Bicycling won’t make you an ‘elite snob,’ so where did this image problem come from?

KUOW’s The Conversation hosted a program about a month ago talking about the unfortunately-titled Salon article “Are urban bicyclists just elite snobs?” Headline aside, author Will Doig makes some good points, saying that while people who bike are not likely to be “elite snobs,” that perception is very real.

When I listened to the show at the time, I was a bit disappointed with the way it went. “Oh great,” I thought, “let’s prompt people to call in with their negative anecdotes and generalizations about people who bike yet again! Just what we need.” Perhaps as someone who writes about bikes on the Internet every day, I have developed a knee-jerk defense mechanism against ill-intentioned comment trolls and radio shock jocks.

But listening to the program again, people do make several good points about the need for better marketing (for lack of a better word) that more accurately shows the wide variety of people who bike, the wide variety of tasks bicycles can help people accomplish, and how easy it is.

The folks at Cascade came to a similar conclusion in a recent blog post:

When I caught the article, my first reaction—to the headline—was disappointment.  How can our beloved easy and cheap mode of transportation (or popular form of recreation) be anything close to a central character in a social hierarchy struggle?

Bicycling is more normal and ordinary than ever, so I tire of the notion that bicycling is only for one group of people.  When we look at the numbers, we find it to be completely false.  In fact, when we look at the census data, those who ride bikes span income levels quite evenly.  Are there elite snobs who ride a bike?  Are you an elite snob?  Better yet, who actually cares?  The real question isn’t about snobbery, it’s whether or not we’re going to recognize the serious interest of all ages, races, incomes and backgrounds in this cheap and easy way to get around and make sure it’s safe and accessible for everyone. And beyond recognizing this increasing demand by the masses—people really want to ride—will our city’s leaders build the infrastructure and let us?

Rant over; I then actually read the article.  Beyond the snarky headline, the Salon article does dig in.  The author even calls the media to the carpet and notes the disparity in enforcement and rash of hyperbolic headlines (um, his is a case in point).  Its thesis is that it’s not so much that bicyclists are elitists, but that we’re saddled with that unfortunate and ironically poor public perception.  Okay, good point.

Considering the way bicycle products have been marketed for years, it’s no wonder people who do not regularly ride bikes hold negative and confusing images of bicycling. While I get to see a positive image of bicycling every day — whether its writing about community neighborhood greenway groups or the ever-increasing number of bicycle commuters — this is the image of biking that is saturating people’s TV screens:

I must have seen this commercial 20 times while in St. Louis visiting family this holiday season (I am not sure if it has been playing in Seattle or not). Every time it came on, I just groaned. If I were trying to make bicycling look like a dangerous, painful and bizarre activity for weirdos, I could hardly have made a better commercial. Yet this is what people are seeing multiple times a day.

Unfortunately, no bicycle advocacy organization has enough money to run a positive bicycling ad campaign. And even if they did, I’m sure there would be much better ways to spend it.

Which reminds me of one of Seattle Bike Blog’s main New Year’s resolutions (more to come soon!): Tell more positive stories. Bicycling is safe. Bicycling is easy. Bicycling is fun. Bicycling is “normal.” Basically, there should be more smiles on the blog, and stories like this:

My NYC Biking Story: Sarinya Srisakul from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

“Elite snobs”

Perhaps if we deconstruct this “elite snob” stereotype, we can learn a little about how to change the way we “market” bicycling. Where does this idea originate? Sure, there are some jerks in expensive gear who treat people rudely on the Burke-Gilman Trail (the most-common stereotype I hear cited). But there don’t seem to be a disproportionate number of them compared all the jerks in expensive cars who treat people rudely on the roads. I would never say that people who drive cars are elitists just because some jerk in a luxury car cut me off.

Plus, the value of one’s car or bike has little to do with how courteous someone is. There are jerks in every walk of life using every mode of transportation.

Nearly all people find it hard to relate to someone (or someone’s choices) if they do not share key common experiences. While the number of people biking in Seattle is going through the roof, the majority of our fellow citizens still do not bike regularly. I know what it is like to have a frustrating, traffic-filled highway car commute and can sympathize with people who have one today. But someone who does not ride a bike may find it hard to sympathize with my need for better bicycle facilities on our city’s roads and bridges.

I know all car drivers are not responsible for the actions of a few jerks, because I have been a driver. But some people who do not bike regularly seem to have trouble making the same distinction about people who bike.

From Sightline

People who bike fall nearly proportionally in all income brackets. In fact, the poorer half of the nation bikes more than the richer half. So obviously, people who bike are not disproportionately of the “elite” class.

Car ownership, on the other hand, is skewed toward the wealthy, though there is certainly no shortage of poor people struggling to keep their cars rolling. Given that poorer neighborhoods are less likely to have good walking, biking and transit infrastructure and service, the problem tends to compound.

From Sightline. Vehicle = Motor Vehicle in this graph

Okay, fine, so people who bike are not elitists, but they’re definitely snobs, right?

Nobody likes to have someone tell them about how that what they’re doing is dangerous, destroying the environment, encouraging obesity, etc. Yet car culture is, undeniably, all of those things while cycling is not. Without being careful, it’s easy for someone who bikes to come off as a snob during a conversation even if they aren’t one (and if they are a snob, it can send them into snobbery outer space).

Here we have this tool that is so positive in so many ways, costs almost nothing and is easy and fun. It runs on excess calories and gives you hot butt. This thing practically sells itself. So how come we keep screwing it up in America?

In the end, there are some people who will start riding a bike because of pollution or reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. But the vast majority of people who take up biking will do so once they believe it is the transportation solution that works the best for their lives. They need to be convinced it is safe, easy, fast and cost-effective (and being cool never hurts). The city’s infrastructure also needs to meet these goals.

The haters and radio shock jocks will keep doing their thing, riling people up and encouraging a red-faced division between people who drive and people who bike. But down on the ground, more and more friends, family members, coworkers and neighbors around the city are demonstrating that riding a bike is a relaxing and easy way to get life done.

Once people start biking, they get a chance to share that common experience with other people biking. And once people can see things from behind both the handlebars and the windshield, these silly stereotypes will disappear.

What do you think the city, advocacy organizations and everyday people in Seattle can do to help change the image of bicycling in the city?

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33 Responses to Bicycling won’t make you an ‘elite snob,’ so where did this image problem come from?

  1. Andres says:

    Wait, so the implication of that chart is that people who own their homes (and are more likely to have a vehicle) are richer than those who rent? How do we know it’s not the other way around (those who are $500k in debt and underwater on their mortgages are poorer than those who rent and have savings)? Alternatively, perhaps someone who’s more likely to take out a massive loan to buy a house is also likely to take out a loan to buy a car, or to do what society expects of them? Or, if we want to be less antagonistic, rich urbanites rent in the city because housing prices are obscene, while poorer folks are able to afford a cheap house out in the suburbs (and require a car, because.. suburbia).

    I hope that article is basing claims like ” non-poor residents are far more likely to drive” from the poll data of both income and car ownership, rather than just correlation between house and car ownership.

    (The sightline link is missing an “http://”, btw)

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Fixed the link.

      As for renters vs owners, I believe it is true that renters are more likely to be poor than homeowners. I don’t have a citation on hand right now, though, but it seems like common sense (at least in an urban area).

      That’s not to say that all homeowners are wealthy. Certainly many people are totally underwater on their mortgages right now, some owing more than the home is worth. All the article is saying is that people who own are more likely to be wealthy (and, therefore, car owners are more likely to be wealthy).

  2. Joel S says:

    Good article.

    That ProForm TDF does look kind of neat though even if the ad is ridiculous.

    • Gary says:

      Indoor trainers are everything I hate about bicycling… the work, the repetitive motion, the monotony the hatchet for a seat. Outdoor bicycling I put up with all that because, well it’s outdoors! And the scenery changes as does the smells. My senses come alive. I would rather do anything else than sit on an indoor trainer.

  3. AiliL says:

    I was thinking about this very thing last month. And vowed to post more positive articles on Seattle Likes Bikes as well. More positive things than negative happen to me on a bike anyway!

    One thing I do personally to encourage cycling is treat the opposing view with some respect and acknowledgement of a car-drivers perspective. I.e. someone recently said to me, “cycling is so dangerous, I don’t let my husband ride his bike to work any more!” After disguising my shock fairly well we ended up having a good conversation about our experiences both in and out of a car. Her husband was standing behind her and nodding happily at me as we discussed experience, routes, weather, etc. I suspect he’ll be back on his bike at least intermittently soon.

    It does help, I think, that I am a woman and I “don’t look like I bike.” In other words, I dress appropriately at work, I don’t yell at my coworkers (apparently my non-cycling co-workers associate cyclists with male aggression), and don’t lecture people about it. People discovering I bike about 20 miles a day to/from work are often shocked and amazed that I do it year round, and that it’s really not that difficult and that it’s faster to ride than to take the bus…and that drivers really aren’t so bad (like cyclists, it’s a few of them that spoil the bushel!).

    • Gary says:

      When talking safety on bicycles, be sure to remind folks that increased exercise reduces your chance of Type II diabetes, heart disease, obesity and stroke. And that when you factor in the better health, the overall chance of dying is actually lower than driving and not exercising regularly.

      Once people look at the big picture, the little worry about being run down stops looking so big vs the #1 killer heart disease.

      • Shane Phillips says:

        While this is true, and in a broad discussion of benefits of biking this ranks up at the top, I’m not sure how convincing this is for people. Especially when a lot of the people I know who don’t consider bicycling because they consider it unsafe are generally pretty active otherwise.

        It’s pretty widely accepted at this point (I believe) that people are not good with statistical probabilities and acting rationally in respect to them. That’s why people buy lottery tickets and it’s why people will pass up the more effective medicine because it has a 1/10,000 chance of serious side effects.

        Again, your point is entirely valid but I think the argument by itself it is hard to convince a person who has decided bicycling is unsafe that the health benefits pencil out for them on an individual level.

      • Gary says:

        I also remind folks that the roads they drive to work on, are not the roads I bicycle to work on. I take every back alley, side street, residential street, park pathway that is more direct, and has less traffic on it I can. With a few miles of actual bike path.

        I also will volunteer to either ride the first few times with them to show them the route, or map it out on Google maps for them.

        People who drive don’t understand route finding when it comes to bicycling.

      • Al Dimond says:

        Yeah, definitely the way to combat people’s negative perceptions about cyclists is to tell them how much healthier you are than they. They also won’t think you’re an elitist or anything like that.

        If someone tells me they think biking is dangerous I usually assure them that I take my safety seriously. I’ve seen various studies that show that either biking or driving is safer than the other, and I think the jury is out. It typically feels more dangerous to bike on a given road than to drive it, but you often can choose different routes to ride. In Pugetopolis there’s usually a reasonable bike route from Point A to Point B… (unless you need to get from Log Boom Park to 145th! :-P)

      • Al Dimond says:

        Ha, you beat me to that point.

      • Doug Bostrom says:

        Funny you should mention that about diabetes; I just finished servicing brakes and adding a better light to a bike belong to somebody near and dear to me whose glucose levels have gone pear-shaped of late. Playing around with diet helps a bit but is mysteriously unreliable in improving the numbers while commuting to work via bike is quite dramatic and consistent in dragging N down to ~100, a big improvement. No time to exercise without bad opportunity costs, but w/a commute 90% on B-G, it’s all good.

      • Gary says:

        I AM an Elitist. It’s Ok to be one. Since when should people aspire to be only average? “Hey kid when you grow up you too can play only recreational baseball. Maybe someday you’ll even get asked to join the company team?”

        See how stupid that sounds?

        The people would like you to remain fat and stupid, and keep buying junk don’t want you to become an elite anything other than a pro-sports player. Which they can then make money off of by selling your ability to others. Our whole car owning culture goes in the toilet if people rode bikes as much as the Danes. Remember “What’s good for GM is good for the country?” A lot of people lose a lot of money if we all stop driving so much. So there is a huge PR campaign to keep us all driving and not riding.

        “bikes are toys” “bicyclists are jerks for not obeying traffic laws” (never mind that auto drivers don’t either.) “bicycles are unsafe”. Here ride in this huge SUV car which can go off-road over the African Savannah you’ll be much safer….

      • Gary says:

        http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm

        #1 heart disease
        #3 stroke
        #4 Chronic lower respiratory diseases
        # 5 accidents

        Just by bicycling you get rid of 3 of the top 4 death risks. And probably help with #2 cancer as your immune system should be healthier because you are healthier.

  4. Gary says:

    “Elite” when did we let people take a word that implies greatness and turn it into slander? I admit it, I am elite. I ride, my cardiovascular system is not what most people have because of it. Thing is it’s not an exclusive club. I am definitely not a snob. But to join the bicycle club you have 1) own a bike 2) ride it. To become “Elite” you have to ride regularly… that’s it. (for whatever you decide is regularly.)

    Oh I expect with the new 520 tolls to see more bicycle riders on I-90 evading traffic and tolls. This morning it was hard to tell whether those are toll evaders or new year’s resolution riders, but it seemed like quite a few riders out there for a rainy forecast day of riding in the winter.

    • Jim says:

      I’m not sure if the term “elite” was intended as a pejorative, but people that see riders who are in great shape and have nice bikes seem like an unobtainable goal to many potential riders.

  5. David says:

    Yes, there is a big problem with how we’re marketing bicycling.

    A woman walks into a marketing and public relations firm and sits down to talk with their lead strategist.
    “Our organization has a fun, safe and healthy activity we wish to promote, but we’re struggling to figure out the right approach,” she says.
    The strategist thinks for a moment, then responds, “I recommend the approach bicycle advocates have been using for the past 20 years; reinforce the public’s fears about your activity.”
    The woman is taken aback, pauses for a moment, then says, “Oh!  You had me going there for a moment!”
    “What do you mean?” asks the strategist.
    “Well, you were joking, right?…”
    If only.

    Read the rest of Mighk’s article “Doom or Possibility?” here:

    http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/advocacy/doom-or-possibility/

    When people generally (or bicyclists specifically) demand special treatment for themselves, are they likely to be seen as elitist, even snobby?

    When promoting special treatment are we looking for our good experiences, or choosing our bad ones?

    Can you imagine any other activity promoted by selecting its worst experiences and clamoring for a solution its competent practitioners don’t need or want? (For example, remember the comments on the Dick’s bike lane?)

    http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2012/01/01/here-is-a-column-i-never-thought-i-would-read/

    Bike advocates have so completely abandoned responsible behavior that generates positive experiences, I’m having way too much fun filling the void to keep it to myself.

  6. Sean Parker says:

    I call it ambassadorship instead of marketing.

  7. Todd says:

    I’ve got lots of opinions about this. My guess is I ride as many miles as most people do on this blog and I’d further guess that most perceptions are well deserved. But since nobody likes what I have to say on this blog (even though I only really complain only about wasteful government spending) I will reserve my thoughts. If you don’t like it… so be it.

  8. Doug Bostrom says:

    Agree w/sorrow concerning how we’ve let “elite” be hijacked into the role of expedient political pejorative. Radioactive fallout from demagoguery, tsk-tsk.

    Also interesting to see how alleged aggressive behavior seems to be a relatively widely held prejudice against bicycle drivers. I’ve wondered to myself if this is at least partly due to a nasty feedback situation, wherein those choosing to drive bicycles in company with automobiles actually do tend to be assertive, self-confident individuals– perhaps a little more ready than average to defend themselves against what they perceive as threats– precisely because driving bicycles in traffic is seen as dangerous; mild-mannered folks are perhaps less likely to buck conventional safety wisdom whether it’s true or not, leaving a slight disproportion of those not so concerned with being conspicuous when they feel trod upon.

    For that matter, assertive and self-confident behavior is often associated with other attributes — considered apart from politically divisive speech– typically regarded as superior or (dare I say) “elite.” Brain surgeons are rarely shrinking violets, nor solo violinists, NASCAR champions, etc.

    • AiliL says:

      I agree with you to a point about aggressive = male rider, yelling at everyone. But this is exactly who is represented in the media; I can’t help but think to Portlandia’s cyclist archetype, the majority of responders in blogs (this is slowly changing), writers of blogs, most riders in general…are mostly male. I don’t really see in the media women rider/writes, we are still outnumbered, and it’s good most women bloggers that are out there actually discuss women’s POV. And I don’t see very many women riding in the winter/poor weather conditions at all. I think the surprise is that women can *actually* do it, and that one doesn’t have to be all “aggressive” about riding. Although “assertive” is something most women have not learned in general society. So holding a lane through assertive riding without getting all apologetic about the perception of holding someone up behind you is just one of the gender differences that’s wrapped up in the male vs female side of riding…aggression may have little to actually do with it.

      • David says:

        AiliL,
        That’s why I chose personal responsibility and social skills for the traffic environment for promoting bicycle driving. I thought these might be positive attributes women would be attracted to, and an alternative to appealing to performance/sports values and the prejudicial view popularized by bike segregationists about bicycle drivers.

        It all comes down to this: Do you want to take personal responsibility for your own behavior and learn how to get along with people who look different and share the same space? Would you be willing to learn from other people who are doing it successfully?

        Or, are you going to go it alone, blame others when things don’t go your way and demand special treatment that segregates our public space?

        Those are two choices: right or wrong is not the issue, ultimately in human society we get what we deserve. I like to invite people to see they have choices, check them out and see how they work for you.

        And that’s the basis of my question:
        Which bicyclists are the most mobile safe and happy, those who learn good social skills for traffic or those who won’t and ask for special treatment instead, even when that treatment violates the rules of the road?

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        David: Do yourself a favor and forever drop terms such as “bike segregationists.” It’s offensive to both people who support bike lanes and to the legacy of the battle for Civil Rights in America. It does not help to sell your cycling philosophy, remember? http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2011/08/david_smith_bike_safety_ku_klux_klan.php

        That aside, I think AiliL’s point about assertiveness vs aggressiveness is important. It’s true that men are far more likely to bike in the US (and Seattle) than women, a stat that is not true in Europe’s great biking cities. While some of that might be due to women in our society not being taught to be assertive as much as men, it may have as much to do with the lack of connectivity of bike routes and facilities. In short: Women make a lot more, smaller trips than men, and our bike routes are designed for long distance commuting, not lots of shorter trips: http://publicola.com/2011/07/15/why-more-women-dont-ride/

        Basically, my dream world is one where even shy people (male or female) feel completely comfortable biking. Everyone biking on today’s roads should learn to be assertive on the roads, as David suggests.

        But with proper investments, bike trips could simply be relaxing and convenient, allowing people to just be themselves instead of putting on an assertive (aggressive?) face on just to get to the grocery store.

        Note that this is the goal of neighborhood greenways, and could be yet another argument for accelerating funding for those plans.

  9. Steve A says:

    Don’t those stats simply say that younger people are more likely to ride bikes than old ones? At least as much that they are more likely to be struggling financially and not to have time to become more than renters?

  10. Gary says:

    Rode up the elevator today with a guy wearing a “Harley Davidson” logo shirt, and guess what they use to advertise motorcycling? Yep, a skull. Yes lets take the risky part of the sport, death, and just say “we don’t care” “death is cool”, sort of the pirate part. But forgetting that pirates killed others, and didn’t plan on suicide raids, vs motorcycles where any collision with a car, truck, or another motorcycle results in your own death.

    http://tinyurl.com/7brdhqj

    Oh and I want one of those shirts!… only with Raleigh or Campagnolo

  11. David says:

    Tom toDavid: Do yourself a favor and forever drop terms such as “bike segregationists.” It’s offensive to both people who support bike lanes and to the legacy of the battle for Civil Rights in America.

    Tom, I am a veteran of the equal rights movement, so I’m at least a small part of its legacy from which I permit myself to draw lessons that inform my understanding of current events.

    I worked Native American salmon canneries in SE Alaska which practiced an Aparthied-like labor system. From that experience I pursued a better understanding of racism engaging in anti-aparthied work. I became associated with Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo of the KDP an organization of Philipinos working to end the Marcos dictatorship and reform their corrupt union that sent labor to the Alaska canneries. It was through their racism education project that I had a long discussion with Gene Viernes about their plans to reform the entire labor system. A week later Gene and Silme were assassinated with the murder trail leading back to the Marcos government and the United States State Department. The book is: Triumph over Marcos: A Story Based on the Lives of Gene Viernes & Silme Domingo, Filipino American Cannery Union Organizers, Their Assassination, and the Trial That Followed.

    http://www.amazon.com/Triumph-over-Marcos-Organizers-Assassination/dp/0940880520/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325876194&sr=8-1-fkmr1

    I wonder that it is even possible for one who witnessed such events as I have and with the “colored” drinking fountain as its symbol that at least a single dot could not connect to the “colored” bike lane.

    I know many are offended by that connection, and I know many who are deeply offended by the lack of such an obvious connection. But that was the legacy of the equal rights struggle for those who participated. There was no single idea of racism, and we disagreed, argued, and struggled vigorously among and between ourselves and the different organizations.

    Tom, you’re a smart person with a passion, a prolific writer and with your life ahead of you. And you’re very generous with your suggestions. So let me return the kind consideration: Why narrow your views so much? Ask more questions, include more options, lecture less.

    Perhaps you could enjoy reading Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
    http://www.amazon.com/Being-Wrong-Adventures-Margin-Error/dp/0061176052/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325875066&sr=8-1

    or take a peek at the TED Talk:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/kathryn_schulz_on_being_wrong.html

    • Brian says:

      David, a quote attributed to you by the article Tom supplied, if I may:

      “What we have now is, in my opinion, a full-blown, ripe, mature segregationist movement,” he continues. “Instead of whites-only drinking fountains, we now have ‘bikes are good, cars are bad.’ We’re getting bike lanes painted into the streets that are a systematic violation of the rules of the road. Bike advocates, which have taken control of the mayor’s office and SDOT–it’s a national movement, so I don’t just want to pick on Seattle here–they use the same ways of thinking as the Ku Klux Klan used: ‘We are the good people; you are the bad people; we deserve special treatment; and if anything goes wrong, it’s all your fault.’ Isn’t that how we treated African-Americans at one time?”

      I don’t care where you worked or what your life experiences were–your assertions of “segregationism” and allusions to the KKK are hyperbolic and stupid.

      • David says:

        Brian,

        Apparently I had a stronger and more negative reaction than yours to Mike Seeley’s article when I saw it. I was physically ill for a couple days unable to eat/sleep. He refused to remove the article even when I pointed out where he had me saying things I clearly had not. Mostly, I was really sick that I had communicated poorly in a way that makes it easier for people misunderstand and even take advantage.

        I had unknowingly stepped into a mudslinging political fight between Seeley and the Mayor & bike advocate friends. (Remember this article was written during the Mayor versus Weekly Backpage controversy) With so little contact, I’m willing to say I don’t trust or like Mike Seeley. And, I’m wondering Brian, have you checked out Mike Seeley and feel he is a good source of information?

        Here’s my experience:

        I had contacted Mike to respond to his complaint (linked from this blog) about little use of road-diet bike lanes. I didn’t check first to see who he was – big mistake!

        But, here’s my real blunder, a serious communications error I’ve been trying to correct. I started explaining the widest range of views a bicyclist might have starting with the most negative intending to work to my current understanding and the popular views today. But as soon as I got the most negative stuff out I heard Mike say “Oops, gotta go!” Click.

        Stupid, right? The first impression you make is the most important and the one that sticks. First made, its very difficult to change and so far in this case – impossible.

        It was my bicycling that taught me to communicate clearly and powerfully. Right from the moment other drivers first see you, make your behavior clear so they know you’re really there, and make your intentions and direction of travel transparent to them. That preempts loads of bad, even manipulative driving that’s unpleasant and can even cause trouble.

        I was not expecting, and no mention was made of publishing my comments, as all previous reporters had done before. When he contacted me later, I assumed to complete the conversation, it was instead to give me the URL for his article! What I saw was shocking, highlighting the most negative, embellishing it and promoting it as my views, along with a slimy attack on Tom. He refused to remove the article, and with cool confidence excused his publishing and interpretations as his right.

        When I calmed down to think better so I could remember more clearly what I had said, I could see a pattern of manipulation all through the manner of the call, denials, excuses and attributing words to me that I definitely had not said. He had read my website, understood it, and engaged me in conversation in a manner no other had. But, later I saw he didn’t care for my views, that when he had enough for a flaming smear against his political enemies he abruptly ended the call.

        I repeatedly called him back focussing my demand on removing his creative attributions against Tom until he did. For someone I have so little acquaintance with I can say that I don’t like this person. He had a bone to pick and I was his gift from heaven.

        But, I knew people had already seen the slander against Tom so I sent this message:
        Tom,
        I’m wondering if you would be generous enough to consider a confidential phone call with me regarding the Seattle Weekly. I deeply regret that my ignorance was used and expanded in a way that targeted you.

        Tom’s response by email including: “Seeley… irresponsible journalist…had it out for him (Tom)… took advantage of me (David) to do it… had questionable ways.” That confirmed what I was learning.

        So, I now assume I’ve pissed off Tom so much that the link to Seeley’s article without comment on the nature of the source was Tom’s way of getting back at me, as Mr. Seely went after Tom. But, it’s not just the target that gets hurt.

        Brian, I might suggest that you take a look at Mr. Seeley, his writing, the context of his article, and see if you think he is a good source of information. Then take a look at my writing, my website BicycleDriver.Com. The best is my Article “The Six Biggest Myths that Steer Bicyclists in the Wrong Direction…Are You At Risk? The direct URL is here so you don’t have to sign-up:
        http://web.me.com/bicycle_driver/BicycleDriver.Com/Myths.html

        I’m sure you’ll find things to disagree with and maybe even some to agree, but you’ll get it directly from me without the Seeley effect. I believe it’s best is to look at your options, compare your sources and evaluate them.

        I regret everything that has taken place, its gone too far, and hope it can end, I’m hoping, with greater understanding than smears provide. And I am working to improve my communication.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        David,

        Maybe I only brought up the KKK article because it seemed like you were reusing language from it that was not beneficial to your argument. Though I may not agree 100 percent with your biking philosophies (specifically your dislike of all bike facilities), I recognize it as a valid opinion, and appreciate that you try to back up your thoughts with evidence, etc.

        Sorry if bringing up that seely story was in poor taste. Maybe i’m still a little sore. But mainly I think you should drop some of the metaphors you’re using. Me pushing for quality bike lanes has nothing in common with American segregation, and it doesn’t help tell the point you are trying to make.

        Vehicular cycling (and bicycle driving) has a lot to teach people about bicycling safely, and i think safe facilities can dramatically increase the people out there riding (as has been shown by increases in cycling on streets after bike lanes go in). We can have this debate without the need for such extreme and offensive metaphors.

    • Gary says:

      It’s too bad your life experiences didn’t prepare you well for advocating for the rights of bicyclists. I’m on your side of this argument and I dislike most of what you wrote.

      FYI: If you want to be an effective advocate for your passion, you need to work more at understanding why your writing makes people on your side dislike like using your arguments. Lets face it, this blog is about as pro-bicycling as you are going to see and your getting a pretty poor reception.

  12. Pingback: Project Plan « Mr. (Daniel) Probola

  13. Jabez House says:

    I ride daily (I’m retired) on a bike I saved 3 years to build (13k+ replacement value) and for years now I get nothing back from my salutations to Seattle area riders. I’ll ride down to Tacoma before I get a friendly wave back..Seattle cyclists suck!

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