You’re probably reading this because you already think cycling is amazing. But if you live outside Danish and Dutch utopias, you can be left scratching your head wondering why more people aren’t joining you. Today we’re looking at just one factor that puts people off – snobbery.
It seems odd that the most ridiculous looking cyclists are synonymous with cycle snobbery. I must confess that I’m acutely aware of my own roadie snobbery – I love the clothes, I love the bikes, I love the culture. Bike advocacy group People For Bikes sum up the absurdity of roadie life.
The irony is the very thing that makes roadies seem ridiculous is what makes roadies snobs. Which is sad because riding on the road should be the easiest and simplest form of cycling for new starters. It doesn’t help that uber-snobs The Velominati are sometimes taken seriously.
Mountain bike snobs
In comparison to the cattle-like peloton, mountain bikers may seem like enlightened free thinkers – until you realise that a ‘mountain bike’ is a catch-all term for a diverse range of vehicles. Mounties have countless wheel-sizes, drive chains, and brake systems for every conceivable situation. To the uninitiated, there is a bewildering range of terms. Let’s just look at suspension:
How many mountain bikers does it take to change a tyre? Seven – one to change it and six to say how they would have done it differently. Almost any decision you make about your bike is open to casual criticism, offered under the pretence of being helpful. Unless you’re being given bike advice by Nino Schurter, you can safely ignore a mountain bike snob’s advice!
Densely populated areas should be full of cyclists, travelling short distances by bike. The received wisdom of the Copenhagen experiment is that both cyclists and motorists benefit from a larger population of cyclists. Which makes the machismo of urban cycling snobs all the worse – rather than promoting cycling as a benign activity, they seek to portray it as an activity fraught with danger and risk.
Urban cycling also suffers the vagaries of fashion and trends. I have no problem with fixie culture but I firmly believe that the fashion-accessory coolness of these vehicles, coupled with their impracticality, can put off new cyclists who would have been better off buying a bike with gears.
That said, fixies are kind of cool. And therein lies the problem – cycling is cool. And if you cycle, you’re cool. Sometimes it’s very hard not to be a snob.