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Pigeonholed….Time to Fly the Coop!!

March 4, 2010

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Oakham, England – The English. Our innate hypocrisy, we’ll meet anyone with a gold mine or an oil well. Our nouveau riche class system, with politicians arguing over which tax avoiding ‘non-dom’ is funding the opposition’s party. Ah yes, and our persistent habit of placing everything and everyone in neat little pigeonholes.

I was clearing my desk this week when I came across a report that I had laid aside to read but never really got the chance to, having time to spare I read on.

An exciting little piece is ‘Passion, Performance, Practicality: motorcyclists’ motivations and attitudes to safety’. Penned by that well known Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) combo of Christmas, Young and Cookson for the UK Department for Transport (DfT) the report claims that riders can be classified as one of seven types.

Which one are you?

Performance disciples: These are committed, all-year riders with a total focus on high performance riding – and a strong dislike for anything that gets in the way of it.

Performance hobbyists: These are solitary, summer-only riders, for whom riding is all about individual experiences and sensations – and who are not concerned about what other riders are doing.

Riding disciples: These are passionate riders for whom riding is a way of life, built on a strong relationship with the bike itself and membership of the wider fraternity of riders.

Riding hobbyists: These are older, summer-only riders who enjoy the social interaction with other riders almost as much as the riding itself – and who like to look the part.

Car rejecters: These are escapees (a higher proportion of women than in any other segment) from traffic jams, parking tickets, fuel costs and other problems of car use – who don’t care for motorcycles, but do care for low-cost mobility.

Car aspirants: These are young people looking forward to getting their first car when age/finances allow – but for the time being just happy to have got their own wheels.

Look-at-me enthusiasts: These are young (or never-grew-up) riders with limited experience but limitless enthusiasm, for whom riding is all about self-expression and looking cool.

To obtain these results a sample of 1,019 riders were recruited and interviewed and then using a ‘qualitative and quantitative’ research methodology seven segments (groups of riders sharing characteristic patterns of motivation) were arrived at.

The report admits that “a division of the riding universe into seven evidence-based motivational segments is an imperfect simplification of the real world”. But goes onto say that “it is a considerably better simplification than anecdotally based stereotypes of those who ride”.

Now what’s going on here is an attempt to classify riders into groups to allow policy-makers to frame and implement policies appropriate to each group. In short to target the available funds into strategies to reduce casualties in the perceived most at risk groups. No bad thing in a recession when cash for road safety is very tight.

But it won’t stop there will it. Government and Government departments will seize upon this information and no doubt use it for umpteen other motorcycling relevant issues. It will, over time, take on a life of its own. We have been labelled, categorised, indexed, and numbered.

I took up biking because I like the freedom, the independence, the experience, the fun, the people, the ride. I didn’t want to pigeonholed, now OMG I have been.

I am not a segment. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. I am a rider.

© Back Roads Rider 2010

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    March 9, 2010 10:15 am

    7 segments? I propose there are only 2, those that care and those that don’t. Those that care remember that every biker will be judged by their actions, that just because they ride a bike it does not given them cart blanche to ingore the rules of the road as and when they see fit. Those that don’t are, generally, either commuters that just use a bike / scooter to avoid the traffic and don’t see themselves as ‘bikers’ or those who use their bike as way of getting their adrenaline hit, of showing off to their mates – scooter boys, weekend warriors, adrenaline junkies. Those that don’t are the ones who will ultimately be responsible for the restriction and strangulation of biking.

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