Not all cycling advocates are enlightened
July 17, 2008, 5:31 pm
Filed under: correspondence, news | Tags: , , , , ,

Just now I received this e-mail from Ashley Hosten:

Hi, I would like you to reconsider posting a link to VELORUTION. They have published a blog that is very racially offensive. If anyone knew that you helped Velorution advertise by providing them with a link through your site – its possible that some people that you know, would be extremely disappointed.

Thank you for your consideration

Ashley Hosten

My answer:

Hi Ashley,

I hadn’t checked Velorution for a while, thanks for drawing my attention to this particular post. It is certainly a dishonest and discriminatory piece, which I don’t support, particularly his generalization of how ‘ The Dutch recognise the problem they have and openly talk about it: dark-skinned immigrants do not cycle and that lowers the standards of the nation’.

1) he implies that only dark-skinned immigrants don’t cycle.
a) non dark-skinned immigrants do cycle?
b ) actually, regardless of some polarizing fear-mongering politicians, the Dutch government subsidizes cycle lessons for immigrants, specifically for women, as bicycle use is cost-efficient (important), it’s a social factor (very important) and liberating (and we know how much of a emancipating symbol the bicycle has been in early 20th century (before women won the right to vote). Why change something that works, right?
c) from my personal observations: rather the majority than the minority of (1st/2nd and 3rd generation) of immigrants (most naturalised) uses the bicycle.
2) even if his dribble was fact, not cycling doesn’t lower the standards. I can’t make any cheese out of this bit.

So, in conclusion, I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. I’ve now decided to post this e-mail exchange on my blog, to let others know. And take him off my blogroll, of course.




I think I can put this issue to rest by adding Velorution’s commentary on my post/e-mail:

P.S. Below the fold are some of the emails I have received. I would like to single out one remark that is characteristic of the prevalent hypocrisy. Amsterdamize called my previous post “dishonest and discriminatory” and claims that “rather the majority than the minority of (1st/2nd and 3rd generation) of immigrants (most naturalised) uses the bicycle.” How come then, one has to look very hard among the hundreds of photographs he publishes, to see a dark face on a bike. Who is the racist now?

Velorution, I’m the last one to see things in black and white, whether it regards people or things written down. I read your post twice, because the first time I wasn’t sure whether you were being ironic, sarcastic, or anything else. Maybe I missed a few things that would clear this thing up. Misconception is a rotten thing, certainly on the internet. Hence, I read it again.

There’s absolutely no wiggle room for misinterpretation. You are an ill-informed, generalizing, discriminatory and dishonest person. With this comment, I would add ‘delusional’ and ‘plain dumb’ to it, as well.

No, you got it right, I’m not going to dignify this utter bullshit any further. I’d be lowering my standards.

I leave you with a related discussion on the CycleChat forum.

Update: Velorution added this and this post to its buckle. I commented the following (waiting for it to appear):

“Well, Andrea, mea culpa? Hardly. Your earlier and apparent intellectual laziness is now pretty clear. You should have thought twice before lumping together many false characterizations and let your bigotry shine through. When you attempted to point out my ‘racism’ and ‘hypocrisy’ because you hardly saw any ‘black people’ in my ‘hundreds of photos’, I could hardly restrain myself from unleashing a DOS-attack on your ‘quaint’ little online bike shop. But then I thought you just weren’t worth having a normal discussion with, let alone lose my temper over. Reading your previous posts and this one I feel totally at ease. My outrage was well founded. You’re so dishonest and inconsistent it’s hard to fathom you can run a business. You basically go from trashing, abusing and discriminating immigrants/black people (or let’s just say ‘not your kind’), to disingenuous backpedaling and (post-related) factual distortion, ending with a half ass and badly baked mea culpa.

It’s so transparent, it’s not hard to feel sorry for you. If you still wonder why I added ‘intellectual laziness’ to the list…my best guess is that you look at pictures the same way you look at those ‘other people’: commonalities. Well, I hate to break to you, but a ‘melting pot’ isn’t called that for nothing. How can you tell (more and more) these days who’s an immigrant, 1st, 2nd, 3rd generation, or anything else? I can’t. (But I know you were looking for those burkas, sure) But then again, what is black, what is brown, what is yellow? I don’t single them out, maybe because they’re just people of Amsterdam and they just happen to be there when I click, regardless. I don’t see how London can be any different from Amsterdam, which demographics have also changed gradually but consistently.

The only conclusion I can come up with is that you haven’t. I sincerely hope you will.”

Photo link 1, Photo link 2, Photo link 3, Photo link 4, Photo link 5, Photo link 6, Photo link 7, Photo link 8, Photo link 9, Photo link 10, Photo link 11, Photo link 12, Photo link 13, Photo link 14, Photo link 15

I could go on, but do you see what I mean? Do you?”

7 Comments so far
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[…] received. I would like to single out one remark that is characteristic of the prevalent hypocrisy. Amsterdamize called my previous post “dishonest and discriminatory” and claims that “rather the majority than the […]

Pingback by Velorution, London's urban cycle store

Oh dear. I had written a lengthy comment about oberving cyclists of all ethnicities and ages, of both sexes (in Amsterdam on must of course also mention transgender!) in the east-end Indischebuurt neighbourhood where I stayed for several weeks last year. Unfortunately my server logged me off – strangely enough, it logs me off when I try to view that anti-urban cycle shop – and as it was quite late our time I didn’t feel like starting anew.

Indischebuurt, which more non-Amsterdamers will come to know now as there is a large new StayOkay youth hostel there, as well as an art cinema/café-bar, is an old working-class neighbourhood in the east end that has become very multicultural in recent decades. Like everywhere in the centre and adjoining neighbourhoods, it has gentrified a bit, but much less than most other working-class neighbourhoods.

There are people of all origins and ages on bicycles there, including men and women in traditional African and Middle Eastern garb, young women in chic hijabs, people from Surinam and other West Indian countries in colourful clothes.

And of course, lots of “native” Dutch, young and old, staid and hip. Idem just west of there in Dapperbuurt.

It is very sad that someone who is advocating “urban cycling” takes such a dim view of urbanity.

Comment by Maria Gatti

appreciate that, Maria, we can lead only by example and learn from others.

Comment by amsterdamize

There are some great photo ops in Indischebuurt – along the shoppng street Javastraat for example – and in Dapperbuurt, at the market. Or at or by Oosterpark and Flevopark.

The IISG in that area is a world-famous library and research centre of social history – at its site you will find a lot of relevant material about immigration – and emigration – history in the Netherlands.

Comment by Maria Gatti

nice suggestions, Maria, I’ve been meaning to hop over there (one of my former neighborhoods) anyway. And thanks for the IISG link! I’ve heard of it (my historian background) but will certainly visit it now.


Comment by amsterdamize

For your historical photo archive:

Comment by Maria Gatti

wow, great! Added it to my Classics collection!

Comment by amsterdamize

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