If you read our blog posts you will see a theme emerging. It all revolves around cycling, the culture, with a focus on women who cycle for transport and an educational aspect that shows how dressing for your destination is the best way to ride a bicycle. This article is about the helmet, helmet law and infrastructure with a spotlight on internet bullying or internet trolls.
The Troll effect: We are feeling a bit honoured, I think our site is getting more and more attention these days and we've experienced our first internet troll. So what is an Internet Troll? Let's check out Wikipedia's definition:
In internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. This sense of the word troll and its associated verb trolling are associated with Internet discourse, but have been used more widely. Media attention in recent years has equated trolling with online harassment.
And on that topic, harassment is right. I would like to share with you our experience with internet bullying. We firstly responded to our troll with a thoughtful response to his issues. The dialogue has not been altered.
[Le Velo Victoria] Contact Form from September 01 at 17:09 Form Submission:
Name: We'll call him Brian
Body: "Why would you promote irresponsible and dangerous cycling by showing a woman riding a bike one handed, with no helmet and distracted by talking on a cell phone? Seems to me that you have not embraced the essence of cycling."
So, like any responsible business owner we decided to take some time and carefully respond to this comment and explain a little bit about what Le Vélo Victoria is and why we're here. We even had hopes to even enlighten his view on cycling and culture. Our response is as follows:
Dear Brian, Thank you for taking the time to write to us. What is the essence of cycling? There are possibly a few billion different views on this and you have your own and so does Le Vélo. We don't see the need to attack one another for simply having a different view. We can tell from your reaction that you believe that your view is somehow of a higher standard than ours but is it really? You shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. Instead, we welcome you to browse around our website and read some of our articles you will see that we definitely are NOT promoting unsafe or irresponsible cycling regardless of what you think our logo represents. Our logo represents a life-stlye around the bicycle, it is our essence of our life-style message that we want to share and spread. Since you haven't told us what you believe the essence of cycling is for you, we can only assume from your reaction that it has to do with safety and that is exactly what we are trying to avoid in our messaging. The more one talks about safety the more people think cycling is unsafe. We are convinced that safer cycling is NOT attained through the promotion of reflective gear and/or helmets but rather through the promotion and proliferation of safer infrastructure. All that helmets do is potentially mitigate the effects of a collision or fall on your head and reflective cycling gear is a symptom that the infrastructure is not safe enough. We believe it is therefore sending the wrong message to people who would like to start riding a bicycle. A certain life-style on and off the bicycle is what we are promoting plus safer cycling infrastructure. I founded le vélo to bring sexy back to cycling while providing stylish yet functional accessories that perfectly compliment your wardrobe, ride and destination. In addition to our online boutique and traveling pop-up, we’re working hard to provide a vital voice in the push to normalize cycling in Victoria. From regular features on our Blogs about citizen cycling movement (with a particular focus on women who cycle for transport), to sponsoring events. But most importantly our website presents powerful, rarely seen images of bicycle normalcy, in a city where sport and recreational cycling still reign supreme. We’re attempting to promote a lifestyle we want to see, especially in Victoria. The more people buy into the idea that cycling is a normal activity that millions of people partake in every single day, the more likely we are to build better bicycle infrastructure here. I believe we need to be the change we want to see. We hope you can now better understand that we are coming from a good place and that in reality we are trying to create a more enjoyable (cycling) lifestyle by showing images that reflect this.
With kind regards, Susan, Owner and Founder
We made the assumption that this would be the end of the dialogue, that this person would "see the light.".We were wrong. We received another email
[Le Velo Victoria] Contact Form from September 03 at 1:13:
Well you can imagine our surprise in receiving this latest email. It appears that there is no reasoning or applying logic or common sense to this person's point of view. He has proven himself to be aggressive, bullying in nature and clearly unable to think rationally on this topic.
I think Mikael-Colville Andersen has said it best in his article Vehicular Cyclists - Cycling's Secret Sect. "... this group fight tooth and nail against virtually any form of separated bicycle infrastructure because their theory is based up on the premise that bicycles are 'vehicles' and therefore should act as the vehicles in the traffic, using the car lanes just like cars. It is a small, yet vocal, group that is male-dominated, testosterone-driven and that lacks basic understanding of human nature. They expect that everyone should be just like them - classic sub-cultural point of view - and that everyone should embrace cycling in traffic and pretending they are cars. They are apparently uninterested in seeing grandmothers, mothers or fathers with children or anyone who doesn't resemble then contributing to re-creating the foundations of liveable cities by reestablishing the bicycle as transport."
Seriously, what I would like to see is cyclist unite and work together towards creating a better cycling infrastructure instead of fighting against each other. It's not productive or helpful in any way. Bullying is mean-spirited and hateful and it's a shame that we aren't able to have a constructive dialogue where perhaps not everyone agrees but can at the very least be open to another point of view and be respectful about it.
Thanks for your time here with us and please feel free to tell us what you think. I hope we can have a dynamic dialogue!