Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Pet Peeve

I think it's just coincidence that these things occur to me on Mondays. I came across a reference to "casual" urban bicyclists today and it started me thinking about how much I hate that word when it's used to refer to people who don't ride for sport. Just because I don't have a racing bike, wear lycra, or clip-in to my pedals doesn't mean I'm "casual." Sure, I ride for fun sometimes (it's always fun, after all), but I also run errands and do all of our household grocery shopping by bike. It certainly doesn't feel casual when I'm grinding up a hill with 30 lbs. of groceries in my baskets, and that's really not the word I would use to describe my assertive lane-taking and hyper-awareness of my surroundings while riding. Non-competitive? Sure, I'll own that. But casual? Hardly.

19 comments:

  1. And if you do happen to go out for a 'fun' ride, those wearing lycra rarely respond to the casual 'hello'. Is it required to dress up like a super hero just to take a ride? I think not!

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  2. I think "urban bicyclist" is a pretty funny term. Is it to distinguish from people that ride bikes in the country? If I told someone I was a bicyclist, would they then ask me if I was an "urban" bicyclist? I guess they might think I was a mountain bicyclist, and ride a mountain bike ... in the mountains. But since I'd most likely be addressing the person here ... in San Diego ... I'd think maybe it would be assumed I rode my bike in the city - thus, an urban bicyclist. And by my sneakers and t-shirt, I wouldn't be mistaken for a formal, urban bicyclist - I hope. Is that what the racing, lycra-wearing, clipped-in bicyclists are called - "formal, urban bicyclists?"

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  3. I like to think of us as "traditional" cyclists if I am pushed to give us a name. Now, if you glide your beach cruiser along for a mile without shoes on to get a slushy before the next round of surfing, then, and only then, would the "casual" moniker apply.

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  4. I think "casual" riders don't worry about their performance, i.e., they're not trying to improve. "Serious" riders aren't riding for fun, to them it's a sport or skill to be improved. Just my two cents...

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  5. I totally agree. "Casual" is a label that pisses me off. I also hate when bike store employees make assumptions about you, simply by your build or the way you're dressed.

    Don't try to classify or categorize me. I am a bicyclist - period.

    Stop labeling the way people ride and maybe more folks will want to ride more often.

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  6. @ Anonymous: Good point, although I certainly do aim to "improve" in the sense that I would like to get stronger so those hills don't seem so big, and I'm always looking to gain experience about dealing with different traffic situations, which I suppose is also "improving" the way I ride. I think the sticky wicket is measuring performance or seriousness by only one standard (i.e. racing, competitive riding).

    @ Phil: You know, I'd never considered the "urban" label before, although I think that yes, it is compared to someone who rides in the country, or more importantly, someone who drives their bike out to the country, then hops on and rides (I'm not making any value judgements, just saying that people do that). An "urban bicyclist" to my mind is someone who spends most of their time riding in an urban environment, regardless of dress, bike, etc. Having been both a rural bicyclist and an urban one, I think the urban label is a meaningful one because it does involve a whole different outlook on traffic, speed, awareness of surroundings, etc. Also, an urban bicyclist is more likely than a rural one to be a grocery shopper, commuter, errand-runner, etc. just by virtue of the fact that so much more is accessible by bike in an urban vs. rural environment.

    @ suburbanassault: if you haven't already, you might check out my post on What is a Bicycle Person? at The World Awheel (I'm too dense to figure out how to make those links). I'm personally very tired of the labels that get applied to bicyclists and the unspoken (or spoken) antagonism between different groups. Everybody just shut up and ride!

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  7. Yup, it's annoying. As far as I'm concerned, bicyclists who use their bikes for transportation are much more "serious" that cyclists who use their bikes for entertainment only.

    As for labels, I like "transportational bicyclist" (yeah, I know it's not a word).

    Alan@EcoVelo

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  8. @ Alan, it's a word if we make it a word!

    It's all a matter of how we define the goals or riding. I think people doing hard-core training or racing are pretty darn serious/real cyclists within the expectations of that activity. Thing is, I'm no *less* serious/real as a bicyclist who runs errands, carries groceries, etc. The task is to change the basic standard by which we judge legitimacy on a bicycle to become much more inclusive.

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  9. Why do you let the ignorant raise your blood pressure? It's easy to tell a cyclist from a person on a bike, and it has little to do with what the rider is wearing, what he/she rides, or even how far a given trip is. You do have to watch them ride, however. Sometimes it will take as long as a couple of minutes to know for sure.

    Now get back to making that bag!

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  10. @ Steve A: No worries about blood pressure! I'm always calm, cool, and collected (ha!). Resuming work on the bag tonight, never fear.

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  11. Despite the irreverent pictures & half-baked humor, the link below comes close to capturing it in its more serious parts:

    http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2008/04/mused-and-confused-pondering-nature-of.html

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  12. A friend of mine who typically rides in full kit on a $3k bike, and has done the Fort Davis Cyclefest acknowledges that between the two of us, he's the "casual" cyclist and I'm the "serious" one, because I ride my bike to most of my group rides, and I ride to work most every day, even through the winter. He says he's not serious because he only rides when he feels like it (where I ride all the time).

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  13. I'm out on my 1960's English 3-speed most days in a suit and tie. I consider myself as much of a cyclist as any of those "spandex bandits." (I think I look cooler too)

    I.A.

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  14. God, I hate labels. I visit this fickr set often- Manifesto Bicycles, Oakland CA. http://www.flickr.com/photos/manifestobicycles/sets/72157604336797969/
    'cause I enjoy seeing all of the proud smiles found within this diverse community of bike owners: Age? Race? Sex (yes, please)? Ethnicity? Occupation? Income? Urban/Suburban/Rural? Serious/Casual? Spandex/Tweed/Funk? All become non-issues as one clicks through these great photos. And even better, the bikes are soooooooooo cool!

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  15. i can only wonder what my label would be when i ride to work in a suit?

    business urban bicyclist?

    casual to me describes clothing...?

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  16. and how about me--bola tie on a 3 speed?
    ...another pet peeve... all the --mostly mountain bike and some fixie--biker scofflaws
    running lights and worse yet blazing down sidewalks God help the pedestrian who doesn't move quickly. Bells and yielding to pestrians if you ARE on the sidewalk seems to be a foreign concept in Salt Lake City. On a positive note, biking as in co-ops, commuting, bike paths, and general sustainability seems on a slow upswing.

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  17. I guy I work with, and ride with on weekends sometimes is a serious cyclist, or so I thought. I pointed this out to him: "You're a serious cyclist, what with the $3000 bike and always riding in lycra." He pointed out that he viewed me as the serious cyclist because I ride to work all the time, though crappy, cold weather and all that. I have to admit that I took pleasure from his pronouncement. Even though, of course, I eschew labels.

    ;-)

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  18. Funny, I think of the Lycra Lout types as the real "casual" cyclists. Around here they're mostly well off hobbyist types who only ride in the parks or on the especially nice paths and scenic routes, and that only on the weekends.

    On the other hand, my whip is how I get around. I do 10-20 miles a day, day in, day out, whether the nice manicured trails go there or not, through Midtown and Bed Stuy and everything in between.

    So who's "casual" here?

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  19. I was casually going to work on my Raleigh fixie around 9:00 a.m. this past week when a Lady in a white car casually drove across the street into her apartment parking area. I thought she was intending to make a turn and not go across the street. I was going at a moderate speed and had to apply the brakes and resist the pedal movemt. as a fixed wheel allows. It surprised the s... out of me and and she and I made eye contact and I let her know what I thought of her hap hazard ignorant driving and she was totally expressionless. Not even an I am sorry look. So much for the casual cyclist I was serious as hell. Thanks and watch out for driving monkeys and orangutans! Eduard with all eyes on the road at all times of nite or day.

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