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Thread: What People Say

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    What People Say

    Someone at church came up to me and asked if I was poor because I commuted almost everwhere. What?? No, I told this person I wasn't poor and I love to ride. Has anyone came up to you and asked such questions?

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    My wife and I get a variant of this. We recently moved to a fairly non bike friendly area of Florida from California. When I first got here, I was scoping out the the LBS's and was talking to one of the guys in the shop. I asked him about local biking here. One of the things that came up in the conversation was the large proportion of homeless folks who bicycled, and how aggressive and sloppy their riding was in the middle of traffic. I thought this was horrible news because it added yet another HUGE layer of being "other" to being a cyclist around here.

    After riding up to a store, another patron (elderly woman) stating that she was very scared for me riding on the street "like that" - meaning using the painted bike lane versus the sidewalk. I thanked her for her concern, but held my tongue other than that. Had the person been a bit younger ( I'm 56), I would have stated that if bicyclist and motorists do their jobs right, there should be little cause for concern.

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    Senior Member Lanovran's Avatar
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    I haven't been asked the one about being poor, at least not directly; however, I have frequently been asked by co-workers, "Do you have a car?" It seems to be implied by their tone most often that they expect me to say "no" to that question. Honestly, the one that bugs me the most is when people assume that I must be in fantastic shape due to riding my bike to and from work every day, as if bike commuting is something that can only be done by those in peak physical fitness (I'd much prefer that anyone believe they could do it). My commute is only five miles one way, so there's a lot of additional exercise that I could be doing...

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    I've been commuting and working at the same job long enough that I'm just "that guy". I do get the strange question from people of "are you still riding your bike?"...sometimes while walking towards the bike lockers in bicycle clothing

    If it comes up again, you should tell the person that you are rich because you bicycle commute everywhere. Pick a gas mileage and calculate how much money you save. I, for example, just filled up the tank on my truck yesterday for the first time since 10/31. That's 30 days of commuting to work at 20 miles per day in a vehicle that gets 12 mpg. At $3 per gallon, that's $165 I didn't spend on gas. Another way to put it is that I used about 3 gallons of gas per week instead of 9 gallons per week over that 6 week period. On a per year basis, that 156 gallons vs 468 gallons or $470 vs $1400 at $3/gallon.

    Plus you can be smug about green house gases
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    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I used to get: be careful, you look like a crossing guard, you should get real cycling shoes ...
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    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colorado Kid View Post
    Someone at church came up to me and asked if I was poor because I commuted almost everwhere. What?? No, I told this person I wasn't poor and I love to ride. Has anyone came up to you and asked such questions?

    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    I've been commuting and working at the same job long enough that I'm just "that guy"...

    Plus you can be smug about green house gases
    I’ve been cycle-commuting for about thirty years to my professional position, so my cycling is well-known and that I am not hard up for cash. I posted about my sterling image on this thread, “If you are tough about cycling in bad weather, are you a tough person in general?”

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
    … My cycling reputation, mundane as my cycling might be to the hard-core cyclists, is always a source of amusement and conversation with my friends and acquaintances; e.g. in bad weather, “You didn’t ride your bike today, did you?,” or at fancy social events, “Did you ride your bike here?.” Always asked with amusement and respect…

    …One of the nicest compliments I have received at work is that I am credible, and think my cycling reputation probably supports that image.
    Plus someone once publicly commented that I must have the smallest carbon footprint of anyone in the organization.

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    Newbie goathill's Avatar
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    I would often get the typical "lost your license because of a DUI?"

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    Senior Member bbbean's Avatar
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    Answer: "yes, give me a dollar"
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    Back when I lived in IN, any time someone learned I rode a bike, they looked at me I was either poor, or a case of arrested development.

    Then I moved to CO, and when they learned I rode a bike, they would ask how far I rode, tell me that they also rode, and then apologetically tell me they only rode 25 miles a day.

    CO is a totally different culture from IN.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbo View Post
    My wife and I get a variant of this. We recently moved to a fairly non bike friendly area of Florida from California. When I first got here, I was scoping out the the LBS's and was talking to one of the guys in the shop. I asked him about local biking here. One of the things that came up in the conversation was the large proportion of homeless folks who bicycled, and how aggressive and sloppy their riding was in the middle of traffic. I thought this was horrible news because it added yet another HUGE layer of being "other" to being a cyclist around here.

    After riding up to a store, another patron (elderly woman) stating that she was very scared for me riding on the street "like that" - meaning using the painted bike lane versus the sidewalk.
    Sounds like some of the posts from smug BF self proclaimed experts and übercylists on A&S (as well as a few on this list) ranting about the bicycling üntermench who don't ride in the Bicycling Correct™ "approved" fashion; or horrors, doubling down on those lowlifes who dare to ride on the sidewalk for any reason or without an electric/reflective protective bicycling outfit.

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    Senior Member mcours2006's Avatar
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    I haven't really been commuting long enough to have experienced this.

    I'm also fine if people think that I am less well-off and that's why I ride to work. It matters not one little bit to the way I live my life.

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    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colorado Kid View Post
    Someone at church came up to me and asked if I was poor because I commuted almost everwhere. What?? No, I told this person I wasn't poor and I love to ride. Has anyone came up to you and asked such questions?
    I would have said "I'm poor because I gave all my earthly possessions to the church. What's your reason, buster?"

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    My neighbor knows I have a car and drive, but still offers me rides when he sees me walking or biking
    We have met the enemy and they is us.

    Pogo

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    Señior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve0257 View Post
    My neighbor knows I have a car and drive, but still offers me rides when he sees me walking or biking
    Weird. Doe he imagine that you are living hand-to-mouth and can't afford gasoline every day?
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alan s View Post
    I would have said "I'm poor because I gave all my earthly possessions to the church. What's your reason, buster?"
    One of the best bikes, as well as best bargain I ever bought came from a thrift store run by a religous sect that donated all their material goods to the cause.
    Bought in 1973 for $40 a 1969 Raleigh Sprite with S5 IGH factory equipped with full fenders, chainguard, Brooks B72 saddle, etc. in perfect shape. I was glad to relieve them of the burden of possessing such a worldly good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve0257 View Post
    My neighbor knows I have a car and drive, but still offers me rides when he sees me walking or biking
    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    Weird. Doe he imagine that you are living hand-to-mouth and can't afford gasoline every day?
    No. He just can't fathom the idea that somebody might choose not to drive. We live one block from a convenience store and he drives there to get stuff because it is to far to walk.
    We have met the enemy and they is us.

    Pogo

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    Senior Member bmthom.gis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve0257 View Post
    No. He just can't fathom the idea that somebody might choose not to drive. We live one block from a convenience store and he drives there to get stuff because it is to far to walk.
    And that's why America has a weight problem. I don't know about your neighbor, and he sounds like a nice guy for offering you rides, but that mentality right there
    "All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

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    Quote Originally Posted by goathill View Post
    I would often get the typical "lost your license because of a DUI?"
    My boss asked me that question once and insisted to see my driver's license to check with police if I was okay to drive: I work at a Ford dealer so I have to drive customer's cars and garage's car almost every day. It was a very akward and funny moment when he brought my driver's license back, apologizing all over the place...
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    one life on two wheels cobrabyte's Avatar
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    I don't mind if people think I'm a homeless drunk that rides my bike everywhere because I can't afford to drive. Besides having a home it's not that far from the truth.

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    Bike with Panniers on it at the Grocery store, (full of shopping) and I get questions about my Bike Tour,

    because there are several Hundreds on the Pacific Coast Route Every year.

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    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colorado Kid View Post
    Someone at church came up to me and asked if I was poor because I commuted almost everwhere. What?? No, I told this person I wasn't poor and I love to ride. Has anyone came up to you and asked such questions?
    I have heard everything you can imagine, some quite rude. Lady i was passing on sidewalk last year holding my helmet "god what a loser, get a car". Joke's on them, as i pay very little to nothing each year. This year is different, as it is a new bike & such, but yea.

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    Senior Member GuyDebord's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colorado Kid View Post
    Someone at church came up to me and asked if I was poor because I commuted almost everwhere. What?? No, I told this person I wasn't poor and I love to ride. Has anyone came up to you and asked such questions?
    I guess it could also depend on what kind of bike do you use...

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    I was riding with a friend from the Midwest last year and he had a number of stories like that. He says that several times a year someone pats him on the shoulder and says, "I lost mine too once. It''s OK, you'll get it back!". And a kid at a stoplight rolled down the car window and asked "Are you poor?" This, to a guy riding a handbuilt custom bike with couplers, dressed in $$ wool cycling clothing, $300 cycling shoes, etc.

    You'd never get that kind of question in the Boston area; bikes are common and becoming more so, and additionally there's getting to be a more prominent "cycle chic" culture, too. Even though I'm the sort of gal who has a closet full of identical cargo pants and hasn't worn makeup since the middle school play and think the flowery baskets and accessories are sort of silly, I actually do think that the growth of that particular fashion is a good thing.
    When bicycling to work is something commonly done by 30-something professional women who can easily afford cars, care about looking nice and wear nice clothes, and aren't especially sporty/outdoorsy in general, it's less likely that people assume you're poor, childish, drunk, or just a hardcore weirdo for doing it. It means that drivers are less likely to assume that if you're riding in the street it's because you're an idiot with a death wish.

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    Señior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I've never actually had someone say something like this to me, though the discussions here get me thinking about it sometimes when I'm riding. My imaginary responses vary between "Yes, many poor people ride $1500 bikes" and "Dude, I've got $500 just on my head" (between the MIPS helmet, front and rear helmet lights and two HD video cameras).
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

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    I get that all the time.....Of course I look homeless ( picture Santa with greasy work clothes)...My favorite is when they buy me lunch...I accept all offers of food or money,who am I to ruin their day......

    People ask if I have a car also,I used to have many but have sold them all.

    I own an automotive machine shop and build cars and toys for a living.Try explaining why I ride a bike to those folks...
    Last edited by Booger1; 12-18-14 at 01:56 PM.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

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