Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Difference Between Bikers and Bicyclists

Bikers give to people who really need it; bicyclists give to themselves1.

1Yes, I know this is a little unfair. No, I don't think that every biker is good and generous, or that every bicyclist is selfish and bad.

That said, I couldn't resist the juxtaposition (both stories were on the front page of the local section in yesterday's Chronicle) between genuinely touching altruistic giving (to kids who are largely forgotten by the rest of us) and fundamentally self-serving 'charity'. The thing is that in my experience, people who enjoy riding bicycles tend to consider the thing they enjoy doing virtuous in itself. (Note the 'tend to' part; I'm not saying all bicyclists believe this.) Hence, an event like Critical Mass, in which people who believe the law should not apply to them assemble in numbers sufficient to guarantee that it doesn't, is recast in the mind of its participants as some kind of 'civil disobedience' for a greater cause. In the same fashion, a fundraiser by bicyclists designed to benefit bicyclists is perceived as a Good Cause.