At some point in the recent history of bicycling we decided that the desired results of the Boub vs. Wayne decision were insufficient. We want from wanting to be ‘intended and permitted users of the roadway‘ to this quasi-serious status we now refer to as ‘transportation cycling‘.
In the past bicyclists were easily identified. They were usually dressed in very brightly colored tight-fitting ‘riding kits‘ and sporting those sic-fi contraptions on their noggins that were referred to as ‘helmets‘. Their shoes clopped around on pavement very noisily. And their bikes were almost too colorful by half when compared to the touring bikes imported from England in the 1960s.
These folks were often referred to as ‘roadies‘ and as their name suggests they were found most often riding in groups over paved roads alongside automobile traffic.
Then there were also folks who identified as ‘touring cyclists‘. Sometimes they had at least the top of a ‘riding kit‘ but beyond that they were dressed in cutoff blue jeans and sometimes even sneakers. No special cleat for this group. They rode with toe straps and clips.
The other defining factor for the ‘touring cyclists‘ were the panniers. most kept these on regardless of whether we were actually touring or not. They served the very same purpose as a very large woman’s purse. You could stuff clothing, food and drinks down into these cavernous pouches.
Transportation Cyclists Are Neither Fish Nor Fowl
I think that hipsters like being ‘odd ducks‘. They look for all the world like ‘hippies‘ of a generation or two ago because of the beards. But beyond that similarity the preponderance of tattoos and nose rings and those silly knit caps which were once supposed to hold dreadlocks but now are just vestigial.
In place of the ever present bell bottom jeans of the sixties this lot has decided to sport skinny jeans. Bell bottoms are relatively loose fitting. Skinny jeans are nothing if not entirely inappropriate on fat asses.
The entire ethos of this generation is pretentiousness. Unlike the hippies who could settle back and smoke themselves into a semi-comatose state, the hipster generation is hell bent on drinking itself into one. Alcohol is to the hipster generation what marijuana was to the hippie crowd.
But the prevalence of computers has given this hipster generation the cache of techno-literacy. They imagine somehow that knowing the exact location of every accident of the last two decades is evidence that they are can be knowledgeable about the value of bicycle infrastructure.
What they lack however beyond a listing of where the crimes were committed is some true understanding of how to prevent those crimes and whether their latest efforts will actually work.
Having A Mantra Is Not The Same Thing As Being Knowledgeable
We believe in bicycle infrastructure the way our parents believed in religion. They never really stopped to question whether the priests were telling them what was true or not.
The situation was one in which they simply believed. Anyone who questioned the wisdom of the priests was looked upon as a Doubting Thomas and sometimes worse. Today anyone questioning whether the current religion being dispensed by the Church of Urban Cycling is correct is deemed to be anti-cycling. Free thinking is not encouraged.
So long as bicycles were merely considered ‘toys‘ for kids or ‘expensive toys‘ for roadies no one really cared to gaze upon riders as anything but soft background music.
But the hipsters have come bearing a new role for the cyclists, that of Messiah. We are no longer just riding our bikes, we are now ‘saving the world‘. There is an air of arrogance in every carefully crafted act performed by this new generation of bicyclists. And sadly their arrogance comes with a price tag.
Disdaining The Ordinary
Transportation Cyclists have made it clear that they are at least different than roadies is not altogether better people. The contempt that ‘transportation cyclists‘ have for motorists and the automobile is palpable.
In one motion they have demanded to be accommodated on each and every street in every municipality while disdaining the idea of having to conform in any manner whatsoever. Their ethicist has told them in no uncertain terms that they are above the notion of obeying the Rules of the Road. Theirs is a Holy Mission.
They will not submit to licensing or training because they above all of the other beings on this planet are least in need of these things. They have in fact developed such a reputation as ‘elites‘ that their ‘handlers‘ have taken to warning them that being divas is not conducive to winning points with the general public.
But their mission is to tame the automobile culture by simply removing any vestiges of its existence.
As a result the more vulnerable members of the urban landscape have paid a dear price for using these bicycles. Bicycles have become symbols of lawlessness. Every alleycat video is one more nail in the coffin of understanding between cyclists and everyone else. Not even the lowly pedestrian is buying the notion that their mission is on behalf of bicyclists and pedestrians.
That bit of spin is no longer believed by anyone who has encountered cyclists in their natural habitat. The propaganda that conveyed the idea that only cars killed people is not longer believed. It has been replaced by a clear and certain understanding that the War on Cars is a real as the War on Pedestrians.
Claiming that you can ride across town faster on a bicycle than you can on Mass Transit merely means that you are not stopping when you should or waiting for lights to turn green.
In the Old South anyone on a bicycle is going to meet with a certain amount of disrespect. But this will be much worse for black and brown peoples in the region. And that is the true legacy of the hipster generation of transportation cyclists.