Bicyclist versus person riding a bike? Which is the better term?

I first came across this “transportation user identification” debate on Human Transit:

Is there anything wrong with calling a group of people “transit users” or “riders”?  Is there anything wrong with calling yourself such a thing?


Reducing mode choice categories to nouns – cyclists, motorists, riders, etc – is potentially divisive.  These categories seem to give us the clarity we need to do any thinking at all, but clinging to them can blind us of all the ways that two cyclists can be different…

Who is this person?

Travis said on my Facebook wall:

We are all just people using various forms of transportation. Sometimes I use feet, but I am not a pedestrian. Sometimes I bike, but I am not a cyclist. Sometimes I drive, but I am not a motorist. I am a person. Why must we compartmentalize and deal in absolutes? It causes Us-Them situations.

Is this a scofflaw motorist or a person illegally driving on light rail tracks? Photo by Richard Masoner.

About two weeks ago I started changing the way I identify people in my writing and in my photo descriptions. You’ll now read “people riding bikes to the grocery store” instead of “bike shoppers” or “person in a car” instead of motorist.”