Towards the end of last week I interviewed a number of people at Yucca, a digital media company with a high proportion of cyclists. People spoke about conversations about bikes over coffee – ‘it probably sounds really boring’ (not to someone who’s researching cycling it doesn’t). At workplaces where cycling’s part of the culture, there’s often someone who’s a maintenance expert and – if you’re lucky – will fix your bike during the lunch break. (I remember my colleague Pete fiddling with my slightly broken dynamo, and being disappointed he didn’t get to use a welding torch to fix it!) It’s also more likely that people won’t look askance at you if you turn up with mud on your face after a rainy ride in.
Conversely, if cycling is looked down on by colleagues or clients, or seen as a bit eccentric, this can cause problems. One interviewee in Hull spoke about how ‘it doesn’t look right for your lawyer to turn up on a bike’, for example. Other people in different case study areas have spoken of feeling conspicuous turning up with cycling gear or cycling equipment, or even of colleagues joking about nearly running them over on the way to work.
If cycling is seen as something that fits in with your work identity (unless you loathe that identity, I guess), it can encourage you to keep cycling, even if family and friends don’t necessarily cycle. Talking to another interviewee in Bristol I learned about a building in two parts; one where the multiple bike racks were full to overflowing, and one with only a handful of bikes parked. Even within the same building or organisation there may be multiple transport cultures.