Splendid Cycles

National org wants to know: What should we call this thing we do everyday?

Posted by on August 25th, 2014 at 2:39 pm

People for Bikes, a national advocacy group funded by the bicycle industry, wants to change cycling in America by coming up with a new name for it. Specifically, the group wants help figuring out what to call everyday cycling in order to differentiate it from recreation and fitness riding.

Here’s the set-up from People for Bikes via an email they sent out today:

“Lots of people ride bikes for recreation, exercise and sport. But there’s another kind of bicycling that’s becoming more and more popular in communities across the country. It’s difficult to quantify, because folks call it a lot of different things. And it doesn’t have an official name…

Imagine you’re rolling out on your bike right from your garage—no spandex involved, you’re wearing normal, everyday clothes.

You’re heading somewhere you need to go—like work, a meeting, or the grocery store. This might be part of your daily routine, or maybe you’re in the mood to run errands or get from point A to point B by bike, because it’s gorgeous outside…

This trip isn’t about exercise. You’ve got a destination in mind, and the bike’s the way you get there…

Help us name it by taking this survey!”


It’s worth noting that People for Bikes is the same group behind the Green Lane Project, a program that’s working to hasten the development of protected bike lanes across the country. They say they want to establish a new word for this specific type of cycling in order to, “quantify it, count the people who do it, and grow the movement.”

In an online survey, they offer four choices (they also allow you to fill in with whatever name you like). Here they are:

  • Everyday Biking
  • City Riding
  • Community Cycling
  • Functional Bicycling, or Funcycling

In my opinion, when it comes to language issues, I like to keep things simple and I try to avoid creating new labels whenever possible. When ideas like this come up, I also like to compare how it’s handled from a car-oriented perspective (I figure they’re a good model to emulate, giving the popularity and political dominance of driving). Does the AAA have separate terms for driving? I don’t think so. Do we differentiate between recreational driving trips and more serious, utilitarian driving trips? Nope.

One concern I have is that by slicing cycling up into its sub-parts, we’ll only make each group smaller and thus lessen the collective voice. We also might unintentionally create more divisions and cliques when what we need (in my opinion) to make major national progress for cycling is a large and unified voice pushing in (mostly) the same direction.

And who’s to say that a ride into work or to the store can’t also be recreation, fitness, and fun?!

Given those thoughts, I have used the term “everyday cycling” when I want to make it clear that I’m talking about people who aren’t suited up in lycra or riding for a workout.

What do you think?

Take the survey here.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Clarence August 25, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    How about biking?

    Recommended Thumb up 46

  • Justin Carinci August 25, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Transportation cycling

    Recommended Thumb up 14

    • are August 25, 2014 at 3:39 pm

      plus one. i have always described myself as a transportational cyclist. and jonathan, i disagree we should paper over the differences. people who use bikes for transportation have different needs from those who want to dedicate a trail in forest park or segregate women and children onto multiuse paths.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • spare_wheel August 25, 2014 at 5:01 pm

        the suggestion that some transportation cyclists don’t necessarily want facilities optimized for 8 year olds is *BLASPHEMY*!

        Recommended Thumb up 4

        • Opus the Poet August 27, 2014 at 6:50 pm

          The goal is to move people and things from A to B as economically as possible consistent with safety. I don’t give a rat’s patootie if it is done on a bike trail or path or lane or just in the street, as long as it’s SAFE!

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Patrick Barber August 25, 2014 at 2:53 pm


    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Kris August 26, 2014 at 6:56 am

      Transporting oneself efficiently.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Allan August 25, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    We do have other words for different types of driving. Racing, cruising, going for a drive, road tripping, etc

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 25, 2014 at 3:06 pm

      Good point Allan… But it’s all about context. When are those terms used and who is using them? The power of words comes from context. That’s the key thing. As for what PFB is doing here, the same applies. It all comes down to how they intend to use any new term they adopt.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SilkySlim August 25, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Sportsin’, and lifestylin’.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Peejay August 25, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Everyday biking comes closest, but implies that those who cannot get out on their bikes every day are somehow deficient. I really don’t like any of these choices, and I don’t understand People for Bikes pushing for a new label. Does it change things if I happen to be riding to a friend’s house, a pub, work, or a 40 mile loop on a nice day? Are my safety needs different? Is my right to get there in one piece more or less worthy?

    Recommended Thumb up 14

  • Jonathan August 25, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    When shopping for a car, one aspect I look at is how the vehicle would be as a “daily driver.” Basically, riding around towns/cities on shorter trips in stop-and-go traffic.

    Given this is being proposed by the bike industry, perhaps a term like “daily rider” is appropriate.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Mike August 25, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Why do we need a cycling-specific term at all?

    “Commuters” could go by car, train, motorcycle, bicycle, skateboard, foot, jet pack, Google self-driving vehicle, velomobile, ski lift, etc. — the issue is not what you call it, the issue is that policy makers make laws that favor one mode over another or prevent infrastructure improvements that might shift the mix.

    Calling it “hoop gliding” instead of the politically-poisoned “cycling” won’t change the fact that voters, financiers, and the politicians they both help get elected are not screaming loud enough for change.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • colton August 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Really?? Some people have to overthink everything. Call it cleaving for all I care.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Lisa August 25, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    I say we just call it “riding” and if you’re doing something different like mountain biking, training, touring, etc. (as you would for a car- racing, four wheeling, road tripping) then you specify that.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • JJJJ August 25, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    I do think it’s an issue.

    Cyclist does conjure up the idea of lycra
    Biker? Thats taken by motorcycles

    I do like bicyclist and bicycling. It’s longer to say, and jumbles the tongue…but sounds less threatening.

    And as pointed out above, we do use driver, motorists, commuter, racer, etc for different context, along with joyriding, commuting, cruising, etc.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Dave August 25, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Damn the torpedoes and all of this idiotic oversensitivity–what in the world is wrong with calling cycling cycling?

    Recommended Thumb up 12

    • Pete August 25, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      United we stand, divided we flounder. I’m a cyclist whether I’m speeding around in weekend-warrior club kit on my race bike, unshaven and in torn jeans on my go-ahead-and-steal-me-or-maybe-it-was-me-who-stole-it beater bike, or rolled up dress pants and day-glow vest on my rack-laden race-to-work steed.

      Recommended Thumb up 9

  • groovin101 August 25, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Well we often differentiate amongst groups, on this very blog, by calling out the “8 to 80 crowd”, so there does appear to be some usefulness in recognizing different types of road users.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Tony H August 25, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I usually say something to the effect of, “I’m going to the store”, “I’m going to work”, whatever. Obviously, I am on my bike! Pretty much the same language I used when I drove everywhere.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Andrew Squirrel August 25, 2014 at 4:47 pm


    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • GlowBoy August 25, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Of the 4, I chose Everyday Cycling, but I “wrote in” Transportation Cycling as my preferred term.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • gutterbunnybikes August 25, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Started to take the survey, and found all the choices completely stupid and asinine. All it appears to be is trying to define a new niche for selling more useless, high end, overly designed, utterly useless garbage to people.

    Why do bicycle riders need to be categorized in such a way? Operators of automobiles and trucks aren’t. They’re simply driving and drivers. Airlines are perhaps the only mode of transport that makes distinctions on their travelers. But it is more of a economic division (1st class/coach) than one of the intended purpose of the trip.

    I believe the term they (we) are looking for is “Riding a bike” or you can cut it down a syllable to “Bike riding” or “Bike rider”. Take your pick, but both terms pretty much sum up anything you’re doing which requires two wheels and pedals, regardless of function.

    At best the choices they present will only make bike riders look even more pathetic and arrogant to the non bike riding public than we already do.

    Any term other than “bike riding” is just there to divide and conquer bicycle riders by getting us to argue over minutia that isn’t particularly relevant to anyone, and does nothing for moving or promoting the activity forward.

    Recommended Thumb up 15

    • 9watts August 25, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      Six of you (so far) asked why we need to differentiate at all.
      Here’s my answer. Beyond bikeportland all too often cycling is seen as a recreational, discretionary, sporty thing. Something that may or may not merit funding when we (ostensibly) have none. Biking for transportation (my preferred phrase) distinguishes this *how-I-get-around* bicycling from the former. Politically I think it is not only useful but important to clarify this distinction for those who aren’t aware of the nuances we here on bikeportland are. Biking for transportation is, in my view, as valid, as worthy of respect, funding, legal protection, as the other ways folks get around (by car, usually).

      Having said that I think the choices are pretty silly. I’m with Glowboy as to how I might have answered the question.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Pete August 26, 2014 at 8:17 am

        Makes sense to me (though I still personally just prefer “cycling” :). In our BPAC meetings we often refer to “utility cyclists” versus the “8/80” or “interested but concerned crowd” (and I’ve even heard “pedestrian cyclists”). The former are the ones who ride on the expressway shoulders instead of the adjacent paths due to their speed and preference to integrate with (auto) traffic and avoid pedestrians and slower bicyclists, often comprised of the latter two. I didn’t coin these terms but adopted them from more experienced committee members, as the terms stem from discerning different sets of needs/wants of cyclists.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Andyc of Linnton August 25, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Ha! What?!
    I’m totally funcycling in to work tomorrow.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Mossby Pomegranate August 25, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    I guess we’ve run out of real issues to address in cycling.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Barney August 25, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Trans-cycler has a Portland vibe.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • spare_wheel August 25, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      or maybe not.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Charlie August 25, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I call it “going to work”. No extra words needed.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • q`Tzal August 25, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    -9,000 for “Funcycling”.

    It has the same connotation for “non-bikey” people as “toy bike” has for us.
    If you want to have important trips to work, retail and schools devalued in the public space mentally connecting the activity with “!!!FUN!!!” is the way to go.
    Everyone “knows” fun is never serious business.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Suburban August 26, 2014 at 12:02 am

    Portland and Seattle bicycle industry companies would be wise to steer clear of this People for Bikes organization. What is this thing we do every day? We do not spend money at businesses affiliated with this .org or sporting it’s logo on stickers. We get away from idiots and let them stew in their own marketing driven fake-inclusiveness, we use language (including English) with precision, not manipulation: Yucky, dirty, sticky, cuss word, yuck.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Dwaine Dibbly August 26, 2014 at 4:44 am

    “Vacuuming”, because when bikes are knit into modern life as commonly as vacuum cleaners, transportation cycling will no longer be an afterthought during planning. Maybe Hoover or Dyson will sign on as another corporate sponsor.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Cheif August 26, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Thundercycling! For some reason whenever I ride more than about twenty miles in a day I fart a lot.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • El Biciclero August 26, 2014 at 9:41 am

      I’ve heard Fartlek training can really boost your lactate threshold and overall fitness. I like to combine Fartlek training with some high intensity interval training. I call it doing high intensity farts.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dave August 26, 2014 at 8:43 am

    True, I don’t know why PFB even exists–the League of American Bicyclists has done that job for decades. What we really need is a transportation organization that is anti-car to the degree that many gun groups are pro-excessive gun rights. LAB are pretty wussified also. We need an alternative transportation group that will grab publicity and be unafraid of who they might offend.

    Portland and Seattle bicycle industry companies would be wise to steer clear of this People for Bikes organization. What is this thing we do every day? We do not spend money at businesses affiliated with this .org or sporting it’s logo on stickers. We get away from idiots and let them stew in their own marketing driven fake-inclusiveness, we use language (including English) with precision, not manipulation: Yucky, dirty, sticky, cuss word, yuck.
    Recommended 2

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • wsbob August 26, 2014 at 10:57 am

      “…We need an alternative transportation group that will grab publicity and be unafraid of who they might offend. …” Dave

      An offensive alternative transportation group doesn’t sound like something that’s going to help many people be interested in riding a bike instead of driving.

      A simple, ‘roll off the tongue’ word or phrase to refer to and distinguish basic biking from some of the more familiar types of biking that may be off putting to many people, makes good sense. Biking could benefit from such a phrase, because biking, unlike driving, isn’t nearly as widely used, regularly, for just about every basic daily travel need imaginable.

      The prospect of a two mile round trip ride on a bike to the grocery store and back, ought in some simple way, be able to be conceived of as something that doesn’t oblige being an athlete, amateur or pro. It makes total sense for the bike industry to promote familiarity and use of such a word, because as well as making money from selling bikes and accessories, they’re trying to help people in the market for a bike, better understand what kind of bike will do for them what they need done.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Clarence August 26, 2014 at 8:47 am

    If I were to choose anything, I’d go with Active Transportation, a term that exists already that completely works. And yet it has only a very small percentage of the population comprehending its meaning. To introduce another term that is destined to the same fate seems pointless.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Rob August 26, 2014 at 10:45 am


      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ryan M August 26, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Cat 7

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • KristenT August 26, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I use “commuting” for the kind of riding I do during the week. Because that’s what I’m doing.

    Oh, wait, I also use “commuting” for the kind of driving I do during the week. Because that’s what I’m doing.

    I don’t differentiate the kinds of riding I’m doing when I’m riding; I don’t do that when I’m driving, why would I do it when I’m riding?

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • wsbob August 26, 2014 at 10:14 am

    ‘Basic Biking’. Those two words together are kind of bland, but at least they’re something people might commonly say to refer to short hops on the bike for this and that, take care of business, or whatever.

    The expression ‘grocery getter’, referring to basic bikes used for the implied purpose: more fun to hear, sounds better, but doesn’t really convey all the basic jobs those type bikes likely are used to get things done.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Gumby August 26, 2014 at 10:19 am

    How about “Arrogant menace”? Wait, we’re already called that.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • spare_wheel August 26, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Check out the corporate sponsor for the “People for Bikes” booth at a recent PDX Sunday Parkways:


    Das Auto indeed.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Cheif August 26, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    When people see my bike they don’t need a word for it. It clearly conveys what it’s capable of: anything and everything.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Atbman August 26, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Agree with the poster who mentioned “utility” cycling. I always enjoyed cycling whether racing, recreational or commuting/shopping/visiting friends, so “fun” cycling is too generic.
    Utility implies riding for a practical purpose as opposed to competition or recreation

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • 9watts August 26, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      “Utility implies riding for a practical purpose…”

      it did, at least until the rise of the sport UTILITY vehicle.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • jocko August 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Bi-cycling with non-competitive intentions.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • danny August 26, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Here’s a good idea: Let’s think up new ways to label people riding bikes so we can further divide the small percentage of people who ride bikes for *whatever* reason.

    When I commute to work, I wear lycra so I can change out of my sweaty riding clothes into something more office-appropriate. I also get a fitness boost and have fun while I’m on my way to/from my workplace. So, according to People for Bikes, should people like me as a “basic” bike rider, get angry at me for taking up road space while being a “fun-cyclist,” or belittle me — even within the cycling community — because I’m one of THOSE riders who wear lycra.

    Here’s my answer: If we spent a lot less time contemplating how to label people riding bikes and simply recognized them as PEOPLE riding bikes, we’d be better off. Then we can spend more time explaining to society and policy-makers that people on bikes have a right to be on the road (for whatever reason or reasons they choose) just like other users, and that increasing infrastructure conducive to cycling is beneficial to society for a wide variety of reasons.

    So here’s my label: People riding bikes.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • 9watts August 26, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      “Then we can spend more time explaining to society and policy-makers that people on bikes have a right to be on the road (for whatever reason or reasons they choose) just like other users, and that increasing infrastructure conducive to cycling is beneficial to society for a wide variety of reasons.”

      I share your objectives, danny. And my sense is that People For Bikes’ objective is that it aligns with yours and with mine. But I don’t think we agree that the current inherited muddle of misconceptions about why people bike and what they’re about is a good basis for achieving those objectives. For much of my lifetime, here in the US, bicycling has been viewed as what people do when they are not working, taking care of business, going places. Obviously we here know that this isn’t the half of it, but we still live with this legacy, this misconception. Wishing it away isn’t going to change this.

      One reason some of us are talking past each other is that the conception of bicycling as a sporty, recreational, discretionary thing is out of phase with the tenor of our policy discussions here on bikeportland.* People who ride motocross, or snowboard, or run marathons, or rappel down rock faces, or stand on paddle boards are also doing sporty, recreational, discretionary things, but they do not, generally, have a right to be on the road while doing those things. The sooner we come to grips with this the better in my view.

      *Jonathan does, of course, also report on races and the like, but judging at least the by volume of comments bikeportland stories receive, the real action here is not with the sporty stuff but with what I’d call bicycling for transportation.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Mossby Pomegranate August 26, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      Lycra? Well you are definitely on Elly Blue’s sh*t list.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob August 26, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      PRB instead of PBR. Unintentionally so, no doubt, but funny.

      If you’re suiting up in lycra with a change of clothes for at work, you may be an ‘everyday cyclist’, but a commuter, really, sounds like you’re at least somewhat aggressively seeking a workout.

      The example your riding presents, doesn’t sound much like the type of riding it seems the bike industry is hoping to be able readily identify with the help of an easy to think of and remember name. For that matter, bike advocates too. Thought of, I think, is the vast, still untapped in country, type of riding that people can do without having to put a biking zoot suit on, or break in to much of, if any sweat at all.

      Not the kind of riding I’m much interested in, but I can kind of understand ordinary people that see value in being able to ride around in nice, ordinary clothes, and step off the bike and into Freddy’s for groceries, still feeling fresh as a daisy, cool as a cucumber.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • David August 27, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    What a waste of time. And effort. And indication of priorities.

    Riding a bike

    Go fix a pothole or a wheel

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Yvette Maranowski August 30, 2014 at 11:38 am

    One thing, though, about keeping all bike-use groups merged as one identity, is that there are inequities within such a merged group. One group may use the bike to keep their family alive, whereas another group may use the bike for recreation. Since keeping a family alive is non-negotiable, whereas recreation is, it is completely possible that, in discussions and actions toward benefiting a merged group…the folks who bike for recreation are more available–therefore have greater access–to shift the merged bike group advocacy toward recreational bike uses.

    I just wanted to point that out to hopefully support bike unity around equity.

    I love the idea of not “slicing cycling up into its sub-parts” as the author says, though, because I do think we should are stronger and happier as one voice.

    Recommended Thumb up 1