Bicycling in and around Atlanta.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Pleasant Stigma

This morning I looked out over I-285 and saw an expressway transformed into a parking lot that extended as far as the eye could see.  As the expressway's flow of traffic ground to a halt cars began to spill over onto the surface streets looking for some slight advantage, just a couple extra miles per hour that might enable them to get to work on time.
I have neighbors who are also coworkers and on days like today I regularly beat them to work on my bike.  I've invited them to join me on my morning commute many times but I've never had any takers.  Why?  Because for most people in Atlanta riding a bike to work, school, or the store is a signal that there something wrong with you.  You've got a DUI, you don't have a license, or maybe you're just nuts.  There's a stigma associated with bicycling for transportation and unfortunately that stigma doesn't stop at the office.
You would expect that your local bike shop would be glad to see every customer who walks through the door.  Yet transportation cyclists are often treated as the loony relatives, who are more interested in a good rack than the new Trek Madone.  Too many bike shops carry plenty high end racing bikes but not even the most basic needs of a commuter.  I asked someone at the nearest LBS about this lack of support and he informed me that there's no market for bicycle commuting equipment.  It doesn't have to be this way.  Every time you use your bike as transportation you're raising awareness and if enough people see cyclists commuting to work or buying groceries then just maybe bicycles will stop being looked at as toys and start being seen for what they are, safe dependable transportation.

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