John Cassidy blogged about the city's new bike lanes. He was annoyed that they made it harder for him to drive his Jaguar around Manhattan, and bemoaned the city's bicyclists as a privileged, insular aristocracy, a "faddist minority intent on foisting its bipedalist views on a disinterested or actively reluctant populace."
Welcome to the new urban order: the Jag-driving New Yorker columnist is a philistine better suited to the suburbs of Wichita. Meanwhile, the city's bicyclists are an entitled, imperial cabal cruising around on Trek Bellville three-speeds, an insidious locus of unchecked power and influence. How is this possible? [...]
The bicyclists-as-gentrifiers trope turns out to be more perception than reality, though. Over the last decade, the share of white bicyclists fell in proportion to riders of color. And ridership is remarkably equal across income groups. Part of the reason we don't see it this way is because all too often, bike infrastructure gets concentrated in tony areas. Look at a map of a city's bike lanes and bike-share stations and you'll have a perfect guide to the "good" neighborhoods. In many cities, writes Dave Feucht, editor of the bicycling blog Portlandize, "being able to get around by bicycle is seen as elitist because you have to have money in order to live in a part of the city where it's even possible to ride a bicycle." [...]
Railing against bikes, in fact, became a great way to sell papers. A hundred years ago, newspapers ginned up scare stories about the threat that hapless women on bicycles posed to pedestrians. Today, old-school tabloids like the New York Post have found that the bicyclists-versus-everyone narrative still resonates. In Op-Eds with titles like "Bike-Lane Bloodbath," bicycles are portrayed as weaponized toys, and isolated accidents are held up as proof that bicycles are an urban menace. Last week in San Francisco, a 23-year-old bicyclist was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for striking and killing a pedestrian -- a tragic incident, but one that occurred in a city where 800 pedestrians are hit by cars every year. Still, the story was front-page news, sparking an online uproar.
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