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.
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.