Posts Tagged ‘cycle chic’

The Cycle Chic Debate

Not a big surprise here: I think the idea of “cycle chic” is awesome. I love the look of vintage and vintage inspired bikes, and will hopefully have one of my own soon. I have one that’s a work in progress, but it doesn’t appear to be progressing much…as someone was supposed to be painting it and that’s not happening. Cough, cough, pointed stare. I could really use one with gears and hand brakes, anyways, so it’s probably just as well! Ahem, so not the point. The point is, you can imagine my excitement when I saw that BUST magazine did an online mention of cycle chic a few months ago, and that the editorial in their latest issue (which, by the way, is totally awesome!) would feature it as well. When I saw the online article, I eagerly skimmed it and the links included, and then glanced at the comments, only to see a few comments along these lines:

This is so ridiculous it makes me sick. I am so glad ‘bicyclette chic’ has come to the states! Have fun riding in your heels ladies! Thanks Bust for for further marginalizing women in this already male dominated activity and perpetuating the idea that in order for women to do ANYTHING they have to look cute/sexy.
YUCK BUST!!

I was kind of shocked to hear this viewpoint, honestly. I hadn’t even thought of it that way, and as someone who self-indentifies as a feminist, the thought that I was perpetuating sexism by loving the cycle chic look was not a happy one! And honestly…I think the viewpoint that I am is a little simplistic. Why?

Well, for several reasons. First and foremost, nobody ever said that women HAVE to look cute to ride a bike, or that if a woman is riding a bike, she should definitely, absolutely, no-bending-the-rules-allowed be dressed to the nines. Ride a bike wearing whatever you want, people! Jeans and a t-shirt, or athletic shorts and a tank, or a cute froofy 50’s dress. As long as you’re riding a bike, I think that’s awesome, whether your outfit is aesthetically pleasing or not.

Second off, I think we can all agree that more people cycling would be a good thing (as long as they’re doing so safely and are educated about road laws, etc.!). It’s better for the environment, and it’s better for you. Part of the reason more people don’t cycle in the US, and that “cycle chic” is a new thing here, is because people view it as a sport or athletic activity rather than a mode of transporation. Showing people (who, yes, might care about how they look) that it’s not necessary to wear spandex to cycle makes it seem like a more normal and desirable transportation option. I’m not saying that someone who’s never ridden a bike before should immediately start while wearing a pair of four inch heels, but there’s no reason that a seasoned bike rider has to switch to flats to ride if they don’t want to. That makes cycling to a destination more convenient, which makes people more likely to do so!

Oh, and as far as finding vintage bikes, I’m finding that the same methods I used while shopping for vintage sewing machines tend to work well - check garage sales and Craigslist thoroughly, as well as small shops. I have no idea how we’d have found this place if we hadn’t stopped by the temp agency across the street for Matt, but last week we discovered a tiny little shop that had all kinds of vintage bikes - I even found a folding Yusi bike - most starting at $60. They might require a little TLC, though. And my mother, lucky duck that she is, found an awesome vintage red and white Schwinn on Craigslist for free - it just needed new tires. In a bigger city, that isn’t anywhere near as likely to happen, but it can’t hurt to check!

This is, of course, just my viewpoint, and I’m not entirely sure how much its worth as I haven’t started cycling on a regular basis yet. I do think it’s an interesting thing to think about, though!

PS - Re: Helmets. I gather that these are quite the source of contention in the cycling community/subculture, as several people feel that accidents are usually the fault of automobile drivers/poorly designed streets/etc, and so the responsibility shouldn’t fall on the cyclist to have to wear a helmet. I don’t feel qualified to contribute to that debate, but I’m linking to a few sources for decent-looking helmets anyways. And the reason that helmets are so rare on places like Copenhagen Cycle Chic is that biking is such a normal mode of transportation there, the chances of accidents are very small and helmets aren’t considered necessary. So don’t fret about the Scandinavian fashionistas in the photos!

Suggested reading:

Let’s Go Ride a Bike - for someone who wants more than just photos. I’ve linked there before, it’s a great blog, and if either of its authors have anything to add in the comments I would absolutely love to hear it!  They’ve covered fab bike bags and the best skirts to cycle in, among many many other things, and I would definitely recommend the blog to anyone who wants the insight of two intelligent ladies who regularly use cycling as a mode of transportation.

List of helmet laws by state

Bikelaws.org has given a grade to several different states and their bike laws. I would highly recommend checking with local officials or literature to see what the laws are before going out, as it can vary from city to city.

How Not to Get Hit by Cars

How to Ride Your Bike in Style - a cute little Instructable

Places to get cute helmets:

Bern helmets have a minimalist, almost equestrian feel and come in a variety of colors.

Yakkay helmets look just like a hat with a chin strap, and there’s several variations!

Nutcase helmets are a standard shape, but have TONS of different prints and colors.

And, of course, cycle chic eye candy!

Copenhagen Cycle Chic

Velo Vogue

London Cycle Chic

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