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Living social trends: February, cycling

We’re continuing our 2017 living a social media trend per month. Whilst some are dramatic, such as the meteoric rise of veganism, some are persistent and unrelenting, over much longer periods. Which brings us to cycling – our February pick.

Yes, the humble act of pedalling a bike is enjoying year on year growth, as expressed through social and digital data. It’s not as simple as simply that ‘cycling’ is big. We see limited evidence of a growth, or significant discussion of, getting into cycling for the first time. What instead, is far more apparent, are people getting back into cycling – for example commuting – and embracing the competitive side of the sport (whether through sportives, Strava, or discussing pro cycling). In absolute terms, these conversations are material – but especially for these ‘high end’ conversations around the competitive end of the sport. This concentration on serious participants and fans is the inverse of that which we see for many activities, whereby the grass roots sees greater volume.

The growth of commuting is notable on both a civic level, but also on a behavioural level. Evidence comes in numerous forms, for example: bike helmet, lock and light search trends increased threefold since 2004. High-visibility clothing increased by a factor of seven. Although no single element can explain this, efforts in London to promote commuting have undoubtedly had an effect, with a total of 13,832 tweets last year from 5,418 accounts. May 7th 2016 had the highest traffic with 453 tweets about the super cycle highway in a day. This was driven by the opening of the embankment super cycle highway in April 2016.

Who are these people? Well, there is a heavy male skew (as high as 80% of these conversations) and particularly focussed in 25-40 year olds. They’re also safety concerned – 5% of all confident cyclist conversations revolve around this, rising to 15% for those getting back into cycling. So, how are we going to live the trend? Well, across the team we have a mix of current cycling levels. A couple of the team haven’t been on bikes in years, and will be re-engaging with the activity. Another team member is going to begin commuting from his home in South London. Finally, one of the team, a daily cycle commuter, doing 45 minutes each way, is going to get competitive, chasing down Strava KOM segments in some of London’s most hotly-fought routes. We’ll be following their journey over coming weeks.


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