BSNYC @ All Things Considered

Bike Snob was on NPR’s All Thing’s Considered the other day. Here’s an excerpt:

“I would like to see a greater acceptance in our culture, if I may get incredibly grandiose right now, of general dirtiness and slovenliness, because the entire notion that we have to build a transportation infrastructure around allowing people to show up to work clean in suits, why? Who cares?”

Read and listen on NPR

14 Responses to “BSNYC @ All Things Considered”

  • Aaron says:

    Yes! This guy sounds awesome. And I love “all things considered” so I’ll have to give this one a listen.

  • Graham says:

    The Bike Snob is a very witty individual and while he enjoys making ridiculous claims sound perfectly rational for comic effect, I happen to think that this idea is worth considering.

    There IS this idea that being perfectly manicured and coifed at all times is the hallmark of the professional. How did it get to be this way? Perhaps this is another luxury of the fossil fuel age that we can no longer afford?

    Moreover, while cycling requires a bit more effort than pushing your car’s accelerator, it doesn’t require THAT much more effort. For myself, I’m a large and sweaty guy, but if I pace myself I can get pretty much anywhere in town without appearing to be fresh from the gym.

  • Larry Guevara says:

    Was the Bike Snob’s voice digitally altered?


  • bongobike says:


    you are right. It is a luxury of the fossil fuel age. What did we do before air conditioning was so prevalent? Guess what, people had sweat stains on their clothing in the summer. Big friggin’ deal! We had no air conditioning at my elementary school and we had no problems. I had an English teacher there who would sweat profusely every day, to the point that she had huge sweat circles on her dress under her armpits (and this was on a sleeveless summer dress with huge arm holes!) But guess what, she didn’t stink, I’m sure she wore deodorant every day and showered as often. Nobody gave her any guff. It’s life.

  • Larey says:

    Bike Snob NYC always cracks me up. And I can identify with this quote because in early spring I was getting less and less enthused about all the steps I was going through to dress half-way decent for the office. So I started riding in street clothes (jeans for cold, shorts for warm). No more packing, changing, changing back, and crappy locker room.

    Seriously, dressing down and carrying as little as necessary saved me from giving up on bike commuting altogether this year.

    Of course, it helps that my office has no dresscode.

  • Croupier says:

    Bike Snob is the greatest niche satirist of our time and I would have totally missed this (despite being a regular NPR listener) if it weren’t for EcoVelo. Thanks!

  • duds2wheeler says:

    cycling has affected my wardrobe. i am not seen without my overalls which i cut at the knees. bowleggedness dogged my self image for years, and i avoided shorts like the plague.
    now i can’t stand pants, and can’t stand stuff in pockets (except for my overall chest pockets).

  • louis says:

    Thank goodness for internet jobs where employees can dress like befuddled graduate students and park bikes at their desks!

  • DeltaTrike says:

    Houston is a very warm city – Temps in the 90’s and beyond from April to October + humidity mostly above 90%. I have a very short 3.5 mile trip to work. I arrive soaking wet. At first I was just dealing with it and waiting till the sweat dried after about 45 minute of air conditioning. Though staff and kids would comment on my sweatiness, they also didn’t seem to be offended and still thought I was the cool guy who bikes to work. Now I haul a week’s worth of teacher outfits on Monday and ride to work in shorts and T shirts. I have to arrive about 15 minutes earlier than normal to cool down and change. Now I’m 75% less sweaty when the first bell rings. Even though I do have a shower available, I haven’t felt the need to use it. So while I certainly agree with Bike Snob’s desire for a cultural shift towards sweaty accetance, I don’t think it necessarily needs to be seen in terms “of general dirtiness and slovenliness”. I think a page may have already turned in that direction. Folks accept my extra sweat, but I’m not dirty or slovenly. I am looking to October with great anticipation for that “drier” look and feel.

  • S. says:

    BS is a witty writer and observer of the modern bicycle scene, but for those of us who ARE professionals who have to be presentable, showing up “dirty and slovenly” is going to earn us a pink slip instead of a paycheck. Whine all you want about the culture, but I have to think, behave, and look reasonably sharp when dealing with citizens, senior staff, and elected officials. That doesn’t mean a manicure and a three-piece suit, but it doesn’t mean sweat stains and unkempt hair. That’s reality.

    I prefer for myself at least instead the northern European model, where reasonably clean and well-dressed people ride gently on bicycles that are designed for humans instead of skinny, tattooed slackers with iPhones and iPods who wear uniforms styled by Goodwill. Some of us make our livings trying to be change agents inside the system, and dressing up on occasion is part of that choice, as well as necessity.

  • daniel runyan says:

    I feel fortunate I have showers at work and get to wear scrubs (glorified pajamas really). I’ve noticed a slight trend in employers offering showers at workplaces. Perhaps in an effort to get with the “Green” movement. A little advocating may be all that is needed to get access to showers and lockers from your employer. There’s a healthy competition here in Sacramento among employers to see who can best support alternative commuting. I went from the “sweaty dude” who rides his bike to work to the freshest smelling guy on the nursing floor (which isn’t too hard actually ;-). OK, they don’t call me that but thats how I feel.

    a non-tattooed slacker (and agent for change outside the system)

  • HHF3 says:

    I like the idea of garnering more acceptance for showing up to work a little less than perfectly put together. I have come to realize that those jersey dresses are perfect for biking to work – can roll ‘em up in a bag & they come out wrinkle-free when I change when I arrive at work.

  • The Opoponax says:

    But S, there is a very large middle ground between people who have to wear business suits at work, and bike messengers in grungy thrift gear. Most people I know fall in that “business casual” middle ground. Workplaces have been trending less and less formal for the last 30 years or so. And if you think you can’t ride a bike in chinos and a polo shirt, you need to really re-evaluate what the expression “ride a bike” means to you.

    For that matter, I see men riding in shirt and tie every morning. I don’t know if I’d do it for 10 miles in 90 degree heat, but it’s certainly possible for some people during some of the year.

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    I work in Europe for parts of the year. People in the office environments that I frequent there tend to be more formally dressed than their US counterparts, but the standards for hygiene (smell of body and clothing, frequency of hair washing, wearing of deodorant, visibility of sweat, etc.) are less strict. I think that this is what makes cycling to work more feasible there, rather than anything related to slow and dignified cycling. I assure you that even cycling slowly during the summer months in Paris, Brussels, or Vienna, will make you sweat.

    BSNYCs comments make sense to an extent, but would necessitate an enormous cultural shift that may not be realistic, especially in some professions where impeccable cleanliness and crisp put-togetherness are crucial to the way one presents oneself.

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