The online blog of Momentum Magazine posted the photo below to illustrate an article titled “Support for Better Biking is Strong.”
Warm and fuzzy is clearly the intention — father and young child riding on a magic carpet, car-free and carefree. We should all transport ourselves to better biking and a better future, on such magic carpets.
Hello, hello, reality check: the carpet is of leaves — much of it deep enough to hide a pothole or debris which would launch a cyclist over the handlebars.
Sorry to have to say this about this but a few years ago, a well-liked, recently retired colleague of my wife’s put his front wheel into a hole hidden under leaves and landed on his head. He died.
Nobody can tell us why he was riding there, but most people who have spent much time on a bicycle have learned one way or another to avoid riding through a carpet of leaves — or anywhere they can’t see what is about to be supporting the bicycle’s tires.
Doesn’t anybody at Momentum Magazine have the good sense, or experience, or authority, to nix a photo like this, or do they just not care?
Actually, I know that they don’t care. I submitted comments — much more gentle than these — on the magazine’s blog post. My comments were quickly removed.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into this situation. The article is a puff piece reflecting the bicycle industry’s astroturf polling campaign. The magazine credits the Green Lane Project with the photo. The bicycle industry funds the Green Lane project to promote bikeways separate from motor traffic, with the goal of getting more people to buy bicycles.
How could this photo advance that agenda? Or, scarier to think, what if it actually does? What if most readers of Momentum Magazine don’t know any better? What if they are so caught up in a magic carpet agenda that they can mentally sweep the carpet of leaves aside?
Does the Green Lane crew think that leaves add a nice homey touch — and look, people also ride outside the peak summer season! Or maybe Green Lane doesn’t care either, in which case, just how low can these people stoop to portray bicycling as completely mindless and carefree, as long as it is also car-free?
The shopping bag next to the spokes of the man’s front wheel doesn’t make me feel any better. I could say something about a parent’s setting an example, but then I don’t want to start a helmet war.
Enough for now. I’m going to deconstruct the photo shoot, in a separate blog post. I know where that photo was taken. I’ve been there.
I’m also going to look into just why anyone thought that the USA needs another bicycle magazine, especially one which publishes material like this. Stay tuned.