Edgewood Adam, I agree with you to a measured degree about spandex. It isn't always used appropriately. Also, in Europe, most people are wearing street clothes on their bike, but in the US, it seems to be part of the required uniform.
I average riding about 100 miles per week and it's about evenly split between rec riding and utility riding. I wear clothing that is appropriate to the ride and those who don't certainly do stand out.
If I'm riding more than about 20 miles at a time, I'm wearing something that doesn't bunch up, chafe or produce saddle sores. Below 20 miles, I'm more concerned about materials that don't hold the sweat and go sour and stink. And street clothes made for cycling are indeed sweet.
Bright is recommended for visibility but it only seems we do that in the US. For some reason, we tell ourselves that cycling is dangerous and cars are safe. Statistically, cycling is roughly the same risk as being in a motor vehicle, but we feel we need to make ourselves visible. I think as the numbers of cyclists increase, motorists will 1) be more likely to look out for cyclists and 2) be more likely to be a cyclist.
First, pardon me if I've gotten in your way, but I'm more likely to be in your way when I take the car than when I'm on my bike. You've probably been behind me at the light, I've probably grabbed your parking space, and if there's a line at the gas station/drive through/interstate, it's because we took the car. If you stop and think for a moment, you'll probably realize that most drivers wish there were fewer cars on the road before it occurs to them that traffic and parking issues would be resolved by reducing the number of cyclists.
I agree that most of my fellow cyclists aren't as polite as they could be, so I try to be the good example: I take back roads and trails where they exist. When I'm on the road, I'm able to either move at the speed of traffic or move far enough to the right to allow traffic around. I don't ride on sidewalks, the wrong side of the road or run stop lights/stop signs. I try to be the change I want to see in the world.
One of the reasons I try to be a good example is I'm trying to win over people to cycling. Everyone who has found something fun to do enjoys sharing it and I'm the same way. I also enjoy driving, but not nearly as much as I enjoy cycling. And I do ride to work, the grocery store, soccer practice with the kids, run errands on the bike -- all of these are fun when done on a bike and a hassle when I'm stuck behind anything in a car.
I was in Vancouver, BC a couple of weeks ago. You would really be perturbed by how difficult it is to drive a car there. Not only is the place filled with bicycles, but they have streets that have been blocked off so only bikes and pedestrians can get through, special street lights are setup to favor pedestrian traffic, and there's no place to park. It is not a coincidence that Vancouver is ranked one of the best places in the world in which to live, and street life there is wonderful because cars take a back seat.
So, as I write, I wonder if you might be one that could be enticed into trying cycling. Those that ignore this article or otherwise dismiss it as uninteresting probably aren't candidates, but you seem to have some passion about this. I think we're both interested in promoting "what really matters", but our ideas of what that might be are a little different.
Based on what I've seen in Vancouver, I think they have the right idea about what really matters.
Thanks CL! For decades you've been highlighting and elevating our emerging coolness.
We started out talking about the groundswell of cyclists in Atlanta but have gravitated toward Critical Mass. It is worthwhile asking if this event is what the cycling community wants to represent this resurgence.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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