The short summary of this: Many more people ride bikes than consider themselves cyclists. This makes a big difference when planning outreach, working on advocacy or community education, or otherwise trying to get attention on non-motorized transportation alternatives. It’s a good bit of what’s involved in the People For Bikes campaign.
To a certain extent, it’s this bikers vs. cyclists, for want of better terminology, that gets into some of the haters who post to online message boards whenever good (or bad) news involving bicycles gets posted on local media websites – as well as the bikes-are-toys-not-transport stuff that oozes into such commentary as well.
But it also reflects a divide among people who really should be united. While someone who rides to work for function may not consider themselves a cyclist, they benefit from the same policies and initiatives the spandex-clad weekend warriors or lifestyle cyclists who spurn cars and count their carbon footprint savings.
A lot of it does come down into the spandex-vs.-not crowd, and also the virulent hatred the haters have for the spandex crowd. The bikers, who do not consider themselves cyclists, look at the spandex and the hate, and the mass generalizations about stop signs and road ownership, and think: That isn’t me. I bike in loose pants, I use sidewalks when I can and like trails, I don’t go fast.
It’s something worth considering, although I don’t know that I would say to the spandex-clad superheroes that they need to relax. But it’s an interesting notion to think upon, and ask: How do you convince bikers that they are cyclists? How do you convince the people who give the community a bad name – the stop sign blowers, regardless of garments, the daredevils, the Critical Massholes – to reach out instead of alienate?
How do we all recognize we’re in this together?