A Toronto writer, citing a recent article on PubliCola, says we need fewer cyclists. And more people who ride bikes.
I understand that it’s the fashion these days to ridicule those who have the audacity to wear spandex and ride their bikes for recreation rather than transportation. And that those who ride casually, or in street clothes, or to and from work or the local market, feel a need to say “I’m not one of those people.”
As if your attire, style of riding and/or choice of bike didn’t say that already.
Although when exactly a concern about health and fitness, as well as athletic performance and just plain fun, became a bad thing, is beyond me.
No one benefits from getting caught up in a question of semantics.
A cyclist is simply someone who rides a cycle — in this case, short for bicycle, though those who ride motorcycles are also often referred to the same way. It’s meaning is no different from bicyclist, bike rider, rider, velo jockey, spokes person or yes, someone who rides a bike.
It doesn’t imply anything about the rider’s manner of dress, or purpose for or style of riding. It doesn’t mean you’re a racer, a Lance Armstrong wannabe or a lycra lout any more than it means that you do or don’t ride your bike to work everyday or around the block every other Sunday.
It doesn’t suggest that bicycling is the central aspect of your life anymore than describing all those people stuck in traffic on the freeway as drivers or motorists suggests that their lives revolve around their cars.
Even I spend more time writing about bicycling than I actually do in the saddle, dammit. Yet my life still revolves around my family and work far more than both of those combined.
And the only ones who benefit from drawing arbitrary distinctions between cyclists — excuse me, people who ride bikes — are the bike haters who would like nothing better than to dilute our strength by pitting one type of rider against another.
So face it.
You’re a cyclist. And a rider. And a hundred other equally apt ways of describing someone moves from Point A to Point B by two non-motorized wheels.
If you don’t like it, call yourself anything you damn well please.
But please. Seriously.
Get over it, already.
More on the LAPD’s Critical Mass Takedown —
Both Streetsblog and LAist offer great wrap-ups on Tuesday night’s discussion at the BAC meeting in Hollywood, which included a surprise appearance by Chief Beck. Streetsblog offers a first person account from a witness who almost became part of the story. The Times says four officers have been relieved of duty pending an internal review, while Treehugger says Critical Mass may be on its way out.
And a founding member of Midnight Ridazz says group night rides will end when we have adequate infrastructure in place to allow cyclists to ride safely anytime.
The attorney representing Patrick Roraff, the 18-year old driver accused of killing pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado while street racing, claims his client didn’t do it and wasn’t racing, and it was just all a “tragic accident.” Then again, that exactly what he’s getting paid to say.
Note to all readers: I know a lot of you are angry about this case; personally, I’m mad as hell. But threatening the accused killer and his family does far more harm than good. If you feel a need to do something, demand that the District Attorney file felony homicide charges against the suspect. And let the legal system do its job.
A Burbank pedestrian questions why the city spends thousands to encourage cyclists to come to town, then treats them like dog droppings when they do; preaching to the choir, bro. Bike racks appear at the new TraJoes at Hollywood & Vine. The Board of Public Works proposes tearing down a historic bridge to make room for cyclists and pedestrians; haven’t they ever heard of a road diet? The Santa Monica Spoke forms a steering committee to guide the group. A mountain bike-hating Bay Area trail advocate is arrested for slashing at two riders with a hacksaw. Stats alone don’t tell the full story of women and bikes. The fact is, most drivers don’t actually want to run over us. Taking biking back to when it was fun. Trek unveils what may be the most aero bike ever made. One point five meters, s’il vous plais. The best solution to riding in the door zone would be to eliminate it. It’s hard to stop parking in the bike lane when it’s the police who are doing it. Back on two wheels, but afraid to ride. Evidently, it’s not a joke after all — bike racing authorities launch an investigation into charges of “mechanical doping.”
Finally, a writer shuttling a Porsche from SF to LA complains about traffic on PCH being so slow, he resorted to frightening RV drivers off the road and writing his review on his Blackberry while he drove.
Honestly, I don’t even know where to start.
[…] "cyclist" camp, saying, "The last thing Toronto needs is more cyclists." But Biking in LA takes the other side, writing, "You’re a cyclist. Get over it.… No one benefits from […]
The post is NOT about saying anything bad about people who identify themselves as cyclists. What it is saying is that most people do NOT identify and label themselves according to their mode of travel.
The label of “cyclist” is a loaded one these days. While it’s useful in bringing people together, it also allows the media or anti-bike people to paint us with the same broad brush.
Joe, I agree with your basic premise; as much as my life revolves around bicycling these days, it’s something I do, not who I am. My point is simply that rejecting this, or any other term for people who ride bikes, only serve to divide us and plays into the hands of those who oppose bicycling.
While I’ve taken the opposed position in this particular debate, I do admire the job you do with BikingToronto in a city that seems to be every bit as bike-unfriendly as Los Angeles.
Perhaps the “silver lining to this most recent cloud” will, in fact, be improved relationships between local cyclists and local police. Looking from afar, it would appear that Chief Beck’s attendance and remarks at the meeting could be taken as positive proof that he is indeed committed to a positive change. Fortunately or unfortunately, social change never happens quickly.
The handling of this Critical Mass ride reminds me of the situation in NY last year when the officer was caught knocking the cyclist off his bike. If I recall correctly, that officer lost his job. Time will tell if the officers accused of similar behavior in L.A. will suffer any similar consequences. Again, judge by the behavior not the words.
[…] a Professional Cyclist is Killed in S.B.; Lawyers Claim an Accident (SB Sun via Biking in L.A.) (Yesterday, I accidentally listed a story, Musings on Trends and Challenges of Increased Transit […]
Difference is not the same as divisiveness. I tend to see anyone riding a bike as a cyclist, period. I also recognize differences in this broad group based on what they ride, what they wear, how they ride. These are differences, and they make the world go round. Differences can become divisive when a they are twisted in order to validate or invalidate one group, style, whatever, over another. “Get over it” is so true; what one choses to wear, or ride, etc, is irrelevant to the big picture. Our cycling community needs to focus more on what unites us, and waste less energy on what divides us.
Yes we can argue about the semantics of the word “cyclist” but I think we all understand the writer’s point. When non-riders, particularly “motorists”, see people wearing spandex while riding bikes, it reinforces the misconception that riding bikes must always be a sport, and must be dangerous or else why the helmets? What the writer of that piece means is that he would prefer if being a “cyclist” were the same as being a “walkist”, i.e. a perfectly normal way of getting from point A to B, no eccentric getup required. Spandex, helmets, tight girl pants, one-strap sacks, tiny hats, fixed gears- these are all the “weird style diktats” of riding bikes and they represent a barrier to entry that keeps a lot of people from switching to bikes as a transportation mode.
Thanks, Ted. While I’m really happy that all of the “cycle chic” and “bike lifestyle” blogs are trying to show people that you don’t need to wear Spandex and have a carbon bike that costs thousands of dollars in order to ride a bike, I sometimes detect a reverse snobbishness among some people.
We all like bikes. Isn’t that enough?