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Conspicuously inconspicuous consumption

Posted: 20 Sep 2005, 6:21am
by gar
you don't need 4WD most of the time. I live in rural North Yorkshire and it amazes me to think that Alf Wight (the real James Herriot) went all over some of remotest parts of the Dales in cars like Austin 7s. But he did - and at a time when the roads and the farm tracks must have been in poorer condition. Is the proliferation of 4WDs because of our poor roads?

The answer is that 4x4's are Conspicuous Consumption by urban dwellers who are interested in but frightened of the countryside.
I know one man who is frightened of chickenss and cows and getting anywhere near them, even in the same field, but drives pompously and ostentatiously along unmetalled tracks to pretend the farmland around belongs to him. It is not just a pretentious vehicle.

The paradox of a driving a vehicle which revealsinconspicuously conspicuous consumption is obvious to everybody.
The paradox also reveals either an interest in crime or the insanity of the occupants, which is very worrying to people like Road Runner, to all cyclists and the presenter Sarah Kennedy on her way to work.

For cyclists , who are obviously minimalistin many of the things they
do, a darkened 4x4 represents a serious threat
to his safety, if he is using the same stretch of road

Re:Conspicuously inconspicuous consumption

Posted: 20 Sep 2005, 12:51pm
by robin
yes but in the past before you could get a decent mountain bike, you may have used a road bike, but if you rode it hard off road you kept breaking the frames or forks, or mashing the wheels.
as for the 4WD's, i find the little t***s in their Vauxhall Nova's with the pumping bass and blacked out windows and noisey exhausts, are twice as bad, they've learned to drive after playing on Playstations (where you can crash but it doesn't hurt) and they think they're indestructible and no other road users important. oh and Volvo drivers............. :-)

Re:Conspicuously inconspicuous consumption

Posted: 20 Sep 2005, 1:04pm
by gar
I maintain that the real advances in recent years
are the tyres for bikes. when I was a ten year
old (1956) there were ALWAYS so many
punctures, and no good quality tyres that I knew of.

The cheapo cars that come past my home with their music blaring systems in the middle of the night are a bl***y nusiance. I console myself with their impending deafness, and dream on thru it now.

Re:Conspicuously inconspicuous consumption

Posted: 20 Sep 2005, 2:00pm
by tomjw
What annoys me about these large SUVs
(which, incidentally, are neither sporty or useful) is not the 4 wheel drive but their sheer stupid size. Why do people have to occupy so much road space and use so much fuel when as often as not they are transporting one person. Why do men, in particular, feel that their self-esteem demands a big vehicle ? It is tantamount to a personality disorder. The most severe cases drive round London in a Hummer.

A final point: in no way can a mountain bike be compared with one of these vehicles. They have no more environmental impact than any other sort of bike.

Re:Conspicuously inconspicuous consumption

Posted: 20 Sep 2005, 4:10pm
by Ollie
The comparison of off-road bikes and off-road cars had nothing to do with environmental concerns - are you saying that a 5-metre-long, fuel-guzzling Bentley is not as 'bad' as shorter, Range Rover that does more miles to the gallon? I understood it to be an interesting question about why we seem so enamoured by everything all-terrain. I think it might have something to do with people feeling that they are hemmed in by modern life, a culture of fear (that seems to permeate everything these days) and a widespread belief that ‘bigger is best’. Like all fashions, it will soon pass.
From a cyclist’s point of view I think the notion that some cars are ‘good’ and some are ‘bad’ is completely missing the point. I suspect that oiks in under-powered smaller cars, whilst doing more miles to the gallon, pose more of a threat to us cyclists than rich mums on the school run.

Re:Conspicuously inconspicuous consumption

Posted: 20 Sep 2005, 7:11pm
by gar
question about why we seem so enamoured by everything all-terrain. I think it might have something to do with people feeling that they are hemmed in by modern life,

We do have far, far more leisure time in the UK
today and many people live much longer to enjoy it.
The value of the right to use footpaths and bridleways has become more obvious as the years have gone by. Whereas in the 50s say 10% of the population worked in the countryside and may have used the paths/bways once in a while,
only 1% works rurally today BUT there may be 20% actually making fairly regular use of what is lawfully available to them.

I think that in some ways explains our obsession with all terrain bikes at least, and all terrain walking, jolly healthy obssessions to have.

All terrain driving is just a lack of initiative.

As a post script The Jubilee trail in Dorset here
is 73 miles long off road nearly all the way, the most delightful ride you could ever wish to go on, but you would find it difficult to do without
an all terrain bike. Curiously very few cyclists do it, and those that do enjoy the many and varied joys of nature along the way. A connoisseurs ride, not even bridleways.. but footpaths useable by cyclists without any resentment whatsoever from the footpath walking public. there are of course many such long distance routes roud the country.
On my local 1/25 there are four including the Hardy trail.

Re:Conspicuously inconspicuous consumption

Posted: 21 Sep 2005, 12:48pm
by robin
they're status symbols, i saw a guy just yesterday riding through birmingham on a Whyte full suspension jobby, about 2 grands worth of bike. he'd got his helmet and all the cycling gear on, but rode like a complete idiot. he was pumping up and down on the pedals suspension bobbing, feet on flatties in the middle of his foot. he really hadn't got a clue how to pedal properly. that bike will probably never see a bit of mud in it's life, but it looks good. he probably thinks he's really cool on his flash bike.
as for cars, in all reality it very rarely matters what car it is, if it's being driven stupidly it's being driven stupidly, whether it's a mini or a range rover. if you treat them all with the same contempt i don't think you'll go far wrong.

Re:Conspicuously inconspicuous consumption

Posted: 22 Sep 2005, 6:15am
by gar
Robin's story just makes me smile.
My handcranked is the first time I have
ever spent more than £300 on a bike.

we have off-road toys, clothes, bikes, vehicles you name it, so where did this all start

They do make the cyclists much more comfortable though don't they? The things I use and buy regularly ar the yellow luminous (there is an orange luminous now for £4.99 in Dorchester, Dorset market. and yellow for £2.99). I also buy leathers for my groin,
and waterproofs and gaiters.

All these make me throughly comfortable even in adverse conditions. The waterproofs make me ok even in the worst conditions.

My cycling choirmaster/organist uncle rarely used his Morris minor 1949, and always had his
waterproofs and gaiters in those days.