More People Don't Bicycle Because of ... Bicyclists?
While we were visiting Portland in June I noticed a few people riding bikes, slowly—almost purposefully slowly—in everyday clothes. It reminded me of a European city more than an American city. It seemed pretty cool.
I didn't know it was a movement.
Yesterday on his blog, Andrew Sullivan quoted both Celeste LeCompte (Special to the San Francisco Chronicle) and Felix Salmon (a Reuters blogger) praising the slow bike movement. Both believe it encourages other people to ride. Both insinuate that the reason there are not more bike-riders is the bike-riders we already have.
For some San Franciscans, seeing slow-riding folks like Logan and Stockmann out on the road can be a refreshing encouragement to hop on two wheels for a daily commute or a quick trip to the farmers' market. ... Being a Slow Bike Rider may mean being left behind by the pack of spandex-wearing cyclists in the mornings, but it also means getting to know more about the rest of your community.
If you live in a city where women in wedge heels are steering their old steel bikes around their daily errand route, there’s really nothing intimidating or scary about the prospect of getting on a bike yourself. If it’s all hipsters on fixies, by contrast, that just makes biking feel all the more alien and stupid.
I'm sure this is part of it. No one wants to join a group in which they'll feel unwelcome or unhip.
At the same time, I've had quite a few people ask me, often shyly, about biking to work, and what it's like, and how long it takes, etc. etc., but whenever I suggest they do it themselves and they beg off, the main reason they give is their perception of how dangerous it is. They're not fearful of “spandex-wearing cyclists” or “hipsters on fixies”; they're fearful of cars. They don't want to be exposed in traffic. They don't want to die.
To ignore this in any discussion about cycling is to ignore the SUV in the room.