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  1. #1
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    The way you look and they way you are treated

    Helmet Head and N C might find this interesting, I sure did.
    It has happened to me in the past, but today it was quite noticeable.
    Usually when I ride to work (at 3:30PM) I am dressed in high-vis clothing, not cycling specific granted, just bright and visable and technical (meaning moisture/temperature control), helmet, gloves, clear glasses, backpack... you know, the commuter getup.
    Motorists seam to respect me as another vehicle. I ride the roads, signal, stop at lights and signs, etc. No honks (well, not usually), no engine gunning, no harassing moves by motorists, it is quite pleasing.
    Today on my ride to work I was wearing blue jeans and a jacket. My head got cold because I did not have my wind cover for the helmet so I stopped, pulled the beanie out of my pocket (didn't have my backpack today), and tried to put it on under the helmet, too tight, so I strapped the helmet to the handlebars and kept riding.
    I swear, by the time I got to work I felt like I was just an annoyance to motorists. People honking, passing too closely, strange looks at stop lights/signs. It was just plain uncomfortable to be treated like that.
    I just shrugged it off, clocked in, and went to work.
    Now looking back, this has happened before in the summer, especially if I am in shorts, T-shirt, and no helmet.
    So, do I get more respect as a commuter when I look the part and not just look like another guy on a bike?
    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Banned Bikepacker67's Avatar
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    I only get harrassed when I'm not wearing my scowl.

  3. #3
    Senior Member FXjohn's Avatar
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    I only get respected when I wear my clown outfit...aka lycra jersey and shorts.
    Otherwise I get cig butts and beer bottles thrown at me and clipped with mirris when i wear sweats.
    Comedian Bill Hicks once said, "Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy a jet ski, and you never see an unhappy person riding a jet ski."

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    Banned Bikepacker67's Avatar
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    Are you serious FX?

    I'd think Aquaman - even dressed like a schlub - would garner a wide berth...

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrosseyedCrickt
    So, do I get more respect as a commuter when I look the part and not just look like another guy on a bike?
    Any thoughts?
    Sounds like you were kitted out in the DUI gear. Did you have a ciggie dangling from your mouth?

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    Whenever I ride my old beat-up mountain bike with a skateboarding type helmet or when i used to ride without one, I would never get yells, honks or weird looks.

    After I got my road bike and started wearing a rode style helmet, I've had people yelling and screaming at me alot.
    Mostly stupid stuff, nothing like telling me to get on a sidewalk.

    I was actually surprised at this, because I've never encounterd it until now and I thought most people in my city were cool with bikers...

  7. #7
    Senior Member MrCjolsen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrosseyedCrickt
    I swear, by the time I got to work I felt like I was just an annoyance to motorists. People honking, passing too closely, strange looks at stop lights/signs. It was just plain uncomfortable to be treated like that.
    I just shrugged it off, clocked in, and went to work.
    Perhaps when you dress differently, you ride differently as well. I know I do. Not intentional, just a different attitude.

  8. #8
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrCjolsen
    Perhaps when you dress differently, you ride differently as well. I know I do. Not intentional, just a different attitude.
    I think your perceived attitude is what ultimately determines how you're treated out there, and there are many factors that going into determining how your attitude is perceived, but I suspect your behavior is the most signficant factor. It would be extremely difficult to measure this scientifically, I would think.

  9. #9
    N_C
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    I do not think you scientific stats to back this up crosseyed. I think you are your own proof as to how you are percieved by motorists & therefore treated by them. As to why, well that is not something I will even attempt to offer an answer on.

    I have seen this in my community. When ever I ride I always "look the part" as others have put it. I never wear jeans or a t-shirt, etc. I have my moisture wicking material clothing on, helmet, gloves, etc. So I have not experienced what you have. I make it a point to "look the part", mainly for my own comfort. It very unpleasent for me to ride in anything cotton, especially jeans. But others I have seen who do wear jeans, t-shirt & no helmet get treated in the manner you expressed crosseyed.

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    I honestly don't think my attitude or riding style differed in any manner. In fact, I recallmaking all the same moves I do while riding in my commuter gear, signals: check, predictability: check, lane positioning: check... yeah, it was all the same.
    I wonder, back when I drove, before I became car free, did I do the same thing to people on bicycles? Makes me wonder now...

  11. #11
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by N_C
    I have seen this in my community. When ever I ride I always "look the part" as others have put it.

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    I think your perceived attitude is what ultimately determines how you're treated out there, and there are many factors that going into determining how your attitude is perceived, but I suspect your behavior is the most signficant factor.
    Ah yes, the ole perceived attitude ploy. Let the wizard(s) expound on this theory of motorists' perceptions of cyclists' "attitude" and the source of their wisdom. It should be good for more laffs.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  13. #13
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    In my experience, it has nothing to do with how you look* and everything to do with how you ride. I get treated no differently riding in jeans and a t-shirt than I do riding in full roadie gear.

    *If you consider towing a trailer to be a difference in how you look, then there is an exception to my statement above. I have found repeatedly that I am treated with more patience by motorists than normal when towing my flatbed trailer. I think the increase in size of the cyclist/trailer combo makes them fully realize that there's nothing I can do to get out of their way so they don't expect anything.

  14. #14
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Iím curious if your work is downtown where there are a lot of bike messengers? My tentative theory is that you looked like a bike messenger but were not riding like one so you were failing to meet expectations of threading through traffic as if you do not take up any space.
    Cycling Advocate
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  15. #15
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    In my experience, it has nothing to do with how you look* and everything to do with how you ride. I get treated no differently riding in jeans and a t-shirt than I do riding in full roadie gear.
    +1

    I am curious about 'look the part". Look the part of what? I'm not a cyclist, but I play one on TV?
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  16. #16
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    I ride in everything from the lycra \ jersey outfit to baggy shorts \ ratty t-shirt.
    I get the same amount of respect each time. The only time motorists are more cautious is when I am towing the trailer irregardless of contents. I hauled it to pick up my son on Wed and was quite amused with how motorists reacted when they thought I had a kid in it. When they determined I did not have cargo their reactions changed.
    For me it is how you ride not how you look.

  17. #17
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I've been harassed both when wearing and not wearing lycra.In fact I think the worst I have ever been harassed was in Klamath Falls, Oregon. I was wearing nylon wind pants and a sweat shirt. Cycling to board a train. Some punks about 18 started chasing me, making inuendos about my sexuality. Bikes can outrun punks on foot. Got to the station before they could catch me.
    So, no I don't think not wearing lycra changes cyclists dislike by many a redneck.

  18. #18
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    I don't often change my outfit (I dress for comfort and saftey). But I have noticed a big change in motorists response when I have a large load of groceries on the rear rack, backpack, and panniers. It seems that when it is obvious I'm hauling things and not just riding that I get more respect.

    Which is strange because I ride alot slower with 50+ pounds of groceries, hardware, or books on me and the bike.

    Maybe if you look crazy enough people give you more room.

    ---

    A question I have thought of often, does a jersey with a large US flag, or a large cross make a difference? I typically wear non-cycling athletic shirts (cheapo Target stuff) usually in white, but have thought of getting a nice patriotic shirt. Any experience?

  19. #19
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Yeah bikemath. I bought A California Republic jersey with a large US flag on the sleeves. In Nevada, that jersey got me yelled at. I thought the flag worked in all 50 states.

  20. #20
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    i get treated 'better' when i run a slow mo triangle off the back of my bike, dangling off a hanging out sideways off the left side of my bike. better being only determinable by passing clearance. I also get treated 'better' when i run a daylight visible rear blinkie.

    I also think my 'trucker girl' mudflaps garner me a little more solidarity with the drivers along country rambles into logging truck land.

    i thought it was your lane position that got you all the respect, now its attitude and perceptions of me by the drivers as well? you mean most don't already think i'm crazy, untouchable and a member of the DWI school becuase i'm riding a bicycle?

    Oh, that's right, i forgot. for some, its all smiles, waves, and grey poupon in their cycling fantasies.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
    I only get harrassed when I'm not wearing my scowl.
    Ha ha. Word. If I had a sig I would add that to it.

  22. #22
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Of course how you look makes a difference. Dress for success.

    It may differ among us what passes for "respectable" clothing for a cyclist in our various towns and cities. But obviously if you look like a bum or thug you might get treated like one more often than if you don't.

    Why not do an experiment and try riding to work with a button-down shirt and tie, slacks and dress shoes and see how you are treated.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  23. #23
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    Of course how you look makes a difference. Dress for success.

    It may differ among us what passes for "respectable" clothing for a cyclist in our various towns and cities. But obviously if you look like a bum or thug you might get treated like one more often than if you don't.

    Why not do an experiment and try riding to work with a button-down shirt and tie, slacks and dress shoes and see how you are treated.
    Funny, most folks give a bum or a thug a wider berth than a prissy boy in a suit and tie, at least around these parts. Which one would you tend to avoid, rather than harass, Diane?
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  24. #24
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    When I switched to a recumbent, people started giving me a much wider berth and passed more cautiously than usual.

    When I think of the first time I approached a recumbent from behind (on my bicycle,) I remember how much it looked like the back of a wheelchair.
    No worries

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    Funny, most folks give a bum or a thug a wider berth than a prissy boy in a suit and tie, at least around these parts. Which one would you tend to avoid, rather than harass, Diane?
    Careful, that "prissy boy" might be a personal injury attorney.

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