McMansion owners are bike haters

I know the arguments between drivers and bike riders can become quite heated but I haven’t seen this twist before regarding bike-hating McMansion owners:

It takes just five minutes on top of this bike for me to know I am good for the environment, healthy, frugal, smarter than all of y’all.

Whoa! Slow your roll, Virginia boy. Can’t you see that I’m busy saving the Earth on my bike? That SUV of yours takes up half the city. I bet you live on a huge cul-de-sac, in a McMansion with your own septic system and sad little saplings planted by the developer who chopped down all the mature trees to build that monument to yourself. I bet you don’t even recycle.

I roll my eyes at you, shake my helmet head at your obvious ignorance.

Headline of this column: “Bike lover, bike hater: Depends on whether you’re on four wheels or two.”

I’m always intrigued by the propensity in our culture to label people based on one consumer item, whether it is a McMansion or a bicycle. Here we get a classic description of a McMansion owner: because a person lives in a McMansion, they hate the earth, drive an SUV, and are generally self-centered. Granted, buying a McMansion is a large monetary choice, a home probably the biggest single investment people will make in a lifetime, and large symbolic choice as Americans have long held that one’s home should reflect those who live in them. It would be interesting to see how these single choices, McMansion or bike, line up with other consumer choices: do bike riders live in the city, tend to drive a Prius (or even better, not own a car and utilize Zipcar), and shop at Whole Foods while McMansion owners are suburbanites who tend to drive SUVs and shop at Walmart?

This is a reminder that moral values are often attached to consumer goods. Buying items isn’t simply about functionality or desires but rather indicate how a consumer views the world and what they value. Additionally, certain items, such as McMansions, are clearly viewed as moral signals by others.


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