Bicycling and the “elite”

A friend of BFOC just forwarded the following article from Salon magazine on the new wave of urban cyclists and perceptions of elitism. It brings up some interesting points on how this simple and inexpensive mode of transit is surprisingly being pegged as “high-brow” by some. With that being said, my favorite part of the article was the author’s admission that New York’s development of bike lanes is what motivated him to begin cycling…more proof that infrastructure increases ridership:

“Like many of today’s bicyclists, I started riding when my city striped a bike lane near my apartment. It was the Prospect Park West bike lane, which became ground zero in New York’s bike wars. The lane was what made me first realize that biking to work was an option — I didn’t feel forced, but I did feel nudged, as if the city was suggesting that maybe I’d like to give this a whirl. I think this is the true power of bicycle infrastructure: It’s an implicit message that bikes are real transportation, and an advertisement for biking that runs right through the city in bright green paint.”

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3 comments

  1. No one has ever accused me of being part of the elite, and I ride my bicycle all the time.

  2. What an interesting trend that biking is high-brow. As though it’s somehow a luxury that only the privileged can afford, after the car note, insurance & gas is paid for! It’s transportation for the masses – no special gear needed (except a helmet where required) Even in Oak Cliff, sure we have our share of cute ‘hipsters’ riding customized bikes, but I see far more ordinary neighborhood residents riding whatever old hybrid bike was in the grage, on their way to work, walking the bike home with groceries on the handlebars, & generally using their bike simply as a cheap way to get from A to B. The fact that the high brow “cool kids” picked up on the benefits of biking don’t diminish the fact that riding a bike has been a cheap, healthy way to get around for over a century. How nice that the ‘elitists’ are making the bicycle a status symbol for our consumerist society. We may all be better off for it as long as we don’t lament the downgrading of “car culture”.

  3. Bob Dobbs · ·

    So I am a big cyclist so don’t flame me for posting this. Or go ahead and flame me I don’t really care.

    Picture this from the perspective of a parent trying to take a small kid and the dog on a walk at White Rock Lake. You are getting constantly whizzed and occasionally cursed by dudes sporting gear equal to several months of your salary. Its no different than splashing mud into the bus stop with a Cadillac…you are officially an elitist at that point. That parent now hates everyone that looks like you.

    If you want to get past the elitist label, be very nice to the pedestrians. You get the respect you give.

    That is all.

    Peace.

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