“Don’t call me a cyclist!” How many times have you heard that demand from dudes who want utilitarian urban biking to share no similarity with bros in spandex zipping through stop lights? “We’re people on bikes, we’re NOT cyclists!”
Recently I saw an even more confounding preamble in a StrongTowns article. The author declares, “I don’t ride a bike because I love bikes. I ride because it’s a convenient and economical mode of transportation to accomplish my daily tasks.”
I left a comment that failed to illustrate the puerility of such a sentiment. Like, you LIKE a thing because of reasons but you refuse to be associated with people who like said thing for identical reasons. Seriously, what’s up with that?
Are we truly holding such internal shame that we can’t celebrate the fact that yes, we’re doing something real to save the Earth – or at least devoting some semblance of rationality to city commuting? You’ll never hear a soccer mom declare, “Oh, I just use this 4,000 lb van for its practicality, but don’t call me a car lover!”
Well, actually you might hear that one. I admit knowing a few.
Bikes can be boring, commuting can be boring, but boredom shouldn’t be the goal. The Dad-ification of cycling culture isn’t going to impress anyone into ditching the family car, no matter how severe a climate crisis we collectively face.
I get it, you don’t want to look emasculated on an overgrown kids’ toy inspiring laughter from your fellow Dad bros. But is your ego so anemic? They’re only apprehensive of your nonconformity, and they hate themselves for it. Suck it up, ignore them, and keep leading by example. When they get tired of laughing on the outside and crying on the inside, they might well have legit questions to ask.
Be ready to be supportive, but don’t be afraid to give them some shit back. Rib them for being antiquated. Show them how to catch up. Be enthusiastic. Be a damn bicycle enthusiastic.
5,000 bikes can change a city.
50 cities can change a nation.
50 nations can change the world.
— Hart Noecker (@HartNoecker) May 17, 2016
Riding bikes will thrill you, at times it might aggravate you, but the ultimate goal is in fact changing the world. Don’t let anyone’s lack of imagination tell you otherwise. I’ve worked the math on this for several minutes and my anecdotal conclusion is this: saving Earth won’t take that many bikes at all, really. At least not at first.
Don’t fear labels, even if you don’t self-apply them. Let people call you whatever you want. Just ride your bike and simply be the badass cycling recruiter who’s the envy of your peers.
See you in the streets.
— Streetsblog New York (@StreetsblogNYC) May 20, 2016