In bed with the devil?

Coca Cola and the Bicycle Network today announced an alliance as part of Coke’s healthier living campaign. The campaign has three features: smaller portion sizes (Ha! who can forget the great TimTam scam of 2011 which saw smaller portions sold for the same price?); a greater range of low kilojoule products; and support for community physical activity programs.
Dismissed as a weight wash by many, the campaign has also drawn mutters about soul selling from some in the cycling community. According to BN, it is simply an innovative way of getting teenagers on their bikes. They say that at least 1500 of the bikes will be placed with teenagers in six communities this year, and thousands more as the program expands next year.
Participants have to commit to riding a minimum amount over four weeks, and to getting their friends riding. Bicycle Network says it will lead training in road safety and traffic awareness, and the teenagers receiving the bikes have to commit to these principles.
Fundraising and finding sponsorship for junior sports teams is always an arduous business, and thousands of junior sporting clubs across the nation have been accused of hypocrisy when they accept funding or in kind sponsorship from companies such as McDonald’s. The argument is put that it is better to keep the physical activity going, even if it means the most valuable player each week gets a Big Mac voucher.
Perhaps a similar case can be put for the cycling initiative. Teenagers, particularly teenage girls, have long been the hardest demographic to capture for cycling. If this program can get them pedalling, does it matter what Coke is peddling?


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