Is it as bad as this?

fat and old
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Is it as bad as this?

Postby fat and old » Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:51 am

An article in today's Age.

Male cyclists of Melbourne, what the hell is your problem?

As a Dutchie, I love riding my bike. Cycling is a big part of Dutch culture and we love cycling so much that the Netherlands has more bicycles than people. Cycling, to me, means freedom – no delays, no peak hour, no rush, the feeling of wind in my hair (helmets are not a thing in the Netherlands). So, naturally, the first thing I did when I arrived in Melbourne was get myself a bicycle.

In Melbourne, the lack of bike lanes, in combination with often aggressive car driving, makes cycling among the super busy inner-city traffic a rather unpleasant experience. It's not surprising that many people stay far away from cycling.

What did surprise me is how gendered cycling in Melbourne is: more than four in five Melburnian cyclists are male. Typical of the Melburnian cycling scene is the preference for bikes associated with masculinity, such as road bikes and mountain bikes.

Dressing up as a professional cyclist (in an aerodynamic, shock-absorbing and padded cycle suit) is another highly popular phenomenon. Interestingly, in the Netherlands, where cycling is not a male-dominated activity, with female cyclists in the slight majority (56 per cent), the more or less gender neutral city bike is by far the most popular type of transportation among everyone, regardless of gender.

I didn't think much of the "gender gap" in the Melburnian cycle scene at first. But soon after I started riding daily through the busy CBD, I noticed being commented on by fellow cyclists. I've now experienced many of these incidents, and sadly they're often very unpleasant – except for the random compliment on my bike decorating efforts.

Most comments are aimed at policing my riding behaviour or reveal a sense of entitlement to right of way. For example, "Look to your right/ Let me pass lady/c---/bitch! These comments are usually followed by an angry man – yes, I've only experienced men doing it – riding past me while vigorously shaking their head, throwing me a look of utter disapproval.

As a non-native English speaker, I never knew how hurtful the word "lady" could be, when used in a derogatory and patronising tone. Although the "c---'' and "bitch" versions seem far worse, I experience the opposite to be true. It's awful to realise there's no need for a swear word, when a synonym for "woman" counts as one.

....................................................................

I think it is often overlooked that what makes women feel unsafe is not only the poor bike infrastructure, but also the harassment they endure. Cyclists as a whole are disrespected as road users, so add being a women to the mix and you'll be disrespected even more.

I decided to decorate my Aussie bike because I missed the Netherlands. It was an attempt to recreate a little part of Dutch culture, so I would feel more at home in this beautiful country. Unintentionally, this act made me into a daily activist. Some women might be able to avoid sexist slurs by hiding behind their helmets, but there's no hiding for me on my ultra-feminine bike.


Note....I didn't include a paragraph on her experience with Social Media after posting a reply to a sportsbet post. I saw no need to include further confirmation of Gender based harrasment with only a tenous at best link to cycling. You can see it for yourself here

http://www.theage.com.au/comment/male-c ... z2igy.html

So really....how common is this sort of behavior? Yeah, I know that once is too many times and agree with that. Reading this gives the impression that it's weekly if not daily. In inner city Melbourne? And I wonder if the "look to your right" comment that she comments on isn't the oft advised "warning" of being passed? Is it a case of enthusiast behaviour being misconstrued by a transport cyclist? An example of our (Australian) obsession for rule adherence and order being so alien to someone from another country as to be offensive?

So many questions.

Oh yeah. Alternate post heading:

Dutch woman proves that the joy of cycling overrides any issue with helmets :lol:

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chucknitro
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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby chucknitro » Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:30 am

"Merie Polkamp, originally from the Netherlands, is a diversity and inclusion professional" (bolding added). The whole article is to justify her existence as a "professional".
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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby TrikeTragic » Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:51 pm

I don't feel I can appropriately comment about how common "male rider non-inclusive behavior" might be, I'm one of "them"....

I can only quote my experience as a male cyclist commuting into Melbourne CBD from the northern side of town for about 4 years, and riding recreationally in the outer north east. I haven't observed the sort of put-downs the writer reports. Don't doubt they happen, just haven't observed them and certainly don't engage in them!

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duncanm
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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby duncanm » Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:57 pm

I suspect its as common as this scenario....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFTjZilAwhM



(ie: never)

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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby Calvin27 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:07 pm

I don't particularly see any female specific behaviour. There is a small subset of riders that are unfortunately really really grumpy and yeah they pretty much indiscriminately call out everyone. The whole lycra clad culture is nothing to do with women, it's simply Australia is a bigger place and some of our commutes are 15+km in 30 degree heat - we also can't easily take bikes on transport. The simple thing the author has missed is she has no reference point of what it's like to be a male cyclists. She will probably find out it's pretty much the same as being a female cyclist - we all get a bit of lip all the time from other riders and motorists alike.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFTjZilAwhM

Yeah that's ridiculous lol. I hate late lift entrants. I also hate people who do the lift hold door open, it's such a douche gesture - you take up space and the lift takes longer for people to get in. Just quickly get in and try to not take up too much space. Te doors ain;t killing anyone lol. /endrant.
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silentC
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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby silentC » Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:52 pm

Typical of the Melburnian cycling scene is the preference for bikes associated with masculinity, such as road bikes and mountain bikes

Said it all for me. What a load of shyte.
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warthog1
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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby warthog1 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:59 pm

I can imagine the negative comments she receives are not infrequent.
I don't ride down that way but there are a reasonable proportion of entitled knobs in any activity.
Cycling is not immune.
She is correct with respect to gender imbalance in cycling where I live.
>90% are male here

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P!N20
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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby P!N20 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 2:42 pm

warthog1 wrote:I don't ride down that way but there are a reasonable proportion of entitled knobs in any activity.
Cycling is not immune.


Down where? I didn't see any reference to location, apart from the CBD (is that where you meant?) Unless I missed it.

What did surprise me is how gendered cycling in Melbourne is: more than four in five Melburnian cyclists are male.


I find that hard to believe and with no citation are we just making up figures now? The City of Melbourne's Cycling Census 2013 says 28% of males and 17% of females rode a bike within the past seven days - obviously there's a lot of interpretation in those figures, but from my vantage point it looks about right. Maybe Merie feels like it's a 4:5 ratio, but I just don't think it's true. Or at least provide the data to prove it.

I'm probably getting defensive because I just don't want to think that any cyclists, regardless of gender, are copping abuse from other cyclists. For the past nine years commuting from the north into the CBD, I could count the negative interactions I've witnessed between cyclists on one hand.

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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby Philistine » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:04 pm

I can only guess at what a "diversity & inclusion professional" does to fill her working day. Her post sounds like she is unhappy about the lack of diversity & inclusion among Melbourne cyclists (90% male) and wants 80% of them to stop riding their bikes to satisfy her need for male-female parity. My advice for her would be to read and embrace Rule # 5.

I am about to throw my lycra clothed limbs over the crossbar of my aggressively masculine road bike and go for a spin. Now that I have been made aware of what a male chauvinist pig this makes me, my pleasure will be somewhat diminished. I shall just have to live with it.

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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby CXCommuter » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:14 pm

Philistine wrote:I can only guess at what a "diversity & inclusion professional" does to fill her working day. Her post sounds like she is unhappy about the lack of diversity & inclusion among Melbourne cyclists (90% male) and wants 80% of them to stop riding their bikes to satisfy her need for male-female parity. My advice for her would be to read and embrace Rule # 5.

I am about to throw my lycra clothed limbs over the crossbar of my aggressively masculine road bike and go for a spin. Now that I have been made aware of what a male chauvinist pig this makes me, my pleasure will be somewhat diminished. I shall just have to live with it.

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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby djw47 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:21 pm

chucknitro wrote:"Merie Polkamp, originally from the Netherlands, is a diversity and inclusion professional" (bolding added). The whole article is to justify her existence as a "professional".



A Diversity and Inclusion professional that sees fit to make a sweeping generalisation about all members of a gender based on what presumably is a few isolated examples. Hmmm, perhaps she needs a refresher course.
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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby fat and old » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:31 pm

warthog1 wrote:I can imagine the negative comments she receives are not infrequent.
I don't ride down that way but there are a reasonable proportion of entitled knobs in any activity.
Cycling is not immune.
She is correct with respect to gender imbalance in cycling where I live.
>90% are male here


Yeah, but you have all of 14 regular commuters in Bendigo :lol:

I'm with pin20 on the figures....1 in 5? Maybe outer north (I'm familiar with that). Inner North to CBD maybe 40% female. At times it seems over 70%, esp. during the day.

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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby g-boaf » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:34 pm

Seems like a bit of a advertorial for the writer and her career choice.

But I don't ride in Melbourne, so what would I know.

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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby warthog1 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:38 pm

P!N20 wrote:
warthog1 wrote:I don't ride down that way but there are a reasonable proportion of entitled knobs in any activity.
Cycling is not immune.


Down where? I didn't see any reference to location, apart from the CBD (is that where you meant?) Unless I missed it.


I live in Bendigo.
Melb is south of here.

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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby warthog1 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:40 pm

fat and old wrote:
Yeah, but you have all of 14 regular commuters in Bendigo :lol:

I'm with pin20 on the figures....1 in 5? Maybe outer north (I'm familiar with that). Inner North to CBD maybe 40% female. At times it seems over 70%, esp. during the day.


Hey we've also got Peta Mullins :wink:
I don't see as many as 14 commuters. They are all male however.
There are a few female riders in the roadie community. About 10% :(

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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby P!N20 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:45 pm

warthog1 wrote:I live in Bendigo.
Melb is south of here.


Sorry to hear that. :wink:

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silentC
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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby silentC » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:13 pm

Stuff all that, do we have a photo of her bike so we can disparage it?
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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby Calvin27 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:25 pm

Philistine wrote:I can only guess at what a "diversity & inclusion professional" does to fill her working day. Her post sounds like she is unhappy about the lack of diversity & inclusion among Melbourne cyclists (90% male) and wants 80% of them to stop riding their bikes to satisfy her need for male-female parity.


The bad part is she wants us to sop riding BOTH MTB and ROAD! What the actual f.

'Let's get more women to ride' so we'll give them the heaviest and most inefficient BSO's out there but it's ok because they will have decorations and a basket - imagine if a bloke said that.
Last edited by Calvin27 on Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby duncanm » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:27 pm

silentC wrote:Stuff all that, do we have a photo of her bike so we can disparage it?


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pretty sweet looking ride.

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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby CaffeineAU » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:29 pm

Interesting point of view. Doesn't match my experience, but then I'm not riding into the CBD much.

Where I ride (not my commute, as that's only 1.5km for me so I generally don't see any other riders in the couple of minutes that it takes) the gender split is much closer to 50:50, and everyone is surprisingly supportive. Any abuse that gets thrown around seems to exclusively come from car drivers.

I'd disagree with the road bike = masculinity angle as well. That just seems like a needlessly provocative generalisation.

The only time I've sworn at a female cyclist was last weekend; one of the ladies in our group ride (who is much fitter and more skilled than me) suggested I follow her in an uphill sprint. I said 'F&^k that for a joke' and she had a laugh.

I don't doubt that the lady who authored the article cops some abuse. We only have her description of it so who knows what the root cause was. For example, a comment like 'Let me pass, Lady' would seem to suggest, given no other context, that she may be been unintentionally or otherwise impeding someone else's progress.

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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby warthog1 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:36 pm

P!N20 wrote:
warthog1 wrote:I live in Bendigo.
Melb is south of here.


Sorry to hear that. :wink:


I have lived in Melb. First 21 years of my life.
Never again :P

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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby find_bruce » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:55 pm

In my professional life I deal with the effects of discrimination on a regular basis, but being a middle aged white bloke its not something I experience myself.

One of the comments I make about cycling is that it gives us middle aged white blokes the opportunity to experience first hand the way a small % of people can have the most irrational hatred for other people, based on nothing more substantive than their choice of transport.

99% of the motorists you ride past everyday are perfectly reasonable people who have no desire to make you miserable, but its that 1% that stick in your memory.

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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby silentC » Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:17 pm

Yes I have had call to say "I know how they feel, I'm a cyclist" numerous times...
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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby AUbicycles » Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:31 pm

It is a perspective / opinion of a rider but I find it difficult to connect the views to the reality of bike riding that I observe or participate in. That there are more 'sports' riders in Australia is true - this in itself is not a problem, it is just different because many European cities have cycling as a more integrated form of transport.

If the author is commenting that there is so much abuse, I wonder if she is riding inconsiderately or carelessly? I struggle to understand the motivation of other riders to abuse others without reason. Something is happening that other riders are reacting, and if it is happening so frequently then this is cause for concern.

Most comments are aimed at policing my riding behaviour or reveal a sense of entitlement to right of way.


It is human nature to ignore ones own flaws and in this case if the rider states that most comments are on policing her riding behaviour, it would be worthwhile understanding why so many others bike riders have a problem with her behaviour and working on fixing it.

The words used are rude, disrespectful, offensive however the author switches the argument around to suggest that she is attracting insults merely on gender so suggests that a man would not attract the verbal abuse. Offensive or abusive language is used in society and abuse often targets gender, sexuality, race, religion, etc. Popular Australian films show exactly this and though it isn't right it can still be confronting. Just like many western societies, a large portion of the Australia population continue to gravitate towards more civilised social interaction, but some don't.

The gender argument is not the crux in the authors blog as is suggested - gender is irrelevant if something is happening that makes so many other riders react so frequently. My experience with commuting and sports cycling is that it is an inclusive activity in Australia, from mixed bunch rides to commuting where other riders (regardless of gender) are on the same side as me because we all have to deal with the substandard bike infrastructure and are all trying to get through safely.

It would be a shame if this type of article discourages some people from riding their bike because bike riders, in my view, are a very inclusive.

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Re: Is it as bad as this?

Postby Mububban » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:03 pm

FWIW, I only see one regular female commuter at my travel times to and from work. One in the morning, none in the afternoons. All the rest are male. That's 50/50 PSP and roads.
On my weekend groups rides, we've got one lady in our slow group of 6-12 riders. One other lady joins the middle group (~12 people). None in the fastest group (10+).
I've never heard anything beyond "G'day" when riding or "on your right" etc. That said....

Being mixed race, I've experienced subtle and overt racism that most Aussies have simply never seen or heard with their own eyes and ears. Sure, they know it exists in an abstract kind of way, but they've never seen me cop it, and they've never been the target of anyone else, so to them, it's quite hard to believe it happens at all. Thankfully it's a lot rarer now than it was growing up in the 80s.

So I tend to err on the side of believing people whenever they share stories like this, rather than automatically disbelieving them.
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