Who could’ve thought that we could be mentioning Mahatma Gandhi and Donald Trump in the same sentence?
But there is one thing that connects them, an everyday object which we would hardly ever attribute to a politician, a Bicycle. However, both of them had different goals to achieve from their bicycle obsession. Gandhi was trying to reach the independence of his poor stricken people and Trump trying to make more money for himself by starting a cycling race called ‘Tour De Trump, ‘ which would complete with the much appraised ‘Tour de France.’
The businessman Trump and the current United States President Trump still feel the same about global warming, oil drilling, and fewer environmental regulations because his essential purpose has always been making more money. Unfortunately, Tour De Trump was never able to threaten the popularity of Tour De France or be a strong rival. Trump ended up selling his business idea to DuPont Chemical Operation, after which it was renamed as ‘Tour DuPont.’
Elections are just some months, and President Trump is once again ready to take America by storm. Hence, we decided to discuss the exciting connection of bicycles with politicians to find out more about their attitudes and perceptions. Seeing Trump’s cycle race, we may be able to say that he strives to be a businessman to this date!
Asking questions to the respective members of the Republican and Democrat circles was almost futile; only the Democrats considered bicycles as a means of commute to reduce the rising global warming, whereas the Republicans only expected a donation! Although we did see Hillary Clinton hop onto a bicycle during vacations. The sentiments of our politicians, especially the Republicans Rick Santorum and Rand Paul were seen when they openly opposed federal funding for bicycle paths and mocked bicycles being as frivolous as turtle tunnels and squirrel sanctuaries. Similar hostility is seen in Ed Orcutt when he asked for taxes on bikes because the riders cause wear and tear to the road and exhale a greenhouse gas, CO2.
Whereas, the Democrat Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor, has spoken in favor of cycling and called for increased taxes on gasoline. Anyway, the love for cycling has never been limited to parties; many presidents, including John F Kennedy, Obama, Nixon, Reagans, and even George W Bush, rode bicycles. George W Bush was a true enthusiast. He was often found cycling official trips abroad and even in his Texas ranch! He became more dedicated after leaving the office and started the Warrior 100K race to honor the soldiers injured in Afghanistan. The man was so dedicated that he took part several months after having a stent in his heart!
On the congressional level, we have always had wide-ranging opinions on cycling from discoursing it to being dedicated cyclists. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon even uses the bicycle as his primary way of transportation; he thought of this a victory for himself because he lost weight, never got stuck in traffic or wasted time finding parking spaces and saved himself some thousands of dollars per annum!
Cycling had involved many politicians around the world, as we discussed above, Gandhi, who started his movement in South Africa when he was a young lawyer. On his return to India, he only resorted to bicycling to commute and encourages his friends and family to do the same. Many Indian leaders Arjun Ram Meghwal and Mansukh Mandavia, followed this eco-friendly and healthy alternative even after their appointments to the cabinet.
In Britain, Jeremy Corbyn and even David Cameron are both avid cyclers and were seen riding to work frequently! The new Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also amongst some of the famous cyclists! He also recognizes the benefits of riding and a bicycle and its positive impact on the environment. What many people may be unaware of is that the love for cycling us what led to the demise of the political career of former Tory Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell who while riding his bicycle was denied access to a particular street at which he swore at the police officer and dug his own grave! He not only had to resign but pay hundreds and thousands in legal fees and damages.
Many other world leaders like Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and Chairman Mao were seen cycling. The latter also broke some records while cycling. He encouraged his countrymen to ride bicycles and often gave political leaders bikes as a gift!
Now when we need cycling, most of our leaders are involved in riding big limousines and SUVs in the name of safety, indirectly causing harm to the protection of mother nature. But the problem is that even cycling enthusiast did not translate their love into effective policy making against global warming and sometimes even supported the rules against the environment. Some people are still trying to pursue their ideals by doing cycling, but they can not outweigh the number of people who couldn’t care less.