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Thread: The "stigma"

  1. #1
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    The "stigma"

    I had a couple funny incidents lately I thought I would share regarding bike commuting to work/ school.

    A couple months back, the general manager where I work part time approached me. She asked if it was my bike that had been parked out back for a while. I told her that it was, fearing that she would impose some sort of restriction on where I am allowed to store it. Instead she asked me if everything was "all right"... I looked at her puzzled. She said "you know... you aren't riding that out of necessity, are you?" I was pretty sure I knew what she was trying to say, but I again played dumb just to see where she would go with it. She said... "did something happen? did you lose your license or something? you dont have to tell me if you don't want to" I couldnt contain myself anymore and let out a pretty good chuckle and told her no, that I still had my license. Much to my surprise she then proceeded to ask if I was having car trouble or if I needed a little loan to get my car repaired or something. Again laughing I tried my best to explain to her why I commute to work instead of driving but in the end I am sure she had no clue.

    A few weeks later, again at work... a co-worker approached me. It was pouring rain out and it was clear that I rode my bike in the downpour. He flat out asked me when I got my DUI. LOL!! I told him that I still had my license and just liked to ride. He shook his head and walked off. Since that time a couple other new-hires have said the same, that initially they thought I was a DUI case because I drive so rarely.

    Last week at the college I teach at part time, I was in a faculty meeting and they began talking about "green" ideas for the campus. Immediately another adjunct lecturer draws all the attention to me, claiming that I would have all the info on being "green". I looked at her confused and she told everyone that I bike-commute to school, so I must care a great deal about the environment and be heavily involved in the "green movement". I told them that I had no idea about green tips, and that I commute to work more for exercise and enjoyment than anything else. She still hasnt talked to me since that meeting!

    SO... that said, anyone else get any stigmas attached to them about bike commuting? I dont let them bother me, nor do I care what people think but it is really funny to see just how people will judge you based on what they see you do and what they associate with a particular activity.

  2. #2
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    Not really any stigma other than the first time I rode to work my co workers though my car was in the shop. Now they accept it and every new person passing in the hall comes to study the lefty fork. I work in a engineering area so they are always impressed by the "lean manfacturing" of the bike.

    It also prevents me from having to drive everyone to lunch. One day a female co worker asked me if I wanted to go to lunch. I said sure and the asked if I was going to drive or should we take her car. I said "whatever, you can ride on the handlebars if you want", she looked at me puzzled then said "oh you rode in today, we'll take my car"

  3. #3
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    Thats how it goes in the us. In the land of choices, everyone picks the same one. If you don't drive a car its either you're a poor alcoholic or your enviromentalist hippie. When i first started the Job i have now, there were 3 commuters that had dui's and rode bike and then there was me. So not only did I get that from my coworkers, even the other bike commuters thought i had a dui. I Just stand proud and tell them way i ride, and a few people have stopped and thought about doing it themselves while most thought i was alittle crazy, though my personality doesn't help either, hehe.
    I live on a corner with 2 bars and a bike shop, on most nights there are alot more bikes chained to the rack in front of the bars then i ever seen at the bike shop.
    I have so many reasons to ride, non of which are the reasons people expect. i have four cars, I don't drink, I think gas prices should be closer to 10 dollars a gallon. I get exercise i don't normally get in front of a computer all day, I love to ride and to be outdoors, I'm not wasting energy and polluting.

  4. #4
    Fat!Drunk!Slow!
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    None hear, others just praise that I ride and they wish they had the will to do the same. Most don't commute because its not easy enough for them so they'd rather drive. I do it for the exercise and fun.

    Just like LLP said at the bottom, all the same things. Expect that gas part, it should be cheap still! ;p

  5. #5
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    Because I only ride bikes, the stigma people have for me is that I'm a total badass. They're right.

  6. #6
    Frt Range, CO
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    LOL on the DUI thing, it's very common! Nobody has asked me if I'm a DUI, they do mention that most bike riders are DUIs. And the envirormental hippy things is the other one, most people at work know me better than that

    The irony about the DUI thing is that now when I go for sushi with my buddies I always ride, so I can't get a DUI. Before someone points out you can get a DUI on a bike, a few key points:

    - here in Chicago they are setting up "safety checks". If there is any hint of alcohol on your breath, your gonna need a lawyer. If you don't handle the situation correctly, you can have a DUI even if you blow a 0.04.

    - Bikes have right of passage, just like pedestrians. I don't have to submit to a safety check on my bike unless the police have probable cause. As long as I'm not obviously drunk and my bike has proper lighting, they can't stop me. So a few beers and a glass of sake doesn't get me a fake DUI.

  7. #7
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    I first started to ride because I blew then engine in my truck but I was saying so right after it happened so there wasn't any question as to why I was doing it. after I finally got that taken care of I would alternate between the 2 since my truck sucked gas worse then a drunk sucking down a beer.so it was "cheaper" that once I burned up a tank of gas in about a week I'd ride the other week.

    got my asst manager thinking of doing it too since he took the bus (has a license but no car) but dont know if he ever did as I was transfered and got my manager thinking of doing it too but doubt he did.

    Once I got a different car I quit for quite a while only because it was around the rainy season here and part of the way has no sidewalk and no paved shoulder. now I do again though its due to a suspended license which I'm getting back here pretty quick then I'll go back to sometimes will, sometimes won't unless something happens again

  8. #8
    Te mortuo heres tibi sim?
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    I've been asked the DUI/car trouble/need a lift thing many times. Baffled looks follow when I explain I like to ride my bike to work...
    Florence Nightingale's Stormtrooper

  9. #9
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    I accepted rides on occasion at the first location but that was usually if I was the only one getting a ride as I could and would pop off the front wheel and put my bike in the back seat if it was going to be more then just me I'd turn it down as I never felt like trying to figure out how to share the back seat with my bike

  10. #10
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    I've never been asked about having a DUI or having a broken down car. I think it's because I wear expensive cycling gear that people who ride out of necessity probably wouldn't choose to buy. Who knows...maybe people are just too polite to ask and behind my back they think I really am an alcoholic. Meh...anyone I talk to about it hears my reasons for starting (a friendly competition between a friend and I) and how much I love it.

  11. #11
    No-Brakes Cougar
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    I get coworkers making incredibly obvious statements, like on nights that I work late. My favorite being "You didn't ride your bike to work today did you? It's going to be dark when you leave work!" Yes, actually this time of year it's dark every day after work. Or it's raining "....but you're going to get wet!" Does my Mom work work here or something?
    R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio ~ July 10, 1942 May 16, 2010

  12. #12
    I'm SUCH a square....
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    The weather is the biggest query I get at work; I just tell 'em, "I got the gear for it! It's fun!"

    OTHER places, I hear the DUI question, and my condescending look usually seals my kind answer to that. They walk away, likely thinking, 'guess I better not F with him anymore'.
    A bike is the only drug with no bad side effects....

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary the No-Trash Cougar
    I get coworkers making incredibly obvious statements, like on nights that I work late. My favorite being "You didn't ride your bike to work today did you? It's going to be dark when you leave work!" Yes, actually this time of year it's dark every day after work. Or it's raining "....but you're going to get wet!" Does my Mom work work here or something?

    I get that treatment too... "be careful out there, I dont like you riding at dark, that has to be dangerous" or "is that jacket going to keep you warm enough?!" I have enough lights on my bike to look like a christmas tree, and all sorts of cycling-specific gear like wet weather pants, booties, neon reflective jackets, shoes, etc.

    Its just funny how people dont realize the type of heat you generate when you are actually pedaling yourself somewhere. Its obvious they dont "get it" but I guess its nice to feel loved. Most people think I am genuinely insane once they realize that I have the option to drive in a nice toasty car if I want to.

  14. #14
    Off the back...
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    I don't get much of a stigma from my fellow employees. They are routinely amazed when it's -30C out, and I show up for work in my bike gear. "It must have taken forever for you to get here! My car wouldn't start and then the bus got stuck on a hill." they say. No, it took me an extra 2 minutes - mostly because I got stuck behind some moron spinning his tires and missed a light. "Oh", they say, somewhat disappointed. The only days they smirk at me are the rainy ones, but those are few and far between.

    Despite the fact that I work for an oil and gas company, a decent percentage of the staff ride their bikes to work. Out of ~2000 people in the building, about 120 ride in the summer. The president of the company, multiple managers and sundry others make the trek in on the nice days. When it gets cold and snowy, there are less than 10 of us riding in.

  15. #15
    Slowly but surely...
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    All my co-workers know why I bike, bt I had a guy in once recording a show and he said "We're going to have to get BMW to sponsor us and give you a car so you don't have to bike anymore." I'll take the free Bimmer, but I'll still bike
    The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you'll crash.
    - Juli Furtado

  16. #16
    !sdrawkcab kcusuoy aH
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    This is a funny thread. I got a lot of grief from coworkers the first time I rode in. Like, “Hey lance Armstrong!” “nice shoes!!” and “did you get a DUI!?” crap like that. I wear a full kit because it’s a 16 mile ride so I need to be comfy and relatively sweat free when I arrive. One other guy I work with is a roadie but only on the weekends. Good times.

  17. #17
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    never got the dui question but people always ask if i am riding home in the dark. One woman always tells me "you are awfully dark" when she sees me leave at night. When i show up in the am and its 30F people ask me if i'm crazy. I love riding to work the only thing is i no longer ride my mtn bike before work because the commute is 15 miles round trip and i have to stand up all day(restaurant). But i guess i am still riding a bike so its all good.

  18. #18
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    "Are you going to ride in the winter?"

    "Better than walking!"

  19. #19
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    not sure the road i ride is 4 lanes no shoulder. This summer/fall is the first time i have commuted. There is a sidewalk most of the way but i think it would suck and take a lot longer to get to work. I have never dreaded the snow before but if i can't ride i am going to be bummed.

  20. #20
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    yeah I've heard it all as well

    learned to just say
    "Cars are Coffins"
    and walk off

  21. #21
    big bang dirt
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    Ca$h

    Tell the pitying drivers about the Ca$h

    The Canadian Automobile Association publishes a yearly report on annual car ownership costs. Obviously it has a bunch of assumptions but one of the lower cost cases is in the range of $10K/year. If you can live in a community where not owning a car is feasible, you can save heaps of money. We spend about $1500 a year on car rentals, taxis and other transport related expenses that we wouldn't have if we owned an automobile. Add on to that the annual cost of maintaining a reliable fleet of bikes for commuting (I'd guess about $1000 a year for two adults - and we commute on some pretty nice hardware - with backups). Most people can understand the case for cycling if you tell 'em about the money they'd save - and yes, it can be done with kids as well.

    The big downside is the lack of spontaneity. you can't hop in the car and go to the mega-mall in the suburbs on a whim... if that's a downside...

    With regards to the OP, i also work at a university. I've had some professors question me extensively about commuting tips and riding in the winter. I've probably been single handedly responsible for the sale of 10 pairs of winter studed tires in my city.

  22. #22
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    the dui thing...that's pretty funny

    All I get is people commenting on the weather in the morning when it is beautiful/cold/rainy/snowy/hot/take-your-pick and how my ride in was. Doesn't bother me, as I genuinely like talking about the weather (not sure if this is a Canadian thing, but it's a constantly talked about topic between people up here)

  23. #23
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    Where I live, the stigma is on the car commuters.

  24. #24
    Specialized Utard
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    I usually don't get the funny looks or questions because i ride my bike everywhere. Its usually when i tell them that i don't even own a vehicle and haven't owned one in almost 5 or so years.
    I'm a bicycle polygamist

  25. #25
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    When I gave up my automobile earlier this year I anticipated the DUI question, but it never happened. I have enjoyed the occasional roadside editorial comment (usually some round pink guy in a Hummer) concerning the "political" aspect of my commuting choice. The big ol Obama sticker on my trunk bag doesn't help.......

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