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Friday, May 18, 2012

It's Ok to Bully Bike Hipsters on Ladyblogs [Urban Adonia]

I read a few "ladyblogs," primarily xoJane and Jezebel. If I click on a post, I usually read the comments, too. When the topic of bikes comes up, there's always a mini-war in the comments between people who despise "bike hipsters" (read: entitled, privileged jerks who think they own the road) and people who actually ride bikes. Commenters trot out their most extreme stories of negative interactions they've had with people on bikes, sometimes concluding with things like "FUCK BIKING HIPSTERS I HOPE A BUS HITS YOU."

These are the same websites that promote things like fat acceptance and anti-bullying campaigns. Why are bicyclists portrayed as inhuman creatures unworthy of sympathy, dismissing an incredibly diverse world of practice (bicycling) because of the stupid behavior of a few jerks? And, this is the thing that really confuses me, why do people find jerk bicyclists so harmful to society when they constantly interact with motorists who run red lights and stop signs, use infrastructure like traffic circles in dangerous ways, talk and text in the car, drive without looking from side to side when entering intersections, and engage in other dangerous behaviors that kill people every day?

I asked a few of my friends, one a bicyclist and one less inclined to the bicycling arts, what they thought about this phenomenon. Both responded that it's because you can see a bicyclist's face, whereas it's easier to think of a motorist as a car. The interactions with bicyclists stick out in people's minds, and maybe they feel more personally insulted by the face-to-face flouting of laws. I think it's also because we've trained ourselves to think of driving as passing through an obstacle course rather than moving through a social space. Cars that do dumb stuff are a nuisance, but they do not interrupt the illusion until there's an actual crash. Bodies that do dumb stuff are a threat to the idea that driving is a no harm, no foul activity. You might actually hurt someone!


[keep reading Urban Adonia]

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