Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What's In A Name?

A fellow who goes by the name @VeloDoc posted this on Twitter:
"We're not bikers! Bikers ride Harley's. We are cyclists!!"
I understand for many people that the term "Biker" may conjure an image of Marlon Brando in The Wild One, I for one, am unwilling to grant exclusive use of the term "biker" to those whose two-wheeled machines are motorized. While I know that in a world where we drive on parkways and park on driveways that this may be a losing battle, it is a battle I have fought for years and will continue to fight as long as I have the strength to speak, type or turn a pedal. I have been, and always shall be, a biker.

The machine I ride, I call a bike. I go on bike rides. I work in a bike shop. I sometimes ride with a bike club. In the woods I go mountain biking.

I don't grab my cycle and go cycling. I don't belong to a cycle club. Maybe you do and if so, great. I'm sure that works fine for you. But don't tell me I have to go cycling.

I'm grabbing my bike and going biking.

Because I'm a biker.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA


Micheal Blue said...

So, Kent, when biki-ng, do you wear biki-ni? :-D
I can't recall anyone saying "I'm going cycling"; it's always "biking". Though it's true that motorcyclists also say "biking", so it can get confusing when talking with strangers. How about "going pedaling"?

D Housley said...

I have heard both say, I am going riding.

Sewbiwan said...

I agree! Let's keep "biking".

Anonymous said...

I'm a bike rider. I am also sometimes a motorcycle rider. I'm not opposed to being a biker. I never want to be a cyclist.

kfg said...

I hear tell the kids these days resolve the vehicular ambiguity of the language by "rocking a whip," but it seems to me that will only agitate the old school drovers; and as I often adopt "Drover Chic" could just cause further problems for me.

I'm a retro-grouch, maybe I'll just continue to stick with "Wheelman."

Unknown said...

I avoid the confusion of labeling by riding/driving/pedaling/sitting upon both a Harley and a self-powered 2 wheeler. Therefore, I am always a biker unless of course I'm in my truck in which case I guess I'm a trucker. Well, then when I'm in the wife's Escape, I must be an escapist or perhaps an escaper - from what I don't know. Uh, I'm starting to confuse myself with this loss of identity thing... Better stop for now and go be an eater!

- Zeke

ha1ku said...

I am a automobilist.

John Romeo Alpha said...

There are cycles, and to resolve ambiguity where it arises, motorcycles. Bikes and motorbikes. Motorcycles evolved when motors were bolted onto bicycles. In common usage, riders of either are bikers. There is seldom an issue with ambiguity, though, which can be resolved with context: "the leather-clad bikers burst into the dive bar," vs. "the spandex-clad bikers clip-clopped into the mini-mart for some fig newtons."

Bob said...

I'd rather not be grouped. Type "motorist rodney" in google and you will see the uselessness of labeling.

I ride a bike, I drive a car, I eat a sandwich. If I ever get on national tv I hope I'm not eating a sandwich. "Sandwich Eater Bob from Michigan was arrested today..."

Anonymous said...

"Riding a bike" sounds so passive. "Driving a car" sounds more active than it is.

Couldn't we say "riding a car" and "driving a bike?"

Or maybe: "propelling a bike" and "fat-assing a car?"

That way, bikers could be called propellers.

Thom said...

I always say going cycling rather than biking. maybe this is an english thing?

skvidal said...

along these same lines:

A bike has a seat post
A bike has seat stays

but we ride on a saddle?

We rid on a seat.

Barb Chamberlain said...

I pondered the labeling issue a while back on my blog (http://bit.ly/eZECEr) thanks to using the Google tool that lets you look at trends in word usage in books.

Any labels let us turn people into the "other" and define in-groups and out-groups. If you are not a biker or cyclist and someone else is, you are not part of the same tribe.

We are all people, however. So, while it's clunkier, I prefer constructing the phrase "person who rides a bike" (or motorcycle--I have a brother who teaches motorcycle skills in the Seattle area and he is not a biker).

That way you put the person first, and being a person is something we all have in common. You can't say another person isn't part of the person tribe to which you also belong.

This probably grows out of having worked for a while for an organization that advocated for the rights of people with disabilities--not "disabled people".

Here's to people first.


William Schiller said...

Yes, Let's ride altogether. We love driving motorcycle because we are riders.

Unknown said...

Your right Kent REAL BIKERS pedal!

Olle Nilsson said...

Maybe Brando should more accurately be called a motorbiker. Leave the biker term to us! :-D

Captain.Griz said...

Sometimes my "bike" has a motor, Sometimes... it doesn't.