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Anti-Bike Societal Attitude in USA. Why?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Anti-Bike Societal Attitude in USA. Why?

Old 07-15-17, 03:29 PM
  #1  
raria
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Anti-Bike Societal Attitude in USA. Why?

As a non-citizen, I love and appreciate many aspects of US Culture than those of you who grew up with it take for granted. There is a reason why great institutions like Silicon Valley, Hollywood and heck even Disneyland are in the US not in Europe, China etc. It's the amazing attitude of the people that grew and allow these institution to thrive.

So I can't fathom why so many in an advanced country are so anti-bike? A bike keeps you fit, improves your mental health and produces no carbon emissions (well maybe some if I fuel my ride with a bean burrito).

Now I'm not talking about drivers on roads, there are crazies and inconsiderate people everywhere. Rather I'm talking about ***society's attitude*** to bike riders. Just in the last 3 months how anti-bike the country is was really revealed to me.

I've had people tell me off for putting lube on my chain on the side walk (I will damage the side walk). I've had hotel workers tell me they can't store my bike (despite there being no outside bike racks). I've had restaurants say not to chain up my bike outside there establishment etc. The list goes on and on. The sheer number of these incidents indicate its an attitude not limited to a few people rather a societal attitude.

So why is it? Is it because the car culture is so strong or is it something more subtle like that people who ride bikes are generally poor and the poor don't deserve respect?
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Old 07-15-17, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post
So why is it? Is it because the car culture is so strong or is it something more subtle like that people who ride bikes are generally poor and the poor don't deserve respect?


I think you pretty much nailed it with both statements. In general, the roads aren't built to accommodate bikes, so drivers see cyclists as a nuisance. I think most people see riding a bike as something that either kids or poor people do. It's not seen as a legitimate form of transportation.


Also, you have to remember that more than half of the country is fat. I think at least half of those fat people don't like to see you out there being skinny and enjoying life.
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Old 07-15-17, 04:09 PM
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The US is a car society, and has never been known for it's understanding of things outside its norm. That sums it up.
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Old 07-15-17, 04:12 PM
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I can't say that I've felt any significant anti-bike discrimination.

I did get escorted out of Piazza San Marco in Rome, and thrown off the train for trying to take my bike with me as luggage somewhere north of Bologna, Italy.

I try to be conscientious of others and other's property. Oil can stain concrete. But, if one has to lube the chain on the road, the do it off the side of the road, or in a place where excess oil won't stain. I've never been driven away from a restaurant, although I did finally find the official bike rack behind a restaurant that I occasionally go to. I had been locking my bike on a patch of grass near the entry way, and nobody ever said a thing.

I don't know about your storage issue. Locking bikes in big cities can be problematic, and some businesses just aren't setup to deal with bikes. Can you take it up to the hotel room? Put it on the balcony if there is one?

Some drunken car drivers are clowns, and if I can't understand their slurs, then I don't worry about them.

In general I experience a lot of support for my choice to cycle commute.
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Old 07-15-17, 04:13 PM
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"Society's attitude" is shaped by the fact that almost all American adults drive their cars frequently. Sharing the lane with bicycles slows car drivers down and forces them to pay attention to the road. That annoyance carries over to when they are not driving.

The anti-bicycle attitude is far lower in countries with higher rates of public transit usage or where infrastructure gives bicyclists their own right-of-way.
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Old 07-15-17, 04:28 PM
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Old 07-15-17, 04:47 PM
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I ride a bike (obviously), but I do understand the angst that a lot of the US has against bike riders. It is not because they are seen as poor, it's actually the opposite. Road cycling has become the new golf and has attracted a lot of rich, snobby ******-canoes into the sport.
Usually there is no hard feelings for a single or even a small group of cyclists. The problem arises when there are a massive group of overweight and overpaid old men who ride down major arterials and clog up traffic.
As far as lubing your chain on the sidewalk, yeah I would be upset too if you didn't put a rag down and let it stain. That has nothing to do with being anti-cyclist. It has everything to do with common sense.

Edit: I forgot to add that I ride a bike to work everyday and have heard nothing but positive things from people. In fact, my neighbor just bought a Roubaix yesterday because he saw me ride everyday and thought it was an awesome idea.

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Old 07-15-17, 05:16 PM
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Fast food restaurant, convenience store in every corner aaaaaaand, nobody walks to those corners at all. Very easy to get a driver's license. Gas is cheap (compared to Europe). Cars are cheap. Very low priority on cycling infrastructure, plus, there may not be any bike lobbyists in Washington(I have not checked).

And it seems that cycling is not seen or viewed as a means of transportation but a toy or an expensive exercise equipment.
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Old 07-15-17, 05:29 PM
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@raria, I don't know but it could be specific to your circumstances. I see a only a little of that, but mainly because it is "different" which some people cannot abide. I never bring my bike into an establishment, and spend almost no time on a sidewalk so I can't speak to that, but I've never had an establishment demand that I remove my bike from in front. I lock up out in the parking lot somewhere though, not directly in front or in a foot traffic area - was that the situation?

The majority of the reactions I get are positive; the negative folks keep it to themselves. It's possible that they're prejudiced against you, or where you're from, or your accent, who knows. Maybe it's where you live, and the culture is overly self-centered. I have no way to know, and as far as respect for the poor goes, sometimes I feel like I get more respect when riding a beater in my jeans that when I'm costumed up as a roadie on a racing bike. I doubt that attitudes to the poor play a part, unless you're frequenting more upscale establishments.
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Old 07-15-17, 06:03 PM
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I don't think the US is anti-bike. I think most USians don't care enough to be anti-bike. They aren't spending a lot of energy thinking about bikes.

I know Houston (perhaps the most car-centric city in the world) is building out a lot of bike infrastructure, and I see a lot more people riding than I did 5 years ago.
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Old 07-15-17, 06:54 PM
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It's also highly regional. I can walk into ANY local coffee shop in full kit, without even getting a second glance.
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Old 07-15-17, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post
I've had hotel workers tell me they can't store my bike (despite there being no outside bike racks).
Really? Were you staying there? I travel a lot and frequently bring a bike. I always keep it in my room when at the hotel. Numerous times I've had it stored over the weekend (or longer). Never an issue. One hotel that I frequented often would store my bike between trips and it would be in my room upon check in.
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Old 07-15-17, 07:26 PM
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You ask a valid question. I had my very first USA ride today while on vaca in FL with a group from a LBS. Unlike Toronto, where we occasionally encounter bike haters as well, here I felt a lot of anymosity from most drivers. Especially one particular bus driver who had to go around us every time she stopped and got going again. Boy was she pissed.

Canada is as much of a car culture as USA. Nobody walks here. However, we dont get as much hate up north. Perhaps it has to do with our government's pro bike stance (lately).
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Old 07-15-17, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by memebag View Post
I know Houston (perhaps the most car-centric city in the world) is building out a lot of bike infrastructure, and I see a lot more people riding than I did 5 years ago.
I thought Detroit got that honor. But, perhaps nobody up there can afford a car anymore.

I think I drove through Dallas around midnight once. Man the traffic was heavy. I couldn't imagine what it would have been like during the daylight
Originally Posted by StanPark View Post
You ask a valid question. I had my very first USA ride today while on vaca in FL with a group from a LBS. Unlike Toronto, where we occasionally encounter bike haters as well, here I felt a lot of anymosity from most drivers. Especially one particular bus driver who had to go around us every time she stopped and got going again. Boy was she pissed.

Canada is as much of a car culture as USA. Nobody walks here. However, we dont get as much hate up north. Perhaps it has to do with our government's pro bike stance (lately).
I often go just about the same pace as a bus, which can be a bit of a problem. I've had some buses hang back and not pass. Some will get halfway past, then stop and let me by. If they get all the way past, I'll usually pull left and wave them over so they can see me when stopping.

I'm in a bike lane for almost all bus encounters around here, so passing me is never a problem.

Big groups of people can sometimes be an issue. Although, the more unwieldy group rides I've been on have been during Pedalpalooza in Portland, and most drivers just put up with it.

I wonder if being form out of town, one of the issues you are encountering is that you aren't familiar with the more popular bike routes (although a local group should know the routes).

I would think many places in Florida would have a large cycling population. I suppose that plays both ways. People are used to the bikes, but also perhaps enough of them to be annoying if they trample the flowers too much At the same time, if there are lots of cyclists, then it would pay to put in bike racks and support cycling infrastructure.
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Old 07-15-17, 08:18 PM
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I don't think Fklorida has a large cycling population. It does have a large mule-hat population.

Some town or city in Florida has topped the "Worst cycling city" or "Most dangerous cycling city" list annually since the end of the War for Southern independence and Freedom {to own slaves,) and likely that helps keep the number of cyclists low.

I know before I moved Orlando and the Greater Orlando area was making huge strides towards getting people to stop throwing things at cyclists and designating specific lanes where cars could hit cyclists.
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Old 07-15-17, 08:19 PM
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There seems to be plenty of bike lanes around here. And plenty of bikes too.
It was a large group and they knew the way. I asked whats with all the hate and was told thats the way drivers are around here. So yeah, perhaps they are just fed up.
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Old 07-15-17, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by DXchulo View Post
... In general, the roads aren't built to accommodate bikes, ...
More-so than Europe.
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Old 07-15-17, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
I don't think Fklorida has a large cycling population. It does have a large mule-hat population.

Some town or city in Florida has topped the "Worst cycling city" or "Most dangerous cycling city" list annually since the end of the War for Southern independence and Freedom {to own slaves,) and likely that helps keep the number of cyclists low.

I know before I moved Orlando and the Greater Orlando area was making huge strides towards getting people to stop throwing things at cyclists and designating specific lanes where cars could hit cyclists.
I'll grant you that the infrastructure for cycling sucks in large parts of Florida, particularly in South Florida, and in Orlando itself.

But cycling is huge in Florida with very large numbe of "casual" cyclists, "serious" cyclists, and triathletes.
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Old 07-15-17, 08:59 PM
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.^^ and if you pick your spots, there is some great riding in Florida.

Claremont outside Orlando is great. Check out the Horsefarm 100 route, and really nice ocean front routes on the Cost.

And please we prefer "The recent unpleasantness" in polite society.
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Old 07-15-17, 09:34 PM
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I think things are changing. I live in Dallas and work downtown. I used to ride to work some but had to quit due to the length and the place i used to shower was moved farther away, making impractical.

I now live closer and decided to start bike commuting again. The building i work in had a bike rack in the basement and a convoluted way of getting to it and all sorts of procedures to follow if using a bike. I asked if they would just put the rack outside like most "green" buildings.

The next morning the rack was set up outside the front of the building in front of the window where security sits. I was duly impressed. Things are changing, slowly.
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Old 07-15-17, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by StanPark View Post
You ask a valid question. I had my very first USA ride today while on vaca in FL with a group from a LBS. Unlike Toronto, where we occasionally encounter bike haters as well, here I felt a lot of anymosity from most drivers. Especially one particular bus driver who had to go around us every time she stopped and got going again. Boy was she pissed.

Canada is as much of a car culture as USA. Nobody walks here. However, we dont get as much hate up north. Perhaps it has to do with our government's pro bike stance (lately).
As I slow down when approaching a stop sign, I often have to wave stopped car to go instead of waiting for me to reach the stop. I get a thank gesture from the driver as they cross the intersection. Might be because they're afraid I'll run the stop and hit them though lol.
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Old 07-16-17, 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by SylvainG View Post
As I slow down when approaching a stop sign, I often have to wave stopped car to go instead of waiting for me to reach the stop. I get a thank gesture from the driver as they cross the intersection. Might be because they're afraid I'll run the stop and hit them though lol.
I usually go if the car doesn't go. I am one of those clipped in cyclists that I can't quite do a full track stand, but I can go mighty slow, or do a full stop & go, but perhaps it doesn't look like I'm waiting if I don't have a foot down.

Occasionally there is a communication breakdown, but generally not a problem. Just stop & reset.

There are quite a few courteous drivers around here. So, for example where a major off-street bike path crosses a street, I often get cars stopping to let me cross. Of course, never assume 2-way cross traffic will stop, or multiple lanes will stop. Check if it is clear before proceeding.

I'm not sure what cars in the round-a-bout think about me, but I choose my route carefully and shoot through it quickly. I figure less than 10 seconds in the round-a-bout is less interruption, and safer than walking my bike across those flashing crosswalks.

But, like you, I also try to be courteous. So, if a car seems to be unnecessarily waiting for me, and there is adequate clearance before I get there, I'll often wave them on. This does two things. First it acknowledges that they can go, plus it acknowledges to the driver that I see them and won't go slamming into them (or won't hunt them down if I slam into them).

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Old 07-16-17, 06:49 AM
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I would have to agree with it being a regional thing, up here in Minnesota I have never encountered a rude or pissed off person outside someone being annoyed in a car but what are you going to do. Minnesota has built up a great biking culture and keeps improving it, maybe being rated one of the healthiest cities helps with getting laws and building permits for new bike lanes and bike highways passed. I can go into any coffee shop in the twin cities and there usually is a bike rack either outside or inside. as for hotels and restraunts, I know here hotels will just let you bring your bike with you to the room if you politely ask.
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Old 07-16-17, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnX View Post
As said earlier, things are slowly changing. But you really have to stay after the road planners. For instance, i used to ride to work in Jacksonville from Jax Beach along Butler Blvd. A real hard ride, especially around the interstate intersection with I-95 and 1A. But when they redid the Butler intersection i involved myself and the planners would copy me with emails they sent out about it. I was pretty impressed with the input, but i have since moved so i am not sure with the outcome. But i remember it looked pretty good on the designs. Bicyclists have to be involved.

Plus Florida is working on a completely separate bike trail across the state that has been funded and is going to be done in a year or so. I'm seeing lots more bikers last couple of years. This is a burgeoning industry in Florida.
How long ago did you move? I have never seen a cyclist on JTB. That would be quite dangerous. Jax has bike lanes in many areas but hitting the back roads and country is always preferable.
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Old 07-16-17, 08:17 AM
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Some people think because there are bike trails available you shouldn't be on the road as well. But you have to get to the bike trail somehow.
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