Skip to comments.Bicycles: the new conservative enemy
Posted on 07/18/2013 6:08:03 PM PDT by rickmichaels
In the 1980s, the conservative humourist P.J. ORourke wrote A Cool and Logical Analysis of the Bicycle Menace. He was joking. In 2013, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz said, the bike lobby is an all-powerful enterprise and the presence of a bike-sharing program in New York was an example of the totalitarians running the government of this city. She wasnt joking. Rabinowitzs widely discussed appearance on a Wall Street Journal video, which was picked up by many news outlets and The Daily Show (Slow down, lady, theyre just bikes! Jon Stewart exclaimed), did more than draw attention to complaints about the effectivness of the Citibike program, New Yorks attempt to compete with the bike-sharing in other cities such as Paris and Montreal. It made people aware of just how hostile some conservative commentators are to bikes.
Rabinowitz was hardly the first conservative pundit to express scorn for bicycles and the people who ride them. One of the most-publicized recent bike-bashers was Don Cherry, who showed up to meet Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in 2010 wearing a loud pink shirt, explaining: Im wearing pink for all the pinkos out there riding bicycles. Popular southern California radio host John Kobylt, an opponent of plans to build more bike lanes in Los Angeles, recently explained that cyclists are members of a bizarre cult that worships two-wheel transportation, not a traditional God. And Rush Limbaugh, the leader in conservative radio punditry, has always been willing to tee off on the pesky pedal-pushers: Frankly, if the door opens into a bicycle rider, I wont care, he once said. I think they ought to be off the streets and on the sidewalk, where bike riders arent actually allowed.
Why would bicycles become a political issue? Partly because things like bike-sharing programs are often placed in opposition to cars and the people who drive them. Lloyd Alter, an adjunct professor at Ryerson Universitys school of interior design and the managing editor of TreeHugger.com, says conservatives sometimes associate bikes with environmentalism and anti-capitalism. Bike riders live in denser places, dont go to big-box supercentres, lead a suspiciously different lifestyle. The political splits in cities are often strongest between urban areas and the suburbs or exurbs, and that pits suburb-friendly transportation, mainly cars, against more urban vehicles such as bikes and light rail.
So just as conservative politicians such as Ford have often won votes for their support of the automobile against non-traditional transportation, conservative pundits often stick up for suburban car drivers in the culture war, and portray bicyclists as elitists. Kobylt, cited by The Atlantics Conor Friedersdorf as a practitioner of the paranoid style in bicycle politics, told his listeners he fears that cyclists are trying to make him feel like, Im second class because I drive a car, or I have a commute to work, or I live in a suburban neighbourhood. Journalist George Will, a prominent opponent of trains, also mocked then-U.S. secretary of transportation Ray LaHood for his support of biking: Does he think 0.01 per cent of Americans will ever regularly bike to work? Will sneered. Alter says that, to some pundits, cyclists are a powerful force trying to squeeze cars off the road, and every advance by the cyclists is seen as an attack on the suburban way of life.
But just as there are plenty of liberals who drive SUVs, there are plenty of conservatives who contradict the bike-hating stereotype. Nicole Gelinas, a contributor to the conservative urban policy magazine City Journal, published an article about Citibike that, while critical of the program, also tried to counteract some of the stereotypes about it: Despite fears to the contrary, especially among the elderly, she wrote, bike share wont harm pedestrians. Still, as bike-friendly conservative radio host Mitch Berg told the Utne Reader, people on both sides of the political aisle do ascribe political significance to biking. Or, as P.J. ORourke put it all those years ago, I dont like the kind of people who ride bicycles.
It is bizarre.
NO! It is not that conservatives associate bicycle riders with environmentalists. It is that bicyclists don’t share the road, but they hog it. They go ten miles an hour while vehicles go 40, so you have to practically stall if you are behind them. They don’t let you pass because their attitude is - ‘We are equal to cars.” Well, no they are not. And then the cities add bicycle lanes and take out a traffic lane to do so. Let’s see, what else? Oh yes, they are arrogant. They drive through intersections without stopping, and they ignore other vehicle laws. I cannot stand bicyclists.
They should ride on side streets and not on main arteries. !!!!!
In my city they have replaced two good 10 foot wide lanes on the major thoroughfares with two 8 foot wide lanes and a 4 foot wide bike lane.
Sadly, I think somebody is going to be killed.
After visiting Amsterdam, these guys would have a coronary if they went there. Bicycles rule there.
They are nothing but happy hunting grounds for the Trayvon Martins of this world.
I don't mind the people who ride bikes at all. The kind of people that I don't like are the ones who want to use any form of government action to force me (or anyone else) to ride one against my will.
They're usually the same people who are decrying "urban sprawl" in the name of "sustainability".
if they paid for their own lanes and not taxpayers no one would care
government owned bikes - of course we oppose socialism
After hearing numerous accounts of horrific injuries sustained by bicyclists and by pedestrian struck by them — I believe in common sense bicycle control.
I’m saying that bicycles should be banned altogether. Just regulated so as to eliminate the threat they pose to public safety.
Any extremist who actually wants to own a bicycle need only register it with a local government run velodrome. And keep it there.
Whenever they want to ride their bicycle they can go to the government run velodrome and ride it in circles for as long as they please.
It is only common sense.
I am a conservative fanatic...but I also ride a bike for exercise. And I don't want to be run over for political reasons.
I smile and wave at any and all who pass me by in cars. I am polite to a fault...even when I am dog-tired.
We conservatives don't need to pick unnecessary fights...we need to stay on message.
“Will sneered. Alter says that, to some pundits, cyclists are a powerful force trying to squeeze cars off the road, and every advance by the cyclists is seen as an attack on the suburban way of life.”
Will,is right, but he underestimates the destruction that bicyclists and the bike lobby afflict upon the suburban way life and ultimately the American way of life and Christian values.
They use the roads that we pay for, they slow us down on our daily commutes to work, depriving us of freedom and profit, they attack our values in a manner similar to the homosexual lobby.
They deny business to our auto and oil industries and put our lives at risk.
I’m a conservative and LOVE bicycling!
Have several, including a custom-made recumbent. Also built an electric one that goes 30mph.
individuals buying a bike is fine - socialist government bike programs are stupid
It is as if they willfully ignore the "lug-nut-count-right-of-way" rule.
Whoever has the most lug nuts has the right-of-way.
That's the way I've rolled for the past 52 years (yes, I was driving 90,000 lb. loaded grain trucks 60 miles to town at age 9).
As a cyclist, I understand how you feel. You cast us as the liberals cast conservatives; we’re in the way of you doing things your way. So you make up stories based on what you think others think.
Such thinking is the core of liberalism.
A cyclist has never slowed me down for more than a few seconds. It’s such a loss of my important time. end sarcasm.
I like bicycles. Sometimes, you need a little extra power, so they should have engines on them. They are also a bit unstable, so they should have four wheels. I’m all for four wheeled bicycles with gasoline engines. And sometimes it rains or snows, so they should be enclosed. Enclosed, four wheeled gasoline powered bicycles. I think there might be a market for those.
Fort Worth, Texas has a rent-a-bike program. I thought it was cool we had it before NYC.
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