Getting bikes into the "Wheels" sections of newspapers

It's a bit of tilting at windmills to try to push newspapers into cover more than just the latest, shiny car or gas-guzzling SUV. Local quixotic advocates (such as former courier Wayne Scott) have been trying to get the media to play fair by pushing for inclusion of even a little bit of cycling in the automobile sections of newspapers (not to mention television or the internet). It would be a big accomplishment, given that our local Toronto Star "Wheels" section is the largest such car fetish read in the country.

Recently the Ride the City folks suggested that the New York Times could dedicate one day a year to a Bicycle section in place of their Automobile section. They even included a mockup of what it might look like. It's all very utopian, but it can be useful for us to dream.

Replace the New York Times Automobiles section with a Bicycling section once a year. That would be just one week devoted to bicycles and bicycling—the remaining 51 weeks would continue to be devoted to cars.

Automobile advertising is the bread and butter of these newspapers. Billions of dollars are spent yearly by automobile companies across all media, building up an entire culture of car fetishism where they try to entice you to start pining for their particular car. During the heydays of the auto sector, they had the #1 advertising budget - post 2009 they have dropped relative to the financial services and telecom sectors but are still in the top 3. Hey, that's capitalism right? Except that it's hard to be a so-called "rational" consumer when your emotions and ego are being shaped.

At least cycling isn't completely absent from the automobile-driven Toronto Star. The editor of the Toronto Star Wheels section, Mark Richardson, has noted how he has joined the ranks of the bicyclists - having been drafted by his wife for a fundraising ride this year. He's since covered cycling issues a handful of times. It's a case where a personal experience can trump all the advertising if only for a moment. We can be grateful to her for this small blessing - a car editor who can also see things from the point of view of a cyclist.

Comments

I wish all the bike shops downtown would get together and put ads in the paper together. Try getting actual bike companies on board.

Wouldn't bikes in the "Wheels" section turn The Star into a pinko leftest newspaper?

Wasn't there a high water mark for cars a few years ago? We're probably already in the long-term decline.

I don't really want to read about the trendiest new bikes any more than I want to read about the hottest new cars. And if they wanted to sell the idea to advertisers, that's what they would have to offer.

In today's Globe Drive. Of course it's powered. However, I'm also waiting for major umbrage from riders of scooter-style electric "bicycles". (Though no one talks directly about wolves and sheeps' clothing.)

The article and comment thread is discussing the bike as an option for older folks (the number 65 came up once or twice). Welcome the older riders who need a little electric boost; you may be one too some day.

And as long as we're making concessions for slightly older folks, let's not exclude the lazy. They've got things to do and people to see, just like the rest of us. Live and let live.

Money talks, and gets into print media.

If you want a bicycling section you have to pay for it like every other section that is there for the purpose of selling products made or sold by the advertisers.

The Wheels and Drive sections of various newspapers are not about transportation, only product. Touting bikes as transportation "same as cars" to get into that section will not get you anywhere near to that goal.

As cycling is already fairly represented in editorial press, with a side of legitimate journalism on actual events thrown in, if you want more, like the cars have, ask for it and find out what it will cost you.

You might get a bone thrown, a quarter page in Wheels or Drive, sections that can go 50 pages...

Or you could think "fo reals" and shoot for the stars. The moon (what you could get) might be a smaller, but separate, fold in the weekend editions.

Your own section.

Think about it.

All you have to do is get sellers and producers of the products you wish to promote to move some of their ad monies. General advocacy is already an accepted form of promotion among most of these, a specific section of a newspaper, with the corresponding web presence at the same publication, would be heady stuff in the realm of shifting perceptions.

But.

It might not sell bikes.

Do print media ads still work? That's the real question.

All bikes companies and automobiles need to sit together and try to make better products which are much and much energy efficient. bus wash equipment

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