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Lifestyle column: ‘Those arrogant bikers,’ and why I’m one too

Posted by on December 4th, 2013 at 10:23 am

lifestyle columnist Catherine Hastie

Lifestyle columnist Cathy Hastie.

Cathy Hastie is BikePortland’s lifestyle columnist … even when she says things we wouldn’t all agree with.

Some people say that bikers are an arrogant group. I am the first to admit that I am a card-carrying member. Portland has its coffee snobs and its beer snobs, and me — I’m a transportation snob.

I ride my bike past rows of motionless overheating cars with my nose in the air, flaunting my obviously better commuting choice. I crow to my officemates about how little I spend on gas and how I never pay for parking. My ego precedes me as I fill the elevator at the office with my bulky two-wheeler. I take advantage of the ambiguity bicycles are afforded in respect to sidewalks, driveways, streets and bike lanes. If I can ride on it safely, I will.

I am also the first to recognize how lucky I am. I have a well-paying job that allows me to live close to work. I am able-bodied. I live in a city that can afford to build amenities to make biking safe and pleasant. It is a privilege not to drive.

But, alas, there are some ignominious people who have forgotten this. Their self-absorbed, self-righteous behavior makes me look like a junior member of the Arrogance League. They weave through downtown traffic, handless and shirtless. They hover jerkily in clumsy track stands, inches from geriatric pedestrians in crosswalks. Their impatient posture appears to sneer, “What’s wrong with you? Pick up that walker and get a move on so I don’t have to put my foot down.” They are rudest of all to other bikers, passing on the right and cutting in front of the line at four-way stops. They thumb their noses at moderation, common courtesy and traffic signals.

This is a special class of bicycle rider. Arrogance imbues the way they ignore the flashing yield light on the tail end of TriMet buses; buses that each carry 40 workers to their jobs. Add it up: there is no way that a single bike rider’s time is more valuable, even if he were a lawyer. Some squeeze through the small gap next to the hulking behemoths, testing fate and stretching their luck — because they can.

“Perhaps they think that, because they are saving the environment at lightning speed, the world owes them the sweet spot on the road and the head start at every intersection, ahead of all ‘competitors.'”

Perhaps they think that, because they are saving the environment at lightning speed, the world owes them the sweet spot on the road and the head start at every intersection, ahead of all “competitors.” Occasionally, an especially egregious hedonist can be heard yelling livid profanities at drivers, seeming to enjoy himself in the process. Erratic, frequently unlawful behavior on the road looks almost as if it is meant to startle and piss-off drivers. Is it a game? Is it a challenge?

Arrogance even permeates cycling fashion. Expensive bike gear and “members only” attire boasts, “I am an athlete doing some serious training here! Don’t get in my way!” People blow thousands on equipment as if to say, “Who cares about starving children in Africa? I need to shave 12 seconds off my time.”

I must say, though, that the king of arrogance is the biker without a helmet. He is announcing to the world that he is too skilled to allow himself to be hit by a car. Obviously, when a semi-truck overturns in the adjacent lane, or a chain reaction fender-bender causes the car behind him to suddenly lunge forward, he will sprout wings and fly. Helmetless people are among those seen “flying” through red lights too…

Arrogance is a sense of superiority and self-importance. Some people who ride demonstrate their arrogance by making life miserable for the rest of us. But even mild-mannered, middle-aged pacifists like me are pretentious bigheads when it comes to riding our bikes. My transportation choice IS healthier, quieter, smaller, cleaner, funner – better! Arrogance is knowing that, without a doubt, my way is the best way. And sometimes, I am right.

Editor’s note: This is Cathy’s perspective and, after much discussion, we’re publishing it because she’s a smart, thoughtful member of the community and it reflects what she (and we assume lots of other people) think.

Update 11:30 pm: Cathy has responded in the comments to some of her critics.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Blake
Guest
Blake

“the king of arrogance is the biker without a helmet.” = “Other people get killed in crashes (caused by cars or bumps in the road), not me.” (this is the attitude of teenagers, not normal adults)

jeff
Guest
jeff

Most folks simply dont’ realize how little it takes to send you flying to the pavement and how it’s often not a decision, but a gear failure, a terrain feature you don’t plan for or see, etc.

Blake
Guest
Blake

Yup, happened to me 6 years ago, was wearing helmet. 2 nights in the hospital and a huge appreciation for what a helmet does to save your ass (head) you when least expect to need it.

Chainwhipped
Guest

Yup . . . unless it doesn’t. We all know way too many dead cyclists who were wearing helmets when they died. Turn on your lights, ride on the right side of the road, stay the hell off the sidewalk, and live longer.

ChamoisKreme
Guest
ChamoisKreme

Bikes are the new skateboards…

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This is comment bait.

Damn. You got me.

Michael Andersen (Contributor)
Editor

Ha! But seriously, since conversation is part of the whole point of BikePortland, I wouldn’t call this bait. I’d call it a meal (or hopefully an appetizer).

In my opinion, this site is (among other things) a place for people to share what they think about bikes, and read what other people think about them. Neither Jonathan or I would have written this column, but that’s the whole point of having Cathy on the team. We didn’t publish this to provoke. We did it because these ideas are worth talking about.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

I disagree that these are worth talking about. This article is just repeating all the stereotypes that people who ride bikes are frequently labeled with by mainstream media. This article does nothing to further progress towards safer ways to ride a bike, nor will encourage productive discussion. I’d expect better from this site.

JRB
Guest
JRB

I have a hard time understanding all the offense taken at the article, which I think was written by the author with her tongue firmly planted in her cheek. I read the article as an attempt to amuse by poking a little fun at the stereotypes of the arrogant cyclist that we all likely perpetuate to some degree. Does everything on BikePortland have to have some higher purpose than humor?

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

Clues toward humor are scant in the article. One such clue is often self-deprecation, however sly — but the opposite seems to dominate in this piece.

jd
Guest
jd

another such clue is that the article is actually amusing

Michael Andersen (Contributor)
Editor

Adam, I appreciate and respect your perspective (and those of the many folks here who agree) but disagree that these ideas aren’t worth sharing. Here’s why I think that: As she’s stated in earlier columns, Cathy is a bike-lover who’s barely driven a car to work in decades and regularly gets around with a bicycle. She’s also (if you happen to meet her) a disarmingly honest and upbeat person, curious about ideas different from her own and unusually self-aware. And until she wrote this piece and we talked about it, I don’t think Cathy had thought deeply about most of these issues from your perspective or from mine.

If Cathy doesn’t already agree with you or I, who will?

I don’t think the problem is that Cathy is dumb or unobservant, because I know she’s not. I think the problem is that your perspectives and mine are, unfortunately, held by a pretty small minority of people in the United States. Without forthright discussion of this and efforts to understand the perspectives and causes of this, it will never, ever change.

The point here isn’t to change Cathy’s mind personally; she can and should continue to say what she thinks (and if she’s comfortable weighing in here in the comments, I hope she will). And Cathy’s enjoyment of bikes doesn’t mean that anyone’s wrong to disagree with a bunch of the things she says (and obviously I and Jonathan and lots of people here do disagree with a bunch of things she says). Similarly, our own enjoyment of bikes doesn’t mean that we’re right. What it means is that there’s a huge gulf of misunderstanding and poor communication that, in my opinion, isn’t improved if we were to create a sort of internet terrarium where differences of opinion on these things don’t exist.

Paul in the 'couve
Guest
Paul in the 'couve

What it means is that there’s a huge gulf of misunderstanding and poor communication that, in my opinion, isn’t improved if we were to create a sort of internet terrarium where differences of opinion on these things don’t exist.

I agree with that. This is part of why I am so disappointed with this article. I don’t see that it is successful in improving the “poor communication” just because it raises the issues. I am completely at a loss to why you (et. al.) think repeatedly telling various types of cyclists and all cyclists in general that we are a bunch of arrogant jerks and every deviation of our riding behavior, our gear, and our opinion from Cathy’s own moderate ideal is a sign of our selfishness and arrogance is could possibly lead to any improvement in communication.

JRB
Guest
JRB

Paul in the ‘couve:

“telling various types of cyclists and all cyclists in general that we are a bunch of arrogant jerks and every deviation of our riding behavior, our gear, and our opinion from Cathy’s own moderate ideal is a sign of our selfishness and arrogance is could possibly lead to any improvement in communication.”

Paul, maybe I am just being thick, but I don’t think Cathy’s criticisms were in earnest. I think she was just pointing out the grain of truth that lies at the base of the stereotype of the arrogant cyclist. I can’t speak for everybody, but I have to admit, while I try to keep in it check, to a little bit of smugness about the moral superiority of my chosen mode of travel. Again, while I try to contain such base impulses, I have also not been above judging other cyclists as being arrogant or rude because they ride differently than me.

I think Cathy would agree with most of us that the stereotype is way overblown, particularly in mainstream media, but she is also, not so subtly pointing out many of us exhibit arrogance to some degree on some occasions and are also not above finding it in others. I read the piece as a humorous attempt to inspire reflection on our own motivations and behavior while at the same time pointing out the ridiculousness of the stereotype used by bike haters to justify their vitriol.

ChamoisKreme
Guest
ChamoisKreme

IDK if she hasn’t thought about them before. Let’s look at her last few columns… in her tallying the numbers column, she digs on people wearing lycra twice, the second time she really lays into them. is she kidding every time? how many more times before i’m allowed to take offense? in this same column, she posts two pictures of individuals. the one she calls smartly dressed is not wearing a helmet, the dude she is calling out as being a “pro-biker wannabe” is… so now i’m confused… who’s arrogant here?

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

In full sarcasm mode, gosh, has BikePortland finally come around to agree with Amanda Fritz that bicyclists need to police themselves?

Seriously, every point Hastie made has been covered and hashed out many times over many years on BikePortland. The easy, obvious issues already have widespread concensus (and, in some cases, well argued dissent) and the divisive issues have legitimate arguments on more than one side. Just what is Hastie adding to the dialogue that’s going to in any way enlighten those discussions or otherwise lead to peace and harmony on the streets of Portland?

I certainly understand why you and Jonathan hesitated to post that piece. What I don’t understand is why you overrode your hesitations.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…This article is just repeating all the stereotypes that people who ride bikes are frequently labeled with by mainstream media. …” Adam H

Negatively stereotyping, in general…people that drive, seems to be one of the favorite practices of many people posting comments to bikeportland stories. When the tables are turned, in the form of a bikeportland lifestyle column, criticizing ways some people bike, the stereotyping doesn’t seem to be received so well. In other words: ‘they can dish it out, but they can’t take it’.

It’s very common in comments to bikeportland stories, for people to effectively deny that anyone riding a bike can do anything wrong…or if they do concede that ‘yes, sometimes cyclists do things wrong.’…it’s somehow justified by the actions of people driving, the people it would seem they generally deplore.

There’s lots wrong with the way many people ride as they use the roads, in Portland and elsewhere. People that aren’t prepared to be more actively self-critical of their riding practices, in positive ways, with the objective of improving them so as to be safer, more effective road users, are not helping to promote significant increases in biking as practical transportation.

Cathy Hastie’s lifestyle column is interesting to me. The writing style is kind of quaint, humorous. Plenty of good, constructive points made in it for people not trying their best to misconstrue it as invasion into a bikeportland they seem to think should be their personal, protected womb.

Scott
Guest
Scott

” Plenty of good, constructive points made in it…” – wsbob

Can you elaborate on which points you think are good and constructive to an active transportation conversation that is the basis for this blog?

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

If I was served this as a meal, I would ask for a refund, and demand to speak with the Chef.

Michael Andersen (Contributor)
Editor

Heard and appreciated!

Justin
Guest
Justin

Perhaps a meal of salt or red pepper flakes.

Paul in the 'couve
Guest
Paul in the 'couve

Sorry – this article is a very clear low point in the BikePortland continuum. Props for working hard, taking chances and trying. Keep up the good work, but please – don’t publish more of this. In fact, just pull this article before the world outside of the BP multi-time-a-day readers notice it.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

I can’t wait for BikeSnobNYC’s take on this “lifestyle piece”!

Paul in the 'couve
Guest
Paul in the 'couve

see below down thread… I think we’ll be seeing this one brought up frequently for the next few months…

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

Awesome. This article was the equivalent of saying his name five times.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Why not have a WebTrends style blog post asking:
“Should CARS have to pay road tax?”

Think of all the O traffic that would be funneled here! A page view is a page view. If we got all the angry O commenters here the post comment count could top 1,000!

Michael Andersen (Contributor)
Editor

For the record, BikePortland doesn’t sell ads based on pageviews and it’s not our agenda to inflate them at the expense of actual interestingness or quality. Traffic is sometimes an indicator of quality, but not always, and it’s not the way we work as a business or as a media outlet.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Thank you for your reply.
I accept what you say as true.

In the absence of that disclaimer this type of article specifically written to inflame opinions and readers would seem to be tailor made to increase advertising revenue; it could reasonably be argued that this sort of article serves no other purpose.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

This is exactly the kind of articles we do not need about cycling.
I mean really, I am sorry you published it…

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

And what exactly, about it do you object? It appears Ms Hastie put a fair bit of thought into writing her guest article. The least bikeportland readers should be able to expect from people commenting in response to it, are thoughtful, constructive answers with some substance to them, rather than a simple pc remark.

Scott
Guest
Scott

“It appears Ms Hastie put a fair bit of thought into writing her guest article.” – wsbob

I disagree completely. This is a diatribe. Something spewed forth. Thought is not included. Only emotion based on her perception of her own superiority is used to caste shame and fault at those she finds different or other.

Absolute crap.

Ciaran
Guest
Ciaran

Constructive criticism:

Cathy,

Please refine and clarify your thesis. Is you point that we are all arrogant in our own way? That there is a line between acceptable and unacceptable amounts of arrogance? If so, where is that line? More importantly, what do you suggest should be done? Should we all mimic your level of arrogance? To what end?

I think you present some worthwhile ideas to explore. But as written this “lifestyle” column/editorial muddies the waters, fails to have a clear point, and, as a result, appears to just repeat various stereotypes without a meaningful purpose.

I have to agree with the others who have said they expect and hope for better in the future.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Similar but different.
http://bikeportland.org/2011/05/16/reader-comment-opposition-to-urban-cycling-is-class-based-52930

Personally I think looking at misunderstandings about bicycling, resentment of others who bike through the lens of social class, paying special attention to MIDDLE CLASS anxieties about status, is more interesting.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

“Cathy Hastie is BikePortland’s lifestyle columnist … event when she says things we wouldn’t all agree with.”

Lifestyle? So, that old saw about “people riding bikes” got thrown out with the trash? Now, because I’ve occasionally enjoyed riding a bike for the past 50+ years, and because I think they’re a tool towards a good end, I’m suddenly a subject of fashion whims, bad science and apologists? Are we all bicyclists in a closed community?

You can (and normally do) do better, BikePortland.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

“… shirtless…”
This would be more of a patriarchal repression / male privilege issue.

But as I repeat from a long stolen quote “the problem with nude beaches is quality control”; be careful what you ask for.

Spiffy
Guest

next time I’m weaving through traffic with no hands I’ll be sure to wear a shirt so that nobody thinks I’m arrogant…

Joe
Guest
Joe

I have to disagree with this article sorry…. I ride alot and think downtown car and ped traffic is far worse….oh and we can’t lable ppl
drivers are already pissed!

Ciaran
Guest
Ciaran

Cathy,

I was with you most of the way until the helmet point. Choosing to not to wear a helmet is not inherently arrogant. Sure, If you happen to be racing, or mountain biking or aggressively weaving through traffic, then not wearing a helmet may be arrogant. But if you ride a moderate speed, on quiet greenways, or along waterfront park, there’s nothing arrogant about skipping the helmet.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

Let’s try that with seat belts!

“But if you drive a moderate speed, on quiet streets, or down Naito Parkway, there’s nothing arrogant about skipping the seat belt.”

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Cars are inherently dangerous. Bikes are not.

Hillsons
Guest
Hillsons

Cars are not dangerous, people operating cars at high speeds are dangerous. If I were to idle my car around an empty pasture at a crawl, I could scarcely find a way to injure myself, save for being hit by a meteorite. And then, my seatbelt isn’t going to help me now is it.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

A car is far easier to operate in a manner than endangers both the user and others around them.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

Adam,
Cars have a lot of safety features and a steel cage. It is their ability to operate at high speed that makes them dangerous. Bikes are inherently dangerous: they require balance, enable high speed and have very few safety features. It is easy for even experienced cyclists to take a fall due to tracks, leaves, gravel, broken axel/flat tire, missing a curb, etc. Unexpected stuff can easily happen on a bike, and while a helmet will not do much to protect you if a semi overturns on to you, it will protect from head injury from the most common bike crashes.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Let me restate: cars are far more dangerous to people not in the car, than bikes are to people not on the bike.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

Adam,
I agree that cars are the most dangerous things on the road for everyone else on the road (including other car drivers) People on bikes typically only get hurt by cars, poor conditions, or hurt themselves. Helmets can help protect the rider when the unexpected happens

Dweendaddy
Guest
Dweendaddy

If cars were so safe, and bikes so dangerous, and if wearing a bike helmet significantly decreased your likelihood of head injury, it would be easy to prove, yet the data are so mixed about this!
I say: walk, bike or drive for transport without a helmet. They are not that dangerous, but bad things can happen while walking (4000 deaths a year), biking (600 deaths a year) or driving (35,000 deaths per year). Some of the deaths and head injuries from walking, biking or driving could be prevented by wearing a helmet, but we just can’t bother every time we walk, bike or drive for transportation! All three should be common and fairly safe.
Now,
If you go over 35 mph, consider a helmet.
If you ride in the drops, consider a helmet.
If you race, consider a helmet.
If you are on a the same road as cars going over 35 mph, consider a helmet.

But for NORMAL, every day walking, biking and driving, I am not convinced that helmets are necessary.

I sometimes wear one in the conditions listed above,

Edwin

dr2chase
Guest
dr2chase

If you’re driving, you’re already wearing a car, why not wear a helmet too? You can’t complain that it makes your head sweaty like someone who’s actually using their legs, and cars are a major source of serious head injuries (about half!), and head injuries are a major source of death while driving.

Zen Punk
Guest
Zen Punk

I agree in general, although I’ve gotta say I think your 35mph threshold is pretty damn high. A fall at 15 mph will probably hurt real bad, especially if you hit your head. A fall at 25 mph can result in serious injury.

Terry D
Guest
Terry D

In my case, due to my poor depth perception and my inherent clumsiness while walking…I tend to trip a lot and bump into things like poles and walls…..Bicycling is by far the safest form of transportation. I do not trust my driving anymore.

That stated, I still wear a helmet riding. There have been two falls in 25 years that if I would have NOT been wearing one I would have been brain splattered all over the pavement. In one case it would have been NO fault of my own…poor infrastructure on Barbur… but I digress. Instead, I had a sore neck and back for a few days.

Life is all about risk taking…some are worth taking, others are not.

Hillsons
Guest
Hillsons

Only because it’s socially acceptable to do so.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Rephrase it as “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and see how it flies. If you want no gun control that society needs Star Trek TNG or better mental health care; if you can’t prevent people from being “wacko” then the mere presence of firearms is dangerous.

So too with cars: IF everyone was trained to NASCAR & Formula 1 levels of driving skill AND no one ever became distracted THEN cars would not be dangerous. Because there is no formal training, barely any standard and imperfect humans everywhere with access to cars autos are by default dangerous.

An open can of gasoline and a campfire are both negligible risks apart, doomed to firey failure together. This is our automotive ecosystem: an imbalanced equation programmed to be unsafe st any speed.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

Don’t kid yourself, of all the things man kind has invented, hands down the most dangerous and destructive device we have ever invented is the internal combustion engine.

Not a single man made thing before or after it has caused so much damage in it’s use, manufacture, maintience, or supportive infrastucture to people or the environment…..ever. And it’s only getting worse since we’re well past peek oil.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Gunpowder
Absolute Laissez Faire Capitalism (the concept that greed is our friend, just stop worrying and let the corporate interests do anything they want)
Planned obsolescence (the intentional design of products to fail when equal manufacturing resources could make the product function for orders of magnitude longer)
Militant fundamentalism (ideological, religious, political, economic, others) and its push to nearly every war in the history books.

These are all things with a higher body count than the automobile.
Besides, I wasn’t saying that autos are harmless, only that they are capable of not being dangerous.
The problem with automobiles is the self created environment they exist within :
() too many for the available square footage needed to store and operate causing bad interactions
() most drivers are unskilled at their task
() many drivers are incapable of keeping their attention focused on the task of driving
() a gutted and neglected public transit infrastructure that insures that of a person can commit driving infractions but still drive because there is no reasonable alternative.

Spiffy
Guest

“Cars are not dangerous”

kind of like how a road isn’t dangerous? one like Barbur Blvd?

a car could at any time malfunction and easily kill other people…

a bike could at any time malfunction and possibly hurt somebody…

I say that anything that’s in most public spaces, easily malfunctions, and those malfunctions easily and often result in death is inherently dangerous…

there just aren’t enough safety devices to make cars safe when something goes wrong… yes, it’s usually driver error, so probably the self-driving cars will be much safer…

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Cars are only dangerous when operated badly, or at all. A car with no operator is immobile and very safe.
Barbur Blvd. is only dangerous when cars are operated badly.
A Barbur Blvd. with no cars, is safe.
In fact with cars operated properly, it is still safe.

So neither cars, nor Barbur Blvd. themselves are directly dangerous.
It is the actions of the operators that are….

Paul in the 'couve
Guest
Paul in the 'couve

I acknowledge that this is getting into semantics, but I honestly think it (what I am about to type) is worthwhile.

“Cars are only dangerous when operated badly” No, cars are always a DANGER anytime they are moving at a speed great than a horse and buggy. Roads with cars on them are dangerous places. Obviously. Standing in the middle of Barbur or 82nd or Sandy is dangerous precisely because that is where cars are moving at speed. Standing isn’t dangerous. Standing on a smooth paved surface of a roadway isn’t dangerous. Moving cars are dangerous. It doesn’t matter if they are operated properly. Sure they are less dangerous is operated properly and more dangerous if operated carelessly. However, they are also inherently dangerous.

Now my use of standing is deliberately provocative, and in the middle of the road also, but … Walking on the sidewalk or crossing the street both involve necessarily being in close proximity and often in front of moving cars which is inherently dangerous because of the cars are for no other reason.

As far as safe operation from the perspective of a vulnerable road use it just doesn’t matter that SOME cars may be under safe operation because 1) there will always be some unsafe driving 2) There is no way to predict which cars in which place at which times won’t be operated safely

Thus walking along, crossing or just being near any road with car traffic is dangerous. The more traffic and the higher the speeds, the more danger.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Paul,
You missed my point.
The car is not causing the danger. The person putting their foot on the accelerator and hand on steering wheel is. Car not dangerous without driver. ‘Cause car can’t go without driver. So driver at fault not car.
A bicycle is not dangerous by itself, but a bicycle operator can make it dangerous.This applies to so many items we use.

It is in how things are worded, especially when fingers are being pointed.

Paul in the 'couve
Guest
Paul in the 'couve

Sorry Dabby, I did indeed miss your point. I’m mulling it over a bit. I can see your point, and maybe agree with it but am not there yet.

Would you say a loaded gun is dangerous? I’m guessing given above you would say no. Am I right? A gun sitting on the table just laying there isn’t dangerous. It’s only become dangerous when someone picks it up. And even then it really only dangerous is someone hold it in there hand and points it at you. I can buy that to a degree. maybe.

But clearly there is a difference between my chess piece, my bicycle, a gun and a car. I suppose it is possible to hurt oneself or other with a chess piece (choking hazard maybe) but if a chess piece sitting on the table next to a gun I say the gun is a hazard – is dangerous. The chess piece is not. Yes, the danger of the gun, as long as it is sitting there is only potential, it isin’t actualized, but it is an object that has great destructive power. It is hazardous to anyone who handles it without knowledge and practice of how to handle a gun safely.

Maybe from a strictly philosophical point of view you are correct.

From a practical standpoint I feel comfortable saying guns are dangerous. Similarly, cars are dangerous. Even sitting parked, a car is a dangerous object. Just like a loaded gun. Just sitting there in the driveway.

BTW my younger sister was hit and severely injured as a child when a parked car rolled down a sloped driveway with no one operating it. I will admit however that that example is about as extreme as the examples of how a bicycle can be dangerous.

Thanks for the discussion.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

And it’s a mistake to look at other cyclists through the filter of your own ability and risk-aversion level. When I whip by people in a bike lane going 30 in the river of traffic I am not only having a blast but am cycling in a manner that is demonstrably safe. (~150K of miles without causing a single accident or injury.)

Tim T.
Guest
Tim T.

Tell that to my wife, who needed a full bridge put in her mouth after getting hit by an errant cyclist. As a newcomer to this site, I’m noticing some serious hyper-sensitivity to Cathy’s editorial. I feel like her viewpoint is a valid one, and written quite charmingly. The ‘truth’ doesn’t exist in ‘opinion pieces’- there’s no need to be caustic.

dr2chase
Guest
dr2chase

Tell that to me, who spent a week in the hospital after getting hit by an errant car decades ago. Tell that one of my thesis advisors years ago, whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver.

The fundamental problem with criticism of cyclists in this country is that it utterly fails the “compared-to-what” test. Cyclists are claimed to bne rude/arrogant/errant/inconsiderate, yet for all these alleged faults, almost harmless in practice. Compare to drivers — kill thousands, noisy, tax-subsidized. “Polite” people don’t kill thousands of pedestrians per year. And drivers are a majority — if drivers felt that there was a problem with killing thousands of pedestrians per year, we live in a democracy, they could vote for change. They don’t. Instead we get laws that marginalize formerly legal behavior, like “jaywalking” for the greater convenience of cars.

Pete
Guest
Pete

This is the way it used to be. When I was growing up seatbelts were optional and rarely worn. When states tried to make them mandatory, the laws were repealed repeatedly by voters (3x in MA), and the general public believed the government was trying to take away our freedom to choose. It wasn’t until the federal government – under pressure from insurance lobbies – threatened to withhold highway improvement funding to states without a mandatory seatbelt law… now all 50 states require them.

The overall safety that a seatbelt provides hasn’t changed much, but the public’s perception of them being ‘necessary’ to operate a car safely has.

lavie.lama
Guest
lavie.lama

New Hampshire law still allows unbuckled drivers actually.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Ah, the live free or die state… I stand corrected! They don’t require helmets for motorcyclists either (like a few other states), if I’m not mistaken. Thanks!

9watts
Guest
9watts

+ seatbelts protect you from yourself/your own vehicle.
+ a helmet–as we see in the Netherlands where they have seatbelts but for the most part manage without helmets–is a defensive device meant to protect you from a transportation culture that doesn’t understand how to interact safely with people on bikes.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

Seatbelts protect other occupants in the vehicle from hitting each other and they keep the driver behind the controls where she has a chance of avoiding (more) collision(s).

Spiffy
Guest

“Seatbelts protect other occupants in the vehicle from hitting each other ”

tell that to the kids in the back seat…

Terry D
Guest
Terry D

If I would not have been wearing a helmet while riding the “clear bike lane” on Barbur ten years back I would be dead now. A tree limb had fallen over the side barrier and was leaning over the bike lane at head height. I was riding home from work at 11 pm and did not see it in the dark until it knocked me off my bike at 25 MPH….then I landed on the pavement in the travel lane…..30 seconds later a car came around the curve. I had just enough time to think “get out of the street” before he hit me.

If I would not have been wearing a helmet I would have been knocked out completely and brain splattered. Not my fault…you can blame the narrow bike lanes or the tree limb, but the point remains. I am here because of a helmet…hence, I always wear one even if it has only saved me once in 30 years of riding. It was a pain though when I had a Mohawk and I wanted to put my hair up.

Ciaran
Guest
Ciaran

Two things:

First “moderate speeds” on a bicycle are far lower than what is considered a “moderate speed” in a car. If you drove a car at a maximum of 10-15 mph, I think there would be very little need for seatbelts.

Second, Naito parkway IS NOT the car-equivalent of the waterfront park multi-use path for bicycles.

Spiffy
Guest

“Let’s try that with seat belts!”

ok, I’m on it!

“But if you ride a moderate speed, on quiet greenways, or along waterfront park, there’s nothing arrogant about skipping the seatbelt.”

that was easy…

seems that there’s still no reason for me to wear my helmet OR my seat belt while riding my bike…

Erinne
Guest
Erinne

+1

Good Old Jer
Guest
Good Old Jer

Good article bikeportland.com! And to all you haters, sometimes its tough to look in the mirror. You just might not like what you see.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

I wondered if criticizing a single article on BikePortland made me a “hater” so I looked in the mirror. I didn’t see a bicyclist. I didn’t see a motorist. I didn’t see a pedestrian. I saw someone who does hold opinions as well as someone who tries to consider many facets of reality, but I didn’t see any exaggeration of my importance or abilities. It was easy to do and I’m fine with what I saw.

Brian Davis
Guest
Brian Davis

Wow, this reads more like an Oregonian opinion piece than a BikePortland piece. We’ve got the usual run-of-the-mill stereotypes about fixie riders, people riding pricey bikes with kits, etc. Throw in some digs about signal compliance (which recent PSU research has shown is likely a made-up problem) and a dose of helmet-shaming, and this column is truly worthy of the “O.”

To be clear, I don’t consider myself any better than anyone else because of my transportation choices, nor do I consider myself any worse because of the gear I do or don’t choose to wear. Indeed, the whole notion of an “interested but concerned” population that has guided Portland’s bicycle planning for the last decade-plus suggests that there are a great number of people who would love to make the same choices Cathy and I do but cannot for some reason or another. Let’s figure out how to get them to do so in lieu of patting ourselves on the back for beating them to it.

timo
Guest
timo

I really take issue with folks who read this as a blanket indictment of cyclists. She’s not saying “(All) Bikers do this behavior and are bad;” she’s saying “(Some) Bikers do this behavior, and it’s selfish and inconsiderate.” Is there a reason we should not acknowledge that some people traveling by bike are inconsiderate, and should we not tell them to knock it off?

I agree with the basic premise here 100% – no matter how you travel, don’t be a jerk. Don’t cut-off the bus because you think your 5 seconds is more important than those 40 other peoples’; don’t terrorize pedestrians by acting like you’re about to run over them; act predictably on the road.

I take exception with the helmet prescription, even though I wear one (except in Manhattan), but I see that as a separate topic. And I welcome Brian’s call for an “adult conversation” (thoughtful, subtle, nuanced) – perhaps at a BP.org meetup?

davemess
Guest
davemess

Can some explain to me what is selfish and inconsiderate of doing a track stand at a light, or passing stopped cars at a light on the right (which the law gives me right to do legally)?

Nathan
Guest
Nathan

To the columnist, this appears arrogant.

The list of things that appear arrogant include:
Weaving through traffic, handless and shirtless;
trackstanding in front of people with walking assisting apparatuses;
passing on the right while cutting in line at intersections;
disrespect for traffic signals;
seeming to ignore Trimet yield signs;
squeezing by buses;
yelling at drivers;
unlawful behavior;
expensive bike gear;
helmetlessness.

I suspect there was some hyperbole used by the author to liven up an otherwise boring rant, so maybe one can look past some of the more ridiculous seeming flourishes.

Still, the flow of this piece was poor. The listing of “bad” behavior goes nowhere, then a concluding paragraph is tacked on to say something about the author’s thinking they are right. Of course, you think you’re right. You just spent 6 mini-paragraphs calling out where you think some “other” person is wrong.

The essay is self-indulgent and was not enjoyable to read due to content (just a list of stereo types with strong language, which doesn’t impress me) and the lack of cohesion or purpose.

Better title: Stereotypical jerks are jerks and I am right. Here are a few hundred words wasted in saying such.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Better title: Stereotypical jerks are jerks and I am right. Here are a few hundred words wasted in saying such.” Nathan

Well, Nathan…you did at least try a little to offer some substantial criticism of the column, even if you couldn’t resist bringing a whiny putdown into it. Waiting for your guest column. Perhaps you can better than she.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

many of the behaviors criticized are not illegal and are not necessarily harmful or unsafe.

spencer
Guest
spencer

off base and inflammatory

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

Because responding to what other people think about us is of critical importance!

Michael Andersen (Contributor)
Editor

Todd, who’s the “us” here? Who’s the “other”?

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

I agree that Todd’s comment is opaque but what’s clear to me in both his comment and this article is that “us” is The Bicyclist Community…you know, the one that Jonathan has always preached does not exist.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

The “other people” are those that rant about people on bikes. “Arrogant” is one of the things with which they commonly label us.

Brandon Van Buskirk
Guest
Brandon Van Buskirk

I don’t feel arrogant toward people who drive cars. I do feel some animosity toward drivers who make self serving choices that put pedestrians and people who ride bikes in danger. I don’t wear a helmet because I don’t want to live in a world where I should have to. Furthermore, a helmet is not going to help when a semi truck overturns.

VTRC
Guest
VTRC

I ended up in two bike/bike crashes in July. And in both cases the other person wasn’t wearing a helmet and bled a lot from what could have been a minor crash. Things happen and most things you can bump in the city are hard.

Dave
Guest

…and I’ve been in a bike/bike crash where I wasn’t wearing a helmet, got rear-ended by someone who was, and they were the one who ended up bloodied, dazed and disoriented, I just had scrapes on my knuckles. There are more factors involved than just the helmet.

VTRC
Guest
VTRC

Yep! There are lots of factors.

dr2chase
Guest
dr2chase

Oh, I’ve had that happen to me, too! I was running up some old basement stairs once without a helmet, someone stepped in front of the opening right at the top just as I was about to emerge, I stopped hard and popped up on my toes and smacked the top of my head into the ceiling. Blood everywhere. Should’ve been wearing a helmet. Another time, I flopped down into a couch with a wall-mounted bookshelf it, whacked my head into a corner of the bookshelf, and blood everywhere. Should’ve been wearing a helmet then, too.

Joe
Guest
Joe

haters? really?

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

Ooooohhhh, the helmet debate!!!!

Anyone want to guess how many comments the post has by 5 pm? I am going to guess 89.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

>100 but it’s too easy to rig

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

“89 comments
Latest: 1:33 PM by Bill Walters”

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

Yep, I was way off!

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Okay.

Allan
Guest
Allan

I disagree with 99% of what is written here. However bikes are neat. Go bikes

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

As King of Arrogance, I expect all of my helmeted subjects to pay tribute. Those little chocolate coins with the gold wrappers will do.

Dave
Guest

This article is 99% ignorant stereotypes and surface assumptions about different types of people.

Well done.

ScottG
Guest
ScottG

Thanks for having the courage to post this, I think it’s thoughtful and there’s a lot of truth and insight in it. There’s nothing wrong with being pro-bike while acknowledging/confronting problems in our community. I think it also shows a healthy degree of humility to acknowledge one’s own arrogance and privilege.

davemess
Guest
davemess

See the “problem” with this piece is that many of the “problems” that she sheds light on are not really “problems”, but more just things she doesn’t like/understand/appreciate. Most of them are subjective (even things that are legally allowed!).

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The biggest problem in our community: over 30,000 people killed every year by cars. Everything else is small potatoes, including everything mentioned in this piece.

Goretex Guy
Guest
Goretex Guy

I’m special and I can do what I want. When I’m driving I’ll speed and blow stop signs because I can, and complain about cyclists and walkers who do the same thing. When I’m commuting on my bike I’ll blow stop signs and complain about cars and pedestrians who do the same. When I’m walking I’ll cross in the middle of the block and ignore red lights, but I’ll complain about those cyclists and drivers who do the same. Only I get to do that stuff, because I’m special. Everyone else has to obey the law.

BikeSnobNYC
Guest

Cathy,

You know what I find arrogant? People who feel superior because they wear little plastic hats with stickers that say “I love my brain” on them when they ride to Whole Foods. I appreciate the victim-blaming though. It’s a reminder that, despite superficial appearances, Portland is in fact very much a part of America.

–BSNYC

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Thank you BikeSnob!

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Hey, hey… we prefer New Seasons here.

JRB
Guest
JRB

Given the 54 “likes” I suppose it’s heresy to question the Bike Snob, but can anyone please point me to the part of the article where the author engages in victim blaming?

Bike Snob, you know what I find ridiculous, people who assume they can characterize an entire city based on one bike blog article and associated comments.

Scott
Guest
Scott

Re-read the article, if you can not see it, re-learn how to read.

JRB
Guest
JRB

Thank you for proving the author’s point about arrogance. Instead of being a jerk about it why don’t you simply answer my question? If it is so blindingly obvious, it shouldn’t take any longer to cut and past the relevant portion than it took to write your insult.

Scott
Guest
Scott

Cutting and pasting the article would have been excessive. Re-read it. Since you took it as an insult, I apologize, but everything you need is in the article.

JRB
Guest
JRB

I didn’t “take” anything as an insult. Telling me that I need to learn how to read again because I am incapable of seeing what you think is obvious is an insult. If you want to offer a real apology, I would be happy to accept, but I don’t really care. All I would ask is that consider refraining from insults the next time you disagree with another poster.

As far the whole article being an exercise in victim blaming, that’s not an answer. There is nothing in the article in which she says, suggests, implies or even hints cyclists deserve to be hit because they are arrogant. I imagine you have seen many examples of real victim blaming related to injured or killed cyclists in the comments section of our local paper.

I suppose some might see her comments regarding helmets as victim blaming, but I think that’s an overreach. She doesn’t say people deserve to get hit because they are not wearing a helmet, just that she thinks people are arrogant to think they will never be hit so don’t need a helmet. I think that it’s ridiculous to assume that’s why people don’t wear helmets, but it’s not an exercise in victim blaming.

On a different note, I find the Bike Snob, who makes his living writing snarky, opinionated things about bicycling, and cheesesteaks apparently, hypocritical when he devotes a substantial portion of his blog today to criticizing someone else expressing an opinion about bicycling

Scott
Guest
Scott

She implies that if a truck overturns, there will be a difference if you are wearing a helmet or not.

If a truck falls over on you, you are the victim and it will not matter one bit if you are wearing a helmet or not.

Simmer down JRB. We are on a blog here, not friends drinking coffee together. The internet is not a place to take offense. I don’t know you from Adam. If I used an obtuse point to illustrate a mistake I saw in your logic, it was to encourage you to see that mistake, or disprove my logic. It was not to insult a collection of ones and zeros with a screen name attached to them.

sigh.
Guest
sigh.

I don’t have anything terribly constructive to say, I’m just annoyed by this opinion piece. On the one hand, I’m annoyed that she apparently rides on the sidewalk. On the other hand, I’m sore that she’s bashing my gear and bringing starving children into the conversation???? (SERIOUSLY?!). My bike booties may have been expensive, but they totally saved my feet this morning in the 21 degrees and I’ve had them for 2 years and counting. We all get annoyed with other cyclists, cars, pedestrians, people in general, but it generally doesn’t change anything to write a self-righteous opinion piece about it. It just annoys people.

Pete
Guest
Pete
Oliver
Guest
Oliver

Was sure loving my thermal fleece and (particularly the) wind stopper this morning. Even the stupid high vis shoe covers felt like a minor miracle. However, the frost on the ground made it difficult to maintain any pretense of ‘serious training’.

😉

Dwayne Dibbly
Guest
Dwayne Dibbly

I can’t wait for the Oregonian to pick up on this. I don’t expect them to understand nuance or intelligent discussion.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

😛 Is any of this nuance or intelligent discussion? 😉

pdxpaul
Guest
pdxpaul

Great piece, love it! And I love the stir it’s created. Keep up the great work!

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

Get off of my lawn!

Opus the Poet
Guest

OK I chuckled a bit at this one.

Pink Bike
Guest
Pink Bike

The article and some of the comments made for interesting reading. That said, just because I have fancy bike clothes does not mean I do not care about kids starving in Africa and wearing cheap clothing will not automatically give them food.

Spiffy
Guest

“wearing cheap clothing will not automatically give them food.”

but it might give them a job making more cheap clothing…

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Well, damn right we’re self-righteous. Our lives are endangered every single day by bad drivers and by bad roads that don’t allow for safe cycling. It’s a daily battle out there.

Anyone who wonders why we sometimes get a little militant has no clue what we have to deal with all the time.

When people accost me about (mostly other) cyclists’ behavior or how the roads allegedly now favor bikes over cars, I tell them to try riding to work and doing their other daily business just ONE DAY A MONTH – for one year, so they’ve tried it every month of the year – before whining at me. That usually shuts them the hell up.

Spiffy
Guest

I admire people that don’t wear helmets because they’re not living their lives in fear…

Terry D
Guest
Terry D

I don’t live my life in fear. I know that ten years ago I would have been brain splattered….or bankrupt at least since I was uninsured at the time. I do not knock anyone who does not wear a helmet, but saying that those who do “live in fear” is very NOT true.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

“People blow thousands on equipment as if to say, “Who cares about starving children in Africa? I need to shave 12 seconds off my time.””

Is this somehow worse — or even as bad — as someone who blows tens of thousands on an SUV or luxury car with air-conditioned leather seats so they can shave 12 seconds off their commute in comfort?

This and much of the other behavior described in the article is no better or worse among drivers or the public at large than it is among cyclists. Widespread belief to the contrary can be chalked up to availability and confirmation biases combined with xenophobia. In any group of people you’re going to have a certain percentage of self-centered, reckless assholes. That’s not “cyclist arrogance”, it’s the human condition.

Spiffy
Guest

wait, cyclists are human? somebody inform O’live!

fasterthanme
Guest
fasterthanme

I never understand why people get upset when I don’t wear a helmet. I’m glad she brought this up because this towards the top of the standard litany of bike grievances i hear from folks who are adamantly anti bicycle.

The only thing I can think of is auto liability. These folks aren’t thinking about potential brain damage, or loss of life, they’re only thinking “if I hit and hurt this person, what’s it going to cost me”.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

This statement sometimes helps to shut them up.

“Keep your ideals off of my head!”

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

Thoughtful? No, hackneyed — which is nearly the opposite. Not least because it seems to endorse old bigotry that “ignominious people” and arrogance itself are somehow specific to bikes and not rather evenly distributed among all modes. This really does drag BP down to the O’s level, which is sad to see.

ChamoisKreme
Guest
ChamoisKreme

Arrogance even permeates cycling fashion. Expensive bike gear and “members only” attire boasts, “I am an athlete doing some serious training here! Don’t get in my way!” People blow thousands on equipment as if to say, “Who cares about starving children in Africa? I need to shave 12 seconds off my time.”

I think I figured out why this lifestyle column needs tweaking… statements like the above run counter to what I would expect a cycling lifestyle columnist to think about bike gear.

I WANT my lifestyle columnist to be a gear nerd.

I WANT my lifestyle columnist to know that Castelli and Rapha’s US based headquarters are here in Portland and that people riding around town in their gear provides local jobs.

I WANT my lifestyle columnist to be able to spend a day at the Lumberyard and a day at PIR and not just write about how weird everything seems… (MT Bikers wear baggy pants, but road racers wear lycra… How crazy is that? Bikers sure are an odd bunch!)

I WANT my cycling lifestyle columnist to not write like he or she is seeing everything for the first time.

you know those columns where they stop somebody on the street and ask about their clothes and where they got them and how much they paid? Do that…

You know those slideshows of pro’s bikes at races and all the cool doodads they add? Do that with average bikers downtown, or some working class racers…

You may learn a thing or two about the lifestyle of the average reader of this blog. you may also learn a thing or two about the things you, so far, have shown disdain for. you may learn that somebody’s lycra kit has been put together after a few years of hunting down bargains or getting a jersey for raising money for charity, not all bought off the rack brand new at once…

You may learn that a racer’s frame was won at a raffle, and they have been using it to get some consistent top 10 placings.

There’s stories out there… go find them.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

While this is misguided and unfunny satire, it still merits a response:

“They weave through downtown traffic, handless and shirtless.”

Riding no-handed is a terrific way to develop balancing skills which can make a difference in an emergency.

“They hover jerkily in clumsy track stands, inches from geriatric pedestrians in crosswalks.”
A track stand is a fine way to develop balancing skills which can make a difference in an emergency. Moreover, as long as the cyclist has not entered the crosswalk this behavior is perfectly legal. Perhaps the author is simply jealous of others’ track-standing/sitting skills.

‘Their impatient posture appears to sneer, “What’s wrong with you? Pick up that walker and get a move on so I don’t have to put my foot down.” ‘
Or…maybe…just maybe…it’s actually safer and more convenient to trackstand/sit (especially when one uses clipless pedals).

They are rudest of all to other bikers, passing on the right and cutting in front of the line at four-way stops.
Oregon vehicle statutes specifically allow cyclists to pass vehicles (including bikes) on the right. If you do not agree with the law then you are welcome to attempt to change it. Fat chance.

They thumb their noses at moderation, common courtesy and traffic signals.
It is sometimes courteous and safe to violate traffic signals. Why should motorists wait for more nimble bike traffic that can quickly and efficiently clear a lumbering jam of motorized vehicles? Why should cyclists sit in an intersection waiting for traffic to accumulate when they can quickly and safely clear an open traffic-less intersection?

“Occasionally, an especially egregious hedonist can be heard yelling livid profanities at drivers, seeming to enjoy himself in the process.”
Oh…the inhumanity of livid profanities!

“Erratic, frequently unlawful behavior on the road looks almost as if it is meant to startle and piss-off drivers. Is it a game? Is it a challenge?”
It’s a challenge and a game. Some would even call it a war. Unfortunately, it’s one where almost all the casualties (human, animal, and environmental) are on one side.

“Expensive bike gear and “members only” attire boasts,”
The idea of saving thousands of dollars a year in ,b>both motorvehicle and gym expenses is doubly outrageous!

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

You hit it on the head there.

“misguided and unfunny satire”.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Wait, I do think it is funny to imagine cyclists spending a bunch of money on, then wearing, “Members Only” jackets to ride around town.

But she certainly was not referring to 80’s Member’s Only Jackets, so it quickly is not funny again.

Dave
Guest

Ok, here is some more constructive commentary…

“It’s a privilege not to drive…”
I’m pretty sure this is backwards. Despite our intentional ignorance of this issue, even the Oregon driver’s manual says it is a privilege TO drive, and that this privilege can be taken away (though that rarely, if ever, happens on any permanent basis).

It is a *choice* not to drive. It is a heavier choice not to own a car (for those who *can* actually afford to own one), but still a choice. This is a choice that anyone can technically make (except of course, as I said, those who can’t afford to own a car in the first place). Depending on your own personal circumstances, you may have a better or worse set of options in this choice, but it is a choice.

I can also see how the majority of people would see not owning a car, not as a privilege, but as a severe handicap. Because in Portland, in some ways it really is. Our public transit is spotty at best, and our bicycle accommodations are nearly non-existent, in the overall scheme of things. If you get outside about the SE/NE 50’s, you start running into areas with no sidewalks, and just over Marquam Hill in SW you have the same issue.

Sure, you save money, and you can more easily skip traffic, but in a city that is 90% suburbs (granted, old suburbs, but suburbs nonetheless), there is a notable hit in convenience and feeling of safety unless you are able to and decide to make very specific decisions about where/how to live.

————————–

So, both people who wear few clothes (shirtless), and people who wear expensive clothes (expensive bike gear) are arrogant? What if the person is wearing a tailored 3-piece suit? That could be at least as expensive as a high-vis suit, potentially quite a bit more. Is that arrogant? Did you ever think that maybe someone who has $2,000 to blow on bike gear might also have another $2,000 to give to charity?

Also, you seem to be awfully concerned with peoples’ money…

—————————

I’m not even going to get into the helmet issue, except to say that the statement “the king of arrogance is the biker without a helmet” is spoken like a true captive with Stockholm Syndrome.

—————————

“Helmetless people are among those seen flying through red lights, too…”

As are people driving cars, people in sunglasses, people with shoes on, people with *blue eyes* (god forbid), and people wearing helmets!

Incidentally, helmetless people are also among those who generally obey rules (as are people driving cars, people in sunglasses, people with shoes on, people with blue eyes, and people wearing helmets), and they’re swarming all over the sidewalks too. You see them in cafes having normal conversations and you see them at desks in important offices.

—————————-

This article… I just don’t get it.

Art Fuldodger
Guest
Art Fuldodger

Well said. Thanks, Dave.

Pizza Face
Guest
Pizza Face

Why are people so concerned with what I do? When I die, if I die. Ill be dead! Its ok, going happen to all of us. Enjoy your ride! Don’t concern yourself with over opinionated people.

Pizza Face
Guest
Pizza Face

And step up the stories please.

David E
Guest
David E

I used to visit this site at least once a day…. This reinforces why I stopped.

Paul in the 'couve
Guest
Paul in the 'couve

Mike, Jonathan, and Cathy,

I made a pretty negative comment above and it is incumbent on me to provide some constructive criticism rather than just a harsh expression of my opinion.

I think this piece really fails to live up to the kind of quality journalism that Bike Portland tries to provide. I think the biggest issue is that this particular piece ends up as an undefined genre somewhere between Lifestyle and Opinion. Lifestyle implies that we shouldn’t expect it to be a rigorous news article. It is acceptable for lifestyle columns to be fluffy and frivolous, humorous and entertaining, and not be rigorous with facts and logic . However, this lifestyle column dives in to a number of serious controversies both between and within various groups. It really reads much more as an opinion piece. Simply put Cathy expresses strong opinions about several controversial topics, while broadly and indiscriminately disparaging other cyclists as arrogant, self-righteous, and ignominious. Apparently this is supposed to be justified because Cathy admits at the start that she is herself arrogant. Thus it is acceptable to skewer everyone else’s perceived arrogance? Besides it’s just a “Lifestyle” piece, don’t take it so seriously.

Yet, the approach is totally stereo-typical, and largely repeats the same tropes we hear over and over again in anti-cycling (allegedly serious) opinion columns that are sloppy journalism in the Oregonian and other newspapers both prominent institutions like the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal and tabloids.

The result is just a muddle. The column is not funny, light or “in good spirit.” At the same time it does not add anything to the discussion of the issues raised, and instead mainly speculates on the great selfishness all those inferior cyclists.

Don’t give up. Try again.

Sincerely

Paul (you know who I am) in the ‘Couve

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

I like Cathie’s other work, but not this article.

Justin
Guest
Justin

So, because I can afford the right equipment to bike with, such as waterproof gear (jacket, bag, boot covers, etc.), quality lights and a cyclocomputer, instead of using pen-sized barely visible lights and wearing 8,000 layers of clothing in an attempt to stay warm or dry, that makes me arrogant?

And, because I want to pass you, due to the fact you and I will NEVER bike at the same speed, that also makes me arrogant?

Get a clue Cathy! Reading this column is five minutes of my life I’ll never get back. Thank God for the comments section.

colton
Guest
colton

My bike attire certainly doesn’t *smell* fancy!

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

This piece has no redeeming value that I can see; it neither informs nor inspires (except for inspiring ire toward itself). It’s merely a rehash of all the worst stereotypes that people who don’t ride have about people who do, with an added dose of self-righteousness toward other riders making different choices from the writer.

Bike Snob took down this lazy, biased way of thinking about riding behavior recently in his excellent and much-shared post Shafted Again (http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2013/11/shafted-again.html), which profoundly changed my approach to coexisting with other riders whose behavior I feel is unsafe or believe is illegal. The idea that anyone riding should be spending a lot of effort telling another rider how to behave, when all of us are struggling with much larger forces in a system that is not designed to keep us safe or make our travel convenient, is, I realized, absurd.* I used to think I was accomplishing something, at least, by disapproving of people riding in ways that I consider unsafe. Understanding that by doing so I was spending my energy on something that ultimately causes very few problems, and that I was contributing to the impression that such behavior is common and problematic while diverting my own and others’ focus from the serious systemic issues at play, made me realize that it’s at best pointless and at worst seriously counterproductive. Apparently this author hasn’t gotten there, and if this post has any value at all, maybe that’s it: for the responses to help at least one more person move past that common and Stockholm syndrome-esque misconception.

Based on my experience with BikePortland, I believe that it shares the belief I’ve just articulated: that there are serious systemic issues that have to be addressed to make bicycling safe, and that those issues deserve our focus and attention. This column stands for exactly the opposite of that belief, and for that reason I don’t think it’s appropriate material for this site. But if it’s not to be removed as likely to cause more harm than good, I at least hope that the responses may have the small but salutary effect of changing the writer’s mind.

*I exempt sincere, systematic efforts at education from this statement; those are trying to remedy the genuine problem of people not being aware of the best ways to ride.

younggods
Guest
younggods

Calling bikers without helmets the “kings of arrogance” is more arrogant than the bikers without helmets. Cathie Hastie comes across as a sad, old, worrying, miserable lady. Please don’t let her guest article again.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

Cathy,

I applaud you for your courage and candor in writing your article. I commute daily from Clark County to my job at PDX. Although I live in a semi-rural area with scenic routes, on weekends I really enjoy riding into Portland for its great infrastructure, interesting sights and people, and wonderful old neighborhoods. I have observed many of the attitudes and behaviors you describe. I try to be safe, considerate to others, and somewhat of an ambassador on my bike, as a counter-response to the negative attitude that many motorists have toward cyclists (in many cases, I suspect that that attitude did not just self-create, while in other cases there are people who are just born jerks). As I was reading your piece, I would have hoped that it would give cause for self-reflection for some, but I just knew it would elicit a flood of aggrieved protests. On the other hand, if you toss a rock into a flock of geese, you know who you hit ’cause he’s gonna holler.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

I don’t think that riding a bike makes me a member of a flock.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

If you toss a rock into a flock of Geese, you aren’t doing it to hear who is gonna holler…
You are doing it to try to hurt as many Gesse as possible with the least effort.

obo
Guest
obo

GlowBoy
Our lives are endangered every single day by bad drivers and by bad roads

signed, pedestrians, bus riders, safe drivers, and everybody else who uses any public transportation infrastructure

Syzlak
Guest
Syzlak

I fail to see what’s arrogant about not wearing a helmet. I ride at 12mph, obeying all traffic laws, and never wear a helmet. How am I arrogant? Are Dutch people arrogant for not wearing helmets?

Dave
Guest
Dave

Is no one going to say it? “Funner” is not a word.