Commuting - Taking the High Road, Riding the Shoulder by Becca Hutchinson of Newsweek
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09-29-04, 09:57 AM
09-29-04, 10:04 AM
Neat article - thanks
09-29-04, 10:09 AM
Yeah, I liked it too. At first I thought she was going to whine throughout the piece, but in the end I thought she communicated her point quite well.
I couldn't help but notice that it looked like she was standing beside a Huffy in the photo. If that's the case maybe she would like to spend some of her saved cash on a slightly nicer ride. As a "gross consumer", I'm sure I would spend any saved cash on cycling related paraphenalia. :)
09-29-04, 10:37 AM
I read this yesterday at work, and thought it was very well written. I passed it around to some of my co-workers as well. I think her Huffy probably works pretty well though, seeing as how her commute is only a mile and a half.
09-29-04, 11:37 AM
I dont feel threatened by cars. I often give cars very little space when they are stuck in traffic and I pass them, so I cant complain when they give me a similar amount of space. There are very few drivers who are deliberately offensive, and they dont treat bikes any worse than they treat other cars.
I recieve respect from the cars because most of the car drivers in Montreal are also cyclists. Even if they only ride a few hours a year, the attitude seeps into their conciousness
09-30-04, 08:17 AM
Good post, thanks for bringing it here.
It is striking that many proponents and opponents agree that practical cycling is the behavioral manifestation of a utopian world view. Even this column appears to take this point of view. Rather than discuss the practical aspects of her ride-- how to handle traffic, etc., -- the author takes the opportunity to share her disillusionment with human nature, her fantasies about what the "world" would be like if everyone were gas-free for a day, and so on.
I have mixed feelings about this approach. Well, mostly negative feelings, but mixed. On the negative side, cycling-as-counterculture just isn't an effective public relations stance. If cycling is presented as just the preferred mode of transportation of the nose-ringed, pot-smoking, tree-hugging, why-do-some-people-hurt-each-other crowd, it's not going to appeal to many unconverted people. Or if cycling advocacy is perceived as anti-car-- or anti-freedom-- it is going to be met with much more hostility than it need be.
On the other hand, I don't deny that advocacy from the left has some benefit. An association with utopianism protects cycling's legal status. Cycling benefits from being the transportation Alaska: everyone likes the idea, but almost no one goes there. That's why, to my amazement, bicyclists are still permitted to ride on pretty much any road they want to, any time of day, despite hostility from large numbers of motorists and despite the vanishingly small numbers of serious commuting cyclists.
However, I tend to think that as a public relations matter, cycling's practical benefits could be emphasized better. Instead of discussing what would happen if "everyone" stopped using petroleum products, advocates would do better to discuss realistic possibilities: what would happen to traffic congestion or parking if cycling tripled in popularity in five years, for example. The benefits of regular exercise and convenience would be nice to mention more often, too. Columns from commuting cyclists that focused on such matters would go further, I think, in moving cycling from the realm of "Imagine" to that of more mundane traffic management.
okay, I checked again, and it worked. bizarre.
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