499: Social History of the Bicycle

Ideas for the Bicycle Institute


“Ideas for the Bicycle Institute” (Report, Hagley Museum and Library, 1953). Accessed [November 05, 2016]. http://www.consumerculture.amdigital.co.uk/Documents/Details/Hagley_Dichter_BX010_281E



Title: Ideas for the Bicycle Institute

Box Number 10

Report Number 281E

Library: Hagley Museum and Library

Copyright: Hagley Museum and Library

Date: 26 Mar 1953

Document: TypeReport

Industry: Manufacturing

Commissioned by: Ivan Hill, Inc.

Conducted by: Institute for Research in Mass Motivations, Inc.

Place: Montrose, New York

Company: Bicycle Institute of America

Keywords: bicycle, cycling, research, public relations, teenage boy, child consumer, children, safety, school

Language: English


TO: Mr. Ivan Hill Ivan Hill, Inc., Chicago, Illinois

March 16, 1953


Here are some ideas that I jotted down quickly in connection with your intended presentation to the Bicycle Institute. There are several areas in which research and public relations could be done in connection with bicycles.

  1. What does the bicycle really mean to the American youngster? It would seem to me that hte American boy is not completely sure of himself in wanting a bicycle. It is not an accepted national toy or vehicle for transportation as it is in other countries. He is bound to feel, therefore, somewhat on the extravagant side, particularly if he has reached a certain age when it is considered foolish, or childish to want a bicycle. A European youngster considers the demand for a bicycle an almost utilitarian request and therefore can be much more insistent, will be more more inclined to insist on a good bicycle. In connection with this, there is the fact that the youngster does not actually have too many opportunities to use his bicycle ecause of the lack of encouragement by his parents and by the community in which he lives. He may feel guilty if he insists upon a bicycle and then discovers that he hasn’t used it too often in the course of the year. After a few years, his interest in it wears off and it is sold again.

  2. Possibilities of Expanding Bicycle Use Research would also have to be done to ascertain how best to create greater awareness of the real possibilities of the bicycle. As is well know, (sic) the bicycle has a much more glamorous position in other nations, particularly in Holland and France, that it has in this country. The bicycle assumes a role here that skis used to have. A tremendous job has been done as far as skiing is concerned. Today it has become a national sport, while only twenty or twenty-five years ago, very few people were interested in skiing and they were considered on the nutty side for being interested. In a research study, we may want to find, in connection with this second point, what it is that prevents the bicycle from becoming and being a national institution in this country. What made it a national institution in other countries?

  3. It might be possible to reverse the safety factor. Many parents may be afraid to let their children ride to school on a bicycle, yet when told that this is an excellent means of educating them to obey traffic rules and to become familiar through actual experience with the whole concept of driving and mangement of traffic, they may well be influenced in favor of the bicycle.

  4. The Bicycle as a Means of Self-Sufficiency The bicycle might be considered an excellent means for developing self-sufficiency. It gives the youngster a feeling of independence. It permits him to explore the neighborhood, gives him the kind of extensions of his power that the car gives to the adult.

  5. Familiarity with Mechanics The bicycle very frequently is, or can be made ot be, the first lesson in the whole field of mechanics. When trained properly, a youngster will soon learn how to oil his bike properly, how to tieghten the cahins and how to do minor repair work. Thus he will have received an excellent initial training which permits him to adjust himself better to this mechanical world.

  6. Bicycles in the News Research jobs could also be done to determine how bicycles could be treated in a more prominent fashion in movies, in novels and in news stories. In line with all this, there could be some investigation on what could be done to introduce bicycles into the sports world.

  7. Bicycles and the Schools Schools represent an excellent means of introducing bicycles and glamorizing them. Particularly in rural areas, teachers might be interested to use bicycles to come to school on, instead of driving cars. Special parking places for bikes could be provided in the School parking area, and in community shopping areas.

If even as little were done as to influence architects to provide space for bicycles in homes, to give the youngster a place in the garage where he knows his bicycle has a permanent place, all these factors might prove to be of great value.