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Young urban cyclists in Europe,
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This review is from: Cycle Chic (Hardcover)
A book of photographs of mostly smartly dressed college-age women in Europe looking good riding bicycles in European cities. There are only a a few pages of text. None are studio portraits. Out of 77 riders depicted in the first chapter only 11 are male and 3 have gray hair. Only 2 older women appear in the first chapter; one in the background and the other covering her face with a hat & sunglasses. The rest are good-looking well-dressed college-age women. Everyone is bicycle riding in urban settings. No rural scenes appear. Foliage or plants only appear in 30 out of 72 photographs in the first chapter. The majority are white people. Of the 77 people depicted in the first chapter 2 are black, 2 are Arabic and 4 are Asian. The bicycles are all upright bikes with a few adult tricycles. No recumbents or bicycle races appear. This is a book about commuting.
It used to be that the only people who rode bicycles were people who could not afford cars. With the recent collapse of the World economy cycling is more of a necessity all over the World. In trying to deal with their new-found poverty the World might look to see how Europe is dealing with it. As expensive as it is to travel to Europe this is a handbook that saves you the fare. While poverty drives the World to ride bicycles, this book documents the European twist on how they do it.
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Initial post: Nov 27, 2012 7:19:10 AM PST
I disagree. People who "cannot afford" cars are not the reason why bicycles are ridden in the world. This is an extremely car-centric view point and it's exactly what the book and the entire cycle chic movement is trying to change. It's not about people riding pretty bicycles through picturesque European towns. It's about normalizing bicycling as a legitimate way of transportation that requires nothing special other than your ordinary clothes. It is about promoting freeing yourselves from the confines of your metal cage cars stuck in traffic jams indifferent to anyone around you. Times are changing and people are moving back into cities where they can walk or cycle to anything around them. They want this urban living with public transportation readily available. Anyone who has ever gotten onto a bicycle knows the joy it brings, wind in your face and the fresh air. What Europe has shown is that safe infrastructure to accomodate this healthy activity can make bicycles the most efficient way to get around town. It's fun and free and greatly reduces obesity. Copenhagen also has no fitness centers in the city because everyone cycles. Nobody is stuck in traffic on their way to ride a stationary bicycle at a gym like they do here.
The bicycle revolution came before the car revolution and it was the sudden spike in mortality that caused people in European countries to revolt against the cars. Their cities were not built for cars. Streets were built for the mobility of people in whichever way, and what the car revolution did was essentially take it away. They had to fight against the "kindermorgen", the death of their children being hit by cars playing in their streets. Highways were paved over their houses. They painted cycle lanes to make a point. They protested very hard. It's not something they are born with. They don't genetically inherit this cycling mentality. It has taken only a couple of generations through their own willpower to change their cities back and they have become the experiment to the world of this. In Paris, nobody cycled 5 years ago. A company came in and offered, in exchange for public space advertising rights, to build a bike sharing system on their own nickel and dime. The Velib became so beloved that it has changed the way Parisians and tourists commute so much that they built the safe cycle track infrastructure for it and it's become ubiquitous.
So that is why this book and this momentum started in Europe. Other nations are going through the same evolution Europe has, such as the US and China, who is ditching bicycles for cars they once could not afford. Now they are all stuck in traffic jams and smog chokes their country. Once the luxury and novelty wears off, the same thing will happen. Poverty DOES NOT drive the world to ride bicycles. The sheer joy and cheap mobility and exercise drives people to ditch their stinky cars and traffic woes to ride bicycles. The bicycle has liberated also not only the poor in third world nations who cannot afford cars, but it has played a big role in women's suffrage movements allowing them transportation under their own power. It is ONLY in this country that bicycles are only seen as recreation, such as your comment about recumbents and bike races. I highly recommend you actually read about how the invention of the bicycle actually revolutionized the world and will continue to do so because there is nothing more practical than it.
Here's a fun quote: "Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race." ~ H.G. Wells
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2012 3:24:33 PM PST
Chris T. Tran says:
Great post! I couldn't have said it better.
Posted on Feb 11, 2013 6:05:51 PM PST
Jean Luc Orsi says:
Unfortunately Vernon is right, in the mind of the majority, bicycles are linked with poverty or at least to people who cannot affordable high fuel costs.
This is only too evident in emerging third world countries where the most ostentatious cars are "the" symbol of newly acquired status and deeply rooted cultural backwardness that no oil, or metal, or gas prices can cure overnight. From China to Chile the vulgarity of nouveaux riches needs its flags, the Porsche Cayennes Turbo to drive a child to the private kindergarten, the Raptor to drive the would be investment banker, alone in his/her barge, to the tower office, the Mercedes amg to shop at the mall. Come to China and Chile to discover the highest horse power to functioning neurons ratios. On a Gallardo the average is about 245hp per neuron.
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