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. 

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with you that this kind of categorizing and labeling has no positive value whatsoever - not just in relation to cycling, but in terms of relating to any group of people. Ask any individual, and they will give you 10 reasons for any particular thing they do, or won't be able to give you any answer, perhaps. People are complicated.

    And our society is structured from the ground up to cater to those who have a ton of cash to throw around, and to keep anyone else from getting there. This is how a person riding a bicycle for transportation can get labeled as elitist over some businessman who has 3 BMWs in the garage of his 5,000 sq ft home in Beverly Hills. It's honestly ridiculous, but it's the way cultural perception is molded here.