Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Add another word to your vocabulary folks: toodling. (I wrote about it at my Globe blog earlier). Sometimes you're not riding anywhere in particular; you're just out and about for fun. You're not commuting, you're toodling. I've been looking for this word for a while. Previously, I've used "cruising" but I think that word is too loaded with car imagery.
Bike commuters can toodle and toodlers can be bike commuters. Maybe toodling is a pre-commuting form of cycling. Of course, it can also be nothing more than getting out on the bike to toodle around the neighborhood. Any way you look at it, I think toodling represents the disconnect some cyclists feel with the bicycle's role in the fashion world. Neither the bikes nor the cyclists seem serious enough.
How am I going to get to work on a one-speed Dutch bike--there are hills on my commute?! Bike in a dress and heels, you must be kidding? I doubt anyone at Vogue was thinking about your commute when they chose to put a model on a bicycle. They were thinking about looking chic on a bicycle. And they very seriously considered the heels and the dress that the model is toodling about in. No one said you had to go far to be cycle chic or that the trip had to be one of necessity. Toodling pretty much represents the high- fashion take on cycling.
Until recently the symbol of toodling has been an expensive, imported Dutch bike available in your nicer bike shops in your larger American cities. But now I believe we'll be seeing fast, cheap, alluring bikes available to the masses in chain stores like Target and Urban Outfitters. Those adjectives seem incongruous with an activity as slow as toodling, but I think these kinds of bikes will cultivate tons of toodlers who--if they don't become bike commuters--will probably become respectful motorists outside of the saddle. Moreover, more seats in saddles encourages those who do want to commute and pushes the big-time bike makers to create bikes with civilized accessories/bells and whistles that commuters and toodlers will find attractive instead of focusing their energies on sporty bikes.
On a personal note, I applaud any American bike company that makes a bike with a skirt guard! That looks like really stepping out on faith when there's only one American retailer even selling skirt guards (that I know of). I hope that millions of people leave the malls of America this spring with new bikes. Chances are they won't be able to reach the mall on their bikes, but that's okay, I'm sure they'll discover new, local places to patronize.