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  #11  
Old 08-21-2008, 12:49 PM
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Jonathan Maus Jonathan Maus is offline
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one way to combat this negative perception is by not being afraid to stand up for biking when the media gets it wrong.

and we must realize that the media is just as guilty for this negative perception than the asshole bike riders are.

the media constantly focuses on conflict between bikes and cars and let's not forget the huge impact Critical Mass continues to play in the hearts and minds.

I think it's deplorable that in Portland, a city that loves heralding it's bike-friendly policies, it took nearly a month for an elected official to publicly address a bike issue that had been in front page news in local, regional, national, and international media.

and when that official, Sam Adams, finally did address the issue, his advice was... "Share the frickin' road people"!

that is not the type of thought leadership required to move the needle toward a more positive perception of biking and bikers.
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  #12  
Old 08-21-2008, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wsbob View Post
Look at this SF anti-bike plan activist Rob Anderson for example. His viewpoint might seem knee-jerk reactionary at first glance, but upon reading parts of his blog, it's clear there's more there. He's fairly intelligent. Still, as a pedestrian, when he sums up the behavior of all the people that ride bikes on SF streets, what kind of people riding bikes come to his mind? The dare-devil messengers. The people that blow stop signs, that flip people off and so forth. All the peaceful bike commuters don't even get a mention.
I looked at this guy's site and read many of the comments. Its plainly obvious that non-cyclists regard us as one group, all the same, stereotyped. I hear it every day from my co-workers and people I meet. They all comment negatively about cyclists. I recite traffic laws, call bad cyclists a minority, it doesn't change the perception. Everyone, myself included, sees cyclists doing stupid things every day on the roadways, so rash generalizations are made. All we can do is represent ourselves in a better manner.

Its not just minorities, either. A motorist represents all motorists to cyclists, to pedestrians, to the police, to construction works on the roadway. It happens every day if you are perceived as being in some group, majority or minority. A City worker represents all City workers when they are in their City truck. If one City worker takes a nap in his vehicle, then its perceived that they all nap in their vehicles; it make the news, then its a fact. It may be poor logic, but you can't prevent it from happening.

Say you don't care what anyone else thinks, that's fine. Just remember that you, or more likely someone else, will have to deal with the consequences some day, in some way. I deal with the consequences of cyclists blowing stop signs every time I ride; motorists don't take their proper turn expecting me to blow the stop. And that's only one example.

As for stopping cyclists who act like idiots... enforce the traffic laws! Give cyclists tickets. Doubt that will happen since I don't think even the police know how the traffic laws apply to bicycles.
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  #13  
Old 08-21-2008, 01:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Attornatus_Oregonensis View Post
Like it or not, I am not representing. I refuse to be held responsible for others' stereotypes. And there is nothing you can do to make me take responsibility for such stupidity. Like it or not.
You don't have any say in the matter. I can't make you do anything or not do anything. But, like it or not, you are representing.

(As much as I say to my mom that the only cyclist's behavior I can control is my own... you get the idea)
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  #14  
Old 08-21-2008, 02:23 PM
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Well, if you really think people are going to judge all people who ride bicycles the same way, then unless you can stop everyone who rides a bike from breaking traffic laws you're always going to have your image problem. Good luck with solving that one.

And I'll say it again: I cannot and will not be held responsible for anyone else's behavior.
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  #15  
Old 08-21-2008, 02:24 PM
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Red face Respectfully - Point Noted

AO and Donald - I totally respect your perspectives on "representing" and I am one of those guilty of misusing that term in this forum.

Here's my offering to you: Be you and ride responsibly.

I know you both already do this.

Now consider:

When you go out of your way to yeild to a pedestrian - maybe you smile and have a pleasant interaction - you've just added another layer of cognitive information to that individual pedestrians life experience. That particular pedestrian will have to overcome your behaviour to carry an attitude or make a statement like: "All cyclists are jerks!"

Same with me blowing kisses to driver's who actually obey the crosswalk laws.

I know, I know... Koombai ya... let's all hold hands... but let me lay it down like Jesus and say it's OK to lead by example. We aren't asking for your souls brothahs!
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  #16  
Old 08-21-2008, 02:42 PM
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Right, I already do that. But this isn't about me.

If someone thinks in terms of "All Xs do Y" then they are already ignoring examples of interactions that occur every day in which one of those Xs did not do Y.

So, no matter how many counter-examples they have, they will always have this flawed logic. Or, maybe there is some critical number of counter-examples they need to witness before they stop thinking stereotypically. Or, maybe no matter how many counter-examples they see, any salient example that supports their stereotype will cause them to continue using the stereotype.

Whatever the case, there will always be an example of behavior that fits their stereotype - no matter how lawfully you and I ride - because no one will ever be perfect. And because there are a lot of assholes on bikes whose behavior you have no chance of changing.

So, this is an unsolvable problem. I'm glad it's not mine.

And if people could learn that the path to social change isn't to accept and legitimize stereotypes, but to confront those people who hold them and show them that they are irrational and the cause of the problem, then your problem would go away.

Do you also tell homosexuals that homophobia is a reality that they just have to accept and that if they would just act less gay people would stop stereotyping them?

And you say, "That's different." True. But the thinking is the same. Why is this an acceptable way to deal with irrational discrimination against cyclists but not against other groups?
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  #17  
Old 08-21-2008, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Attornatus_Oregonensis View Post
Like it or not, I am not representing. I refuse to be held responsible for others' stereotypes. And there is nothing you can do to make me take responsibility for such stupidity. Like it or not.
/seconded

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  #18  
Old 08-21-2008, 02:44 PM
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There's a fundamental difference between blowing stop signs and expressing anger at being cut off. Seems we should seperate those issues.

If AO's blowing stop signs (I don't know that he is) -- then he's part of the problem.

If AO's flipping off drivers who cut him off -- well, he's certainly not part of the solution. (Given the hostile tone of his replies, I doubt he gives it much thought.)

As WSBOB, beelnite, and others have said -- lead by example. AO seems to imply that the solution here is strict police enforcement of both drivers and bikes. I fear that attitude will lead to licensing for bikes. We don't need that. We don't need more government. My hope is that we can corral our own idiots.

AO -- Direct that pent up anger toward irrresponsible cyclists blowing stop signs and you might actually do some good.
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  #19  
Old 08-21-2008, 02:55 PM
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Replace car driver with cyclist, and you get the same perceptions.

Look at the comments section of any blog post about a collision between cyclist and motorist. There's lots of derogatory comments about people who drive cars: calling 'em cagers, denigrating them, villifying them.

It goes both ways. EVERYONE applies stereotypes to EVERYONE ELSE. Welcome to America, I guess. Where everyone is fat, lazy, and dumb. (And all black men above the age of 13 get arrested because they're black. And all white women are afraid to go outside after dark alone. Where a woman can't get the same pay for the same job that a white man does. Where all our presidents have been old, white, christian men.)

How did that make you feel?

Sigh.... everytime this topic comes up, the same set of people claim loudly that "they" don't represent "us" just because "they" happen to choose the same mode of transportation. And the same set of people try to get it through that it's not about them representing, it's about the PERCEPTIONS OF OTHERS.

If you could read minds, I'll bet you'll find that everyone else is applying their own stereotype to you as one of those scofflaw asshat cyclists. So do something to change their minds, maybe that perception will be applied to others. For good or ill.
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  #20  
Old 08-21-2008, 02:56 PM
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That's right, forkthis, you have no idea how I act on the road, whether I'm walking, riding my bike, or driving my truck. None.

But don't worry about me. It's a waste of your time, because you cannot control me. Worry about yourself. Then you will control all that you possibly can control.
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