Parent. Dog owner. Classical music fan. Wine connoisseur. You may be one of these. But it’s probably not all that you are. None of these terms is an expression that defines you completely.
All of these terms describe how you are some form of ‘power user’ or enthusiast. Even the term ‘parent’ sets you apart from an ordinary ‘adult’.
So, does this make someone who rides a bike to the office a ‘cyclist’? Certainly, there are people who would term themselves cyclists.
You know. The ones who typically own road bikes and go for regular, long rides. Or belong to some cycling club of some sort. But this does not describe the majority of people who use bikes.
It is often said that those who cycle in Copenhagen dislike the term ‘cyclist’. They are simply using a bike as a method of transport. They are commuters who choose the bike instead of mass transit.
This objection makes sense. After all, when you arrive at the office, you are not referred to as a ‘motorist’. Or a ‘metro rider’. Or a ‘bus passenger’.
One possible reason for the cyclist label is that, apart from in the major European cycling cities, cycling is still regarded as the alternative.
Cycling is the left-field, slightly eccentric, odd way to travel. Or it is regarded as a leisure activity.
But the tide is turning.
As cycling is increasingly normalized, it will be less notable and there will be less need for labelling and categorizing. Cycling is a legitimate way to commute.
And when cyclists become ‘just commuters’ it will be an encouraging sign.