'A bunch of lycra-wearing, leg-shaving, Critical Massing, pedal-pushing hippies'

Hummer ScorecardWe’ve been wondering what the new Congress will do for Federal cycling projects–or do to cycling projects. So has Rick Vosper over at Bike 2.0, and he’s not feeling optimistic at all.

[I]t’s a pretty good bet the new Congress isn’t going to be very sympathetic to renewing billions of dollars of Federal, State, and/or Local funding for a bunch of lycra-wearing, leg-shaving, Critical Massing, pedal-pushing hippies, dope fiends, and neocrypto Socialist types.

With that bleak perspective, Vosper asks the next obvious question:   What are the bike advocacy groups going to do about it?


Commute By Bike

Rajesh ParmarSheesh! Is it that hard to break the stereotype of a bike commuter?

Well, there’s Rajesh Parmar, who three months ago started biking a seven-minute commute to work.


Parmar is an engineer for the Indian oil company, ONGC.

It wasn’t easy for Parmar who faced a lot of difficulties and discouragement from neighbourhood initially. However, he did not let the negativities affect his determination. In fact, he has inspired his colleagues to adopt his idea. Five other people from his office have started commuting to office on cycle and another 10 plan to do so in the coming month.


Here at our world headquarters, we’ve been talking about adding a book section, a reading list, book reviews… something like that.

While we’re figuring that out, here’s the into to Bicycle Diaries, by David Byrne, which is now available as an audiobook.

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12 thoughts on “'A bunch of lycra-wearing, leg-shaving, Critical Massing, pedal-pushing hippies'”

  1. Vosper asks the next obvious question: What are the bike advocacy groups going to do about it? — Good question, but here’s some perspective from Gandhi: “First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”

  2. Ted Johnson says:

    I think there is an implication in that Gandhi quote:

    Then they fight you. [Then you fight back.] Then you win.

    Fight back how?

    We’re working on an answer to that question.

  3. I’m reading Mia Birk’s Joyride right now. She was Portland’s first bike program director and recounts the history of moving from a more-or-less typical car-centric with suburban development to the platinum bike level city they are today. The point: there was a *lot* of opposition they had to overcome to get they’re at now.

  4. We can start dispelling the stereotype by simply recognizing that not all bike commuters are Gaia worshipping, macrobiotic eating, left leaning devotees of Al Gore and company. I am a right-leaning suit-wearing, SUV owning global warming skeptic who just happens to love bike commuting for its own sake. If it saves the planet, so be it, but I’m not doing it to prove a point or shame anyone into it – I do it because it makes me feel good, and I am taxpaying, voting, thinking, constitution-reading corporate lawyer who thinks that government should support cycling (if only by reducing subsidization of the alternatives)because it makes fiscal sense. You can get more people from A to B for less money and infrastructure cost by designing bikes into our transportation infrastructure. Let the people choose whether to drive, walk, fly or paddle to work – it’s a free country after all (mostly anyway). SO let’s cut taxes, deficits and health care spending by just making a little more room for two-wheeled human powered transportation. There is nothing inherently left-wing, radical, hippy, socialist or green about that – unless you think the Wright Brothers and John D. Rockefeller (members of League of American Bicyclists) were pinko commie sleeper agents. Let’s make cycling advocacy a big-tent affair and drop the dogma and the stigma.

  5. Andy says:

    There’s a further implication in Gandhi’s methods, I think. The idea that “first they ignore you” implies that you begin making your moves, and your opponents are consigned to being reactive. Gandhi and those who followed his methods (King, etc.) won by staying a step ahead of their opponents tactically. Those of us who commute by bike, and who may help to motivate others to do the same, hold the advantage here. Agreed that we should respond by advocacy, etc. But our most powerful work will be our refusal to go away, and our ability to show lawmakers that a solution is already taking shape. It’s the old cliche in action: if we lead, our “leaders” will follow. The fact that our current crop of “leaders” is motivated only by their lust for power and seems incapable of cogent thought only strengthens our position. If enough people go by bike and let that be known, our lawmakers may get the idea that cyclists are an actual constituency. And Thomas: amen to that. One of the powerful things about a cycling constituency is that we cross those partisan lines. The bigger the tent, the better for everyone concerned.

  6. BluesCat says:

    Thomas Bowden – Now, you don’t REALLY think that cutting taxes, deficits and health care spending will result in more Americans riding bikes, do you?

    Time after time it has been shown that better bike infrastructure is what will lead to more people riding bikes. You DO know how that is paid for, don’t you? It’s a little thing called TAXES, and MOST people on the right side of the aisle are more interested in cutting those taxes and redirecting whatever is left for transportation to helping out Big Oil and Big Auto.

    In case you’ve forgotten, Clinton left Bush a SURPLUS, not a DEFICIT, and the ONLY thing he succeeded in doing was burning through it (with the help of the REPUBLICAN controlled Congress from 2000 to 2006) and landing us in a RECESSION. In a recession, it is pretty easy for opponents of bicycling like Senator McCain (AZ) and Coburn (OK) to push this fallacy of “bikes as luxuries” and promote the idea that we need REAL, PROVEN, AMERICAN transportation like Thomas Bowden’s SUV.

    As far as health care goes, if the privately run health care suppliers — in association with Big Pharma and Big Insurance — were more interested in real health care for Americans, we’d see MUCH more money devoted to getting sedentary, fat Americans on bikes, and less money devoted to financing Tea Party candidates to run Congress in order to protect the rich stockholders.

  7. Thomas Bowden says:

    BluesCat – just a couple more things. I may own SUVs (yes – plural) but I am a dedicated bike commuter and cycling advocate – and there is nothing wrong with SUVs per se – it’s how they are used. When you want to get three kids back to college with maximum efficiency, one Grand Cherokee beats three Priuses (or is it Prii? like in Latin class) every time. So once again – let’s stop squaring off over ideology on this issue and promote what we agree on. Bikes are good for lots of reasons. Bikes are efficient. Bikes are cheap (relatively). Bikes are egalitarian. Bikes are an American tradition. Bikes save lives. Bikes protect the environment. Cycling advocacy is not the exclusive turf of the left, the Greens, or Moveon.org. John Stossel likes bikes – David Byrne likes bikes – leave politics out of it.
    But one more thing – just because you got me going. If you think that the left has all the answers, ask yourself this – would you rather have a capitalist Trek, Giant, Cervelo, Colnago, Litespeed, or whatever – take your pick, or would you prefer a nice shiny black “Flying Pigeon” – the original Mao-mobile? Seems like Chinese bikes have improved a little since the days when Tricky Dick sipped tea with Deng Xiao Ping and the Chairman. It’s amazing what a little freedom can do.

  8. Chrehn says:

    It seems like all things in the U.S.A. have been categorized into hippies or rednecks. Bicycling is no exception. I believe that it is important to bicycle like the metal boxes don’t see me.

  9. Rob Nelson says:

    Chrehn is spot on target, “…”bicycle like the metal boxes don’t see me.” As a motorcyclist since 1971, I have ridden many thousands of miles on 2 wheels. I learned that “right of way” is meaningless. Only survival counts. I strive while riding my bicycles and motorcycles to enjoy my ride and NEVER get wound up when others drift in my lane. I focus on avoiding trouble, not getting red-faced about my space being taken away.

  10. Ghost Rider says:

    I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve always thought the stereotypical “bike commuter” was a slightly overweight, slightly nerdy IT professional…you know, much like Rajesh Parmar? I’m sure I fall vaguely into that description somewhere.

    Frankly, I haven’t seen too many pinko hippies on bikes or lycra-clad urban warriors. But I have seen a lot of the kinds of folks I’ve described above.

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      In my mind, what makes Rajesh a good ambassador to the citizens of car culture, is that he works for India’s state-run oil giant. Maybe there are also examples of Americans in the oil industry who commute by bike. My biases (and biases are what they are) tell me that those people are very rare.

  11. Maxine says:

    Good for you Rajesh Parmar!

    In Brisbane (Australia) EVERYONE seems to cycle… you can’t go anywhere without someone whizzing past you.

    Personally, cycling isn’t my thing, but I am happy to read others enjoy it and are opting for a “greener” form of transport.

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