New Outside Column!

Here’s a new Outside column about all these whosits and whatsits we’ve got zipping around:

When I say “new” please note I mean “newly published;” I actually wrote it in like December 2021, but it’s only seeing the light of day now. Supply chain issues, I guess. In the interim, The Atlantic published its now-infamous “The E-bike Is a Monstrosity” story:

The same murk pervades e-bikes as an alternative form of transit. In theory, the easier ride that an e-bike provides should make it more tempting than a standard bike. For people with certain mobility issues, it may indeed be. Yet for the most part, all the nuisances of biking still crop up: hot or cold or wet weather, needing to transport something heavy or awkward, taking on another errand during the day that requires a drive, and so forth. Counterintuitively, because the e-bike is easier to ride than a normal bike, I feel less inclined to adopt it as a regular practice, let alone a whole commuting identity. All the downsides of biking still remain, without the satisfaction of persisting in the face of adversity.

While laughable in the way that anything published in a magazine like The Atlantic is laughable, I thought that some of the points the writer makes about e-bikes, while subjective, were nonetheless perfectly valid: you still have to deal with the weather, the infrastructure’s simply not there, there isn’t the same “cool” factor you get with regular bikes, etc.

The Smugerati of course strongly disagreed, and hoo boy did this story take a drubbing on the Twitter! This is because you’re not allowed to say anything negative about e-bikes. Instead, you must pretend they’re the future of transport, and that they’ll encourage everybody to ride bikes no matter how lazy or inept or disinclined, and that they’ll make cars disappear in three to five years. And oddly, while it’s not acceptable to be critical of e-bikes in these circles, it is acceptable to encourage eight year-olds to flip off drivers:

No wonder the world’s in such a state:

I don’t know how this started, but I’m willing to bet that whatever the circumstances were they were totally stupid. In any case, the age of eight seems like as good a time as any to teach children how to recognize such stupid circumstances and how to avoid or extricate themselves from them instead of leaping right into the clusterfuck and/or inadvertently baiting a lunatic.

Confronting drivers is never worth it. For that matter, confronting anybody is rarely worth it.

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