Cycling and the political left

Two interesting tidbits from Jill Lepore’s article from The New Yorker (“Bicycles Have Evolved. Have We?): one is this paragraph on the politics of cycling, which, while initially enlightening, doesn’t ring true to countries such as The Philippines, where cycling is a necessity, not an active lifestyle choice, to most people.

Bicycles and bicyclists veer to the political left. Environmentalists ride bicycles. American suffragists rode bicycles. So did English socialists, who called the bicycle “the people’s nag.” Animal-welfare activists, who opposed the whipping of horses, favored bicycles. In 1896, the American preacher who coined the expression “What Would Jesus Do?” had this to say about bicycles: “I think Jesus might ride a wheel if He were in our place, in order to save His own strength and the beast of burden.” But bicycles have also been used in warfare on six continents, and were favored by colonial officials during the age of empire. After the League of American Wheelmen started the Good Roads Movement, in 1880, the asphalt that paved the roads for bicyclists was mined in Trinidad, and the rubber for tires came from the Belgian Congo and the Amazon basin.

The second one is so true, especially at major thoroughfares:

It felt then, and still feels now, like being a bird flying in a sky filled with airplanes: the deafening roar of their engines, their impossible speed, the cruelty of steel, the inescapable menace, the looming sense of catastrophe, your own little wings flapping in silence while theirs slice thunderously.

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