As part of what seems to be New City’s week of articles about all things bike in Chicago, John Alex ColÃ³n, wants to take you back to high school. The high school lunchroom specifically.
Who exudes more “cool” in this photo?
In “Even cycling has its ‘Mean Girls’,” he equates bike riding attitudes in Chicago to those of cliques, seating preferences, and what you had on your tray.
Always more important than mid-day nourishment was the decision to align yourself with a certain slice of the stratified, trajectory-defining social construct of the lunchroom. Similarly, with whom you choose to cycle and where you choose to cycle matters more in Chicago than that Salisbury steak youâ€™re riding.
I understand John’s point of view, and I think I’ve witnessed such stratification in action, but I believe the people who engage in the uncultivating behavior of arbitrarily classifying other bike riders are few and far between. Go to a Critical Mass ride in the summer and you’ll meet people who wouldn’t think once about judging others on their choice in helmet wearing, or style and function of their bicycle. You’ll meet people who showed up because they heard 2,000 other people will, too, and they get to ride a bike.
Ride because you wanna ride!
Whatever the truth about biking in-crowds may be (or its prevalence), John and I both agree about how to deal with it: “My advice is to enjoy your ride no matter how you practice it, because you are part of it. Regardless of what you eat or what you ride, cycling culture exists because of your pedal power.”