Monday, July 25, 2011

KVET Rant About Cyclists

I usually don't like for my blood to boil before I've even had my morning coffee. The other day though while listening to my favorite country station, KVET, my blood pressure rose.

Austin is supposedly bike friendly, but those of us who actually ride on the streets know better. Nothing exemplifies this more than the complete ease with which Bob (or Bender, I don't keep up with radio personalities, its the 2000s) spout off completely simplistic and inflammatory rhetoric on cyclists in ATX.

"It isn't the ones who train, its the ones who ride for transportation. They think of themselves as holier-than-thou, I'm saving the environment." This is paraphrased from my recollection of the show, and was in response to a cyclist who called in to complain. Now, I would have chosen a different knight in shining armor, because all this guy did was make apologies and did not call them out on their ignorance. He tried to characterize himself as "one of the good ones", while implying that many cyclists in Austin were bad seeds.

First of all, it is laughable that Bob or Bender has actually asked cyclists why they ride. Ask 10 cyclists, you'll get 10 different answers. My reasons for riding center on the enjoyability of the activity plus the cost benefits. The environment has little to do with it. Ask someone else, that could very well be their reason. That isn't to say though that they are holier than thou. That says more about Bob or Bender than it does about the person they are criticizing.

The attempt by the cyclist who called in to differentiate between "cyclists who train" and "cyclists who ride" is laughable. Mostly because it doesn't matter. If on that particular day you piss some guy off in your training gear, they are going to hate on that. You're wearing regular clothes, they are going to hate on that. All cyclists are in this together, and trying to paint yourself as a "good cyclist" does nothing for the community at large and actually makes arguments against bike infrastructure that much stronger. Why build if most of the people using it are ingrates? Why build bike lanes if they desirable ones don't use them?

Not only that, but most people are not going to get into cycling because of the Tour de France. The silly look of Lycra is just too much for many people, and then you add in the cost people pay to look that silly, and you have one niche activity. That kind of lifestyle is out of reach for most people, and it's where the uncomfortable issues of class and race come into play. Bob and Bender see mostly 2 kinds of cyclists I bet. The flashy Lycra, and the hipster. They don't see the Hispanic immigrants who ride because they have to, or the student trying to cut costs. Of course, I guess you can't expect a serious discussion from a guy called Bender. 

Downtown bike adventure

This is all the crap my SO took with him on our trip around downtown. I took my purse. 

We went to Whole Foods because I am obsessed with their bakery. He was a little paranoid because bikes are stolen from there often, even though it is a well trafficked spot. Of course, you'll find some of the most expensive-looking bikes in Austin on those racks. (I will not pretend I am up to date on the going rate for nice bikes) I believe he triple locked his bike. I had my trusty Kryptonite and mace.

It was funny seeing someone who rides only for training purposes ride for pure pleasure. He wanted only bike lanes and chided me for acting too much like a car. (But I had plenty of time to make that left turn! I really did) Obviously, I have some work to do on the baggage part, although the next time we went out he did go sans helmet.

Perhaps the Most Awesome Bike Ever Constructed

Now, from a practical point of view, there may be nothing special about this bike. However, it is a Shiner Bock bike, a Texas favorite and a personal one too. The bike was bought for my roommate by her very thoughtful friend. She is a transplant from New York, but loves Texas stuff more than a native.


I have taken a small break from posting on here, mostly because I simply haven't been on my bike. I took a new job up in North Austin, requiring me to turn into that most pitiable creature known as a commuter. However, I am excited about my new job, half because I like it, and half because I am no longer making poverty wages, and will get something known as health insurance.

But back to bikes. I miss it. A lot. I still kept one of my jobs to work on the weekend, and decided I should ride to work. Part of my justification for this job is that it will pay the gas to get to my other one, at least until I get my first paycheck. I arrived in such a good mood. It was hot outside, but previous experience told me that if I brought along an extra shirt, I would have no problem with looking sweaty.

I arrived in such a good mood. I honestly think it was the reason I made four sales in a row. The ride to work was pleasant, and even though Texas is caught in a heatwave right now, the wind made it bearable.

Luckily, my new place of work has a bike lane RIGHT IN FRONT OF IT. So, first chance I get, I'm going to move closer to work. This driving a car nonsense, I am not cut out for.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Riding to Work....

I have made an effort this week to cycle to both of my jobs. The one in Sunset Valley is a longer than the one to Southpark, but I've found the longer ride is more fun because of the different scenery. The first time I cycled to Sunset Valley, I arrived early so I could cool off. I don't think my t-shirt dried until a couple of hours later. So, from now one I'll probably just pack my T-shirt in my purse. The other ride isn't long enough to warrant that, and I usually go straight to the freezer to work anyway.

Again, riding in the heat is more pleasant than I thought. Depending on the day, there might be a cool breeze going, or my speed is enough to where I can just relax and let the wind cool me down.

Either way, I've noticed more people out on their bikes right now, either riding or waiting for a bus. I've said it once and I'll say it again, biking doesn't stop just because its above 90 degrees.