Boston Globe: Bicycles take center stage in the culture wars

I guess it wouldn’t be too much of a generalization to say that cyclists are more likely to lean left than right. After all, the Boston Globe’s Jordan Michael Smith points out, they are more likely to live in cities and away from the more conservative car-culture of the suburbs. But while cyclists have been fighting for decades for recognition, both on the street and in the legislatures, a new level of vitriol level against them might just be a sign that they have arrived.

Particularly in America, the bicycle is emerging as a new conservative front in the culture wars. In May, Wall Street Journal commentator Dorothy Rabinowitz called bicyclists “the most important danger in the city”; in Colorado’s last governor’s election, a Republican candidate said a local bike-sharing program “could threaten our personal freedoms.” A columnist for the conservative Washington Times declared D.C. bike-sharing programs to be “broken-down socialism”; radio pundit Rush Limbaugh said he “won’t care” if his car door knocks over a cyclist.

As health and government officials have begun peddling bicycles as healthy, environmentally responsible alternatives to cars, and cities and towns spend money on new bike infrastructure, conservatives have started to sense a new target. They have begun to deploy “the bike” as a bogeyman in political debates—cast in a role anywhere from physical annoyance to a genuine threat to the American way of life.

What do you think? How to bicycles fit in the right vs. left, conservative vs. liberal debate? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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