but the last two are much cheaper than lanes and haven’t been done hardly at all. plus we need piggybacking on buses (have), secure bike parking using both lock and observation(don’t have). in other words upgrade the bike infrastructure to where it should/could be which would cost very little & see what happens. if people (at least the ones in shape) are dumb enough not to use this infrastructure & to keep driving when its much slower and more costly than driving so be it.

    furthermore bikes can be designed for practicality and lower costs, people can be educated & etc, etc. to really increase bike use all one really has to do is have the auto industry pay its real costs but that won’t happen

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