Why Cyclist Is a Dirty Word | Outside Online

The word “cyclist” can be a dirty one — particularly among the most passionate riders of bicycles. “Cyclist” can be a badge of honor, the thinking goes, but also a shortcut to stereotyping, more charged than “driver,” say, or “runner.” (You rarely hear about jogger-driver confrontations). I first wandered into this thicket while addressing a group of transportation advocates in Australia, and have since absorbed the lesson like a mantra: Better to say “a person on a bike.”
Take my own life. Saturday mornings might find me racing around Central Park predawn or joining the hundreds of riders who throng New York’s celebrated Route 9W. Yes, your quintessential Middle-Age-Man-in-Lycra (MAMIL). But later that day will find me with the family, pedaling our town bikes on New York City’s new protected lanes, with nary a stitch of performance clothing to be seen, to catch the ferry to Governors Island. During the week, I will grab a CitiBike in Midtown and ride it to a meeting in Chelsea, avoiding subway transfers and sitting in a gridlocked cab.