Ross Hirsch and Jeremy Grant lead us through an L.A. neighborhood.
Photo from TucsonVelo.com
Josh Cohen, in his "We need people who ride bikes, not cyclists" post, writes of a commuter who gets on a bike but eschews the "cyclist" label, preferring to think of the bike as merely a conveyance and not a lifestyle choice. Josh writes:
"it’s just as likely that he will continue to see bikes as a tool and not an identity."
This post prompted a round of Tweets along the line of:
@BikePedSCAG Bikes should be transportation-not lifestyle. Is this golden age of bike subcultures? RT @bikecommutenews We Need People Who Ride Bikes, Not Cyclists http://bit.ly/dBGLfL"
I take umbrage with this line of thinking (or blogging, as it may be) for a couple of reasons. First, it sets up an oversimplistic dichotomy, that one is either a casual commuter or a lycra wearing cyclist. Second, it ignores that fact that the simple choices that we make, regardless of their utilitarian purpose, reveal a great deal about us and communicate loudly to others. Regardless of one's desire to purchase, operate, or consume products and tools with anonymity, we have no option but to own the impact of our actions. Our lifestyle choices and decisions scream volumes and have a significant effect on others, regardless of our awareness.
I contend that a simple examination of something as a cyclist's choice of a recycled bike from a co-op vs. a handmade, one-of-a-kind bike crafted by NASA out of space materials goes a long way to communicating a persons values, politics, priorities, and also gives us an understanding of their social, political, environmental and even spiritual convictions.
Further, I contend that a glance at the same person's choice of energy bar (Clif vs. Power Bar?) or shoes (Nike vs. Columbia) or food (Trader Joe's vs. Whole Foods) or cell phone (Blackberry vs. iPhone) will reveal much of the person's personality and within a half dozen "lifestyle" choices, you can not only gauge the person's lifestyle integrity but you can also measure the person's accountability to the impact they are having on their sphere of influence.
To those who scoff and argue that these choices are superficial and don't really reveal character or culture, I would argue that they really do matter, the only thing that varies is our connectivity to the impact and the effect of our choices. Granted, many people drink coffee and buy gas and support entertainers without considering the impact of their support or of the message they send but that doesn't mean that there isn't an impact, simply that they aren't paying attention.
This is the new frontier for us as a community, intentional lives that connect actions to impacts, choices to lifestyles, behavior to character.
Yes, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that I think that those who yearn for the day when riding a bike is simply riding a bike are selling themselves short. I believe that everything we do, from little inactions to large leaps of behavior, has a tremendous impact and we must take responsibility and be held accountable for it all.