Ashley Smith-Hammond

It is worth catering to the urban cycling contingency. Here's what arts organisations can do to attract them.


We wrote recently about the popularity of cycling in rural Scotland among ecotourists, a new breed of holidaymakers and culture hunters. But in our Scottish cities urban cycling is becoming increasingly popular as cities make plans to better accommodate those of us who prefer to travel under our own steam.

Edinburgh was the first UK city to sign the Charter of Brussels, which calls on policy-makers to do more to promote cycling with clear, measurable targets. The Scottish capital is currently committing 10% of its transport budget to cycling.

Across the way Glasgow has overturned its reputation for being cycling-unfriendly, and followed in London’s footsteps with the opening of its first public bike rental scheme in 2014. This year, Edinburgh will follow suit. With this in mind, it’s worth taking the time to consider how you can attract and cater to cyclists as part of your audience.


Cycling has a great community spirit around it as a sport and an activity. So if you’re catering to cyclists, try and connect your audience (and your team) with other companies and organisations that provide for this group of people too – see if you can work tandem with their marketing efforts.

The Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, for example, runs for over a week and incorporates a variety of cultural events. This successful event is held annually, so if you’re in Edinburgh, get thinking about how your event or venue can get involved. 2017’s edition ran from the 8th to the 18th of June. Start thinking now about what you can do in June 2018.

Meanwhile, websites like Cyclists Welcome showcase destinations, companies and organisations that do a great job of catering to cyclists, while connections with hiring schemes like Nextbike for Glasgow and Stirling, or Bike and Go, which operates at train stations around Scotland. These could help visitors and locals alike reach you your event or venue easily.

To further build your reputation, consider getting involved in cycle schemes and local clubs and shops, which you can find on sites like Cycle Route. Of course, if you’re an employer, don’t forget to look into joining the Government cycle scheme, which allows your employees to buy bikes and accessories tax-free.

It is worth considering that cycling has traditionally has had low levels of ethnic diversity. A situation that has contributed to racially motivated aggression toward diverse cyclists, both in casual and professional realms. Therefore, if your organisation is going to reach out to cyclists you might want to represent and encourage more diversity too. At least try to be aware of the white and male stereotype (perhaps related to the MAMIL stereotype) dominating the sport so that you can avoid reinforcing it.


It’s freeing to leave the house and get around without a car but urban cycling comes with it’s own challenges. Bike racks are the obvious requirement; your visitors will first and foremost be looking for somewhere secure to leave their ride.

If your venue has the space, something protected from the elements is always welcome in Scotland, but don’t worry if that isn’t possible, a secure bar riders can lock their bikes too will still be welcome.

Finally, give some thought to how your audience is going to reach you. Are there cycle lanes, canal paths or forgiving curb grades nearby that could lead cyclists straight to you? The route following the Union Canal from Glasgow to Edinburgh via Falkirk is particularly popular. Make a point of these access bonuses on your marketing material if you’re looking to attract cyclists and make the most of urban cycling in your area.

Main image credit: Ramp in Xochimilco by bwaters23 (CC by 2.0)