Recently, the Boston Globe addressed the so-called “image problem,” of Boston’s bicycling community.
According to the Globe article, many people incorrectly assume that Boston bicycle riders are all either hipsters and/or white, wealthy and middle aged. This image problem and the stereotype of bicycle riders has, according to the Globe, made it more difficult to make improving bicycle safety into an important political issue.
Our Boston bike accident lawyers know that improving bicycle safety is good for everyone throughout the city. By recognizing that bike riders are a diverse group and that improved safety measures can benefit everyone, hopefully lawmakers and local politicians will be able to make safety initiatives more of a priority. This is especially important as prime bicycling season is underway during the summer and everyone – drivers and cyclists alike- need to make a serious effort to be safe when sharing the roads.
Boston Bicycling Community is a Diverse Group
The perception of bicycle riders as hipsters or as wealthy white people has become so entrenched that there is even an acronym: MAMILS, which stands for middle-aged men in Lycra. The cyclist stereotyping has caused many, including some local politicians, to view bicycle safety issues as affecting only a small minority of local area residents. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that those individuals most vocal on bike lanes and bike safety programs tend to fit the stereotype of the rich middle-aged rider.
In reality, however, the Boston Globe indicates that bicycle riders are very diverse and that many people ride bikes as a matter of necessity. In fact, studies have shown that cycling is a growing method of transportation among both racial and ethnic minorities. Lower income individuals who are unable to afford the costs associated with a car also use bicycle riding as their means of getting to work and running essential errands.
This trend towards an increasingly diverse group of bikers isn’t isolated to Boston either. In 2011, for example, a Rutgers University study revealed that minorities are making up an ever-increasing share of bicycle riders throughout North America. In 2001, African American, Hispanic and Asian people made only 16 percent of cycling trips but in 2009, individuals within these ethnic groups accounted for 23 percent of rides. Yet, many of the minorities who are increasingly riding bikes do not tend to attend events organized by pro-cycling advocates.
Some Boston lawmakers believe that an important opportunity is missed by failing to engage all bicycle riders, including minority riders who may not traditionally speak out in favor of improved bike safety measures. By raising more awareness of safety issues and of the diversity of bicycle riders, bike safety can become a more popular cause and more politicians may be willing to take real action to improve conditions for cyclists in Boston. This would be good for all riders, especially as adults and kids take to the roads on their bikes for fun or pleasure this summer and beyond.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation — 1-888-367-2900.
More Blog Entries:
What You Need to Know about Swimming Pool Safety This Summer, Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, June 20, 2013.