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08/09/2009: "Women, Cycling, Color, Wealth, and Lies"
Just read an article in the New York Times that wondered why more women don't ride bicycles for transportation. Though the article was a bit thin, I had no beef with it; but some of the witless comments got me going!

I composed a couple of responses to the most egregious ones, and since I don't know whether the moderator is even awake (nothing has been added to the comments for ten or twelve hours), I decided to post them here as well. I do recommend the article, and most of the comments are intelligent. The two below are, how you say, stoopid....

Quoth a pseudonym: Why would an adult ride a bicycle?

And I say:
And why would a grown-up want to ride around in a motorized baby carriage, holding the world hostage to his petulant vanity, when he (or she, of course!) could be getting around in a healthy, clean, and fiscally responsible manner by cycling?
Quoth another brave lad who wouldn't share his last name: Basically, this is a hobby for rich, youngish white guys. There is surely a discrimination suit in there somewhere.

And I say:
Here in LA--and I'll bet it's the same in NYC--Critical Masses and advocacy meetings are full of riders of all ages and both (or more than both) genders, many of whom are poor folks of all colors, and close to half of whom are dark-skinned folks of all income levels.

Even among roadies riding true rich folks' toys, a huge number of LA road riders on carbon wonderbikes are black (though black folk are only about 9% of LA's population); Major Motion is a black (but non exclusive) roadie club that's been riding here for decades.

Even that temple of journalistic obliviousness, Bicycling Magazine, wrote an article years ago about LA's immigrant bike commuter culture, whom bike advocacy and infrastructure both protects and empowers (see "Invisible Riders").

As for women who supposedly aren't riding--well, I see plenty of them on bikes at rush hour, old and young, and every color. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition's brightest lights over the last few months have been named Monica, Aurisha, and Dorothy, and's founders and operators are Liz and Shay; Yolanda helped start Bikrowave. Many of the instructors at the Bicycle Kitchen are women.

Bikestyler Customs, catering to the LA equivalent of the Williamsburg crowd, was run by two black guys.

What the hell are you people talking about when you condemn bicycling as too upper-class and white? Do you even know what you think? Or is NYC really more segregated than LA?

Skid row here travels primarily on bicycles. It's the only vehicle that many poor people can afford. There's an old Russian saying that "Mushrooms are the rich man's luxury and the poor man's food." So with bikes: you can spend $3k on a carbon toy, or you can buy an old Italian frame, as I did, for sixty bucks, and replace a $30k filth-spewing car with it.

Bicycles empower the poor, and get the well-off to mix with their fellow riders and learn a little more about living fairly. They support personal health and urban cleanliness. What are you whiny nagging fools complaining about with your misleading "bikes are elitist" BS? I have to think you have another agenda. Probably keeping the poor (and women) from attaining the freedom, self-reliance, and opportunity that bikes can grant them.

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