I blogged last week about how when we’re promoting cycling in Auckland it is probably useful to think about who our target market is, i.e., who is most likely to take up cycling in the short term.
We’re probably at aÂ stage where right now most people cycling in Auckland are the “Strong and Fearless” group that Portland identified in their market research. The next group we need to target are the “Enthused and Confident”. i.e., people who are almost ready to cycle but just need a little push.
We’re probably most likely to have success in increasing cycling rates if we can target our infrastructure upgrades, social marketing etc specifically to this group. But the kind of questions you need to answer to actually design a campaign to target these people are things like – what age(s) are they, what gender, what do they do for a living, where do they live, where they do they work, why do they want to cycle and what is stopping them? Right now, we don’t know the answers.
Obviously, of course, if I had access to funding, then I could probably do some market research and answer these questions. But since I’m just a blogger, I’m going to go ahead and make some wild guesses. So, here is who I think are the most likely prospects:
- university students. They’re young, which means they’re probably physically fitter than most and they’re also poor so theyÂ probably can’t afford to pay for petrol orÂ parking. They don’t have such high expectations on them in terms of their appearance as adult professionalsÂ (e.g., they don’t have to wear a suit or smart casual to work) so they may not find a lack of facilities such as showers or lockersÂ such a barrier.Â It’s a little bit unfortunate that the roads around so many of our biggest campuses (Unitec, Albany, University of Auckland) are so un-cycling friendly, but if market research did identify students as the best target market then a big, targetedÂ investment in infrastructure around universities might help.
- people who live near our existing off-road cycle ways. ItÂ seems likelyÂ many people would cycle to work, the shops etcÂ if they could do at least half the journey on an off-road cycle path. Obviously, we need to build more off-road cycle paths but perhaps it would also be worth doing some really targeted promotion to people near the airport cycle way or North-Western? In many cases people probably have no idea these paths even exist in their neighbourhood, or if they do they’ve never considered using them to actually get places (rather than just go for a stroll in the evening). Cycle Action Auckland alreadyÂ promotes theseÂ when they take people for rides in summer along these paths which is greatÂ - but what else could you do to target people living near these cycle ways?
- people who already cycle recreationally. If you look at reports on cycling in New Zealand it seems like there must be some people who onlyÂ cycle recreationally but not for transportation purposes. I think this because around 3% of people report having cycled on 20+daysÂ in the last month but only around 1% of trips to workÂ in most of our cities (except for Christchurch) are made by bike. Also around 55% of time spent cycling in NZÂ is for recreational purposes.Â Recreational cyclists clearly like to ride, so, the question is, what’s stopping them from riding to work?Â Maybe it is trafficÂ or a lack of end of trip facilities? For example, perhaps they like cycling at 6 am when the roads are virtually empty, but don’t like doing a stop-start trip down the Great South Road at rush hour? Or maybe there are no showers at their work or safe places to park their bike?
Some more speculative groups to target:
- shift workers? My sole reason for suggesting them is that shift workers often aren’t paid very well and they work irregular hours. Public transport options in Auckland are often very poor late at night, in the weekends etc. These people mightÂ find cyclingÂ cheaper than driving a car and more convenient than public transport
- primary andÂ intermediate students? The big thing these groups have going for them is that they are generally commuting quite short distances and they often express a willingness to cycle in surveys. Kids also just often don’t care (until they hit adolescence) about getting to school a bit sweaty.Â However, unlike the other groups,Â children and teenagersÂ don’t have control over their transport choices. This is why I’ve put them in the marginal category -Â Â in many cases, it may just not be possible to overcome their parent’s fear of traffic until Auckland has gone significantly further down the path to becoming a cycle friendly city.
- people working in areas where you have to pay for parking. The CBD, Newmarket, our big shopping centres etc. They might be won over by the convenience and money savings of taking the bike instead.
So who do you think the target groups are and what is stopping them giving it a go? Have you ever seen any research on this topic?