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The Real Truth Behind Adult Cycling Most Anywhere

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The Real Truth Behind Adult Cycling Most Anywhere

Old 12-25-09, 04:25 PM
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The Real Truth Behind Adult Cycling Most Anywhere

https://thinkingaboutcycling.wordpres...ar-of-cycling/

"....For the last third of the twentieth century, the cyclist was relegated in favour of the motorist. But the cyclist is coming back. And again, it is experienced by many people as as a threat. The radical separation of the cyclist from the motorist within UK society returns as an unsettling haunting. The push to bring cycling in from the margins suggests that car-centred lives will not continue forever. Forcing an encounter with the idea of oneself as a cyclist, it provokes fear of cycling. So my argument is not only that a fear of cycling is produced by varied attempts to make cycling safer, but also that a fear of the cyclist is related to people’s anxieties that they, too, might end up taking to cycling, and becoming a ‘cyclist’.

Conclusions

Fear of cycling constitutes a significant emotional barrier to cycling. Ironically, this fear is partly produced through attempts to make cycling safer. For as long as cycling remains something to fear, it remains a marginal and marginalised practice. The constant cultural construction of cycling as dangerous justifies the continued spatial marginalisation of cycling practice, which then enables the continued construction of the cyclist as other, a stranger pedalling on the margins. The ideological, spatial and cultural marginality of cycling are continuously reproduced, together.

But cycling is pedalling in from these margins. There are – admittedly tentative – signs of a cycling renaissance. A range of actors is today seeking to elevate cycling’s position in transport policy, to move it into the mainstream. If this push continues into the future, we may well see people’s anxieties, about change away from currently dominant automobility, increasingly projected onto the cycling stranger (Sandercock 2002, 205; Sigona 2003, 70). As people feel increasing pressure to get on bikes themselves, and thus really start to engage with the realities of currently dominant cycling conditions, we may also hear more cries that cycling is too dangerous. People’s fears of cycling will become more real and powerful as the prospects of their cycling grow greater. And people will feel and fear the loss of a way of life as it has come to be lived, as automobilised. When these anxieties become intense and the calls that cycling is too dangerous become really vociferous, we should I think take them as a sign that – as a culture – we are getting really serious about once more getting on our bikes.

In the meantime, what can be done to allay people’s fears of cycling? Although it is constantly produced and reproduced, fear of neither cycling nor the cyclist is inevitable. Both the conditions for cycling practice and representations of the cyclist can change and be changed, and thereby produce different effects. Many people who cycle today – racing cyclists, touring cyclists, cycle campaigners, bike messengers – belong to cycling cultures which produce and reproduce positive experiences and representations of cycling. These people may be aware of constructions of cycling as something to be feared, and of the cyclist as deviant and strange, but such negative representations are easily exceeded by the celebratory and confirmatory evaluations of cycling and the cyclist continually flowing through their specific cultural worlds.

Correspondingly, we can in varied ways promote a pro-cycling culture. At the level of representation, our task is to generate and continuously reaffirm positive representations of cycling as an ordinary and enjoyable practice, something I am pleased to see happening in, for example, the recent marketing campaigns of both Transport for London and Cycling England. Certainly, we must stop communicating, however inadvertently, the dangers of cycling, and instead provide people with very many, very diverse, positive and affirming representations of both cycling practice and cycling identities. Current fear of cycling can be otherwise, but we must help make it so....."
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Old 12-25-09, 05:59 PM
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Fear is perpetuated by ignorance -- the lack of knowledge about a subject. Ignorance is removed by education.

Thus, fear is removed by education, applied where needed.
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Old 03-20-10, 04:08 PM
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the problem is that the roads are more conducive to cars. in my area quite a few of the roads are unsafe due to the fact that the shoulders of the roads are not kept clean. it is impossible to take the lane as there is always a flow of traffic.
secondly, if one gets in an accident in a car, the vehicle provides some sort of protection. on a bike you are totally vulnerable.
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Old 03-20-10, 05:13 PM
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Copenhaganize.com has posted this and I have linked it here a couple of times.

It's a good piece and well worth the read.

Marketing sells and nothing sells like a perceived safety factor. The automotive industry has done a bang up job to sell its product and the cycling industry could do much better than what it has done.
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Old 03-20-10, 05:53 PM
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This article overthinks the whole thing. Ride because it's fun. Period.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 03-20-10, 05:59 PM
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Yeah. It's not any good to think about anything. It might get in the way of the fun...
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Old 03-20-10, 10:24 PM
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I'm glad you agree
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 03-21-10, 06:26 AM
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I comes down to one thing... the car as a presentation of ego. I think the best way to overcome that is to have fancy chromed bikes with flashy gold appendages, and crushed leather seats... all of which cost a lot and look real big and fancy... so one can ride a bike down the street and flash their ego.

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Old 03-21-10, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by genec
I comes down to one thing... the car as a presentation of ego. I think the best way to overcome that is to have fancy chromed bikes with flashy gold appendages, and crushed leather seats... all of which cost a lot and look real big and fancy... so one can ride a bike down the street and flash their ego.

Most US locales will not give much thought to the accessories you described when applied to a motor vehicle, but most likely they will look upon you as something from the lunatic fringe when applied to a bicycle.

It's tough enough just having my commuter bike and I decked out in basic attire without a lot of the locals thinking you've just landed from Mars.
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Old 03-21-10, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by dynodonn
It's tough enough just having my commuter bike and I decked out in basic attire without a lot of the locals thinking you've just landed from Mars.
? I ride to work in jeans.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 03-21-10, 12:24 PM
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Just to play devil's advocate, and give folks some things to think about, it could be argued that the non-bicyclists who sense that bicycling would be inordinately dangerous for them are in some ways correct. Especially for beginners, which these people would be, bicycling is far more likely to result in injury than driving, mainly due to the normal solo crashes that beginners enjoy. Maybe they know someone who recently snapped a collarbone in a piddly bike wreck and they decide they'd rather not go there themselves.

If people decide they don't want to bike based on the danger factor, I'd say that's fine. Maybe bicycling really isn't for everybody, and maybe attempts to urge non-believers to ride by belittling their fear would do more harm than good. I'm not going to make fun of people who think bicycling is too dangerous for them, unless they willingly get out and drive on the freeways without fear, in which case I'd say their perceptions are somewhat twisted.

Finally, it seems possible that bicycle advocates' fear of fear could be misplaced. When trying to attract the masses to your activity, maybe danger is actually an attractive force overall. Look at skate boarding and motorcycling. Both are perceived as dangerous. Motorcycling especially is perceived as dangerous -- it is dangerous, statistically, and everybody knows it -- and yet its popularity has grown like wildfire over the past few decades. To what degree does the perceived danger of motorcycling affect its popularity, and in which direction?
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Old 03-21-10, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by RobertHurst
If people decide they don't want to bike based on the danger factor, I'd say that's fine. Maybe bicycling really isn't for everybody, and maybe attempts to urge non-believers to ride by belittling their fear would do more harm than good. I'm not going to make fun of people who think bicycling is too dangerous for them, unless they willingly get out and drive on the freeways without fear, in which case I'd say their perceptions are somewhat twisted.
You can get hurt driving a car anywhere, not just the freeway. Motorists are injured and killed daily in lower speed urban environments. People's perceptions that driving is safe are false, and based on a mix of marketing lies and our own inability to accurately assess risk.
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Old 03-21-10, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by RobertHurst
Just to play devil's advocate, and give folks some things to think about, it could be argued that the non-bicyclists who sense that bicycling would be inordinately dangerous for them are in some ways correct. Especially for beginners, which these people would be, bicycling is far more likely to result in injury than driving, mainly due to the normal solo crashes that beginners enjoy. Maybe they know someone who recently snapped a collarbone in a piddly bike wreck and they decide they'd rather not go there themselves.

If people decide they don't want to bike based on the danger factor, I'd say that's fine. Maybe bicycling really isn't for everybody, and maybe attempts to urge non-believers to ride by belittling their fear would do more harm than good. I'm not going to make fun of people who think bicycling is too dangerous for them, unless they willingly get out and drive on the freeways without fear, in which case I'd say their perceptions are somewhat twisted.
Kinda hafta agree here, Robert; riding may not be for everybody. A few members of my extended family, living with me, are very much AGAINST throwing a leg over a bike -- thus, they don't have one. One bike I'd like to take back is the gift I made to my sister's husband, just because he thinks so little of riding that he doesn't appreciate the gift. He averages about 2-3 slow, short rides a year. (pretty much a waste of about $500 worth of bike.)

I'm just as happy that bike riding isn't for everybody; the only real item on my wish list is agreeable tolerance from the motoring public.

Drivers: a few seconds' inconvenience out of your life isn't worth trying to terrorize me; you'll only create an enemy... not a good idea.
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Old 03-21-10, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by DX-MAN
Drivers: a few seconds' inconvenience out of your life isn't worth trying to terrorize me; you'll only create an enemy... not a good idea.
Now if only we could make all cars sound that message over their radios every time the driver hits his horn within 100 feet of a bicycle....
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Old 03-21-10, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by DX-MAN
Thus, fear is removed by education
Only when the fear is unjustified/incorrect/etc.

Some of the fears of bicycling are unjustified -- but others are justified, and aren't going to be removed by education. The dangers may be reduced by education, but not everything is about your skill level.
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Old 03-21-10, 06:27 PM
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No one can successfully argue that cycling is 100% safe, but nothing is 100% safe. The problem with how the general public views the dangers of cycling versus driving is that almost no one admits how dangerous driving is.

The fears covered in the article run deeper and wider than just physical safety. It's a good read, thanks OP.
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Old 03-21-10, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by dynodonn
Most US locales will not give much thought to the accessories you described when applied to a motor vehicle, but most likely they will look upon you as something from the lunatic fringe when applied to a bicycle.

It's tough enough just having my commuter bike and I decked out in basic attire without a lot of the locals thinking you've just landed from Mars.
Sorry, you missed my point... which is understandable, as I tried to be somewhat sarcastic in my "presentation."

My point is that the average car is not just about transportation, but about the ego of the owner... otherwise we would be quite satisfied to all drive VW beetles or some other basic car, but instead, for most motorists the car is something of a status symbol and an ego booster... it is "look at me."

Well it is hard to convey that same sort of materialistic message with a bicycle (except perhaps to other cyclists... more on this in a second), to a culture that has been "trained" (think of the oodles of car ads over a lifetime) to evaluate personal "worth" by the status of your transportation.

The ironic thing I wanted to touch on is that in the cycling community in some regards, ones status is NOT determined by the flash of an expensive bike, but by one's ability or prowess with the bike... think about the rise of fixie culture and how it depends for instance on a simple ride vice some fancy machine.
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Old 03-21-10, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by genec
Sorry, you missed my point... which is understandable, as I tried to be somewhat sarcastic in my "presentation."

My point is that the average car is not just about transportation, but about the ego of the owner... otherwise we would be quite satisfied to all drive VW beetles or some other basic car, but instead, for most motorists the car is something of a status symbol and an ego booster... it is "look at me."

Well it is hard to convey that same sort of materialistic message with a bicycle (except perhaps to other cyclists... more on this in a second), to a culture that has been "trained" (think of the oodles of car ads over a lifetime) to evaluate personal "worth" by the status of your transportation.

The ironic thing I wanted to touch on is that in the cycling community in some regards, ones status is NOT determined by the flash of an expensive bike, but by one's ability or prowess with the bike... think about the rise of fixie culture and how it depends for instance on a simple ride vice some fancy machine.
I sensed the sarcasm, but went with the ego factor anyway, and if you don't think the flashy ego is alive and well in the cycling community, just look at all the number of pics in any of the pic threads on BF. Plus, post a poll on BF on how much money(or lack of)one has invested in their bike and see what happens.
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Old 03-21-10, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by dougmc
Only when the fear is unjustified/incorrect/etc.

Some of the fears of bicycling are unjustified -- but others are justified, and aren't going to be removed by education. The dangers may be reduced by education, but not everything is about your skill level.
OK... let's make a list.

I'll do the 'unjustified'...........

1. I'll have a heart attack and die.

Your turn.
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Old 03-21-10, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by DX-MAN
OK... let's make a list.

I'll do the 'unjustified'...........

1. I'll have a heart attack and die.

Your turn.
You're just being stubborn. But for some (hopefully very few), that's a legitimate concern -- any exertion could prove fatal. Even brisk walking could ...

Being run over by a drunk driver is certainly a justified concern. Especially if it's Saturday night and the bars just let out. Education might suggest being lit up like a Christmas tree, that you not be on the road at that time -- but what if you just got out of work? Side roads will help, sure, but still, you fear that every car that passes you might be driven by a drunk.

Riding in the ghetto -- fear of crime. Likely justified, though people may exaggerate it. Education might suggest bringing a gun or not riding there ... but what if the only alternative involves riding on the interstate (which may be just fine -- it depends) or going many miles out of the way.

But by all means, enjoy your world where education always trumps fear. Sometimes fear is a healthy thing -- it often keeps us alive. (It also limits our potential, true -- but it's not something that should be totally squashed.)

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Old 03-22-10, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by dynodonn
I sensed the sarcasm, but went with the ego factor anyway, and if you don't think the flashy ego is alive and well in the cycling community, just look at all the number of pics in any of the pic threads on BF. Plus, post a poll on BF on how much money(or lack of)one has invested in their bike and see what happens.
Oh it is alive in the cycling community... but it doesn't extend beyond that... that is my point. Most "adults" (the focus of this thread) are automobile owners and choose their auto not on practicality, but on "wow" and ego factor, (like Hummers... the biggest ego stroke out there) cyclists across the board are generally viewed as "poor" by the general population (who can't tell a $5000 bike from a $50 bike).

There is no "prestige" to owning and riding a bike. Thus "adults" consider bikes as toys... and in some respect this latter situation does extend to some cyclists... those that strap their flashy bike to their flashy car to drive to some event. (we've all seen it.)

As long as we "evaluate" each other based on that bling factor... "adults" will tend to eschew cycling.
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Old 03-22-10, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by genec

As long as we "evaluate" each other based on that bling factor... "adults" will tend to eschew cycling.
Without the flood of automobile ads hyping the bling/performance factor, most of the US population would would have the same view of the flashy car, or take it another step, if bicycle manufactures placed ads on the same level as auto manufactures do today, and the public reaction to bicycles would be different.
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Old 03-22-10, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by RobertHurst
Just to play devil's advocate, and give folks some things to think about, it could be argued that the non-bicyclists who sense that bicycling would be inordinately dangerous for them are in some ways correct. Especially for beginners, which these people would be, bicycling is far more likely to result in injury than driving, mainly due to the normal solo crashes that beginners enjoy. Maybe they know someone who recently snapped a collarbone in a piddly bike wreck and they decide they'd rather not go there themselves.

If people decide they don't want to bike based on the danger factor, I'd say that's fine. Maybe bicycling really isn't for everybody, and maybe attempts to urge non-believers to ride by belittling their fear would do more harm than good. I'm not going to make fun of people who think bicycling is too dangerous for them, unless they willingly get out and drive on the freeways without fear, in which case I'd say their perceptions are somewhat twisted.

Finally, it seems possible that bicycle advocates' fear of fear could be misplaced. When trying to attract the masses to your activity, maybe danger is actually an attractive force overall. Look at skate boarding and motorcycling. Both are perceived as dangerous. Motorcycling especially is perceived as dangerous -- it is dangerous, statistically, and everybody knows it -- and yet its popularity has grown like wildfire over the past few decades. To what degree does the perceived danger of motorcycling affect its popularity, and in which direction?
I don't think he was saying we should belittle those who say it's dangerous. I thought he was saying we just shouldn't talk about the danger, directly or indirectly, and we should encourage other bicyclists to do the same.

Anyway, I disagree that it's a fear of getting hurt or killed. I know people who have routes they consider safe and still don't ride but talk about wanting to. Maybe they don't really want to ride. Maybe it's my presence? Personally I don't talk about unless asked (except amongst fellow cyclists). However, people notice and ask. Maybe it's "liberal guilt" that prompts them to consider it? But really they just aren't zinged on biking and don't want to?

I suspect that advertising danger will do little to get people on bikes. Motorbikes have any danger bikes have, plus some, cost more (which is a plus, not a negative), are already more normal, go faster, and are probably (certainly) more dangerous.

I suspect that the lack of anonymity, the extra work, the extra thought involved (carrying stuff), and the lack of normalcy are the main impediments. All the real problems can be trivially solved by an 8 year old (and they do, because it's their only means of conveyance aside from walking).

So, I see two things that can make it (Amsterdam in America) happen:
1. Economics: Gas gets super expensive (like $15-20 a gallon) and electric cars aren't common yet.
2. Culture: Bicycling becomes profitable, huge capital is spent on advertising, and suddenly bikes are the new SUV.

I don't foresee either happening. So, "baby steps."


I also think the term "real truth" is inane.
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Old 03-22-10, 12:40 PM
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i don't know. cars whizzing by me within a foot of me on a bike is pretty scary to me.
alot of drivers on the road, when they see me on a bike, give me second class status, whereas if i was in a car they would give me more respect and obey the rules of the road.
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Old 03-22-10, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by dougmc
Riding in the ghetto -- fear of crime. Likely justified, though people may exaggerate it. Education might suggest bringing a gun or not riding there ... but what if the only alternative involves riding on the interstate (which may be just fine -- it depends) or going many miles out of the way.
wrong, IME.

The ghetto is a place where many ride bikes. Undocumened immigrants, kids cutting school, etc. I see it as bike friendly in many ways, and despite one altercation, I feel generally more at ease cycling there during my commute than I do in the rush-rush-i-feel-oh-so-entitled "better" parts of town.
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