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.