Only a few months before the war in Syria started, I was cycling from Croatia towards this beautiful country. Mostly sleeping in my tent in nature, avoiding crowded cities and riding trough rural landscapes. People I have met on the road have definitely shaped the course of my life. From the familiar Croatian plains trough Serbian Đerdap canyon and cliffs; from sweet baba Rajka in Bulgarian villages to 100 year old lady on her death bed in Turkey; from scary wild dogs to peaceful desert camels and bedouins… There were countless memorable encounters during the whole trip. After two months of cycling I have finally reached the vast deserts of Syria.
Kevin Hickman (2015) Disabled cyclists in England: imagery in policy and design. Proceedings of the ICE – Urban Design and Planning. Published here (access-controlled). Pdf for personal non-commercial use here.
Things have moved on a little since I submitted the above titled abstract to the ICE journal Urban Design and Planning for a themed edition on disabilities, vulnerable road users and navigation of the urban environment. However, as this Design Manual being consulted on at the moment demonstrates, it remains relevant.
My thanks to the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, to British Cycling and to Sustrans for permission to use images from their documents; to Wheels for Wellbeing, Ann Wright, Caroline Waugh and Martin Symons for the pictures; and to Rachel Aldred for the initial advice and encouragement.
I hope the paper proves useful.
Around the time I began taking an interest in how cycling is depicted graphically, I saw a presentation at the 2013 Cycling and Society Symposium that opened my mind to how a subtext can be conveyed in, and gleaned from, images. The slides aren’t available, but from memory, and my scant notes, I recall Peter Cox speaking around some excerpts from the CTC Gazette during the interwar years which included a number of Frank Patterson drawings. Continue reading
“The bicycle takes gold, silver AND bronze in the race to normalise riding a bike, everyday, for everyone, as long as you’re on two wheels.”
I’m never quite sure who’s managing Bike Week each year, but I think I’m on fairly solid ground when I say that this year, 2015, the year that they’re officially wrapping up involvement in their latest Inclusive Cycling project, that it’s our national cycling charity the CTC.
I’ve been pointing out this mismatch between words and imagery to anyone who’ll listen for over two years and now I’m tired. Tired that despite great, dedicated people within CTC fighting our corner, the bicycle reigns supreme in any national imagery. Would it kill anyone to draw a picture of a handbike or a trike? Of course not. And that makes the continuous refusal to do so unacceptable.
So here’s the finger CTC. I resign my membership forthwith.
I’ve been invited to the Big Cycling Debate on Monday and was asked to submit a question to the panel of MPs representing the three ‘main’ parties:
“The Get Britain Cycling report contains many images of bicycles on the cover and within its pages. Should it be more accurately titled Get Britain Bicycling?”
I was asked by CTC to submit a different question – referring to a 2 year old report from the last big cycling debate involving parliamentarians has no relevance to their respective policy positions on cycling. I guess things must have moved on.
This is the invite to the event.
I started counting bicycles in the images of cycling policy and design documents last year and it’s turned me into an annoying little boy who can’t see the Emperor’s New Lycra. Every time a new one appears, the big cycling orgs stand around it, nodding appreciatively, and I’m left pointing and stuttering “b-b-but…”
What’s odd is I know for a fact that four of the organisations endorsing this debate are actively trying to do something for the riders of trikes, handbikes, tandems, tagalongs, cargobikes, etc (CTC alone held two Inclusive Cycling conferences this week) but ask one of them to come up with an image to represent ‘cycling’ in the national media and all of that’s forgotten. In fact I’m not sure why I’ve been invited.
Cycling: the more it changes, the more it stays the same.