Cyclists are seen by the general public as red light jumping Lycra louts, right? Not according to a study by Mindlab International for the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which has found that people consider cyclists to be 13 per cent more intelligent, 13 per cent cooler and 10 per cent more charitable than the average person.
In the survey of 600 adults, almost two thirds even admitted to liking Lycra, and 23 percent would choose to go on a date with a cyclist over a selection of other sportspeople.
The survey used an ‘implicit association test’ to probe people’s subconscious attitudes towards different sports. The test revealed that people think cyclists have a unique blend of intelligence, generosity and the cool factor.
Many people also seem to think cyclists know lots of useless information. More than one in four (27%) would want a cyclist on their pub quiz team, but only 18 per cent would trust the trivia skills of a footballer.
The British Heart Foundation commissioned the research to draw attention to its annual London to Brighton Bike Ride, which has its 39th edition on June 15 this year. A fixture of the cycling calendar since the 1970s, the ride has grown from a handful of mates to almost 30,000 riders, making it the largest charity bike ride in Europe, according to the BHF.
Explaining the research methods, Mindlab founder and neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis said: “Because Implicit Association Tests measure unconscious responses, they are able to reveal what people truly believe. They provide insights into people’s beliefs unbiased by any desire to conform to the opinions of others. These results indicate we view cyclists as possessing attributes of which they can be proud."
And that includes raising funds for charity. Nancy Prior, head of events at BHF, said: "We see over 28,000 riders descend on the capital for our London to Brighton Bike Ride each year to raise much needed funds for life-saving heart research, so we have always known that cyclists are a pretty special bunch. These results just confirm that the rest of the nation feels the same."
Entries for the London to Brighton have opened early this year. To find out more or sign up, visit the British Heart Foundation London to Brighton Bike Ride site.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.