The other day, my mom’s neighbor saw me arriving by bike from Marin County (about 60 miles away), and told me how impressed she was with the ‘sacrifice’ I was making by not driving. I thanked her, and said that actually I quite enjoy riding my bike, as well as the relaxing time I spend on the ferry and the train, and that I was impressed with the sacrifice she was making by sitting in gridlock on the freeway every day on the way to work. She laughed, and said, “I guess that’s another way of looking at it.”
The mainstream ‘way of looking at it’ did not come about by accident. It is very much a manufactured perspective that dictates transportation social norms. Where do these norms come from? You might have guessed from the title of this post.
The details of this manipulation are described in the excellent article by Tom Vanderbilt that appeared on Slate.com last Friday about the way Hollywood depicts people who don’t drive. It would be hard to overemphasize the power that films have over people’s style and behavior- not only in this country, but all over the world. This fantasy image marketing has very real impacts in the real world as people choose to drive- not because it’s practical- but because they think it will get them laid.
Whether it’s a case of displaying what screenwriters and producers see around them every day in LA, or something more sinister (think about who profits if we drive more) there are layers of meaning behind the stereotypes of people who are car free.
Too bad for Hollywood- they will have to play catch up. Cause this movement isn’t waiting for some navel gazing producer to catch on to the fact that bikes are hot shit these days…..