After a week of very negative thoughts due to the Brazil Critical Mass mow-down, we are starting this week off in a more positive light thanks to the kind lady who handed out thank you letters and cash to bicyclists here in Toronto last week.
While the anonymous lady handed out cash to bicyclists to thank them for improving the air quality in my city, my friends Mike Rubbo and Dr. Paul Martin down in Australia were promoting bicycling in a positive light by hijacking photos of real-life billboards.
These faux billboards send a strong message about urban bicycling, and are in stark contrast to the automobile advertisements that normally occupy them.
With increasing awareness of the environmental damage caused by automobiles, decreasing oil supplies and rising gas prices, the auto companies are marketing their cars in a positive environmental light – imbuing feelings of world salvation by showing trees magically appear while people drive their hybrid automobiles along the road.
It’s a great way to make people feel good about buying a new car, but it’s disingenuous to imply that they are doing the earth a favour every time they drive their car.
That’s what makes these faux bicycle billboards so powerful – because the message they send across is genuine – and the types of bicycles they promote are bicycles that anybody can use without any special clothing or gear. You won’t need a $30,000 loan to buy one of these bicycles either.
Australia has a well-developed racing bicycle culture with plenty of lycra to go around, but it has an under-developed urban European “sit-up” style bicycle culture – making these billboards even more out of place.
We aren’t far off here in North America either with our car-centric culture and abundance of communities that require an automobile just to pick up a bag of milk.
Bicycles improve the liveability of cities and the health of our people, and going car-free is becoming more easily attainable with the various car-sharing programs that exist in our cities.
Perhaps one day these billboards will no longer exist only in digital format.