Lifestyle choices and political statements
In our efforts to reach more of the ever-growing audience on BikeForums.net, I’ve learned that there seems to be two distinct camps among those that choose pedals over pistons for their sole means of transportation.
A suggestion was made recently to incorporate a “Utility Bike” forum. Unfortunately, this topic does not fit neatly in Commuting, Alt Bikes, or even Living Car Free. Some people want to know how to build a trailer, or what gearing works best with an Xtracycle. Others are interested in hauling things like groceries, building supplies, or kids. It all comes down to bikes and accessories that are made for work, not just getting to work.
And therein lies the problem. A vocal minority of car-free cyclists consider their decision to be a political one. Something about the internal combustion engine being the root of all evil in the world. They’re making a “statement”, as opposed to those people that just choose a bicycle as their primary transportation because it’s cheap, fun, and healthy. In some cases, this means that they feel they can look down on car owners. Because of this, they have a relatively small percentage of the forum membership actually participating in their discussions. I’m sure there are plenty of lurkers, but they choose not to join or post, as it’s not the most welcoming environment. It also means that utility bikes, something that many of them may rely on in one form or another, will need to find a home in a different forum.
For those people that are looking to lessen their reliance on a car, but don’t necessarily want to give it up completely, you won’t be left out in the cold on the forums. There will be a place for you. Watch for it in the next week or so. And remember, all those little steps really add up. If they lead to a car-free lifestyle, all the better.
By the way, I personally dislike the phrase “Living car free”. The boys at Xtracycle have a much better term – Bicycle Lifestyle.
Firstly, too much good bicycle discussion gets sidetracked by some sort of politics or another over at bikeforums. Be it “Car Free or Die” or the “You Can’t Be a CYCLIST and Carry a Gun.” I spend a lot less time just “hanging out” over there because of that type thing. It happens in just about every forum I’ve ever visited though, so perhaps freedom of speech belongs to those loud enough to be heard over the din.
Re: Living Car Free
I’ve done it, and it was in a relatively small, bicycle friendly city. When I did finally get a car (nice to visit family isn’t it?) it only got driven when necessary and it was rare when I put more than 5000 miles per year on it. Usually a lot less.
The thing is, where I live now, living car free would be beyond inconvenient. Firstly, my wife is a social worker, so until her agency decides to buy a bunch of cars we’re going to own one. There are parts of town where it is more feasible to live car free, but we wouldn’t be able to afford the house we own, or we’d be sweeping crack vials off the stoop every morning.
Cinti has horrible public transportation, and since most of the money that is needed for improvements comes from Tax Levies that are voted on by the citizens, I don’t see a big change coming soon.
I just want to see one of the “Church of the Car Free” come live in my city, explain to my wife how to get all over town to interview people and inspect living conditions, and how to get my 75# dog to the dog park that is at the bottom of an extremely busy and steep hill that’s about a mile long.
I dream for the day that we have better transportation options and the only vehicles in my garage are bicycles, but that day is not close in this town.
Maybe I sound like sour grapes to the “Live Car Free or Die” crowd, but it’s just a reality here. Cul de Sacs of death neighborhoods, mediocre (at best) public transportation, a desire to stop paying a landlord…all of these things make driving at some point a necessity.
My 25 year old self just bitch slapped my 39 year old self, but the current mature me schooled the 25 year old after that.
Paul “I ride when I can” in Cin City
Brian, I love using my bike for any trip under 10 miles (round trip) and some longer ones (like my 28-35 mile round trip commute). As a somewhat active BF member, I quickly found out that there was good information in the “Living Car Free” forum. I saw the tension though.
You know what I found out? Between the Commuting and Touring guys, I can get all my questions answered. Commuters are used to hitting the pavement pretty often — many of them on a daily basis. Tourers are a great resource, too. Many know how to carry big loads for self-supported touring. And if you need to ask about welding or carpentry while building your trailer, there’s always Foo. 🙂
seems like a good decision to me. separate the political factions from the utility factions. that way everybody has their sandbox to play in, and people looking for info OR political discussion know where to go.
Very well said Brian. It’s interesting that I did some riding in London recently, a city of 12 million, but where cycling doesn’t seem to have been politicised to the same extent that it has in Australia or the US. I have to say that the treatment I received from drivers was much more pleasant than what I normally deal with. I actually think the political “advocates” do more harm than good to cycling — and that goes for most of the people on the A & S trainwreck.