Industry is defined as the aggregate of manufacturing or technically productive enterprises in a particular field, often named after its principal product. There are many industries. Some are good and some are bad.
As a word, industry is often tied to the image of billowing smoke stacks and grinding cogs and steam pouring out of machines. The human side of industry usually congers up dirty, sweat covered faces, metal lunch boxes and worn coveralls. To say that industry invokes pleasant imagery is incorrect, its most often the opposite…and then there are bikes.
For as long as I can remember being around bikes, which is pushing 25 years, people who work with them regularly have referred to their related position as being a part of the bike industry, or the cycling industry. It’s definitely a thing. A regular thing that has become a part of cycling’s vernacular. But why?
If I take a quick look around the bike world I see crumbling retailers. I see ridership falling. I see all kinds of pissing and moaning between groups. I see generational gaps that are being widened faster than they’re being closed. I see gender struggles that suggest we haven’t evolved much past knuckle dragging. I see all these things and I hear nothing in the way of change as it relates to the words people use when they talk about bikes. All of this struggle in our face and we still hang onto this language that begs for negative attachment. I’m certain we don’t even know we’re doing it.
Let’s change our language and hopefully our outcome. If we want to see more people on bikes, let’s make that a reality. If we want to see the jobs around bikes prosper and grow and provide livable wages, let’s do that. Let’s get our shit together and make it happen.
Let’s start by cutting the word industry out of our vocabulary. Let’s replace it with community. Let’s replace it with words that are inclusive and inviting. Let’s build everything from the ground up again and let’s do it with words and actions that instill good thoughts and welcoming ideas. Change is hard, but it’s not impossible. The same can be said for ruining cycling.
DO THIS - If you work with bikes and someone asks what you do, tell them you work in the bike community. It will likely prompt more qualifying questions.
DON’T DO THIS - If you work with bikes and someone asks what you do, tell them you work in the bike industry and they’ll likely feel intimidated and not ask any more questions.