Oregonian guest opinion piece by Maushard: Bikes are the newest “must-have fashion accessory”

An "ultra-hip bike culture effete" and her fashion accessory. (Photo © J. Maus)

An “ultra-hip bike culture effete”
and her fashion accessory.
(Photo © J. Maus)

(Originally appeared 07/29/09, BikeOregon.org by Jonathan Maus)

I noticed an interesting opinion piece in The Oregonian this morning (http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2009/07/the_bike_as_a_fasion_accessory.html) that claims that the “newest local outdoor must-have fashion accessory” is the “walked bicycle.”

In the article, author/journalist/bike commuter Lawrence J. Maushard of Southeast Portland, seems almost perturbed by the number of people who walk with their bikes on our city’s sidewalks. I’m not sure why good looking people walking bikes causes so much consternation with Mr. Maushard (does he dislike eco-conscious people? is he just a hipster hater?), but it makes for an interesting read:

Here’s an excerpt:

“That’s right. You cannot go anywhere in this town without tripping over some young fashionista literally strolling the pavement with their rolling Treks, Konas, Motobecanes, Batavus, Gianni Mottas and retro Schwinns for all the world to see and admire.

Portland has become so bike obsessed, so bike conscious that it’s no longer good enough to simply ride those two-wheelers to work, school, shops, and stores. No, you’ve got to be seen oh-so casually walking your bike along at a leisurely pace in order for passersby to get their maximum visual of you as a green-god denizen of this Cascadian heaven on earth.”

Maushard’s thesis is that “ultra-hip bike culture effetes” are walking their bikes to get maximum green street cred with passersby; and that many of them are newbies, lured to biking by Portland’s reputation who then find actually riding and mixing with traffic is too harrowing.

“Portland has become so bike obsessed, so bike conscious that it’s no longer good enough to simply ride those two-wheelers… No, you’ve got to be seen oh-so casually walking your bike along at a leisurely pace in order for passersby to get their maximum visual of you as a green-god denizen of this Cascadian heaven on earth.”

As for people who actually ride their bikes more than walk them, Maushard thinks they “all look like possessed maniacs who wouldn’t hesitate to run down innocent children and house cats that have somehow wandered onto the bike lanes.”

Wow. I’m always interested to read how others — outside the bike bubble/sphere I usually work and live in — perceive Portland’s burgeoning love of bicycles. Mr. Maushard’s piece definitely feels like he has some anger toward certain people simply because they are young, hip, fashionable, in good health, and walk their bike (and he’s obviously not too fond of people riding them either).

I sometimes cringe when I read stuff like this, because I admit I’m highly sensitive to how people perceive biking in general in this town. But I also realize that it’s rare (and valuable?) to get this kind of critical perspective.

Maushard’s final paragraph makes it seem like he is nostalgic for the pre bike-boom days in Portland, when run-ins with cops and Critical Mass played larger roles in our city’s bike story:

“It’s a little disheartening to realize, however, that in a city once known for its aggressive patchwork fear-no-cops-and-cars Critical Mass road rallies, you’re now more likely to see smiling happy people walking perfect bicycles down the sidewalks on beautiful sunny days. My how the times have changed.”

Can someone please explain to me what’s so bad about “smiling happy people”?

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