Cycling participation is a big topic in the bicycle trade. The idea that “a rising tide (of participation) lifts all boats” is great in theory and gives direction and hope for the future. But when the tide refuses to rise, the quest for individual company growth can lead to all sorts of tension as companies start to focus on each other more than the consumer, fight desperately for market share, push for floor space and open-to-buy, and wear out calculators to squeeze margin points that aren’t really there.
Despite an apparent uptick in urban riding, overall growth hasn’t been happening in cycling, at least not recently. In 2013, cycling participation dropped by nine percent from the previous year, according to the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA), with cycling by children (ages 7 to 17) down 43% since the year 2000, the lowest participation number of the last decade at least.
That’s not good news, but the problem appears to be much bigger than bikes though. There’s mounting evidence that flat or declining participation is part of a much larger trend of physical inactivity in the population at large. In fact, the magazine Discovery has referred to sitting in a chair as “the next smoking” in terms of negative health consequences Continue reading “Sloth and Torpor Are Cycling’s Big Challenge”