Conservative Cyclists Transcend Cultural Stereotypes

Can’t We All Just... Go for a Bike Ride?


| March-April 2009


A wiry thirtysomething guy bikes out of the Whole Foods parking lot, a pannier of organic produce strapped to his rack. He’s on his way home to make dinner after a couple of hours spent door-knocking for Greenpeace. He pulls into the street, pedaling quickly, but he’s not moving fast enough for a hulking SUV whose impatient driver doesn’t want to change lanes. She tailgates him for several yards, laying on the horn, then swerves into the other lane and tears past him, yelling something about getting on the sidewalk. The cyclist gives her a one-fingered salute, then notices a McCain-Palin sticker on her bumper.

Typical.

Bike commuters hit the streets in massive numbers last year, and scenarios like this one—starring the lefty cyclist and the GOP-loving driver—have been bandied about in media reports and water-cooler anecdotes. But not everyone on two wheels is out to curb climate change or stick it to the man. There are conservatives who integrate bikes into their lives just as thoroughly as their liberal counterparts do, which raises the question: Do bikes and politics really have to mix?

Mitch Berg is a conservative talk-radio host whose blog, A Shot in the Dark, is divided between political content and chronicles of his bike-commuting experiences. “I grew up in rural North Dakota, and biking was one of my escapes when I was in high school and college,” he says. “It’s my favorite way to try to stay in shape. And if gas fell to 25 cents a gallon, I’d still bike every day.”

Berg doesn’t believe there’s anything inherently political about riding a bike, and plenty of conservative pedal pushers seem to agree. “I do not care about gas prices or the environment. I care about fun and getting where I am quickly,” writes Old Scratch, a poster on Bike Forums, an Internet discussion site for all things bike related. “I find cycling to be a very conservative activity,” writes Maddyfish. “It saves me money and time.”

However, Berg says, “people on both sides of the political aisle do ascribe political significance to biking. The lifestyle-statement bikers, of course, see the act as a political and social statement. And there’s a certain strain of conservatism that sees conspicuous consumption—driving an SUV and chortling at paying more for gas—as a way to poke a finger in the eyes of the environmental left.”

dramaman
7/20/2009 11:20:53 PM

bicyclists who become overly obsessed should try 12 steo meetings /Bikers Anonymous certain dudes sleepo with bikes one gal has intimate relations with cycle bike parts begin growing out of her body bike evangelists eco-nudist anarchists on wheels all appear in Prolific Playwright Larry Myers' "Bicycle Centaurs" a drama that leaves you marathon breathless


Bart King_2
4/11/2009 8:21:36 PM

Bicycling IS a political statement, though of course the statements vary from rider to rider. For the conservative cyclist who "doesn't care about the environment," his politics are duly noted. Of course, I'd rather see someone doing the right thing even for selfish reasons, provided he wears a bike helmet.


Paul Souders
4/6/2009 12:22:49 PM

Thank you for this. The toxic state of political discourse has thoroughly eroded words like "liberal" and "conservative." Since when are notions like frugality and healthy living NOT conservative? I particularly love the anecdote at the opening ... I couldn't count the number of times I've been cut off while cycling by an SUV with an Obama sticker on the bumper.