Table of Contents
The Problem:- Cycling advocates reckon everyone should be riding bikes. Even if we don't want to.
It sure is a crazy time in 2021 if you’re a car driver. You might not have noticed, but all day long, all over the internet, there are countless cycling nutjobs relentlessly arguing with car drivers. It’s the same stuff every single day. There are too many cars on the road! We need people to stop driving so much! Only cycling can solve the congestion crisis! Only cycling can solve the obesity epidemic! Spend more money on cycling!
For many cyclists, riding a bike is no longer merely a pastime, it has become a religious crusade. This is partly why we started Single File Please. Long before I joined the team, I used to race bikes as a younger man and it was a great sport. But that’s all it was – it was just a sport. It wasn’t a political movement. But that’s what cycling has become now. For many bike riders, cycling is now a political issue.
And what do we know about political issues on the internet? People constantly go looking for conflict. Especially people who identify as being at the top of the victim-hierarchy totem pole. The syndrome even has a name. They call it recreational outrage. However, there’s a certain ‘bottom line’ with regards to cycling and it’s this….
When we reallocate limited road space in a crowded city to bicycles, the problem we introduce is this – in London for example, only one in 50 road users are cyclists, and that’s only during peak hour. The rest of the time that precious road space simply goes to waste because it’s so woefully underused.
In short, no matter where you are in the world, unless you live in a city where massive ongoing investments are being made into heavy and light rail, cycling simply isn’t a workable solution because too many people have to travel too far each day to get to work. So people will keep using motorised transport. Why? Because every government understands it’s cheaper to maintain an existing 50 year old main road than it is to build a new multi-billion dollar rail system.
The Fallacy:- Obesity rates are directly linked to car use.
So, how this article came about was a comment by a cycling advocate on Twitter named Inner Monologue. Like most cycling advocates, he tends to be a bit of an obnoxious know-it-all. He’s also rather fond of putting words into other people’s mouths and then arguing bitterly with them about stuff they didn’t say. But I digress.
Twitter limits the amount of words you can write per post, hence in the following tweet there’s an underlying premise which needs to be considered. When cycling advocates lobby for cycling, at all times their goal is to lobby for more cycling infrastructure. Everything they argue, everything they claim, revolves around their constant calls for more tax payer money to be spent on cycling infrastructure.
What the hell is active travel you ask? Like so many things in the modern era, it’s a fancy new name for something really obvious. It’s the name cycling advocates have recently invented to describe to the simple act of walking or riding a push bike. For decades we didn’t need a fancy name for walking or riding a bike, but when you’re lobbying for MORE money from the public purse strings, it helps to use a fancy name it seems. Interestingly the term also includes e-bikes which somewhat defeats the purpose of the word “active” but that’s where we’ve arrived in 2021.
Something to note is the false premise which underpins a logical fallacy used by cycling advocates all around the world nowadays. Claim (A) (a false claim) says society needs more cycling infrastructure. Claim (B), supposedly the true claim, says obesity rates are 100% linked to the amount of car driving a given society partakes in. The logical fallacy argues Claim (B) supposedly makes Claim (A) true.
Well sorry, but that’s bullshit. At best, it’s merely an opinion that we need more cycling infrastructure, and it’s an opinion shared by almost nobody other than cycling advocates.
More importantly, Claim (B) – the part of the logical fallacy which supposedly validates claim (A) – is also bullshit. Have a look at what Inner Monologue is arguing… he’s saying high car usage rates and low “active travel” rates clearly lead to high obesity rates. Sorry, but the data simply doesn’t support that claim.
Let’s take a look shall we, at a list of the world’s highest obesity rates, as defined by nationality.
The Facts:- Global obesity trends have absolutely nothing to do with car use.
Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980. Researchers have settled on two competing theories, both of which co-exist and overlap at the same time.
The Reason Why Exercise-Focused Regimens Are Relatively Ineffective For Weight Loss
If you’re perplexed by the information in the previous section, don’t worry. There’s a simple explanation behind it, which we’ll break up into two parts.
Reason 1:- Unless you’re a professional athlete, calorie expenditure through exercise is actually pretty small in the grand scheme of things.
In order to see why exercise-focused weight loss programs tend to yield low efficacy, it helps to first understand the science behind our basic metabolic daily calorie expenditure.
We spend most of our calories every day just “staying alive”. This is known as our “resting metabolic rate.”
Let’s say you’re a 200 pound man who has 30% body fat. You’re going to expend at least 1,800 calories a day even if you do nothing but stay in bed. You’re also going to expend roughly 10% of your “resting metabolic rate” on something known as the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF): aka, the amount of calories it takes to digest and absorb dietary intake.
Add another 10% on top of that through a metabolic process known as NEAT Non Exercise Adaptive Thermogenesis. This is the amount of calories expended by getting out of bed and going about your daily routine and you’ve already burned 2100 calories.
As noted earlier, unless you’re a pro athlete doing huge amounts of training, adding exercise into your daily routine really is quite small in your overall calorie expenditure; most of the work is done before you put on your running shoes. Please note, I am NOT saying that you shouldn’t exercise, but rather, it’s important to realise where the majority of your calorie expenditure is happening.
Reason 2:- Most people are simply terrible at estimating “calories in” versus “calories out.”
If you’d like some evidence of this, take a look at another study recently provided by the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, in which researchers asked the subjects to exercise, estimate their calorie expenditure, and then took them to a buffet afterwards. Subjects were asked to consume the amount of food that they believed they burned in calories. (Sidenote: Where can I sign up for one of these?)
The subjects ended up eating 2-3 times the amount of calories that they burned.
The Reason Why Focusing on Diet is the single most important aspect to fighting obesity.
Reason 1:- It’s impossible to gain weight if you’re not eating surplus calories. That’s all you need to know.
So why do cycling advocates PUSH THE INACTIVITY ANGLE so hard ? Because it’s all about the goal of getting more people into cycling, hence that means we need more cycling infrastructure. If cyclists were truly serious about fighting obesity, all day long they’d be pumping out literature about changing our diet for the better because, at best, inactivity represents maybe 10% of the causes for obesity while poor diet represents 90%.
Remember, it’s impossible to gain weight if you’re not eating SURPLUS calories. If you’re not putting the SURPLUS calories in your mouth in the first place, you simply can’t become obese.
The reality is we never ever hear cycling advocates talk about diet – even though eating too many obesogenic foods is the root cause of obesity. Why? Focusing on diet doesn’t pay any dividend regarding the cycling lobby’s agenda. Cycling infrastructure is what’s on their agenda, hence they focus exclusively on cycling as “the answer to obesity” because their goal is to influence budgetary decisions regarding new cycling infrastructure.
Of course, being cycling advocates, they’re in complete denial about that.
The Conclusion:- Don't waste your time arguing with cycling advocates online. They're fuckwits.
Yes, that might sound terribly harsh and there will doubtless be people who are offended by such language, but honestly, it’s the only way to deal with them. Without exception they fall into two groups. They’re either (1):- nothing more than trolls who get their kicks by relentlessly arguing with you about pure crap just to waste your time, or (2) they’re zealots trying to convert you to their fanatical vision of cycling nirvana.
If you’re talking to a cycling advocate who falls into Group (2), you’re not talking to a sane person, you’re talking a religious zealot. Like all religious zealots, their goal is to convert you to their belief system. In this case, their belief system revolves around cycling being the solution to all of life’s ills. By definition that means they’ve got shit for brains.
But then you get guys like Mike Watkins for example. Mike falls into Group (1). He’s one of London’s most high profile cycling advocates. This is a guy who spends at least 10 hours a day arguing with motorists on Twitter. Take a moment to consider what he’s admitting here in this tweet from 2018.
If you’re a motorist and you like using social media, sooner or later you’re going to come across one of these nutjobs and the mistake you’ll make is the assumption you’re talking to someone who wants to debate cycling topics in good faith. But that’s not who you’ll be dealing with. You’ll be dealing with someone who gets a kick out of wasting your time and/or someone who gets a kick out of being a condescending sanctimonious prick.
This is how you deal with a cycling advocate on social media. As soon as you realise you’re dealing with a cycling advocate, write the following words… “Fuck off. You’re a cycling advocate. You’ve got shit for brains.” and then block them.
Once you block them the problem solved – well almost. With some cycling advocates, even AFTER you block them they’re so obsessed they use Google Chrome in incognito mode so they can still follow you. Then they write posts for the benefit of their fellow cycling zealots so that they can talk about “their common enemy.” For example, this guy.
Here’s a sprinkling of the fake accounts we’ve banned from our Facebook Page in just the last year alone. There’s another 30 which have since been deactivated and deleted. To describe Michael Kater as “obsessed” is an understatement of galactic proportions.
Unfortunately, there are so many ‘crazy’ cycling advocates out there in cyberspace they’ve basically made it impossible for reasonable people to have a decent discussion about cycling issues. They love to hang out in private Facebook groups like The Revolution, and the moment anyone says anything remotely negative about cycling, they link each other to the comment so they can engage in a massive pile on. For all the ‘crazy’ cycling advocates out there, it’s a form of sport.
Share this article on your favourite social media platform.