07 June 2009

Stuff To Read

Just a couple of bits and pieces I've read that may, or may not, be of interest.

From the always interesting UTNE Reader, there's this piece entitled:

Conservative Cyclists Transcend Cultural Stereotypes - Can’t We All Just... Go for a Bike Ride?

Bike commuters hit the streets in massive numbers last year, and scenarios like this one—starring the lefty cyclist and the GOP-loving driver—have been bandied about in media reports and water-cooler anecdotes. But not everyone on two wheels is out to curb climate change or stick it to the man. There are conservatives who integrate bikes into their lives just as thoroughly as their liberal counterparts do, which raises the question: Do bikes and politics really have to mix?

And this piece from the Philadelphia City Paper is refreshingly sharp in its tone and position:

Biketopia - How to make Philly a cyclist's paradise.

Yeah, we know. You — that is, some of you out there — hate bikes. More specifically, you hate bikers. All of them. You don't discriminate.

We know, because you announce it, over and over, like a vendor hawking fruit from a truck. It happens pretty much any time any of us at City Paper write something about bicycles. The comments are always the same: "Bikers have no respect," "bikers break the law," "bikers deserve to suffer bloody, horrible deaths at the front end of my car, which I love."

About the only thing I find frustrating about the photo at the top, which accompanies the Philly article, is the portrayal of 'cyclists' as tattooed, flowers-in-the-hair sub-cultural types with hippie-like exhibitionist tendencies. Not a bad, thing, but hardly representative of the majority of cyclists. But hey.

Thanks to Pat for the link.


Lovely Bicycle! said...

Nudity in an American newspaper! Things are changing.

When I lived in Philadelphia 1997-2001, cycling was by no means normal there. Some students at my university rode bikes, but they were constantly preoccupied with changing clothing, carrying their helmets, and getting their bikes stolen. And the automobile drivers were insane -- downright mean. Let's hope things have improved!

2whls3spds said...

Anytime there is a cycle/car incident or someone mentions cycling as a viable alternative to the car, we get the death, destruction and lawbreaking spiel from the masses. They also seem to think that the share the road signs mean for bicyclists to get out of their way, not slow down and give us room.

Interesting picture choice...I don't have tatoos and would think riding nude would be a bit uncomfortable ;-)


Brendan61 said...

My old blog tended toward lefty politics and I suffered some backlash so I have eliminated political tone for exactly the point of de-politicizing the conversation. I think the nudie picture is good as an attention getter and I am coming to believe that maybe the american society at large does consider us "bike nuts" as counter cultural. Although lots of non-tatooed, short-haired working folks use bikes as transportation, the fact that you don't want to worship the mighty automobile puts you outside the mainstream of overweight, diabetic, heart transplanting, resource hogging, gun toting, road raging, twinkie eating, anxiety ridden, workaholic, americans who have forgotten that life is not about how much you can consume, but how you much can truly appreciate and enjoy the things that you do.

Kelvin said...

Count me among those right-leaning cyclists who pedal because it's cheap and healthy and there's no way I can afford a car and parking living in a downtown area.

"the mainstream of... ...gun toting... ...anxiety ridden, workaholic, americans"
And that's exactly the problem with the politicization of cycling. Why can't cyclists be stressed, work 60 hours a week, and pack heat? They're completely unrelated issues. You never know if cyclists don't mind the additional protection provided by a .45, though I suppose I'd prefer such armed cyclists to be low on stress. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Something like 40 percent of people under 40 in the US have tattoos.

-The Troll (feeling mellow today)

townmouse said...

Oh well, at least they're not wearing helmets ...

Mikael said...

On the subject 40%... 40% of Danish men shave their testicles.

There is one helmet in the nude shot, but fortunately it's facing away from us.

Adrienne Johnson said...

OK. I will be the American prude, here... yuck! Naked butt on bike seat makes my skin crawl. It just looks uncomfortable and inappropriately squishy : (

That being said, it is a great picture : )

lee.watkins said...

The reason most of the cyclists are lefty in the US is that mostly only leftys live in the city. The right-wingers stay out in the suburbs unless they are driving in for work.

Hence when a right-winger drives into the city and sees a cyclist, they automatically assume it's a lefty - and usually they are right.

So the car vs. bike dynamic is also the left vs. right dynamic and the city vs. suburb dyanmic, and also quite often the white vs. minority dyanmic and the upper-middle class vs. lower-middle class dynamic. A windshield perspective assumes these things together.