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Forum: Advocacy

Issues related to bicycles, usually related specifically to or affecting tourists in some way

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#1: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By [deleted] on Sat 6 Oct 2012 14:32 (US/Pacific) Edit Delete (9)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I'm posting this article because I found it interesting and useful. I've had my fill of debating recently, so I won't comment on replies if any. It discusses things that interest or turn off the stereotypical conservative, whatever that is, to cycling.

If you are bold enough, and can pull it off, you can say catchy things like:
“You can take away my bike when you pry my cold dead hands off of my handlebars.”
“Go ahead, make my day – let me ride my bike.”

http://www.commutebybike.com/2010/12/11/how-to-talk-about-cycling-to-a-conservative/

Show links to this message

      
#2: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By John Kerley on Sat 6 Oct 2012 14:40 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Why would you converse with a conservative any different than anyone else to begin with?

Seems foolish and childish to bring politics into cycling at all.

John
Conservative side of Libertarian, 2nd amendment advocate, race car and 4wd owner and daily driver of a bicycle for everything I can.

      
#3: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Al Cyone on Sat 6 Oct 2012 14:59 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Interesting (2010) article though it looks like it might need to be updated:

"Americans have won twice as many “Tour-day-Frances” in the last 30 years as the French themselves. The score is 10 to 5–and that’s not even counting Floyd Landis, or subtracting the late Laurent Fignon (who confessed to doping shortly before he died; take him out and it’s 10-3)."

What's the score now?

      
#4: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Peter Jacobsen on Sat 6 Oct 2012 17:05 Edit Delete in reply to #3     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
What's the score now?

Since 1983:

-Spain: 10
-USA: 10
-France: 3
-Australia: 1
-Denmark: 1
-Germany: 1
-Ireland: 1
-Italy: 1 (perhaps the biggest surprise)
-Luxembourg: 1
-UK: 1

      
#5: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By John Meiners on Sat 6 Oct 2012 17:38 Edit Delete in reply to #3     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Although the USADA announced that they had stripped Lance of his TdF titles, they do not have the authority to do so because they didn't award them. And the TdF itself has not yet done so. So officially, as of now, Lance still holds these titles.

      
#6: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Dave Butansky on Sun 7 Oct 2012 00:18 Edit Delete in reply to #5     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I hear they are going to take his birthday away next.

      
#7: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Pat Wimmer on Sun 7 Oct 2012 07:59 Edit Delete in reply to #4     Reply (3)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I'm conservative. I own three bikes. I ride all of them. And, I vote.

I don't see the point of this post.

      
#8: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Phil Hughes on Sun 7 Oct 2012 08:54 Edit Delete in reply to #7     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
"I'm conservative. I own three bikes. I ride all of them. And, I vote.

I don't see the point of this post"

Neither do I. I too am a conservative. I ride a bike. I do the majority of my shopping on the bicycle, leaving the car in the garage. I actually find it ridiculous that many of my liberal, tree hugging friends decry conservatives, saying they do not care about the environment, all the while driving their SUVs one mile to get their Starbucks coffee. I don't care whether you are liberal or conservative, you are a person.

      
#9: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Robert Ewing on Sun 7 Oct 2012 09:34 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I live in the liberal, bicycle centric city of Portland, Oregon. Even the mayor rides a bike to work. I don’t label myself as a liberal, conservative or centrist, although I do tend to vote for liberals because they seem to take a bit more responsibility for the constant series of disasters our American political/economic system creates across the globe and here at home.

With that as a backdrop I am nearly always surprised when I am on tour taking in new vistas and ideas and meet up with a politically conservative cyclist doing the same. Perhaps it the vast amounts of air we inhale and exhale for hours on end (a long distance yoga meditation if you will) that produces a state of openness to the world around us and opens up our minds and hearts while touring. We seem to share many of the same values and viewpoints about touring. Another thing that strikes me is when I meet international bikers and have a long conversation with them. Inevitably even diehard, yellow dog, liberal democrats seem universally politically quite conservative when compared to these foreign pedal-pushers.

Robert

      
#10: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Suzanne Stack on Sun 7 Oct 2012 09:52 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I'm out right now *raising awareness* that not every tourer is a Big Lib Greenie :-) All the way from Oregon, with just one more state before reaching the Atlantic. I've been VERY well treated, lots of friendly waves, honks, and good conversation. I've only see two Obama yard signs the whole way, both in Tennessee.

http://bicyclelife.topicwise.com/doc/page/pic/?pic_id=1420231

      
#11: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By [deleted] on Sun 7 Oct 2012 15:13 Edit Delete in reply to #7   (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Okay, I'll violate my original comment to state the purpose of the post. After Neil and I discussed liberal vs conservative views on cycling (at least that was what the issue seemed to revolve around), and the liberal view that conservatives in political office tend to vote against cycling and bike trails, I found this useful really for liberals who find themselves trying to convince some types of conservatives, who might not care about cycling, to back pro-cycling laws and efforts.

I do agree with you and many of the conservative comments in the article that cycling isn't or shouldn't be a partisan issue. However, since some in politics feel conservatives could do more or even believe some hate bikes, it would help them to know what kinds of things may not cause a conservative to become interested in cycling. Of course, this and any discussion of the two rough political side paints a broad brush that many do not sign up to, but there are some tendencies.

For example, many conservatives don't feel global warming is man made. So the author simply says that if you're trying to convert to cycling a person who hates Al Gore or thinks he's a blow hard, then don't try to sell cycling by saying it will help reduce global warming. He might just roll his eyes at you and you'll get nowhere. Instead, the author recommends focusing on other issues that everyone can agree on, such as the health benefits of cycling or how it reduces congestion or how bike trails make great recreational paths for families. Then, you both will be on common ground.

Of course, the opposite course would be appropriate if you know your listener is fanatical about reducing CO2. So you'd score points by pointing out how bikes do not produce carbon, except for what you exhale.

I hope that helps. My intention was not to make conservatives feel insulted, but rather to point out how people on both sides of the issue can find common talking points to advance cycling, rather than ending up trying to sell global warming issues, etc. look for what triggers a positive reaction in the other person and focus on those.

Having said that, I'm more conservative as well, if I have to choose a label, though I dislike the label. In the view of some, it implies I want to rape the environment. To the contrary, I believe it is quite the opposite. Conservative means conservation, IMO. I love giant sequoias and old growth forests, for example, and can't fathom why our ancestors could have cut down one of those majestic trees nor why anyone would want to cut down old growth forest these days. Actually, I understand their motives. They looked at a giant tree and imagined how many homes or boardwalks could be built from one, huge tree. They were salivating. Still, I find it hard to believe a person could cut down a tree that size, count the rings, realize the tree is a couple of thousand years old, and then continue cutting more.

I'm not intending to creation a discussion on whether conservatives all believe like I do, but just to point out that many of us do. Anyway, again, the point is to help advance cycling by improving our ability to convince those who don't think exactly as we do.

Think of it like this. If you are a Christian and want to convince an atheist that adultery is bad, you'd get nowhere by telling her the bible says its bad. But you might get somewhere by pointing out how it can destroy marriages, spread disease, etc.

Cheers.

      
#12: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Peter Jacobsen on Sun 7 Oct 2012 16:56 Edit Delete in reply to #7     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I'm conservative. I own three bikes. I ride all of them. And, I vote.
I don't see the point of this post.

Pat, I think you meant to reply to the original poster, but you replied to my post. Is that correct?

      
#13: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Chris Lewthwaite on Sun 7 Oct 2012 21:05 Edit Delete in reply to #11     Reply (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
For example, many conservatives don't feel global warming is man made. So the author simply says that if you're trying to convert to cycling a person who hates Al Gore or thinks he's a blow hard, then don't try to sell cycling by saying it will help reduce global warming. He might just roll his eyes at you and you'll get nowhere. Instead, the author recommends focusing on other issues that everyone can agree on, such as the health benefits of cycling or how it reduces congestion or how bike trails make great recreational paths for families. Then, you both will be on common ground.

And now I'm going to violate my own principles by participating in an online discussion, even though I vowed some months ago that I never would again.

Speaking purely as a centrist who has little time for either liberals or conservatives, but who has managed to create a 100% increase in the number of cycle commuters in EVERY office I've ever worked in, I'll tell you the best way to sell cycling to, well, everyone.

Simply forget about trying to convince anybody that cycling would be "good" for any aspect of society or anybody else, and spruik the benefits to one's self. For example, by cycling everyday and everywhere, I've gone from living technically below the poverty line to having the money to travel overseas to different countries, continents and the like as and when I feel like it. I have avoided debt by not owing a car, my commute times are less than everybody else's, because gridlock doesn't apply to me.

I am fitter an healthier than just about anybody else in my family is, or has ever been, and I even stunned doctors and physios by the speed of my recovery from injuries sustained in a cycling crash last year (which, incidentally, wasn't my fault, but earned me some money with a little help from a lawyer), probably because of my fitness level and general health.

In short, I cycle because I am selfish and self-centred, and you know what? So is everybody else. We all do what is best for ourselves, regardless of whether we identify as liberal, conservative, christian, atheist or whatever. If "advocates" started promoting THAT on a wide scale, they'd probably get their much dreamed of increase in cycling numbers (although I have some serious reservations about whether that would be as wonderful as we'd like to think, but that's another argument).

      
#14: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Matt Thyer on Sun 7 Oct 2012 21:30 Edit Delete in reply to #11     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
To anyone who would propose that there are no or should not be politics associated with the bicycle I would suggest that you fire up your TV and watch the most recent transportation budget reauthorization debates. This is a partisan issue, for while both sides of the isle here in the US routinely vote to spend vast piles of money to build and maintain automobile infrastructure only one side can be counted on to block, bother, and stall any bill intent on improving things for the human powered vehicles which request such a relatively small amount.

If you call yourself a "conservative" and yet somehow find time to ride a bike, that's great! You're the exception that proves the rule. My political leaning is cyclist, and for what it's worth I welcome you to my party. Now if you can get your representation to vote for expanded services and bicycle infrastructure, safe streets initiatives, and greatly expanded public transportation then you'll truely have pulled off a mericle of modern political significance.

2¥ for what it's worth

      
#15: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By [deleted] on Mon 8 Oct 2012 00:37 Edit Delete in reply to #14   (3)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I have recently bought a book at one of our local bike shops. It is entitled “Vélo Plaisir, Vélo Souffrance” and was written by a Frenchman who has cycled 170 000 km in various countries around the world since his retirement.

One of the themes throughout the book is the author’s disappointment at the slow rate of progress in France in the creation of cycle paths and cycle lanes compared with what he has seen in other countries. He had the idea to establish a metric as an indication of each country’s degree of seriousness in establishing dedicated cycle paths, this being the number of metres of cycle path per inhabitant.

Here are his results, based on 2010 data. I have added the total length of cycle paths used as the basis for the calculation.

Finland 2.4m 12 000 km
Denmark 2.34m 12 405 km
Netherlands 1.7m 29 000 km
Luxembourg 1.36m 600 km
Austria 1.25m 10 000 km
Germany 0.91m 70 000 km
Czech Republic 0.9m 9 000 km
Norway 0.77m 3 500 km
Sweden 0.74m 6 600 km
Belgium 0.52m 5 200 km
Switzerland 0.46m 3 300 km
Poland 0.39m 15 000 km
United Kingdom 0.34m 20 300 km
France 0.27m 17 200 km
Hungary 0.2m 2 000 km
Italy 0.04m 2 400 km
Spain 0.04m 1 800 km
Slovakia 0.03m 108 km

As well as the above-mentioned European countries, he also looked at the USA, which had 0.22m of dedicated cycle paths per inhabitant, hence in between France and Hungary in the ranking. Thus, the US would appear to be behind most European countries in its development of cycle routes. Whether this is due to a political reason or not, I don't know.

One other interesting appreciation emerging from the book is that on only one trip out of many did the author state that the traffic conditions and the behaviour of drivers precluded his enjoyment of the expedition; this was the journey from Vancouver to Mexico down the western seaboard. He wrote in his notebook: "Of the twenty long distance cycle tours that I have completed since 1991, this one is the most dangerous". So I would conclude that conservative or liberal, there remains plenty of work ahead to make the roads in the US safe for cyclists.

      
#16: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Chris Lewthwaite on Mon 8 Oct 2012 02:15 Edit Delete in reply to #15     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
The problem here is that cycle paths aren't a viable solution in many cases. For one thing, in most urban environments (the places where they would presumably be needed) there simply isn't the space to build them with all the other things that have been built there.

More importantly, most dedicated bike paths are basically useless. I was in Europe earlier this year. I had the pleasure of riding in Bordeaux and Barcelona (among other places) -- two cities that have supposedly put a (relatively) large amount of money into building dedicated bicycle infrastructure. However, I didn't find the bike paths there to be of any benefit at all. Most of them go absolutely nowhere, and often dump the cyclist in the most dangerous position possible at intersections. More often than not I simply gave up and just used the road instead. It might have been a busy road, and in most cases it was, but it was still a heck of a lot more safe and practical than using a path that goes nowhere.

Incidentally, I was recently reading a blog from someone who had the pleasure of riding in Amsterdam. If you thought my comments about Barcelona and Bordeaux were harsh, I'd strongly advise you not to go looking for any accounts of the cycling experience in Amsterdam. One of the things that generally bugs me about liberals is their ability to draw attention to all of the problems in the world, but when it comes to solutions, they're often obsessed with solutions that just don't work. Building useless "bike paths" and "driver education" are two examples of this.

The one thing that I will applaud European authorities for is the behaviour of motorists over there, which is generally a lot more sane and polite than any other country I've ever been to, with the exception of Japan. I tend to think that has more to do with law enforcement than simply building things, but most liberals shudder at the thought of having a police force and legal system that might actually uphold the law. Come to think of it, most conservatives feel the same way.

      
#17: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Ben Davies on Mon 8 Oct 2012 04:41 Edit Delete in reply to #16     Reply (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
"The problem here is that cycle paths aren't a viable solution in many cases. For one thing, in most urban environments (the places where they would presumably be needed) there simply isn't the space to build them with all the other things that have been built there."

I assume your in the US.

I'm in the UK and we have less space than you do.

US roads have always been considered to be some of the widest in general in the world.

Here in the UK we don't have all that many cycle paths in the countryside because they generally aren't needed, the majority are in urbanized areas.

It dosent matter where in the world you go, its usually going to be difficult to add a cycle path to an existing road but some countries seem to manage it and others don't.

In Europe there is a big push to get get cars off the road because of their environmental impact and therefore there is a push to put cycle paths in.

In the US there is a large portion of society that thinks that global warming is not man made and therefore there isnt such a push to get get cars off the road.

You mentioned European cycle paths that dont go anywhere. The reason for that is usually a space issue. In areas where a cycle path cannot be made on a road, you will sometimes find a cycle path built next to the road that runs for only a few hundred meters. Thats usually a sign that that particular road gets very contested during rush hour and the cyclist can use that path as a means of safely bypassing the slow moving traffic. The path is really only meant to be used at certain times of the day.

      
#18: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By [deleted] on Mon 8 Oct 2012 05:45 Edit Delete in reply to #13   (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Chris, about your last comment, the one starting with "although..." Pls expound. Im curious. Almost sounds like u feel too many cycles could have a down side.

      
#19: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By [deleted] on Mon 8 Oct 2012 08:46 Edit Delete in reply to #15   (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I find comparing the USA as a whole to Europe, with regards to bike paths, trains, or public transportation, is not practical due to the vast, open spaces in the USA.

In my area, for example, bike paths are less necessary than in congested areas. We have paved farm roads all over the place with nearly no traffic on them. So a person from here might find a bike path to be superfluous and indeed a waste of money.

Having said that, we do need more shoulders on main roads. Also, we need paths to cross physical barriers, such as the stream running between Lebanon and O'Fallon, since the only road crossing it has no shoulder and is high traffic. A wide shoulder would be fine too.

However, further south and east, the farm roads are mostly gravel and either a shoulder or bike path is necessary down there.

That's a long way of saying the km per person metric is interesting, but not necessarily an apples to apples comparison.

This is a different point, but I am one who thinks that in the USA, the federal government has no business funding roads or paths unless they are on federal land or are interstate. Bike paths and most roads are a state or local responsibility. So I don't get bent out of shape if a politician does not support funding bike paths at the federal level. In fact, we could reduce federal tax burden by ending all road building by those pork barrel politicians in D.C.

      
#20: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Ben Davies on Mon 8 Oct 2012 09:06 Edit Delete in reply to #19     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
"In my area, for example, bike paths are less necessary than in congested areas. We have paved farm roads all over the place with nearly no traffic on them. So a person from here might find a bike path to be superfluous and indeed a waste of money"

Thats true of every country in the world.

      
#21: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By [deleted] on Mon 8 Oct 2012 09:10 Edit Delete in reply to #17   (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Ben, in the view of many Americans, apart from those living in the downtown areas of large cities, bikes are not practical as sole vehicles.

It's not about the global warming issue. Nobody I know talks about the issue with that in mind. When they say why they don't ride to work, it has to do with no shoulders on roads, need to take kids to school or day care on the way to work, fear of riding in thunderstorms, etc.

It's the fact that if a person lives in, say, Highland Illinois and wants to go to a mall, it's a 30 mile ride. Same to anything besides a local specialty store in the dilapidated section of the small town. Most, except die hard cyclists don't find it reasonable to ride 30 miles to a mall to then try on clothing or buy a gym set at a sporting goods store. And in the winter, forget it. You're a rare person who'll do that. Even grocery shopping for a family of four by bike is impractical, particularly at those distances. Or try taking your two kids to school on a bike, in the rain or snow or -10C temps. There is no public transport in those areas.

      
#22: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By [deleted] on Mon 8 Oct 2012 09:13 Edit Delete in reply to #20     Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Agreed, but there's a difference between the eastern seaboard of the USA where a high speed train runs through densely populated areas and my area where it makes no financial sense to install one. It's a matter of critical mass required before it makes sense and Europe is more densely populated than most of the USA.

      
#23: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By Ben Davies on Mon 8 Oct 2012 09:29 Edit Delete in reply to #21     Reply (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Im not sure what you are getting at.

In post #19 you are saying that the US cannot be compared to European countries in terms of cycle paths and that the cycle paths km/person is not a valid metric as the US is unique in the fact that non-urbanized require very few cycle paths and that urbanized areas require more cycle paths.

I was pointing out that this is not a unique situation, as every country in the world requires more cycle paths in its urbanized locations and less in non-urbanized areas.

I live in the UK, for me to go to the nearest city, its a 40 mile round trip, therefore I wouldn't commute by bike. There is little public transport in the area I live in. Im just pointing this out to show that the US is not as unique as Americans often believe.

The environmental issues are the reasons that european governments are spending money on things like cycle paths, its not being done in the hopes that I will cycle 40 miles to do my weekly shopping, its being done in the hopes that people will reduce the number of small journeys they make by car.

Just like in the US, some people live in town whilst others dont. Those that do live in town are making frequent short journeys of under 5 miles and it is those people whom the government is targeting with the cycle paths.

      
#24: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By [deleted] on Mon 8 Oct 2012 09:49 Edit Delete in reply to #23     Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I'm with you now. I was thinking back to when I taught English in Italy. I lived in Busto Arsizio. It made sense there to have local trains to Milano, due to large ridership. That would be similar to the Metrolink from my area to St Louis. But in Italy the higher population density made more use of trains practical. In my area, the Metrolink is barely useful. Not close to self sustaining. Waste of carbon emissions really. Few ride it because it takes thrice as long to get their, then one has no car to get around. It only gets used for St. Louis cardinals games.

      
#25: Re: How to talk about cycling to a conservative (thread)
By jim mallery on Mon 8 Oct 2012 10:10 Edit Delete in reply to #15     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
David,

I see no value comparing meters of cycle paths per capita as any kind of meaningful measure of spending on cycle related transportation or benefits to the cycling community. As density of population increases the number of meters per capita decreases. Is that what we want to convey? In the west of the US cycle paths might have more meters per capita because there is less capita (less population to divide the meters into) and therefore the numbers look better but really they are not. Comparing Europe with the western portion of the US will never yield any kind of realistic comparison. There are roads in Nevada, not streets, that carry less than 50 cars a day. It is a cyclists dream-- wide, paved, and almost no traffic. There are multiuse (cycle) paths in some western US cities that are so busy with joggers, roller bladers, folks with strollers, etc, that the cyclists are opting for the shoulders of the roads. There is no real solution and meters of cycle paths per population is not a good measure especially if cyclists don't use them.

What we need is not a Congress or legislature that tries to decide what is best for cyclists; rather we need cyclists deciding what is best and conveying that to the appropriate legislative bodies. It really is not about conversatives or liberals, but about what really is needed and will work. As cyclists get into the political process in states and in the nation's legislaures changes will come. Until then simply complaining rarely gets the job done. If we look at cycle friendly communities and cities we should emulate what they did, not just complain that we don't have the same thing.

The road and recreational cycling community is divided. That does not help. Many serious roadies would much rather mix it up with the cars on the shoulders of roads in deference to being relegated to a bike path. Most recreational riders and especially those with kids riding would rather be on the paths. Why should a serious roadie think they need to ride on a path they don't want to be on just becuase the government spent money to build it so they feel they need to use it to show support for cycling infrastructure? How do we come together as a unified force in politics to get something done? Why should governments spend money on facilities that not all users will use or want? It is way more complicated than conservative or liberals. You want to talk with conservatives then attend hearings when the legislature meets to discuss cycling related issues and testify. I have, so can you!


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