What's in your tribe?
Citycycling, the UK online magazine for bikers in London, has a new columnist for its features section. The new resident professor's first column tackles the tribal fanatics throughout the rolling community and how they not only isolate rollers from each other; but rollers from cagers as well. Here are some excerpts:
Being seen as a person rather than an object is surely key to enhancing your interaction with our fellow travellers. But being recognised as human is not enough. Tribalism is rife.
... we identify with our tribe, with that crowd of like minded veloists. We adopt symbols of our tribe, identifying as us rather than them, and consequently as unworthy of attention by them. Labelled as Cyclist we no longer appear as a bloke like me or that girl in the office, the kind of person that our fellow travellers can relate to. Instead we are cyclist, the other tribe and as such of no consequence.
Abandon tribal markings and you become human. So dispense with the lycra, abandon the bright yellow jacket and tabard. You are surely BIG enough to be seen, are you trying to hide behind a label or being seen as human. Normal people don't wear polystyrene hats either. The urban attack warrior, with helmet, reflective shades, facemask and generic trade jersey is surely seen more as a stereotype than a person with no face to be seen. The courier traffic jamming in bandana and tattoos, the pirate of the roads, is as much a tribal type as White Van Man.
So what is the aim of this disentribalism? To be seen as a person. A person on a bike rather than a cyclist. Because a person on a bike could be your neighbour, your colleague, a member of your family. Because those cyclists are otherwise just one of the scum of the road, and needs no further consideration.