I have a confession that I’m afraid to share: I often wear cycling gear when I commute to work and I own a boring hybrid bike that won’t win any beauty contests. For those of you who just gasped, rest assured that other times you’ll usually find me riding my bike in a skirt. All the same, I’m feeling very uncool these days because I sometimes like “gear” and don’t have one of the cute bikes advertised in Momentum Magazine. Apparently, my failings are discouraging the growth of bike riding in Metro Vancouver.
A Cycle Chic movement is trying to take hold in Vancouver and I have reservations about it. In the simplest terms, Cycle Chic, founded in Copenhagen, is “the art of riding bicycles in regular, preferably fashionable, clothes… [it] aims to take back the bike culture by showing how the bicycle once again can be an integral, respectable and feasible transport form, free of sports clothes and gear, and how it can play a vital role in increasing the life quality in cities.” While I strongly support the goals of Cycle Chic, I have a problem with the movement’s shallow emphasis on fashion and style.
The only thing you need to ride a bike is access to a bike. Any bike. We should wear what we want and stop judging other people who are riding bikes. If we want more people to ride bikes in Vancouver, we need to permit individuality. Be comfortable and practical, wear gear if you want to, don a helmet if that’s your choice, ride only in underwear or put on your fanciest suit. Just be yourself on your bike and let others do the same.
Vancouver is not Copenhagen or Amsterdam. Bike riding is increasing in our city and we’re going to develop a bike culture our own way. It will recognize the uniqueness of our history, geography and climate, and it’s going to be remarkable.