It’s gotten to the point where I can’t read articles about biking without feeling some jolt of antipathy for hipsters. And I bike.
Oh, sure, there’s a general good Bloomberg’s effected by lining street after street with bike lanes – even though I believe the bike lanes themselves are somewhat pointless and at times counter-productive – as he’s increased the profile of biking as a viable means of transit, but dear lord is there way too much attention to a certain type of biking that’s quite frankly ridiculous. What I mean to say is that, under a simply pragmatic approach, biking is great. However, biking’s been hijacked as a ‘lifestyle’ that’s hurting its image.
I speak of hipsters.
When the article lists grandstanding ideas like Vilnius’ mayor using a tank to destroy a car parked in a bike line, and compares New York to biking havens like Portland and Minneapolis, I become very cognizant of the fact that I’m reading a lifestyle treatise: A hipster manifesto. It becomes less about a means of commuting as it becomes a definition of self, and that’s quite frankly the wrong way to go. When you start fighting battles against Williamsburg Hasidim and Park Slope yuppies – two disputes that are given no end of column length on the Times and in the Voice – enough to stage demonstrations, when you don’t give that effort to the issues of jobs or education, you become, in hipster parlance, a try-hard.
For instance, this Voice article where page upon page is offered for biographical background of two hipsters who got hit by a car because they were riding erratically at night. Were they any other demographic but what they were, they would have been summarily dismissed as a statistic, but because they’re hipsters, they get to pose the question as to why the whole might of the NYPD isn’t brought to bear in bringing their hit-and-run motorist to justice.
My only response, and I can’t be the only one, is, “sorry, y’ain’t special.”
In fact, the last thing as a biker that I’d want to be is special. The more bikers make the news, the more the police crack down on bikers. The best of all possible worlds is enough bikers to make motorists remember to take them into account, but there’s a fine line between that and making motorists (and pedestrians) resentful of and hostile to bikers. This is why I hesitate to use the term ‘critical mass,’ in case I might summon the try-hards who hoot and holler and tempt the cops to knock them down, cuff and impound them, as the popular backlash just makes people hate bikers the same way they hate professional protestors.
You’re not special for biking; more attention than is prudent is already being given to you, and we are not Portland.