Bikes Become Target of Conservatives' Vitriol

Is biking a partisan past time? If you listen to conservative leaders, you might think bikes were created as part of a liberal mission to spread socialism and curtail personal freedoms. Cycling is the unlikely new front in the culture wars.
December 16, 2013, 1pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"IN SOME WAYS, the bicycle seems profoundly unsuitable as a political lightning rod," observes Jordan Michael Smith. "True, zero-emission transport is a kind of liberal dream, but the bike is also an icon of self-sufficiency, designed for use by individuals who rely on themselves for upkeep and mobility. Republican Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush all were photographed on their bicycles." 

"But 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," he explains. "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."

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Published on Sunday, December 15, 2013 in The Boston Globe
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