Alex Baca has a great article in this week's City Paper about what bicycling really means to people, versus how the activity is frequently perceived and described by those who don't like it. She covers a lot of the themes I've written about at this blog, all rolled together nicely into one piece. Definitely click through and give the article a read.

(from carfreedays on Flickr)

It's worth reiterating that there's really no such thing as a "bicyclist" in the same way that there's no such thing a a "motorist" or a "pedestrian". People get around in different ways for different reasons, and they don't all behave the same as each other.

The idea that all people bike all do it because they think they're doing something for the environment is silly and unrealistic. First and foremost, bikes are inexpensive and convenient ways of getting around. Are they more environmentally friendly than a motorized vehicle? Yes. Are they more health conscious than riding in a motorized vehicle? Yes. But you can't confuse a side effect for the primary motivation.

The truth is that riding a bike is significantly less expensive, and in DC, quite a bit easier, than driving a car, for many trips. It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, black or white; owning and riding a bike will always cost less than owning and driving a car. Unless you're riding a really expensive bike, it's probably also less expensive than using public transportation.

Back when owning a car was still considered a privilege, not a right, it was something that was exclusive to a group of people because of how much they could afford to spend. So when a city spent money on driving infrastructure, it really could be argued that it was a handout to the rich. And yet, that's the same argument that's used today - but with bikes! It takes a real imagination to come up with a reason why bicycling infrastructure is disproportionally beneficial to rich people. Sadly, listen to the discourse and you'll see that it doesn't always come off as that much of a stretch.

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