We were recalling a comment from Patrick, a reader in the Chicago area on some of the remarks he hears when cycling as part of his job:
Anyway, I am a realtor and you should see some of the looks I get pulling up on a bike to show a property! I usually have to explain this is a choice and not due to some court imposed lack of a car…
It got me thinking — I hear some strange stuff, too. Normally, I’m one of those wise ass types who wouldn’t let a mean comment go unpunished, but these days I’m just so busy with our unofficial “cycling rules; join us” PR campaign that I usually don’t let my snarky side out — at least to their faces.When the weather was bad last month (for Seattle, anyway) I’d hear multiple times a day that I was crazy. Crazy? That seems pretty extreme to call me crazy. I’m not the one _driving_ to the gym. It seems a fair sight more crazy to be driving around in a huge SUV burning up my children’s petroleum future. Of course, that’s just me, the crazy guy on the bike.
Another common thing is people remarking about how we must we need a ride. I think the fact that we haul the kids around draws a heightened level of misguided sympathy. They think they are showing concern, but unless it’s a friend who has been pouring us lots of red wine, these offers often sound like an implication of suspect parenting skills. “Are you sure they are OK back there? It’s dark.”
Another level of comment is from people who just don’t get it. I think these bother me the most. Don’t get me wrong. Lots of folks understand and support our riding — even if they aren’t cyclists themselves. Squarely opposite sits the crowd that just can’t wrap their heads around the fact that this bike thing is intentional. These usually ask:
“Do you only have one car” with a unsaid followup of “that must be why you ride around on the bike… because you can’t afford to drive.”
Sigh…sometimes these comments get to me, but more often that not, I am able to kick into marketing mode and respond with one of our many well-used phrases:
- “yeah, the riding is great”
- “the kids love not having to get into car seats”
- “I love not having to go the gym” (not that I ever went)
- We haven’t bought gas in a month
We’re going to try to keep track of some of the true gems we get and stick them in somewhere with our regular blog posts. Wait for them.
So, how about you…what’s your best/wackiest/craziest/meanest question and how do you usually respond?