“What are you? Stupid?”
My biking to work year round gains that response from family and outspoken people on occasion. It, of course, makes me react. Usually on the inside.
Perhaps they are just trying to be funny. As it probably was with the volunteer where I was giving blood the other day.
But I have the impression they speak for many. Certainly for those who honk at me in the road or don’t give me my fair share of the road.
But I think it’s more. They are giving voice to a deep resentment many people have about cyclists.
But why you may well ask?
Below I try to examine both sides of biking as I see them.
Reasons NOT to bike:
- less dangerous
- the elements (especially in a Canadian winter) and stuff on the road are hard on chains, gears, tires and brakes so there is a requirement for spare tubes and bikes
- it does require some gear (which doesn’t have to be too expensive if you don’t mind layering)
- bugs, dogs, animal poop and parental geese
And now WHY I ride:
- extremely enjoyable (almost addictive when you’ve done it enough)
- relatively quick
- if the trail hasn’t been plowed it’s much rarer that the roads aren’t and I can use them legally
- physically healthy respite from my sedentary lifestyle
- relatively carbon neutral
- economical (gasoline for two weeks alone could buy me two used bikes in good shape and two months would get me a real nice one)
- mentally healthy alternative for our sedentary minds (provides me with the time I use to think things through)
So there you have some cons and pros. I don’t know where you come down on any of those but it probably doesn’t matter. These points don’t give the real reason people think I’m stupid because deep down I’m pretty sure they don’t. Not really. They might, if they like or love me, be fearful for me but then they’d be the ones that are joking about my intelligence.
So why the stupid?
I think it’s because they wish they were doing the same. They feel guilty because they don’t and I do. Despite the too many excuses they’d have to fight off to bike themselves, they really want to. Even those angry that I’m in ‘their’ lane probably wish they were the ones biking. So they react angrily to what they perceive as my stubbornness to continue biking. Well they’re right about my stubbornness anyway, my wife can attest to the fact.
Maybe they lack the will power. I know I certainly do when I’m playing video games late and should be sleeping.
Maybe they’re stuck in a rut but that’s not right: it’s easier to get out of a rut in a car than it is on a bicycle.
Or maybe I am just a pretentious tree hugger who wants that big old world to stop so I can get off. But I do own a car (it was supposed to be in my wife’s name but the misogynistic car dealership put it in mine–whatever! I pay for it either way.)
So that’s it in a nutshell. I know I’ve posted on this topic before but I felt compelled to do it again. I just love biking and wish more people did it for most of my reasons above are bound to be really good for them too.
Maybe, in the end, my attempts at explaining myself are the real proof. Why am I trying? I must really be stupid.