'With each new cyclist, it's no longer The Other; it's us' (Roundup)

Our publisher, Josh Lipton, and Stuart Henderson will be at the North American Handmade Bike Show (NAHBS) in Austin all weekend, and we will providing updates all weekend. (Which will interfere with my ability to watch The Oscars. Oh darn.)

This is video is a trial run of the kind of interviews they intend to do in Austin. Josh is behind camera. Stuart is the interviewer, and I am pretending to be a representative from Dahon. This was not meant for public consumption, but Josh (the one not on camera) thought our readers deserved a sneak preview of our interviews this coming weekend.

I’m not sure I like the look of the sh**-eating grin I wear when I’m trying not to laugh.

If you make it to the end, there are some good related videos on NAHBS’s past.

Commute By Bike

Last weekend, while touring the Queen Mine, in Bisbee, AZ, I saw this amazing commuter bike with a banana seat, 750 feet underground.

Queen Mine Supervisors Bike, Bisbee AZ
Queen Mine Supervisors Bike, Bisbee AZ | Photo: Webshots user mackate57

Bikes like these were used by mine supervisors.

Also while in Bisbee, I visited Bisbee Bicycle Brothel (“The best little wheelhouse in Arizona”), and spoke with proprietor Ken Wallace for awhile.

This is nice video that conveys Ken’s love of bikes. (At :35 you will be safely past the reporter’s clumsy Flintstones stop on a bike, and her slightly patronizing attitude toward cycling.)

Commute By Bike

Here’s another from the category: Interpreting Interpretations.

Remember when the British tabloid Metro ridiculed a member of Parliament for commuting to work and claiming the 20p-a-mile [$0.28 per mile] allowance?

Well, now another tabloid, the Daily Mail, is claiming that bike commuting is "one of the biggest causes of heart attacks.”

Daily Mail

Road.cc does a great dissection of their reading of the data, and a deconstruction of the Daily Mail’s anti-cycling agenda.

The Mail's interpretation of the research by Dr Tim Nawrot, from Hasselt University in Belgium published in The Lancet is stunningly simple. If exposure to traffic and physical exertion are significant "˜final straw' factors in inducing a heart attack and cycle commuting involves both, then, voila!, it follows that: "cycling to work is one of the biggest causes of heart attack."


Their headline should have been: "Why snorting a line while riding your Ridgeback to work in heavy traffic is one of the biggest causes of heart attacks." Or something.

Commute By Bike

Outside Magazine has an interesting and psychological perspective on bike commuting, titled “Rage Against Your Machine.” It’s a long read, but I recommend it.

Commuting Graffiti
Commuting Graffiti | Illustration: Brian Cronin, Outside Magazine

The article begins with writer Tom Vanderbilt following “extreme commuter” Joe Simonetti on his commute from the New York exurbs to Midtown Manhattan.

In the first few paragraphs I began to sense the pervasive “Aren’t you scared?” and “You must be crazy?” attitude that we encounter from our non-cycling friends and acquaintances.  

But it got better. In fact, it’s very close to an armchair-psychologist article I’ve been ruminating. Here’s a bit of psychobabble that deepened my understanding of the antagonism between motorists and cyclists:

In the late 1960s, a pair of British psychologists set out to understand the ways in which we humans tend to split ourselves into opposing factions. They divided a group of teenage schoolboys, who all knew each other, into two groups and asked them to perform a number of “trivial tasks.” The boys were then asked to give money to fellow subjects, who were anonymous save for their group affiliation. As it turned out, the schoolboys consistently gave more money to members of their own group, even though these groups had just formed and were essentially meaningless.

“The mere division into groups,” wrote the psychologists, Henri Tajfel and Michael Billig, of the University of Bristol, “might have been sufficient to have produced discriminatory behavior.” Though not exactly Lord of the Flies, the experiment was a demonstration of the power of what’s called “social categorization”"”and the penalties inflicted on the “out-group.”

This dynamic appears on the road in all kinds of ways. “We know that merely perceiving someone as an outsider is enough to provoke a whole range of things,” says Ian Walker, a researcher at the University of Bath who specializes in traffic psychology. “All the time, you hear drivers saying things like ‘Cyclists, they’re all running red lights, they’re all riding on sidewalks,’ while completely overlooking the fact that the group they identify with regularly engages in a whole host of negative behaviors as well.”


In thinking about how to improve driver-cyclist relations in America, the easiest thing is to simply get more people on bikes. Growing up in the small Wisconsin town of Twin Lakes, [former Olympic cyclist and bike lawyer Bob Mionske] notes, he “didn’t see more than two road bikes in my entire childhood.” Now, he jokes, “you’ve got packs of 40 guys riding around pissing people off.” But with each new cyclist, he says, it’s no longer “the Other; it’s us.”

Commute By Bike

Lastly, a very non-psychobabbly item sent to me by my sister-in-law, a psychologist.

This is H.G. Wells quote is on an 8×8 inch print you can buy from Line Draw’s shop on Etsy, which includes many bike-related prints and t-shirts.

H.G. Wells quote
Illustration: Mike Joos

Neither Line Draw nor Etsy are advertisers. I just like it.

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