Social/Ethical Issues in Biking

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3/15/2012 6:26 AM

So I have an assignment due coming up where I have to make a video discussing a particular social or ethical issue in sport. I figured I'd try doing something unique the that professor has not seen before and focus on mountain biking. So what are some ethical/social issues surrounding biking?

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3/15/2012 6:41 AM
Edited Date/Time: 3/15/2012 6:48 AM

You could make an argument for the plain and simple act of riding a bike being one of the best things you can do for the world. It makes you a happier person and happy people do good things for other folks, the economy, the environment, etc...

You can also counter that by talking about how downhill mountain biking has an obscene carbon footprint. Most downhill riders drive cars (or trucks since we tend to carry a lot of gear and multiple bikes) a lot of miles just to get to a resort or a mountain. We ride lifts that run on tons of electricity or drive even more to run shuttles. We ride bikes that are (at least compared to their city commuting counterparts) disposable due to either our abuse or the rapid turnover in technology. Carbon bikes/parts probably aren't exactly "good" for the environment, and welding metal bikes consumes a ton of energy. Shipping the majority of our parts from overseas takes even more energy. Travel to races both via airlines and driving, support trucks at events, (to a lesser extent) fluids like dot fluid in brakes, oil in suspension, chain lubes, paint on frames and so on... but on the other hand, maybe all these negative effects are creating a ton of jobs being filled by a ton of generous people who are doing a lot of charity and hard work with their income and situation in life to make the world a better place? Hard to say and probably impossible to measure!

I think there are obviously a lot more evil things you can do in this world than ride downhill but it might be something that you could certainly build up a case for on both sides for this project. Hope it turns out well for you!

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3/15/2012 7:11 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:21 AM

I'm trying to think of a really positive side of biking that deals with a social or ethical issue, but right now none come to mind. To go along with what the first person said, I found this research study dealing with the off-road impacts of mountain bikes. If I think of anything else I'll let you know!

http://www.followscience.com/groups_repository/300/files/off_road_impacts_of_mountain_bikes_a_review_and_discussion_frt6g.pdf

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3/15/2012 7:18 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:21 AM

Ethical issues you could tackle could be items like Manufacturers and Distributors putting MAPS on pricing to combat companies like Amazon (there is always six degrees of collusion), ethics of illegal trails on public/private property just to get to ride, ethics of Hipster Tools disregarding traffic laws all the while supposing to be doing good for the world for their better than hilltop..

Social issues could be the FATIFICATION of AMERICA due to processed foods and how diet and exercise (via Bike Riding) are much better for you than high impact sports for weight loss and sustainability of life, I am not referring to Gravity/DJ riding of course but exercise level riding. Social issues could be the spirit of Group Road Rides that alot of shops/ride communities put together and so on....maybe even venture outside of your loved biking discipline into another area of biking and see how that could open your mind socially, while we all love biking there are definite differences amongst us, most definitely amongst me and hipster hilltoppers, ;-)

Work hard and obstacles are overcome is my experience! Good luck.

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3/15/2012 7:23 AM

More to your pointed question.......go undercover mtb group rides (and show how mtber's are a bunch of pot heads)and document it with video, then go trail buidling days and document, see what you can come up with in a Michael Moore that world is all evil except for me, Cananda, and Cuba kinda way, then really turn your professor/class on its ear by showing them that perception isn't always reality by flipping the script and showing how much hard work and community really goes into building trails and how little time really goes into RIDING them!

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3/15/2012 8:00 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:21 AM

Some issues:
1) Illegal trail building. Trespassing. There was a good piece written not that long ago on Pinkbike.

2) Trail destruction and land erosion caused by brake dragging down steep sections, sliding moto turns and riding/racing in wet conditions. Ex: Pacific Coast Trail

3) Trails that don't allow MTB riders. Discrimination or safety and trail protection? Ex: LA County

4) Riders who don't heed to hikers, slower bikers or horse riders. Following the rules of the trail. Ex: Biker hits hiker. Guy assaults bikers.

5) Listening to music while riding and the obvious safety issues.

6) Littering - broken parts, tear-offs, gu packets and powerbar wrappers. Ban tear-offs for rollers only?

7) Energy and resource consumption as mentioned by k.shiz.

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3/15/2012 8:07 AM

Could always talk about the segregation of the genres. Talk about how XC'ers think DH'ers are lazy and ruin the trail. DH guys always think XC guys are a bunch a spandex wearing weight weenies. And don't get either one started on Cyclocross or Road Riding. Also talk about the elitism of some of these said riders and how it has a negative impact of the growth of the sport.

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3/15/2012 9:44 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:21 AM

ok ok.. chill pill for the "DH vs XC vs DJ vs FR = All-Mountain wins".. i also ride my DH bike to commute as well atleast twice a week and on the trails.. on DH tracks we sometimes push all the way up or hire porters because we dont have lift access.. but the general idea is if you demand high performance then there will always be a negative impact. the latest carbon frame, Ti bolts and brake pads whether DH or XC will be the downfall of us all. use biodegradeable chain lube as much as possible. use worn tires for commuting shift to newer ones for trails.. Trail centers/pump tracks/race tracks consume lands and destroys natural habitat we cant deny that but that what makes sponsors happy which pays for the new gear. XC or DH are both guilty.

as far as social/ethical issues, here in the philippines you need to learn to be defensive while commuting cars wont stop for you people will cross the street ignoring you thats a fact that we should all learn to live with. try to blend in no fancy colored jersey or flashy gadgets. learn when to walk with your bike. no matter how many lumens your light has try to think that youre invisible.

my dad will always point out a common messenger or carpenter riding a beat up bike to and from work and remind me that there are people who ride bikes because it makes life easy for them while we ride just for the heck of it.

i dont know how that can help.. just some insights.. cheers

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3/15/2012 10:08 AM

PaucH wrote:

ok ok.. chill pill for the "DH vs XC vs DJ vs FR = All-Mountain wins".. i also ride my DH bike to commute as well atleast twice a week and on the trails.. on DH tracks we sometimes push all the way up or hire porters because we dont have lift access.. but the general idea is if you demand high performance then there will always be a negative impact. the latest carbon frame, Ti bolts and brake pads whether DH or XC will be the downfall of us all. use biodegradeable chain lube as much as possible. use worn tires for commuting shift to newer ones for trails.. Trail centers/pump tracks/race tracks consume lands and destroys natural habitat we cant deny that but that what makes sponsors happy which pays for the new gear. XC or DH are both guilty.

as far as social/ethical issues, here in the philippines you need to learn to be defensive while commuting cars wont stop for you people will cross the street ignoring you thats a fact that we should all learn to live with. try to blend in no fancy colored jersey or flashy gadgets. learn when to walk with your bike. no matter how many lumens your light has try to think that youre invisible.

my dad will always point out a common messenger or carpenter riding a beat up bike to and from work and remind me that there are people who ride bikes because it makes life easy for them while we ride just for the heck of it.

i dont know how that can help.. just some insights.. cheers

I do not need a chill pill. None of those opinions I posted were mine, they were general thoughts from both sides. No need to come in policing.

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3/15/2012 10:38 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:21 AM

I live in Santa Cruz, CA which is very near to the San Francisco Bay area. We have a bunch of great trails, (Many of them illegal.) generally built by hard working locals, which the whole Bay area want to ride. The situation is getting almost as bad as it is in the surf. There's a ton of talk locally about "Valleys" over using "Our" trails and getting them shut down. It's mostly a problem with downhill trails. The campus trails, the mainstay of the area, have recently been shut down by the State Park Rangers handing out steep fines. We've gone to the very edges of the County and still word gets out, trails get blatantly over used and shut down.

So my questions are... 1. Can we really complain that our trails get destroyed when we're not supposed to be there in the first place? 2. Is it right for the Rangers to shut down trails but not give us a viable alternative? 3. How can we locals deny others our trails and still travel elsewhere and expect to be welcomed with open arms?

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3/15/2012 1:42 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:21 AM

A strong area with lots of depth would be the manufacturing of bikes and how certain companies approach it. Domestic companies keeping things inhouse, which creates living-wage manufacturing jobs (Intense, Ventana, Foes, Ellsworth, etc.) vs companies that outsource manufacturing overseas. Bikes made offshore can be just as good or even better than domestic ones, but you need to think about where the money goes. The only jobs created here are sales, marketing and a handful of design/engineering positions. All the skilled labor jobs that don't require a 4-year degree go to Taiwan. Wage taxes are collected and spent where the worker lives, not where the company is owned. Your dollar is not fully reinvested in the community when you buy an outsourced bike. It in fact goes to another country which already owns a huge amount of our national debt anyway.

The big question: are we willing to pay a little more up front so that we can provide living-wage jobs and encourage entrepreneurs to invest in the manufacturing sector again? Our country has been sold out from under us to squeeze just a few more percentage points of profit margin. If we all agree to support domestically produced products, everyone wins in the end. More people working means more taxes collected AND more people spending their wages. How there aren't regulations to reward domestic production is mind blowing. We need things, things have to be made, people need jobs, doesn't seem to effing complicated. I'm not a genius and this isn't rocket surgery, the powers that be just need to realize that if they're willing to except a 5-10% cut in initial margin, then eventually everything will be more prosperous, because there will be more potential consumers with more disposable income.

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3/15/2012 7:41 PM

For a positive aspect I have previously been involved with a youth support program that used mountain biking as a positive "risk" (rather and a negative risk) as an outlet for social and personal development. This really means that you try and divert the negative activities of youth at risk (vandalism, fighting, absenteeism ) into a positive outlet and more extreme sports like mountain biking have been shown to help. I have seen it work (and not work) but the sport and the people around the sport can be such a positive influence on young people without positive mentors in their lives..

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3/16/2012 6:09 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:21 AM

Don't know whether it's of interest but:

http://www.thebicycleacademy.org/

These guys run a frame building school. The first frame you make there goes off to Africa where it is expected to be used as a primary means of transport - maybe not an ethical 'issue' as such but maybe will provoke some ideas? good luck with your assignment - post it up here when its done, would be interested to see what you come up with.

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3/17/2012 9:15 PM
Edited Date/Time: 3/17/2012 9:21 PM

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