Invisible Riders

(Here is a nice article written about bike commuters. An excerpt from Bicycling Magazine written by Dan Koeppel…)

Un-noticed, you can see a concentration of these riders is places near urban poor settlements such as in Pinagbuhatan in Pasig. The rising cost of gas may further increase their trbe.

They are not noticed by cars and buses that roar past, sometimes to tragic effect. They are not even seen by those of us who claim to love cycling. Well pick out a sleek Italian racing bike from across an intersection, but a dozen day laborers on Huffy’s dissolve into the street.

There are more of them than us. The “us” are recreational riders, dedicated fitness cyclist, people who commute on two wheels by choice- the readers of this magazine..

Though almost nobody we met rode recreationally, nearly everyone got some level of pleasure from riding and from bikes. That was something we could share.

The Invisible Riders, for instance, log far more hours than most “serious” cyclist. They do so on equipment most of us would’nt touch and under the most adverse conditions at the height of rush hour on the busiest thoroughfares.

Riders like me want to believe we’re doing our part for the environment. We want to believe that having the best equipment is an expression of commitment. But I dont know a single rider who commutes more than the people I met from this story, who do it purely out of necessity, and who do so on bikes that, while fashioned to look like high end bikes, are stripped of so many essential engineering details that we’d consider them unreliable, unsafe and certianly unenjoyable.

For the Invisible Riders, two wheeled transit has nothing to do with style or making a political statement. The Invisible Riders are overtly saying nothing. But their actions? Nothing could be more political, or politically charged than the way they live.

I asked Moreno if his bike was a good substitute for a car. he looked at me with incredulity. “Its more like a horse,” he said.

Dreaming of a world of smiling cyclists, of more bike paths, with less traffic congestion and coexiting modes of transportation is easy for riders like us. But on a street, on a cheap-yet priceless-bike, theres little opportunity for idealism. Pragmatism and attention keep you alive. Safety has little to do with helmets or skillful riding techniques.

Most of the riders I met viewed their commute as a battle, but exhibited none of the smug anti-automotive posturing many committed middle class bike commuters wear as a badge of honor.

What’s surprising is how committed these riders are to the activity of cycling- even more, its hard to admit, than those of us who love the sport.

Many Invisibel Riders will be the catalyst that transforms our polluted cities, fulfilling the mission that the conventional, more well-heeled bike community has so far failed at.

So why not now, why not build bike paths, and safer streets, and secure parking, and inexpensive, practical bikes, and financial incentives for riding, and all the other things we recreational riders dream of-and which Invisible Riders really need. The answer is simple and cruel, because the Invisible Rider, are…invisible. And the answer is wrong. The question in fact is wrong.

Why do so many of us fail to see these groups as constituencies that even exist, let alone that we need and are duty bound to serve?

And if you havent seen them in your cities- its not because they are transparent- its because we are blind.

Ask your friends why they ride- To summit mountains, to swoop along single track, to loose weight, to get fit, to see things. To feel free. Invisible Riders doesnt ride to be seen. They ride to become free.

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