Sunday 21 October 2012

Why the hate?

As someone who is part of the wider "cycling community" (whatever the hell that is), I occasionally mix with cyclists who have a visceral hatred of cars. I don't get it - the car is one of the greatest inventions ever. I like cars. I don't love them like some people do (you won't find me at car shows, buying car mags, joining a car club or polishing the pride and joy on a daily basis). If I was ever going to name any of my cars, I'd name them "Down", as in "Broken Down". Especially if I owned a Ford.

I've yet to meet someone who doesn't form a strong attachment to something at some point in their lives (that is not another human). People variously fall in love with boats, fishing, gardening, music, dogs, art, clothing, shoes, cooking, computer games, books, travel, flying, scuba diving, hunting, politics, scale modelling, parachuting, photography, mountain climbing, marathons, cats, "the environment", surfing, wind sailing, motorbikes and of course, cycling. A quick trip to any newsagent is a good guide to the main things people fall in love with - if people are willing to buy expensive magazines on a regular basis celebrating a particular activity, and there are a lot of magazines for that activity, then you can be pretty sure that plenty of people are in love with that activity. The market has spoken.

As an aside, whilst there is a good market for "competitive" cycling magazines of all types - road, mountain and triathlon - the magazine for the Greenie section of the market recently folded and ceased publication. (Haha - that is not meant to be a pun). You could infer from that event that whilst Greenie cyclists are vocal and annoying, they and either small in numbers or tight fisted - or both.

A common theme amongst the Greenie cyclist is a hatred of cars. And I mean a passionate, total hatred of cars. To them, the car is evil and the bicycle is a symbol of good. I don't think it's a rational hatred - in some cases it seems to smack of well hidden envy and jealousy. They can't stand that the bloke over there has worked hard and made enough money to afford a Merc, whilst they are stuck on an old bicycle stolen from outside the Marlborough Hotel in Newtown.

This hatred then extends to motorways - a great blessing for all city dwellers. Anyone who wants to go back to the bad old days of entering and leaving Sydney via Parramatta Road and the old Hume Highway needs their head read. But then again, none of the haters ever leave Sydney - especially the inner parts of Sydney - unless they are taking the train to Canberra for a protest against a coalition government.

The passionate love of cycling extends the other way, into total adoration of Clover Moore and all that she does. It's quite bonkers. The take the cyclist-motorist hatred to new levels.

And as I said, that's bonkers. Most adult cyclists have a driver's license and own a car or two. Or three. Many cyclists drive their bikes to a spot, cycle out and back to some point and then stick the bike back on the car and drive home. The haters mostly appear to be non-car owners; the types who don't have a family to cart around, live in the inner city and don't have a long distance to cover in order to get to work (assuming they have a job). or the shops. If they do have a job, it's not the sort of job that involves travelling as part of the job (such as going from site to site with a bunch of tools and plumbing supplies).

They might even be afforded the luxury of working from home in some inner city location where it's easy to walk to the local cafe and shops and stroll home with two light bags of groceries; and where there are so many delightful restaurants and cafes within walking distance that you never cook dinner at home. Or lunch. Or breakfast.

I survived for 10 years in Sydney without a car - and I didn't have a bike back then either. I was single, my friends all lived close by - an easy walk or a cheap taxi ride - and all our social events involved a lot of drinking, so you never drove even if you had a car. And you couldn't park where you wanted to go, as parking around places like Paddington is an utter nightmare. I can understand completely how people can get by without a car - live in the inner suburbs, don't have kids, have a job that can be reached and undertaken using convenient public transport and have a whole bunch of friends in the same circumstances.

I think a lot of the hate has to do with wanting to be part of an in-group. When I lived near Bondi and body surfed a lot (and occasionally tried and failed to stand on a surf board), the boogie boarders hated the body surfers. The surfers hated both groups even more - to the point of the occasional punch up occurring. And they really hated the surf life savers. Group membership was reinforced via hatred of others. I can understand wanting to be part of a surfing group - surfers are fit, tanned and athletic and they pull a lot of chicks and have great parties. But who would want to be part of a group of stinky, bearded (and that includes the women), sandal wearring cyclists who define themselves through hatred of cars and motorways?

A lot of these Greens never grow up and have a family, so they aren't forced to make a choice between their hedonistic, inner city life style and exile to the 'burbs with a clutch of kids. They can continue this irrational hatred well into middle age. It's quite sad really.


Anonymous said...

I think that hatred is a lefty/green thing. They know that they are right in all things and that anyone who dares to differ is evil and must be exterminated. I know that I'm probably next for the chop because I'm 64 and not svelte, I wear lycra (not quite big fat bastard size) and I ride a road bike as often as I can. I have two Saab cars, both Aero turbo models, and I like to drive.

Oh no!

The anti-lycra thing, I think, comes from ignorance. The non-cycling journalists don't understand the health and comfort benefits. They seem to think that we are trying to pretend to be professional cyclists by wearing lycra. As if. Maybe they haven't noticed the difference in body shape between professional cyclists and your normal weekend heroes. Ha!

The hatred against cyclists, almost calls to kill, by some car-oriented 'journalists' is also unfortunate.

Real Deal said...

I love cars. I buy car magazines, I have been to car races and even think the best car I bought was a Ford Falcon (the much maligned AU no less!). I need a car to transport my family around and cannot do that on my Trek Hybrid. Yeah I am a rider too and I did enjot that "greeny' cyclist magazine before it went under - mainly because I am an overweight cyclist who doesn't really like the "jock" cycling magazines.

I think your comments about group culture are pretty spot on and may explain why our society is so tribal and peopkle hate anyone who is different (Orwell's Animal Farm "Four Legs good, two legs bad!). I think that mindset lies behind much of the inner city cyclists. I have lived in country NSW for years but can remeber the "Critical Mass" rides (do they still have them?). On Fridays a group would ride on the Harbour Bridge and stop in the middle and bring traffic to a standstill. Why? Because they could, and they hated car drivers.

When I would get abused by drivers when I was riding I used to curse the critical mass riders because they were the ones giving riders a bad name. Now I ride in the country and no one really bothers me.

Boy on a bike said...

Yes, they still do the stupid Critical Mass rides. I avoid them like the plague. Did one once purely for the ride across the Bridge - I finished utterly infuriated with all the non-cycling poseurs who turned up simply because it was a protest. I'd greet the next Critical Mass ride with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets.