Are Urban Bicyclists Snobs?

You've seen them (or maybe you are one): holier-than-thou urban bicyclist who think they're better than their environmentally destructive, car-driving brethren.

Will Doig of Slate's Dream City blog is a cyclist - and he has written about the image problem of urban bicyclist:

Urban bicyclists have an image problem. They’ve become stereotyped as pretentious, aloof jackasses, and a lot of this has to do with the changes taking place in cities right now. [...]

Railing against bikes, in fact, became a great way to sell papers. A hundred years ago, newspapers ginned up scare stories about the threat that hapless women on bicycles posed to pedestrians. Today, old-school tabloids like the New York Post have found that the bicyclists-versus-everyone narrative still resonates. In Op-Eds with titles like “Bike-Lane Bloodbath,” bicycles are portrayed as weaponized toys, and isolated accidents are held up as proof that bicycles are an urban menace. Last week in San Francisco, a 23-year-old bicyclist was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for striking and killing a pedestrian — a tragic incident, but one that occurred in a city where 800 pedestrians are hit by cars every year. Still, the story was front-page news, sparking an online uproar: “I’m sick of bicycles and their cocky, self-righteous riders,” one commenter wrote on the San Francisco Chronicle’s website. “Bicyclists believe that they are untouchable.”

So 'fess up: are you a bike snob? Link - via Metafilter


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sooo... curious... why didn't you just slide over and let him by??? i mean, he was on you and obviously wanted to get by, right? or did you have a point to prove?

funny, i go about my way and don't get beeped at, let alone cause an accident. and my method is wrong?

great stories, thanks!
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So I'm riding down the street today at (according to my GPS) 31mph. The speed limit is 30mph so I'm in primary. That's the safest place to be and I'm inconveniencing no law abiding road users.*

And yet still I get some idiot (middleaged, respectable looking man in a respectable looking car - so nuts to a whole load of prejudices) who decides he just has to overtake me. In the face of oncoming traffic and leaning on the horn while doing so. He wasn't in a hurry because once past me he didn't pull away.

Why did he do it? Simple really he is one of that mindless bunch who believes that certain road users must be overtaken, no matter what the risk. Cyclists, horses, farm machines, etc. no matter what the speed and what the situation you must overtake. Of coure half a mile later we reached a traffic light. I filtered to the front and used the ASL. For my troubles I got a blast on the horn from the angry old man as I passed.

This sort of thing isn't uncommon. A couple of years ago an idiot decided to pass me even though I was travelling at the same speed as the traffic. Said idiot found there wasn't room for him to slow and get back in before he reached the car in front of me. He hit the rear threequarter of that car. His excuse to the injured party actually was "I had to pass that idiot on the bike". Had to? I don't recall anywhere in the RTA where it says you have to pass cyclists.
* Before you say I was speeding. Strictly speaking I was, but in practice I was not. I could not be prosecuted unless I was doing 4mph more.
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The point remains: Every group of road users has its dickheads.

IME as a member of several groups it's car drivers who have the highest proportions of dickheads. But because almost all of us are car drivers we don't view car drivers as a group, what we do is subdivide it.

So you may feel that everybody who drives an Audi is arrogant and agressive. You may feel that all Rover drivers are dodering old fools. It may be that you expect every driver under the age of 21 to be a dangerous idiot with no road sense. And so on. Substitute car brands to suit your territory.

So when you're out in your car you view every other road user as not being part of your group. Lets say you're a white male, forty years old and drive a Volvo. Everybody who isn't a white male of a similar age and driving a Volvo is in a different group to you. You see a cyclist do something stupid and you think "all cyclists are dickheads". You see a car driver do something stupid and you don't think "all car drivers are dickheads" because that would include you. So you think maybe you think "all young drivers are dickheads" or whatever. Even if you saw a white male of about 40 driving a Volvo do something stupid you would probably think of a classification which includes him, but excludes you. "Look at that idiot. Men with beards just can't drive!"

If you happen to be a cyclist you don't think all cyclists are dickheads. You just categorize them into as many subgroups as you like to support your prejudices.

That's how most humans work. Divide the rest of the world into social groupings just so you can hate them. Sad really.
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houndogg,
"coward" may be a strong word, but it's a better description than "cycling with consideration to everyone around me".
Giving consideration to everyone sounds more like biking predictably, presenting your self in the lane well, following the rules of the road, etc. Safer for you and other users of the road.

BTW, calling people names when ever they disagree with you isn't very effective
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