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Old 09-05-05, 12:25 PM   #1
barenakedbiker
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Dave's Top 10 Reasons Why Americans Won't Use Bicycles

10. There are too many wild and crazy car drivers who hog the road.

9. It's difficult to have sex or get a great ya know without the whole world watching.

8. It's easy for the cop to see you toking a joint.

7. You might become the 40 year-old virgin.

6. The police, the public, and criminal (in)justice system all think you are impeding traffic.

5. You get a really nasty looking black stripe on your back every time it rains.

4. The necktie flapping in the wind makes you look like the gay version of the Great Waldo Pepper.

3. Riding a tandem alone en route to pick up a date makes you look even more gayer.

2. The fat ass crushes the saddle so much you can feel the seat post.

1. Cheap gas.
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Old 09-05-05, 01:50 PM   #2
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10. Americans are too fat and lazy to even get on a bike

9. What would someone ride a bike when they can drive a car?

8. Riding a bike takes too long

7. It is too hard to ride a bike while chatting on a cell phone eating a donut.

6. I need my loud booming stereo

5. You can not do a burnout on a bike

4. My car is a status symbol and I need to drive it everywhere.

3. Bikes are too expensive

2. It is too hot / cold / wet

1. I am an american, it is my right to drive a car!
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Old 09-05-05, 02:09 PM   #3
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In my town, it's more like:

1. I'm waiting for the state/county/local social services department to deliver a free bike to me.

Good riding,
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Old 09-05-05, 05:38 PM   #4
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Or in downtown it is...

1. I am waiting for the poor sap to leave their road bike (or MTB) unlocked so I can steal it and "ride in style"/.
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Old 09-05-05, 08:04 PM   #5
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Seriously, barenakedbiker's top-listed #10 is the only valid excuse for not bicycling.
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Old 09-05-05, 10:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by my58vw
10. Americans are too fat and lazy to even get on a bike

9. What would someone ride a bike when they can drive a car?

8. Riding a bike takes too long

7. It is too hard to ride a bike while chatting on a cell phone eating a donut.

6. I need my loud booming stereo

5. You can not do a burnout on a bike

4. My car is a status symbol and I need to drive it everywhere.

3. Bikes are too expensive

2. It is too hot / cold / wet

1. I am an american, it is my right to drive a car!

Couldnt have said it better.
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Old 09-06-05, 01:09 AM   #7
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Andy Rooney, I think, did a "ten reasons' thing why Americans won't cycle, the last one being "cycling is good exercise" LOL!
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Old 09-06-05, 02:10 AM   #8
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Oops it was P.J. O'Rourke, and his reasons are:


1. Bicycles are childish.
2. Bicycles are undignified.
3. Bicycles are unsafe.
4. Bicycles are un-American.
5. I don't like the kind of people who ride bicycles.
6. Bicycles are unfair.
7. Bicycles are good exercise.
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Old 09-06-05, 08:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John E
Seriously, barenakedbiker's top-listed #10 is the only valid excuse for not bicycling.
Fear of car traffic the only valid excuse? I disagree.

If it were, then everybody would be riding bikes, and nobody would be afraid of cars.

I bike commute frequently, and I have never chosen to take the car due to fear of traffic.

My first reason for choosing motoring over bicycling, when I do motor, is time. Second is protection from heavy rain and thunderstorms. Third is needing to transport things I can't fit in my bike trailer.

Claiming that traffic phobia is a valid excuse, while all the others are not, is a sure fire way to develop an inneffective approach to advocacy. It bolsters a false excuse while missing the most important reasons. Most people like what their cars can do for them. Bicycle transportation will increase only if more people like what their bikes can do for them.
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Old 09-06-05, 09:01 AM   #10
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On the other hand, I think the #1 reason Americans would begin to use a bike for everyday transportation is when the only alternative is walking. A bike would look pretty darn fantastic then, especially to Americans, who are used to being able to cover many miles at a time very quickly.

Could that day be approaching?
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Old 09-06-05, 09:10 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by sggoodri
Fear of car traffic the only valid excuse? I disagree.

If it were, then everybody would be riding bikes, and nobody would be afraid of cars.

I bike commute frequently, and I have never chosen to take the car due to fear of traffic.

My first reason for choosing motoring over bicycling, when I do motor, is time. Second is protection from heavy rain and thunderstorms. Third is needing to transport things I can't fit in my bike trailer.

Claiming that traffic phobia is a valid excuse, while all the others are not, is a sure fire way to develop an inneffective approach to advocacy. It bolsters a false excuse while missing the most important reasons. Most people like what their cars can do for them. Bicycle transportation will increase only if more people like what their bikes can do for them.
Well, congratulations on having balls of steel. Fact remains, riding a bike in traffic is VERY intimidating for a vast majority of the general public. I like what my bike does for me, I don't like what a 2 ton SUV does for me (or for that matter a 1-ton Civic). If you want to "advocate" cycling then you need to be prepared to confront this issue, not dismiss it as an invalid excuse.

And, yes, all of your other reasons are perfectly valid, but even with all of those issues resolved, the danger of being hit by a car remains.
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Old 09-06-05, 12:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by barenakedbiker
1. Cheap gas.
Gas is no longer cheap.
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Old 09-06-05, 12:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclon
Gas is no longer cheap.
It's all relative. With a 15 gallon tank capacity, the impact of the recent spike is less than $10 a fillup.

Fuel is still cheap and abundant. Sure, I see a handful of bicycles on the road now that I haven't seen before, and that may be a bellwether, but by and large, traffic and driving habits are unaffected.

When we're paying as much as or more than Europe, I'll agree that it's no longer cheap.
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Old 09-06-05, 01:49 PM   #14
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Couldn't this thread apply to exercise in general and not just to cycling? Or, is cycling exclusively used as an alternative to vehicles? I cycle because I hate running, swimming is inconvenient, walking is not strenuous enough or requires too much time and gym or athletic club membership is too expensive and difficult to schedule. I desire to exercise and cycling is how I choose to to it. There is little relationship between my daily ride and my use of a car.
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Old 09-06-05, 02:25 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornbread
Well, congratulations on having balls of steel. Fact remains, riding a bike in traffic is VERY intimidating for a vast majority of the general public. I like what my bike does for me, I don't like what a 2 ton SUV does for me (or for that matter a 1-ton Civic). If you want to "advocate" cycling then you need to be prepared to confront this issue, not dismiss it as an invalid excuse.

And, yes, all of your other reasons are perfectly valid, but even with all of those issues resolved, the danger of being hit by a car remains.
In most cases, people who don't want to bike because it's inconvenient use the traffic danger excuse simply because that's considered politically acceptable.

Most opportunities to bike for transportation, especially convenience trips, are quite safe. In my 25+ years of cycling on roads, I've never had a collision with a car, and my only injuries have been from a couple of falls due to not paying attention. I bike in mixed urban/suburban conditions.

People who enjoy what cycling does for them are easier to convince to learn cycling skills and build the positive experience needed to make cycling in traffic much less intimidating. People who aren't interested in cycling due to its operational disadvantages can't be convinced to try cycling even they believe it to be perfectly safe.

I do work hard to improve cycling safety, including changes in road design and motorist behavior, but in my experience, the majority of crashes in town here occur to scared cyclists who try to stay out of the way of cars, while the cyclists who are more assertive deal with little more than the occasional horn honk or close pass. The cultural changes required to improve safety won't allow cyclists to think of themselves only as helpless victims.

-Steve
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Old 09-06-05, 03:30 PM   #16
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Statistics show that even incompetent cycling is an overall surprisingly safe activity. But most people believe that traffic cycling is inherently unsafe, and that anyone who participates in it is playing Russian Roulette, regardless of their skills and experience.

I firmly believe it is the false perception held by probably the vast majority of the American public that traffic cycling is inherently unsafe that is the main reason more Americans don't cycle.

That's why I think the main goal of the aspect of cycling advocacy whose purpose is to increase cycling popularity should be to expose the false perception of the inherent unsafety of traffic cycling as the myth that it is. This is why I believe all the focus on the "need" for more "facilities" is so counter-productive to bicycling advocacy - because such initiatives feed the myth that cycling in traffic (without facilities) is inherently unsafe.

We have people on this forum recommending to someone who commutes five miles on mostly bike laned roads to abandon using a bicycle because of a single section where he has to deal with a couple of on and off ramps. With thinking and advice like that in a bicycling advocacy forum, we've obviously got a long way to go.


Serge
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Old 09-06-05, 04:29 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornbread
Well, congratulations on having balls of steel. Fact remains, riding a bike in traffic is VERY intimidating for a vast majority of the general public. I like what my bike does for me, I don't like what a 2 ton SUV does for me (or for that matter a 1-ton Civic). If you want to "advocate" cycling then you need to be prepared to confront this issue, not dismiss it as an invalid excuse.

And, yes, all of your other reasons are perfectly valid, but even with all of those issues resolved, the danger of being hit by a car remains.
You are right that fear of traffic is the # 1 reason most Americvans con't ride bikes. Your point is well taken that this fear needs to be addressed by cycling advocates.

However, you are wrong if you believe this is a legitimate fear. There is no valid reason to believe that cycling is riskier than walking or driving a car. This fear of traffic is a phobia, or irrational fear.
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Old 09-06-05, 05:11 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornbread
Well, congratulations on having balls of steel. Fact remains, riding a bike in traffic is VERY intimidating for a vast majority of the general public. I like what my bike does for me, I don't like what a 2 ton SUV does for me (or for that matter a 1-ton Civic). If you want to "advocate" cycling then you need to be prepared to confront this issue, not dismiss it as an invalid excuse.

And, yes, all of your other reasons are perfectly valid, but even with all of those issues resolved, the danger of being hit by a car remains.
That may be so in Rochester, New York, but where I've cycled in California and Wisconsin, being out in traffic is the least of my worries. And seems to be to the other cyclists in those areas as well.
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Old 09-06-05, 05:20 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilHinault
Oops it was P.J. O'Rourke, and his reasons are:
...
3. Bicycles are unsafe.
From the article:

"Of course, there's nothing wrong, per se, with dangerous things. Speedboats, racecars, fine shotguns, whiskey, and love are all very dangerous. Bicycles, however, are dangerous without being any fun. You can't shoot pheasants with a bicycle or water-ski behind it or go 150 miles an hour or even mix it with soda and ice. And the idea of getting romantic on top of a bicycle is alarming. All you can do with one of these ten-speed sink traps is grow tired and sore and fall off it.

Being dangerous without being fun puts bicycles in a category with open-heart surgery, the war in Vietnam, the South Bronx, and divorce. Sensible people do all that they can to avoid such things as these."

Great stuff
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Old 09-06-05, 05:49 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bshow1
From the article:

"Of course, there's nothing wrong, per se, with dangerous things. Speedboats, racecars, fine shotguns, whiskey, and love are all very dangerous. Bicycles, however, are dangerous without being any fun. You can't shoot pheasants with a bicycle or water-ski behind it or go 150 miles an hour or even mix it with soda and ice. And the idea of getting romantic on top of a bicycle is alarming. All you can do with one of these ten-speed sink traps is grow tired and sore and fall off it.

Being dangerous without being fun puts bicycles in a category with open-heart surgery, the war in Vietnam, the South Bronx, and divorce. Sensible people do all that they can to avoid such things as these."

Great stuff
Ol' P.J. O'Rourke needs to get back on a bike on top of a long hill and race a few cars down said hill... waddya mean "no fun?!?"

P.J. O'Rourke needs a long tour with a good tailwind... waddya mean "no fun?!?"

P. J. needs a midnight bike ride with a couple thousand of his best friends... waddya mean "no fun?!?"

Sorry P. J., you just forgot what it meant to be a kid again... Shotguns, speedboats, racecars, and whiskey... indeed!
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Old 09-06-05, 07:45 PM   #21
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Um, you know, genec, I think he's being sarcastic...
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Old 09-06-05, 08:13 PM   #22
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You want fun? Try a trike! I've never had so much fun (and no, not one of those old man tricycles.)

The real reasons (in no particular order):
10. I'm a professional and have to wear a suit and tie (or pantyhose and heels)
9. No safe place to lock my bike up/they won't let me bring the bike inside the office
8. I live too far from work
7. I have to take the kids to/pick the kids up from school/soccer
6. No showers at work
5. Helmet hair
4. I need to run errands at lunch
3. It's too cold/hot outside
2. I just don't have the will power/can't get up early enough
1. It's not safe

These are real reasons people don't ride. It's not all about stereotypes of the gun-toting, fat, lazy, Chevy-drivin' American.
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Old 09-06-05, 08:25 PM   #23
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Diane that's a really good and thoughtful list. I agree the perception, rather than the reality, (I assume that's what you mean) that "it's not safe" is the #1 reason.
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Old 09-06-05, 08:33 PM   #24
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In my circle of family and friends, the #1 excuse used for not riding a bicycle is that "I couldn't do that because I'm so out of shape." #2 is that it would take too long and you'd arrive all sweaty. Others include bikes are too expensive (my favorite) and the lack of bike lanes. With the bike lane excuse, I'm always quick to point out that most of my cycling is not in bike lanes and that bike lanes aren't always as safe as they seem. This usually falls on deaf ears and they repeat the excuse about how out of shape they are.
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Old 09-06-05, 08:49 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Diane that's a really good and thoughtful list. I agree the perception, rather than the reality, (I assume that's what you mean) that "it's not safe" is the #1 reason.
I think the number one reason I hear is that they just don't have that kind of will power to get up and ride every day. Or else the number one reason is that it's too far. The safety issue is usually stated by people who don't even consider riding a bike to work themselves. As in, "don't you find it to be unsafe?"
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