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  1. #1
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Is it just where I live, or the place I work, or do other bicycle commuters have to put up with being perceived as some kind of alien freak for bicycle commuting to work? I work at a facility with over 1,200 employees. I am one of two bicycle commuters and am the only year round bicyclist.

    Especially now that winter is coming on, it is the peak season for people looking at you wierd and, sometimes even treating you like some kind of weirdo simply for chosing to use bicycle transportation in all types of weather. If I go into some public government office with my bicycle helmet under my arm and gaitors on (winter), people just about jump under the tables.

    The fact is, I can't resist looking with some degree of amazed curiosity at my neighbors who drive their teen-age kids three city blocks to drop them off at school and then they drive less than three miles to work. These are the people who complain about gasoline prices and are "concerned" about local air pollution. These same people say that I should join mainstream USA. Who is nuts here?

    Is it the same around the USA, or is it just here in Gooberville?

    How is it where you live?
    Mike

  2. #2
    aka Sir MaddyX MadCat's Avatar
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    I live in Edmonton Canada. The cold snap is pushing quite close to -30oC. I still crave my ride to work even though it's only about 10 minutes or so.
    I get to work before most of the rest of the staff arrive. Few people recognize me when I arrive decked out is my cycling gear. The staff in my own office have learned to accept my need to bike to work. I mention cabin fever and they begin to understand. I'm sad though because I wish everyone in the building knew that that lonely bike in the parkade was mine.
    I guess my problem is the opposite. I long for the recognition as the wacko cyclist among the SUVs.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Cambronne's Avatar
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    I understand how you feel. I am 1) The boss, and 2) the only biker at my firm. Thus, my employees eye me suspiciously for a number of reasons...

    I was suiting up one afternoon for the drizzly 17 mile ride home, no so bad as all that... temp was right at 40 F, traffic was light on my route. I'd be home in an hour, and within two, I would be showered, fed, and lazing about in an overstuffed chair watching Speedvision on cable.

    I'd been commuting by bike nearly daily for twenty years, so the ride itself, even in fog and misty rain, was of no great concern.

    One of my employees, who had just bought a van, adamantly insisted that I put my bike in back and let him drive me home. I had to beg him off... he was genuinely concerned about my safety. The words "dark... run over... traffic... pneumonia..." ran 'round his line of reasoning. I'd heard this all before, so I replied:

    "Thank you for your kind and generous offer. I must decline, as I prefer to ride my bike home. Yes, I would rather do so on a sunny 70 F afternoon, but the fact that I am willing... if not exactly eager... to do this today should tell you this: That I LOVE bicycling. A bad ride on a bike beats a comfy ride in a car, NO MATTER WHAT."

    I don't have to explain this to other bikers, and there is no point in trying to explain to non-bikers...

    You have my complete understanding.

  4. #4
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    That little inner voice...

    Yeah, I've been called crazy a few times. I just wait until they need major repairs on their car or complain about fuel prices and tell them they are crazy for wasting so much money.

    I also sometimes get really stupid comments from some people. One that I regularly hear is "Must keep you fit" to which I would like to reply (but have so far resisted the temptation) "Yeah, like your way of getting around keeps you fat!"

    I was also once asked "How did you get here?" to which I replied "You'll have to ask my parents, they wouldn't tell me!"

    Chris

  5. #5
    Mr. Cellophane RainmanP's Avatar
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    Call me crazy

    Everyone at my office who has seen me prepared for my ride home have been supportive and impressed. Of course, there is a definite undertone of "This guy must be crazy." I try to explain to them that 10 miles is not that far on a bike. That's ok; I like being a little different.
    My wife is probably my biggest supporter, but when I complain that it is not cold enough to try out some of my new cold weather gear, she looks at me funny, too.
    My daughter graduates from college in May and will be working just a few blocks from me. She is interested in fitness and is actually considering riding with me. I must stess considering. I fear public opinion may be against me.
    Regards,
    Raymond

  6. #6
    Senior Member technogirl's Avatar
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    I've just started commuting to work today. It's about 10 miles round trip. I thought it was great! Okay, a little tiring up the hills, but that's okay, I'll eventually get up those hills someday. :-)

    I'm considering commuting to work three times a week, initially, since I'm kind of breaking myself in to it. I haven't been on a bike for at least 10 years!

    Okay, so some people at work seem to think I'm weird anyway at work anyway, since I do things *different*. Hey, it doesn't matter.

    However, there are others at work that think that riding in to work is great! I wish there were more people riding to work. I think I'm the only one out of 600 employees commuting by bike. I've never seen anyone else bike to work. We only have two bike parking spaces in the front, but I parked my bike in the back today--just keeping it safe. :-)


    The weather's been great in California, so it makes it easy to get out there and ride! :-)

  7. #7
    Senior Member claude's Avatar
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    its so weird how many collegues of mine stop and ask whether I want a lift to work, or offer to take my bags or something or the other... !!!

    I think that many people over here think that I cycle to work in absence of a "better" means of transport. People are really amazed when I tell them yes, I do own a car, and no it's not broken down, and yes, I prefer leaving my car at home in order to cycle to work. More over, due to the general good weather have got "rain fear" and never go out if they don't desperately need to and think I'm really weird when I say I love riding in the rain because the streets are generally emptier, and I manage to control overheating better.......

    strange strange way the human race is evolving.......

    Claude

  8. #8
    NOT a weight weenie Hunter's Avatar
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    "Crazy for commuting"

    I personally could care less what people would think about bike commuting. I as of two years ago commuted 175 miles a week to work. I mean come on you keep in shape, you do not have to spend 3 to 4 days pay a month on gas or repairs, and maintenance. The answer to you question is yes it is the same in the U.S. where are you from anyway? Do not get me wrong I am not attacking yuo I just do not get that whole "mainstream USA" stuff.

  9. #9
    Love Me....Love My Bike! aerobat's Avatar
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    I guess I'm lucky, where I work we have 10 employees, and two of us ride to work regularly, one once in a while, the boss brings his bike to ride on his lunch hour, and one of the others is a regular rider in his off hours. We have a road bike set up on a trainer in the building, last year we even had it hooked up to a computrainer, next to our weight room (which we all contributed to, including the non-bikers).
    My ride is 16km(10 mi) one way on a two lane highway with no shoulders. A little scary sometimes with hi speed traffic going by inches from your elbow! Sometimes I take the long way and can see the sun rise over the river, giving me a 30 km ride first thing in the morning (on a little used winding road with excellent pavement). Makes it all worth it.
    Dave

  10. #10
    Love Me....Love My Bike! aerobat's Avatar
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    I have to add, I can't wait to get out next year and do the river road ride on my new (to me) C-dale R800. I brought it home in the first snow storm of the year and am just itching to get on it!

  11. #11
    Slow Moving Vehicle Jean Beetham Smith's Avatar
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    My boss is a cyclist on sick leave (plantar fasciatitis) & has been very supportive of my commute, except after it started getting dark. I'd did get royally reamed one night for working late. Since then he has seen me on my bike after dark, and seen what 30W fore, and 3 red blinkies aft, and lots of reflecters do, and said he is no longer concerned about my riding after dark. Co-workers say they can't believe that I'm still riding in the cold, which mostly hasn't been that cold to someone from Wisconsin. Folks in Boston think that since they are in New England the Mt Washington temperatures apply to them. My husband is very supportive, but since his commute is 70 miles a day, is not likely to become a bike commuter anytime soon. I don't get any more catcalls in bad weather than good. I've come to believe that the attitudes to cyclists is not that different than drivers attitudes to other drivers: look at all the road rage incidents. I think we are just more aware of them because of our obivious vulnerability.

  12. #12
    Senior Member pat5319's Avatar
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    retorts for "carheads"

    What have you done for the environment, energy shortage etc.

    I don't need to pay a gym to exercise

    In Europe I'd be hero or not even be noticed

    When you can't afford gas, I won't have any problems

    What do you do for a challange, anything?

    Hell, people used to walk the Oregon Trail, what's a little bike ride,

    Do you give skiers a bad time for going out in the cold?

    Everyone rode before cars came along and they all got soft.

    The auto makers and the gas companies are the ones who want you to think bicycles are for kids
    Pat5319


  13. #13
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    Other modes, too.

    Lots of folks sporting bright yellow jackets and beat up bikes here in Portland so I'm not all crazy but I still get the sympathetic weirdo look when I tell them I ride 22 miles home and back.

    But I'm all about other alternative modes of transportation, too. I get even weirder looks when I cruise around downtown on my razor scooter or my rollerblades. There is a perception that adults aren't supposed to be on toys. I try to explain but they just don't seem to understand...

  14. #14
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    I love to read these posts. It seems all of us who cycle-commute are seemingly alone amongst our co-workers. But after checking this thread, we are apparently not so rare as we are made to believe. "Crazy" is not a term for people who do not follow the crowd; it fits someone who, when faced with reality (such as the real benefits of cycling vs. the dangers of not cycling) continues to believe the falsehood.

    I hope I never go back to depending on sitting idle behind the wheel of a car while my blood pressure is shooting through the roof. I look forward to living (hopefully) 20 years longer than average and enjoying them with full vigor until the end. I also hope to convert others along the way!

    In conclusion, we cyclists must be doing something we love. We couldn't be doing it for popularity.

  15. #15
    TB Player A F Baker's Avatar
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    I actually enjoy the funny looks that I get from commuting to work on my bike. When I first began cycling to work, the entire office of about 15 people would stand at the door and watch me ride into the parking lot of my office building. Most of the time they would laugh at me as I walked in the door, because they couldn't believe I was willing to come into work after cycling. Since I've continued to commute in spite of the weather, the funny looks and laughing have died down to an silent chuckle. I'm actually disappointed that I'm not the center of ridicule anymore.
    'No other folk make such a trampling,' said Legolas. 'It seems their delight to slash and beat down growing things that are not even in their way.'
    The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings
    JRR Tolkien

  16. #16
    Senior Member Cambronne's Avatar
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    Here is an argument that you can use on well-meaning friends or co-workers:

    "Do you ever get out of your car after the drive home from work, and you're p*ssed off about the traffic, anxious about this or that problem at the office, tired and vaguely restless?"

    "Not me. I'm just happy to have made it home."

  17. #17
    Carfree since '82. Grrr! JonR's Avatar
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    I have 13,000 miles of city bike travel logged, most of those being commuting miles, 10 miles total per workday. (I'm retired now.)

    I received mainly expressions of admiration from my car-bound coworkers; a couple of them even flirted with bike commuting. The only outright hostility I encountered (I might add I live and worked in the Greater Kansas City area) was from a handful of drivers, mainly of pickup trucks, and especially with ball caps worn backwards. In two separate incidents, such people threw firecrackers at me; the hearing in my left ear was affected by one attack. Another pickup truck jerk yelled that I should be riding on the sidewalk. (I can only assume that knowledge of vehicle laws is not required to operate a pickup truck.)

    Otherwise, smooth sailing all in all, with three or four very close calls (I mean by that, inches from death). But in 13,000 miles on poorly maintained streets and in the presence of ignorant drivers--not bad.

    And as I say, my coworkers were never anything but supportive. Visitors to the office, likewise--I was able to park my bike right by my desk, and got lots of interested comments.
    On leave of absence as of March 13, 2002. Contact by email.

  18. #18
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    JonR,

    Are you still cycling?

  19. #19
    Carfree since '82. Grrr! JonR's Avatar
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    Aha! I wondered if somebody would ask. No, I'm not, but I keep wanting to start again. Not enough, apparently. Major stomach surgery in August 1999 which took most of a year to recover from set me back even further than I already was (I'd quit before that, mainly out of disgust with glass in the streets, cleaning up after wet rides, and general fed-upness). I tried exactly a year ago this week and couldn't go more than a mile or two. Not sure what to do about it--if I could get regularly active again, it would do wonders for me. But now I'm kind of scared--for one thing, I have no insurance! So--I'm "thinking about it." Hmm.

  20. #20
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    I started bike commuting in November and have dropped 55 pounds during that time. This and the fact that my bosses boss is and avid cyclist have prevented the usual "she's crazy" talk. As it is people are truly supportive. The bosses boss gave me a cube to park my bike in, her exact words were.."You can't park your bike outside! Are you kidding? I wouldn't if I were commuting!" I think most people are just a bit stunned at my commitment.

  21. #21
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    I am not stunned. I am thrilled!

  22. #22
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Yeoh, that 'aint natural.

    (Let me point out that Yeoh advised in another thread that he/she get's $1.00 per day for bicycling to work)

    Do you work for a .com?

    I was interviewing for a promotion with one of our Vice Presidents. He asked me "Did you bicycle to work again today?"

    "Yes", I replied.

    His immediate response was, "Well, I don't think the fruit is ripe with you yet."

    I managed to progress despite him, but his comments reflect a prominant attitude in USA business that bicycle commuting is a fringe thing for freaks and youngsters.
    Last edited by mike; 04-01-01 at 11:04 PM.
    Mike

  23. #23
    Senior Member technogirl's Avatar
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    hey, ibikeinpdx! If you have to explain to them about the scooters and rollerblades, then...

    I get that all the time. I ride the scooters to go to the hair cut place and to the park sometimes. People look at me kinda funny, and wonder why I'm riding the scooter. Why not? It's fun! I mean if they don't "get it", well then so much their loss...being young isn't getting face lifts, tummy tucks, or the required hydralic chest lifts out here in LA, but it's really in how you look at life, and having some good clean fun.

    Sure, a good portion of the natives around me think I'm in insane, but what fun is it to be sane, if you can't enjoy life?
    -------------------------------------
    "Hard work often pays off after time, but craziness pays off now."
    -------------------------------------

  24. #24
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Yes, Technogirl! "Normal" is not always "Cool!"

    I like being Cool much better than being Normal. Being Cool is basically more fun and you get to be as creative as you can. People who are Normal are o.k., but they are Followers. They wait until someone Cool tries something first and only go ahead and try it after its Safe, when enough Brave people have tried it. Normal people have a few slang terms for Cool people: "Crazy", "Weird", "Fruit not Ripe Yet." Descriptive terms I use for Normals are,
    "Hollow", "Freeze Dried," and "Dependent Upon Life Support."

    And then there is Fried. People who are Fried have their place, too, but can end up on shows like "Jackass," or in the Hospital, Morgue, or any combination of those three. Some people are only Mildly Toasted, like people who can Squirt Milk From Their Tear Ducts After Drinking It Through Their Nose, or who Grow Their Nails Long Enough To Scratch Their Back Without Moving Their Arms. People who are Mildly Toasted are a little extreme, but generally harmless. But then there are people who are Done to a Crisp, such as Phil Donahue, Larry Flint, or Rush Lumbaugh. The difference between being Cool and being Fried is that following Cool people does not make you Cool, but follow a Fried person, and you are Cooked.

  25. #25
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    That's rich, Pete. LOL

    Thanks for defining it for us.

    Those who follow people who are fried will be cooked.

    Indeed!

    Yesterday, I stopped by my friend's house after work. His 16 year old daughter said, "He bicycles while wearing a necktie? Is he crazy?!"

    This now 16 year old girl USED to ride her bike everywhere until she was 13. Then one day, she passed by a high school and somebody said to her sarcastically, "Nice helmet". She refused to wear here helmet again and her mother refused to let her bike without a helmet. Net result; she hasn't ridden a bike since.

    Once, her mother asked the girl to bring a bike home for her from a location 10 blocks away. The 16 year old chose to WALK the bike home rather wear a helmet and ride. Vanity? Sensitivity? Follower mentality?
    Mike

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