Cycling: A demographic breakdown
Christian Jug is an editorial intern at Corporate Knights.
Riding a bicycle is fast becoming an honest means of transportation in North American cities, as the “war on cars” rages on. Yet those who transport themselves via bicycle are often lumped into one large group, when there are, in fact, four different groups. Below is a not-quite-serious breakdown of each segment’s characteristics:
A racer takes one look at a bicycle, and if it weighs more than his calf, dismisses it as a viable means of transportation. The racer has one goal, and that goal is to go fast, and win. The racer will attach his multi-thousand dollar bike to the back of his car and drive hundreds of kilometers so that he can ride his bike at a blistering pace in a pack. This no-nonsense breed of bicycle rider prefers to be called a cyclist, and would like to remind you of his view on triathletes at every opportunity. Luckily, as a commuter you will not be seeing many racers in your bike lane traffic, and if you do, it will not be for long.
The messenger has his own distinct style that is well-known to any driver downtown. The messenger appears in the middle of intersections, weaving between traffic and riding a fixed-gear bicycle. This breed of rider defies the generally accepted rules of the road, and instead makes their own. Dangerous they may appear, blasting through red lights and hopping up on sidewalks. If you see messengers relaxing they will be smoking or eating beside high rises. As for bike lanes, they may as well not exist, as when you are living the messenger life you will do anything to make it to the next job on time.
The fitness rider must be applauded, for they are trying to improve the quality of their life, but often get in the way of other cyclists. The fitness rider is often good-willed and passionate, but lacks the legs/bike and ends up creating traffic in the bike lane. The fitness rider’s appearance is cycling-geared but not as 100% spandex as their racer brothers. Their bicycles can be very expensive, but are not quite a match for the speed of the hardened commuter. Somehow the fitness rider finds his way into morning + afternoon rush hour, and rewards himself for his efforts by sitting on a patio and enjoying the tastes of Toronto.
The commuter is a tough breed. He has seen those crazy messengers flying by on the sidewalk and shakes his head in disappointment. His bike has a bulletproof frame from the 70’s and a bike rack for his groceries, or child. He will line up at stoplights and calmly pedal until reaching his destination, where he locks up his bike and becomes a pedestrian. The commuter has this chameleon-like quality because there is no uniform. The commuter can become an astronaut, a priest or anything in-between the moment he steps off of the bicycle. The commuter rides with purpose. The commuter has small tells, often carrying a helmet or displaying a rolled-up right pant leg. The commuter will ride as if there have been laws passed for riding etiquette, and you can often see the commuter flailing his arms in accord to the direction he intents to travel.