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Love to Ride: Using Behavior Change to Increase Ridership

Love to RideChances are if you are reading this that you already believe in the power of bicycling. Biking can improve our health, lower street congestion, and build a more connected community. At Love to Ride we not only believe in the power of bicycling, but the power of removing barriers to get more people riding through behavior change. Utilizing behavior change theories throughout our work as bicycling advocates, planners and city officials would have a tremendous impact on the power of cycling. We utilize many different behavior change theories within our work at Love to Ride, below are three of the simpler theories to implement in your daily efforts.


Community Based Social-Marketing

Community-based social marketing (CBSM) is based upon research in the social sciences that demonstrates that behavior change is most effectively achieved through initiatives delivered at the community level which focus on removing barriers to an activity while simultaneously enhancing the activities benefits. – Doug McKenzie-Mohr, PhD.

  1. Identifying the barriers and benefits to an activity

  2. Developing a strategy that utilizes “tools” that have been shown to be effective in changing behavior

  3. Piloting the strategy

  4. Evaluating the strategy once it has been implemented across a community

Read more about CBSM here


Self Perception Theory

The number one recommendation we have to encourage someone to take up riding is to …

… give people a positive cycling experience


Why?  The main barrier to cycling is the perceived danger of riding (people might say it’s a bunch of other factors, but in most cases it’s fear).  Getting people to experience the joy and freedom of riding first hand, while at the same time experiencing that riding a bike isn’t actually as scary as they thought, is an ideal way to get people to overcome their fear and discover riding.  


Love to Ride Heart WheelA short bike ride can:

  • Break down old perceptions. E.g. hard and scary
  • Create new perceptions. E.g. easy and fun

In other words, if you want to sell riding, get the bike riding to sell itself!


Start with Baby Steps

Some tasks can seem so big in our minds that we convince ourselves not to do them, e.g. going to the gym, going for a run, or clearing out our inbox.

To overcome resistance to doing these things, one tactic is to trick the mind and pitch the one small step of the task, instead of the whole task.  E.g. “Just put your gym gear on”  because by the time you’ve done that, you’ve overcome the biggest hurdle (the first one!) and you have momentum.

This is why, with new riders, we don’t say ‘Hey ride to work! It’s good for you, you’ll save money and it’s a great way to get around!”, instead we say “Hey, come ride a bike for 10 minutes for the Bike Challenge!  It’s just a bit of fun and you can win some great prizes!  The whole team is doing it!  Come on!”  

A 10 minute ride is a much more achievable step, than riding to work.  But once people try riding, they discover they actually quite enjoy it and realise this is something that they can do.  There are still a number of barriers to overcome to get them to ride regularly, but that’s what Love to Ride helps people to do.


What is Love to Ride?

Love to Ride is a global online platform that combines behavior change and gamification to get more people riding.  We do this through our proven ability to achieve behavior change, especially among our target group of interested but concerned non-riders. Effectively engaging non-riders and supporting them on a journey of change is complex work and notoriously challenging to do well. It’s what we specialize in and take pride in doing consistently. Watch a 2 minute animation on our unique approach.

Our bread and butter work are month long City Challenges that have amazing results:

  • 30% of all Bike Challenge participants are non-cyclists;
  • 40% non-cyclists from the challenges now cycle at least once per week;
  • >43% of occasional cyclists now ride regularly (2-3 times per week).

Love to Ride was formed to get more people riding. We believe in bikes, and what it can do for our communities. Our company does most of the leg work in creating programs in new cities by bringing together key partners. If you are interested in learning more about how we can work with you and your city to break down barriers and change behavior around bicycling, download our brochure, visit our website