Use of hashtags on social media can wax to the point of annoying overload when the tags are longer than the thing you said, wane to the point that it’s hard to search and find, or seem really pointless because someone tries to get us all to adopt their special event tag without including other, more common ones already in use alongside their marketing-oriented branding thingy. Any way you slice that octothorpe, though, they can be a great tool for linking people participating in events, finding people sharing content you didn’t know you wanted, or adding subtext to your oh-so-subtle posts.
I used to use more hashtags on Twitter, then cut back when I read research findings that using too many made people less likely to click on a link you shared. Really good global search tools that find a word even if it doesn’t have a hashtag seemed to make them unnecessary.
While I have an Instagram account I don’t use it much, more to follow a couple of friends than to share, and the gazillion hashtags on posts there feels like too much. But then I opened a Mastodon account and entered the fediverse. It deliberately avoids global search, and hashtags are essential.
I thought it would be useful to provide a list that I’ll update occasionally over time. The list reflects what I’ve run into across a few social platforms and suggestions from helpful folks on Twitter (shoutout to @rinrat86, @KNF100, @BikingMidwife, @MasonBikeDude, @CycleTherapyHam, @CarLiteCarfangs, @ZacharyStarbuc1, @CoachBalto, @ActiveTowns, @FancyBikeRider, @BikeShopGirlCom, @Dave_Bikes, @TwittyBoyd) and Mastodon (thank you @ascentale, @garland, @MikeWallaceDev, @FBaum, @JonDThompson, @Kleen, @BananaWatch, @MarkRPrior, @EnoBacon, @JulieW2010).
These are mostly in English because I can’t translate any of the others, although #ciclismo was an easy cognate and #velo shows up in lots of bike shop names.
I’m applying a rough topical logic to the list and a brief description if I know something about the origin or applications I’ve encountered.
You’ll notice that I apply #CamelCase on all of these. That’s an important accessibility format so that a screen reader will render the words accurately.
Some bike world hashtags have variations that are either singular or plural, as in #bicycle #bicycles. Depends on how many characters you’re using for the rest of the post sometimes. In running searches on various terms you’ll also quickly learn that a bike may be a motorbike, not a bicycle, and that you can put #Bike, #Bicycle, and #Cycle in front of a lot of words and phrases.
- #bicycle, #bicycles, #bicycling
- #bici, #bicicleta
- #ciclismo, #cyclismo
Where and When We Talk About Bikes on Social Media
- #BikeTooter, #BikeToot: Used by some on Mastodon, where posts are referred to as toots.
- #FediBikes: I spot this more often on fediverse posts in languages other than English
- Where I first encountered it: Twitter chat for a one-hour Q&A held Thursday nights, 6-7pm Pacific time; read about its origins.
- Also used by people attending actual honest-to-goodness bike schools to earn their United Bicycle Institute certification #UBI
- #BikeNite: Similar to #BikeSchool, launched on Mastodon by Jeremy_AI, currently held Fridays starting at 4pm Pacific time
Why We Ride
- #BikeLife, #BicycleLife
- #BikeLove, #BicycleLove
- #Bikes4Climate: Started by my friend Andrea Learned on Twitter and has spread to other platforms
- #Bikes4 whatever words you want to add! Community, MentalHealth
- #LiveToRide, #RideToLive
- #SeeYouAtTheNextLight: Reference to the touching belief drivers in a city core have that accelerating ahead of a rider proves something, when the average speed block by block in a city is often just right for riders to catch the green, especially if there’s a bike lane on that street
The Bicycle as Carrier of Stuff—Lots and Lots of Stuff
- #Quaxing, #Desmonding: Got their names thanks to publicized statements by people who’ve never tried to haul anything by bike telling those of us who do that it’s impossible; your community may have its own local version
- #quaxing: Commemorating Dick Quax, Auckland, NZ councilor, according to an article in Momentum Magazine
- #desmonding: I started using this after reading statements by Jim Desmond, San Diego County administrator, 2020, that sound a lot like #quaxing; I don’t think it took off.
- #CycleLogistics, #VeloLogistics: Tracking uses of the bike as a mechanism for urban freight mobility, and there’s a CycleLogistics organization in Europe (although its Twitter account has been quiet since June 2022)
- #HaulingStuffByBike: I’ve used this one; not sure that anyone else does, to be honest
- #WillItFit (will it fit): The answer to this question depends on your particular configuration of bags, trailers, and other cargo solutions
What We Ride
- #AcousticBike, #AnalogBike: There’s a running debate about what to call a traditional bicycle that doesn’t have e-assist now that e-bikes are booming (best-selling electric vehicle on the planet!)
- #BikeBus, #BiciBus, #BikeTrain: A bunch of kids riding to school together represents a bike train or bike bus
- #CargoBikes, #CargoBikeLife
- #EBikes, #ETrikes, #EBikesChangeLives
- #Fixie, #FixieBike, #FixedGear
- #Recumbent, #RecumbentTrike
- #RoadBike, #RoadCycling
- #Tricycle, #Trike
- #WheelsMoveMe: Created by Gabrielle Peters/@mssinenomine for the #BikeSchool chat on bicycling and accessibility that she co-hosted with Lisa Corriveau/@SpokesMama and me back in December 2019; represents cycling and mobility assistance devices such as wheelchairs
Who’s Riding, Who We Ride With
- #AllBodiesOnBikes: Campaign, website, welcoming Facebook space, and now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by Marley Blonsky and Kailey Kornhauser to create and foster a size-inclusive bike community
- #TourDogs: An offshoot of #CouchPeloton for people sharing photos of the canine companions who keep them company when they’re up in the middle of the night to watch pro racing
Facilities, Changes, Issues We Talk About, Policy Stuff
Not comprehensive; ones I and others working in the general realm of transportation research and traffic safety use that may lead you to content of interest.
- #ArrestedMobility: Coined by researcher and practitioner Charles T. Brown to describe the constraints our streets and systems place on the movements of Black and Brown people
- #BicycleSafetyStop: Used by those advocating for changes to state law to legalize what’s sometimes known as the “Idaho stop” (allowed to roll through a stop sign when it’s safe to do so)
- #Bikenomics: Coined by Elly Blue, author of the book by that name, to describe the economic benefits of bicycle use
- #COVIDStreets: Coined to describe streets with changes made to create spaces for social distancing and opportunities to walk and roll during the COVID-19 pandemic; the “Shifting Streets” dataset developed by Dr. Tabitha Combs maintained at the Pedestrian & Bicycle Information Center provides a wealth of detail
- #MobilityJustice: Represents issues of transportation justice and the ways that many people are less safe on our streets and have fewer safe and accessible transportation choices because of who they are
- #MoveEquity: I started using this one a while back to talk about various forms of transportation justice and equity; not sure where it came from
- #PeopleStreets: I started using this at some point to provide a label that says explicitly who streets are for
- #RoadSafety: Not specific to bicycling but certainly essential if we’re going to get more people riding
- #SafeRoutes, #SafeRoutesNow: Refers to the Safe Routes to School program; sometimes coupled with #KidsDeserveIt, which has its own uses in other policy realms where we could do better by our children
- #SafetyOverSpeed: Represents the efforts at speed reduction and speed management to rebalance our streets and roads rather than privileging rapid driver movements over all other people and modes
- #SchoolStreets: I’ve seen this one used in the UK, where there’s a push to route drivers away from schools during the drop-off/pick-up hours
- #SlowStreets, COVIDStreets: These arose in particular during the early days of the COVID19 pandemic as traffic evaporated and cities put up diverters to enable people to use streets for walking and rolling at safe distances from each other
- #VisionZero: Representing the Vision Zero movement first developed in Sweden in the 1990s as a systematic approach to reducing traffic deaths
- #ZeroTrafficDeaths, #TowardZero: Represents campaign by the National Safety Coalition, representing a variety of road safety interests, and others working to bring traffic deaths to zero
When We Ride
- #BikeChallenge: Takes many forms, any time of year
- #BikeEverywhere: Has emerged in many organizations and campaigns as the theme to replace #BikeToWork
- #BikeToWork, #BikeToWorkDay, #BikeToWorkWeek: Still in use, although we ride to many places that aren’t work during these events
- #BikeTouring, #BikeTouringLife, #CycleTouring
- #coffeeneuring: Super-awesome-fun challenge created by Mary Gersemalina that’s been running for a dozen years; coined as a mashup of “coffee” + “randonneuring”
- #DRT: Disaster Relief (and/or Resilience) Trials, super fun demonstration of how useful bicycles/tricycles are in emergency situations (as I noted in my Zombie Apocalypse post)
- #errandonnee: A fun informal challenge created by Mary Gersemalina (but alas, in 2023 she told me she’s not promoting this any more)
- #KidicalMass: A takeoff on the name “Critical Mass” for protest rides, Kidical Mass rides are happy kids and families
- #Randonneuring, #rando, #ThatsRando, #ThatsSoRando
- #TourDe many places/events: Beyond #TourDeFrance you’ll find local events that use the Tour De starting phrase (like #TourDeLavender on the Olympic Peninsula), and fun, informal excuses for a ride like #TourDeDonuts
- #WeekWithoutDriving: Created by Anna Zivarts and her Disability Mobility Initiative team at Disability Rights Washington as a challenge to elected officials and others to try getting around without driving if they usually drive in order to experience transportation challenges and barriers faced by nondrivers
- #WinterBike, #FrostBike
Where We Ride
- #FromWhereIRide: Posts showing the beauty and scenery of your favorite rides and routes
- Local tags by town or state: General format is #Bike plus two or three letters that serve as the abbreviation for the place, usually capitalized. For example, #BikeOLY represents bicycling in Olympia. This has some wrinkles, though.
- As I learned when I moved to Seattle, riders there chose to turn it around so it’s #SEABikes.
- Tacoma riders highlighted getting their own area code separate from the 206 that used to serve much of western Washington so they’re #Bike253. Eastern Washington residents may use #Bike509 at times. Personally I like BikeW2 for bicycling in Walla Walla—the town so great they named it twice.
- Edmonton, Alberta, uses the abbreviation for their airport, thus #BikeYEG. Similarly, Calgary riders use #YYCBike.
- Some places use a well-known local nickname. New Orleans riders use #BikeEasy since that city is known as the Big Easy, but this could also be a description of how we ride.
- The format can get confusing if the same initials represent more than one location: #BikeWA is bicycling in Washington state to me, or it’s cycling in Western Australia if you’re from a different continent.
- Or the initials might represent both a place and a ride: #BikeSTP could mean you’re riding in St. Paul, MN, or you’re riding the Seattle to Portland ride put on by Cascade Bicycle Club.
How We Ride (admittedly not a complete list for the go-hard rider tags)
- A host of tags tied to whatever app you use to track your ride, if you do that, and online training platforms that let you race avatars and other logged-on riders through real and virtual routes (when my Sweet Hubs rides these I look over his shoulder and call it an international infrastructure inspection ride)
- #BAAW: Bike Against A Wall, a classic photo to show off your wheels
- #BikeFilms, #BikeMovies, #BikesInMovies: From Peewee’s Big Adventure to The Bicycle Thief, Quicksilver to Premium Rush
- #BikeLeans: Bikes leaning up against something (not just walls) or leaning on their kickstands
- #BikePorn: Whether it’s lust or love, bikes generate strong feelings of desire
- #BikeShadows: For those fun shots so many people take when the sun angle is right and you can capture the silhouette of you and your beloved bicycle
- #ForeverButtPhotos: What you take if you’re always shooting pix of your friends from anywhere other than the front of a group ride
Bike Fashion, Style, Clothing
- #BikeInStyle, #BikingInStyle
- #CycleChic: Showcasing people who ride looking stylish; a Danish urbanist trademarked the term but it was in use before their work had a brief fashionable moment
- #CouchPeloton: First started on Twitter for Australians watching pro racing and chatting amongst themselves (also keeping each other awake with race commentary since these mostly run in the middle of the night for them)
- Every race name, or its shorthand, is a hashtag: #TourDeFrance, #Giro (for the Giro d’Italia), on and on
- #NewBikeDay: Well, that’s self-explanatory!
- #YayBikes: This one too
- #BikeYoga, #YogaForCyclists, #PedalStretchBreathe: Yoga is such a great companion to cycling movement that Kelli Refer wrote a book called Pedal, Stretch, Breathe
- #TriLife: People training for and participating in triathlons
Framebuilding and Bike Repair
(A category inspired by framebuilding friend Corey Thompson, Thompson Custom Bicycles, who shares his work on Instagram)
Bike-Adjacent Terms Related to Driving
Possibly idiosyncratic to put these here rather than in the Facilities/Issues list above.
- #CrashNotAccident: Activist campaigns around this pushed the Associated Press to change their official style guide and research backs up the importance of this usage, as writer and safe streets advocate Jessie Singer writes in There Are No Accidents The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster—Who Profits and Who Pays the Price.
- #DriverNotCar: Again, research points to the importance of avoiding the passive voice and referring to objects rather than the people who make decisions about how to operate them
- #TheWarOnCars: The name of a podcast used in references to the show and other topics related to the competition for street space
Add your favorites in the comments. Especially welcome: Any insights into a particular purpose or audience for a given hashtag and point of origin if you can point to a source for that. This is a special piece of Internet culture that no doubt some scholar is studying; those of us participating in this culture are perfectly positioned to build the source documentation.
[published this April 16, 2023; updated April 17 as I thought of even more terms and got additional suggestions via social media; updated April 18, 2023 to break out the fashion/style tags and “Riding-Plus” other physical activities into their own section and add more; updated April 26, 2023 to add the Bike Spectator and Celebrating Bikes sections; updated April 28 to add the Framebuilding and Bike Repair section and more terms throughout; updated May 22, 2023 to rename the Bike-Adjacent list to narrow it to terms related to driving, moved a few terms from there up under Facilities/Issues, added a couple of new ones spotted on Mastodon]