Monday, June 3, 2013

Hoping That Not All Old Things Are New Again

"The Cycles of Fashion" is an interesting read that you might want to check out. As cycling in North America transitions from an exclusive pastime of recreational competitive cyclists to a mode of transportation embraced as a part of urban living, cycling's proponents should be careful of moving from one extreme to the other. I like a pretty bicycle as much as the next person, but a cycling movement cannot be sustained on expensive bikes and high-end accessories. The message of, "Ride what you've got in what you wear everyday," cannot get lost as we get away from pricey team kits and expensive super-lightweight racing bikes. I'd hate to see a fetish for fixies or imported European bicycles prevent people from taking their old bike out of the garage and riding it. Vintage bicycles are beautiful too and super green.

The other concern voiced in the article is that the riders themselves are alienating potential riders. The first wave of cycling enthusiasts were middle class Victorians who didn't want the wrong sort among their ranks. They only advocated for infrastructure improvements in their neighborhoods and put down the "wheel" when the bicycle became accessible to the hoi polloi. We don't have to worry about that attitude these days and the cycling movement becomes more diverse everyday. I'm especially pleased by groups that have adopted cycling as a means to confront economic and heath issues in communities of color like WeCycle Atlanta and Red, Bike and Green. A post on RBG's Facebook page pointed me towards this article about the harm   "ballin' culture" is doing in the black community. The simple, unassuming bicycle is the antithesis to ballin'.

This time around we really have a movement on our hands and not just a fad. Now all we have to do is exert the power to change our streets like our cycling forebears and we'll be well on our way.

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Maira Gall