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Monday, December 5, 2011

Are urban bicyclists just elite snobs? [Salon]


Bicycles
 (Credit: Salon/Mignon Khargie)
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In March, New Yorker columnist John Cassidy blogged about the city’s new bike lanes. He was annoyed that they made it harder for him to drive his Jaguar around Manhattan, and bemoaned the city’s bicyclists as a privileged, insular aristocracy, a “faddist minority intent on foisting its bipedalist views on a disinterested or actively reluctant populace.”
The Internet pounced. Cassidy’s blog posts usually get around a dozen comments. This one got 109, and not all were adoring fans. “The most tone-deaf, philistine commentary I’ve ever seen in these pages,” read one. “Honestly, if you love driving so much, please move to the Midwest,” another suggested. “Philistine and desultory drivel.”
Welcome to the new urban order: the Jag-driving New Yorker columnist is a philistine better suited to the suburbs of Wichita. Meanwhile, the city’s bicyclists are an entitled, imperial cabal cruising around on Trek Bellville three-speeds, an insidious locus of unchecked power and influence. How is this possible? As the blog Bike Snob NYC put it, someday in the future, “humanity will marvel that there was once an age in which a mode of transportation as inexpensive and accessible as the bicycle was considered ‘elitist.’”

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