“What would Shell, BP & Caltex do/think about more people cycling?” #APCC Think Tank

We started our ‘Generating Ideas’ section of the Think Tank with a crazy, manic and hilarious 30 seconds of drawing our neighbours!

“What’s that got to do with cycling?” I hear you ask

It’s an exercise that social researchers in the USA liked to do with their students in the 1960’s. They found in the USA in the 1960’s, like we did on the Gold Coast yesterday, that drawing your neighbour in less than 30 seconds creates lots of laughter, quite a bit of embarrassment and shame and lots of people saying sorry and apologising. All of this is evidence that as adults:

  • We fear judgement of our peers
  • We are worried that we might do something wrong
  • We are scared of criticism
  • We are worried about what people will say about us if we don’t ‘conform to the norm’
  • We are scared to do things slightly differently
  • We are embarrassed about sharing our ideas

It’s this ‘Peer Fear’ that causes us to be conservative about our thinking and our actions.

By contrast, when you do the same exercise with kids there is no fear. Children will show their 30 second masterpiece to anyone and everyone who wants to take a look. As we come older we are much more sensitive to what people think about us and how people might react to our ideas and so we lose the freedom to create new exciting and imaginative ideas.

Based on this I asked my #APCC Think Tank this question

            “If you worked at Shell, BP or Caltex what would you do or think about more people cycling?”

In a Brain Steering (brainstorming alone) session people said the following:

  • Worry
  • Get nervous about lower profit margins
  • Sponsor bicycle events
  • Increase retail
  • Be concerned about the reduced demand for petrol
  • Worry about the lower profit for the business
  • Make petrol fuelled bicycles
  • Less waste of petrol
  • Additional road space
  • Create more efficient use of petrol
  • Try and make money out of cycling
  • Make car tyres out of petrol
  • Identify how to make cycling look dangerous so that people drive cars
  • Make adverts about how green we are
  • Find things to sell to cyclists
  • Worry about less people driving and less petrol sold
  • Create alternative fuels
  • Worry about threat to profit margins
  • Create negative press
  • Try to stop people cycling
  • Calculate business risks
  • Try and get on board cycling
  • Try to diversify business
  • Do a scare campaign about cycling
  • Talk up the dangers of riding a bike
  • Make bicycle a car accessory

This was VERY different to the session I held with my @AECOM colleague Warwick Absolon because Warwick and I saw endless opportunities including:

–          Install a bike repair workshop at every fuel station

–          Provide bicycle tyre air pumps next to the car air pumps

–          Rebrand the coffee bars and café’s to include valet cycle parking

–          Make existing petrol station toilets into mid trip facilities

–          Install cycle parking

–          Make existing service stations ‘bicycle pit stops’


If you knew you would not fail, what would you do?

I’m looking forward to reading your responses.