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"I'm not a cyclist"

  • administrators

    I'm thinking about the meaning and connotations of "cyclist".

    While I think its great that people can be enthusiastic about sport cycling or their commute, it does make me cringe a bit when someone describes themselves as a "keen cyclist". Its almost as though they are trying to appeal to some imaginary tribe that exists only in tabloid newspapers. It does make politicians seem a bit superficial when they say it.

    Well, that's my thoughts. Anyone else?

  • Personally, I object to 'keen' a whole lot more than 'cyclist'. 😆

    Interesting blog piece. I can't disagree that the word has some negative connotations.
    "Oh, are you one of those cyclists?", "All cyclists jump lights!", etc.

    We have more than one single-word descriptor for people who drive cars:

    • Motorist for officialdom and the more serious reporting in the press.

    • Driver for the fun, the professional, the law-breakers, the casual, and all the rest.

    We don't have that, we just have 'cyclist'. Maybe that's the problem? If we're having a casual conversation or if we're writing anything other than a legal document we tend to go for less convoluted description. "The man who uses a bicycle jumped the red!" is an awful sentence, so we stick to "The cyclist jumped the red!" and we just don't have another word to fill that gap.

    The other thing we're missing is the routine addition of an adjective. Drivers can be drunk, speeding, professional, etc... cyclists are just cyclists (with the exception of 'keen' obviously 😉 ).

    I'm not going to abandon 'cyclist' because I don't want to sound like Boris Johnson every time I twist a sentence to work without it. But if we can adopt a less-formal word that lends itself to adjectives I wouldn't object. 🙂

  • I'm Boab. Bloke on a bike. Usually. Otherwise, am a bloke.

  • administrators

    Of course the Dutch have two words for different types of cycling.

    A wielrenner and a fietser.

  • Global Moderator

    When I'm paying attention, I try and stick to "people on bikes" etc, rather than anything snappier with additional...baggage.

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