Work in Sports
Reactions: Cycling in the U.S.
Users share ideas on how increase cycling's popularity.
As American Lance Armstrong lead's the Tour de France, CNNSI.com asked users what needs to be done to increase the popularity for the sport of cycling in the U.S. Many users targeted the media. Others focused on the youth. A collection of some of the most interesting responses follows:
The key to cycling becoming popular in the states is the same as with any other sport; advertise, advertise, advertise. When was the last time you saw a commercial for Trek, Cannondale, Gary Fisher, etc.? If you can't market the sport, then the sport can't grow.
I think that one way to encourage cycling in the USA is to invest in bike trails and other things that aid present cyclist. I just began to bicycle and one reason was that they are building a trail near my house. I started riding on the trail, but now I enjoy riding on the road much more in some ways. My friends are all into cycling and that also helped to get me into it.
City and roadway planners need to make it easier for Americans to use their bikes instead of cars for transportation. In Europe, where cycling is a part of everyday life, it's no wonder that those who excel in the sport are regarded as heroes.
More people need to actually participate in the sport of bicycling. It is a terrific cardiovascular workout that provides many hours of enjoyment while touring the countryside. There is a great feeling of freedom and adventure that comes with each ride. It is one of the few low impact exercises that is actually fun. One can enjoy biking into an advanced age. It enhances flexibility and looseness of the joints and ligaments. More bike paths and bicycle right a ways would help to encourage the sport. More charity rides would help to encourage the sport while raising money for worthy causes. Once you get hooked on any form of biking it is easier to relate to bicycle racing and appreciate the athletic significance of the Tour de France.
Two things I think really hamper the interest of cycling in the U.S. The amount of coverage of big races and the level of knowledge of the audience. I myself love watching the Tour de France, but find it hard to get all the coverage I'm looking for. The sports shows seem to rather show some obscure game than the most important cycling event of the year. Also, the print media puts articles about the Tour on the back pages. Most Americans have no idea how great it is to have an American wearing yellow. I think if there was more coverage and more education about cycling it could be popular here in the states. It also would not hurt if Americans got off their butts and road that dusty bike they all have in their garages.
I think it takes more exposure to cycling to create interest. I am fortunate enough to live just outside Philadelphia, so I am able to see the First Union Championship race every year. By seeing cyclists up close and seeing the speed and skill that they have makes me excited to ride and excited to watch cycling anytime I can. I could only hope that next years TDF gets more television airtime. I'm left listening to the race over the Internet and watching half of highlights at night. By having a U.S. Tour and exposing people of all ages to the sport it would be sure to grow. With Nike getting involved in the sport I can foresee greater exposure coming in the future and perhaps Nike will ride the wave and get a U.S. Tour going in the next few years and with Lance Armstrong riding they have a good chance of having it "get over." However, if nobody takes advantage of Lance and uses his celebrity status to push cycling we all might miss out on what a wonderful sport cycling is!
A great idea would to promote a riding tour of the U.S. by famous and up-and-coming American riders (Armstrong, Lemond, Hamilton, etc.) where they would visit the public and even invite current and would-be cycling enthusiasts to go for a ride with them. Local cycling clubs could even organize and promote charity rides to coincide with the celebrity visits.
It is like soccer, start them young and get them interested in cycling. Clubs should promote the sport. Older riders help younger ones. Have kids participate in tours and expand this into racing. That is how we got our son at age 14 started and he is now a pro-cyclist.
I believe cities need to become more "bike friendly." I know in my town of Lubbock it is like trying to navigate through a gauntlet just to run to the store. The drivers have no idea what to think of a person on a bicycle and once the destination is reached there are not adequate facilities to lock the bike.
Televising the stages before 12:30 in the morning would help. I know that skateboarding is a really important sporting event, but the tour deserves that prime time spotlight.
Bring back the Tour DuPont. That brought professional cycling to the front porches of many Americans. Other tours could do the same. How about a nifty made-for-TV-movie about Lance and his fight with Cancer, the tour, etc. That's a Sunday night special that I would watch.
We need to make riding more accessible and accepted. One of the best ways to promote riding would be to build more bike paths so people would have the ability to not only ride for recreation, but ride for necessity. With an increase in bike paths, people would have the ability to ride their bikes to the grocery store or work.