It seems like the latest trend in newspaper editorial writing is for ‘liberal’ leaning writers to pen an editorial saying ‘I consider myself liberal, climate-change believing (and therefore I am a saint – as opposed to you know, not crazy), but geez, these cyclists are disrupting me driving my car!’ All of these articles say the same thing – ‘I would support cycling, but cyclists are just crazy, non-helmet wearing jerks, who endanger me on me way to work!’ And now the Boston Globe has jumped on the bandwagon with an editorial entitled ‘Some Liberals Also Think Cyclists Are Annoying.’
This article has stirred familiar feelings of rage in me, because not all cyclists are the people who this article talks about. As a co-worker said the other day ‘Drivers never remember all of the cyclists they passed on the way to work who rode in traffic safely. They only remember the one cyclist who scared the crap out of them.’ And of course, as a cyclist, I have similarly selective memory. I rarely think about all the drivers who pass me safely, but I can remember the color, make, and model of the driver who passed me by 2 inches.
This article, however, brings in another element that previous editorials had not brought up:
More people are cycling, to get fit or to get to work. According to one recent study analyzing bicycle trends in large North American cities, bike commuters surged 64 percent from 1990 to 2009. In the United States, most of that growth is among men, in the 25-to-39 year age group. That demographic could explain a lot. I don’t want to turn a fake political war into a real gender war. But envision the typical man tailgating you in a pickup truck because he thinks you’re not driving fast enough. Now imagine him on a bicycle, propelled by the same attitude.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. Well, no. I know how I feel. I don’t like it. Saying that ‘the typical man’ is an aggressive tailgating driver is gender stereotyping (being a man = being aggressive) in the same way that saying that all women are timid, bad drivers is gender stereotyping (being a woman = being passive/not assertive). I would also be interested to see the numbers breakdown of which demographics have experienced the largest growth in bike commuting. I know that men 25-39 is the largest demographic group, but I don’t know if that is the group that has experienced the greatest growth since 1990. Anybody know where those numbers might be?
The whole article just gets me going. When are we as a culture going to move past framing cyclists as a nuisance to drivers and not people who have an equal right to the road?
Here is the video she is referring to in the article. It features some amazing Boston accents.