There are plenty of things that keep people from biking in Portland. Shaming them for “doing it wrong” is a terrible thing to do.
Unfortunately there’s a strong gatekeeper culture around cycling that can not only ruin the experience for new riders, it can be powerful enough to prevent fence-sitters from ever taking the plunge.
A story in the Portland Mercury issue on newsstands this week is a good illustration of this problem. “You’re Riding Your Bike Wrong: Great Job Biking! Now Maybe You Can Start Doing It Right!” reads the headline. Ironically the byline, The Portland Mercury Bicycle Gang, only furthers the cliquish vibe.
Thankfully our friends at the nonprofit Bikes for Humanity PDX penned a wonderful response. We’ve pasted it below with their permission:
25 Ways You’re Riding Your Bike “Right”
Too many folks are nervous about riding because they don’t want to do it “wrong.” The truth is, there are a million awesome ways to ride your bike. Here’s a very non-comprehensive list.
You’re doing something “right” if you’re:
1. Having fun
2. Getting where you need to go
3. Going at your own pace
4. Wearing whatever makes you comfortable
5. Paying attention to your surroundings
6. Aware of biking laws, or planning to learn soon
7. A first-time rider
8. Visiting the city
9. Respectful of pedestrians
10. An athlete
11. Riding with friends
12. A fair-weather rider
13. Exploring new neighborhoods
14. Carrying cargo or pulling a trailer
15. Riding an e-bike
16. A fixie hipster
17. Not sure how to fix a flat, but know who to ask (B4H maybe?)
18. A kid
19. Using your best judgment
20. Wearing a costume
21. Riding an unusual or adaptive bike
22. Considering the safety and comfort of others
23. A year-round commuter
24. Starting to get the hang of it
25. Not feeling comfortable but trying anyway
If you’re new to this… Keep on riding! You’re doing great! It gets better every day! If you have questions or need help with anything, just ask us or ask a friend. Or ask the person riding next to you. Chances are they’ll be happy to help.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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