War with the Industry: We are the Problem
I have many bones to pick with the industry I love, I’m calling it a war - a war to get more butts on bikes, to get kids safer to adventure and for the industry to get their head out of the ground. First step was bike shops, the front line of the bicycle industry. Now to put more of a blanket across the complete industry, to everyone that calls themselves cyclist.
Here’s what I ask of you, as you are most likely a cyclist to read this blog…I ask you to take a moment and reflect on the thoughts I am bringing you.
How many sports interrupt everyone’s daily life?
Other than running, to a point, who’s “sport” stops the lives of the non-cycling population?
We talk about going after golf as a target audience of potential cyclist – golf has beautiful couses and ranges to practice our strokes
Runners can run on sidewalks
Baseball, soccer, lacrosse and football have fields with bleachers wrapped around
The Sport We Love Causes Chaos
We fight to share the road, should we be fighting to have our own roads, greenways and trails instead? Is sharing roads with 4,000 lb cars the smartest thing to do? Do bike lanes, only inches, from 55 mph roads make sense? Do we belong on roads over 35 mph as road cyclist or commuters?
I sit here writing this while watching the latest stage of the Tour de France. Beautiful, romantic and exciting. I also watch thousands of miles of roads shut down. The closest I can think of this that is non-cycling is that of the Boston Marathon at 26.2 miles.
What is Our Hope?
The bike industry “is flat” they say. Of course it is. My family worry about me when I go for a ride on the road. I’m not able to ride my mountain bike locally when it rains, and it has been raining on and off all week. The local velodrome is 45 minutes away. The closest greenway, 8 miles away, is 3 miles long.
When you look for our hope, look to your neighborhood. Look at all the bikes with flat tires in your neighbors garage. What would inspire them to ride? What does the venue look like?
Our hope is not for the next Lance Armstrong.
My hope is for organizations like Streetsblog, a blog about sustainable transportation and livable communities. Side neighborhood streets, planned development and creating safe ways to move around communities. That is how to get more people on bikes, out of the gym and out of their car.
Think About It
Next time you are out on the road, think about what is going on around you. Wave to that person that stopped for you or went AROUND you. You are interrupting their flow and their day. Just because you are able to be on the road, share the lane or take the lane, doesn’t mean you aren’t creating chaos out there. When we are riding 10 deep of 2 or 3 a breast, who is sitting patiently behind you in their car? Where did we go so wrong that we feel entitled to interrupting someones day because “we ride a bike”?
If your kids were in the middle of the street playing catch or kicking a soccer ball and a car comes down the road do you expect your kids to get out of the way or the car to stop?
Booth Babes at Interbike are a Turnoff
This past Interbike I saved my vacation time and dollars for other things, leaving my coverage to be from industry friends and stalking the internet for worthwhile product to talk about. On return from Interbike a few female friends that work within the bicycle industry emailed or texted about the outrage from an article running in the daily version of Bicycle Retailer.
Booth Babes have a Hard Life
The attached scanned in version of the article talks about how difficult the job is. The women are paid between $100-500 a day, and are paid to “attempt to charm strangers and lure them into trade show booths by talking about products you know little about.”
As a woman in the industry that does know what she is talking about this insults me. Pretty faces and large breast may attract guys to the booths, I get that. The ways of marketing to guys isn’t something that bothers me, hell I even second the notion if it means you see more women in the industry supported.
There are Beautiful Women in the Industry
I could give you a list of a 100 women that either work or race within the bicycle industry that could compete in the “looks” category of the booth babes. Here’s a thought :
Hey Mr. Bike Industry Guy, if beautiful women attract people to your booth, why not support more women (that actually ride bikes) year around to attract more people in general to bicycles.
Think of that cute shop girl that sold you a tire a few weeks ago, or the mechanic with full sleeves that could kick your butt in the alley cat. These are the woman we need to turn into poster girls. I bet most women in the industry would be happy talking shop in a booth, to be paid for it would make it that much better.
That $2,000 you spent on the booth girl at Interbike could be spent sponsoring a well deserving female athlete to get to the next level.
Is it the Boobs or That They are Women?
Women are needed in the industry. I wish I could throw you a fancy fact about how women in the bike shop or at shows give off more participation but I can’t. Somewhere there must be one if companies are spending such large amounts of marketing cash for the booth babes at Interbike or Sea Otter.
A friendly, KNOWLEDGABLE, woman with a contagious personality is going to attract all types of people to your booth, shop or company. Women tend not to be as intimidating to strangers, easier to approach and less cliche. This isn’t always true but if you are a bicycle shop employee or consumer you have probably felt the “boys club” feeling when walking into a random bike shop.
This goes for booths as well. A bunch of guys in sweatshirts, tshirts and baggy cargo shorts, guys that could be super nice but not over the top welcoming, I would say this is 7 out of 10 booths at any show I’ve been at. If it isn’t sweatshirts and cargo shorts it is crisp polo’s and khakis that you feel they are above you, if you aren’t going to talk to the about Campy Super Record that they are waiting to put their nose up at you.
Look are Everything
Boobs sell, so do colors, smiles and warm welcomes. An early morning at Sea Otter, a booth with free coffee will have more traffic than any booth with tank top clad boobs. The Luna Chix team trailer at Sea Otter is always slammed. These women are friendly, gave away free food and took the time to talk to everyone interested. They are real women that come back from warm up laps muddy, that are well versed on the bikes they are riding and to me, are the best sales representatives for Orbea that you could ever have.
Find the Women
You want to attract people to your booth with boobs? Put out a call, place and ad for bicycle industry models or racers. Ship in some shop employees that already SELL your PRODUCT.
You want more people riding bikes? Put more women behind your product, on the front of your booth selling it, in the design meetings, on the sales calls, and so on.