in cycling

Fat People Ride Bikes, Too

There’s an update to this post at the end.

No, it’s true! However, Flying Pigeon LA apparently thinks that fat people are fat because they drive everywhere and are against bike lanes:

Look, I know it may be hard for you to understand Flying Pigeon, and it seems like an easy assumption to make what with the OMG TEH OBESITEE! panic that is so widespread in North American discourse, but there are a whole host of reasons why people are fat, and not all of them have to do with inactivity.

The reason people in Denmark and The Netherlands are thinner than usual has to do, in large part, with genetics. Their diets also factor in because people in Europe tend to eat less processed food than we do here in good ol’ North America.

Another factor is how their cities were planned to support pedestrians, density, and yes, cycling. However, in many European countries, cycling infrastructure didn’t become widespread until the 70s, and that was a direct result of oil embargoes, the energy crisis, and citizen outrage over the number of traffic deaths.

But even though these countries have far greater bike share than we have here in North America, a majority of residents in Denmark and The Netherlands still choose cars as their primary mode of transportation, as evidenced in this chart that was used in a BBC News Magazine story about the reasons behind cycling popularity:

chart displaying the bicycle, automobile, and transit sharing percentages in major European cities

More people in those countries drive more places, yet you’d be hard pressed to find very many fat folk there. Boy, that’s a real head scratcher, innit?

You’re in LA, and you know far better how sprawling and car-centric the culture is, so it isn’t really necessary for me to say any more about that. Because you’re in the US, you know more than most how easy it is to find processed convenience foods, and how the culture supports working until you drop, leaving little time or energy to prepare meals made from whole, real foods.

Oh, you know all of this already? You just think it’s funnier to fat shame bike lane opponents because of their waistlines, even though we know fat shaming doesn’t work?

Oh. OK then. I really have only one thing to say to you.

Fuck you, you fat shaming fuck. Profane, knee jerk emotional response removed.

Update: after a lengthy exchange with Flying Pigeon over Twitter about fat shaming and why it was wrong, I was finally able to get my main point across:

I feel better after speaking up about this. The goal is to get everyone, regardless of fitness level, age or ability on bikes, and the way we do that is by advocating for better bike infrastructure, not by snarking on people’s bodies.

Previously: Nobody Asked You

  1. I really enjoyed your exchanges on Twitter today, and am glad you took the time to write a post. It’s so frustrating to try to change the conversation to reflect what is actually important.

  2. Thanks, G.E. If we don’t speak up, how can we rightfully expect change? At times the conversation was frustrating, but I’m happy with how it resolved.

  3. No, fat shaming doesn’t work. Options to cars for getting around might be more helpful, along with body critics keeping their attitudes in check. I get that a lot of us fear getting fat. I’m carrying around 8 extra pounds that I find a little uncomfortable and prevent me from wearing some of my favorite clothes. But that’s my issue. I own it. I certainly don’t need anyone reminding me that I’m plumper than I used to be or telling me why I’ve gained weight (I already know why and it isn’t due to a sedentary lifestyle) or what I to do to lose it (please don’t say “get off your ass and bike”). We definitely don’t need to tie our frustration about opposition to bike lanes or bikes on the road to the clothing size. I doubt any correlation exists.

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