By Mark Sanders © 2011
‘Cycle Chic’ is a grass-roots movement that promotes cycling as a normal everyday transport option. It is quite distinct from the bicycle industry and its obsession with sport, speed and serious enthusiasts. Basedon using upright bicycles simply as ‘human-amplifiers’; faster than walking; using less energy; yet still wearing normal clothes and connecting with the world and fellow humans. ‘Cycle Chic’ is unlike other elitist and mainly male, bicycle movements. For example the ‘Fixie’ movement where “you must have the ‘right’ frame, forks, wheels, bottom in the air posture etc. or the ‘bike snobs’ will sneer ”. ‘Cycle Chic’ is fascinating, and an important direction for the bicycle industry to encourage, becauseit is inclusive. It celebrates bicycle use for everyone; young, old, male AND female – anyone who uses a regular bicycle as a sensible, fun and relaxing way to get from A to B. Cycle Chic websites are dismissive towards traditional sport and male orientated, cycle culture. Masters of social media, well read Cycle Chic blogs go as far as saying “No lycra here” in their mission statements. They make the point very clearly by using massesof beautiful photographs of city folk going about their daily business, using bicycles as transport. Copenhagen Cycle Chic was the original cycle chic site. Founded by Mikael Colville-Anderson in 2006, it advocates normalising urban cycling and to increasetrips by bicycle. He usesstatements such as “Style over Speed” and “Elegance over exertion”.
Amsterdam’s Marc van Woudenberg’s Cycle Chic Blog ‘Amsterdamized’ (“100%Lycra™-Free, Guaranteed”) states "Imagine a world where cycling is not seen as just recreational, a sport or in which you have to showcaseyour 'tribe membership'... Oh, and where there's absolutely no need for a so-called 'bicycle helmet'."
London Cycle Chic, posesthe question “Is it possible to cycle in London and look good? “ and answers “As a London lady who cycles and refuses to be another Lycra clad anorak...I think the answer is YES” . RebeccaNicholson, of The Guardian Newspaper wrote “.... slower machines good for leisurely rides .... You're far less likely to work up a sweat.... ”.
She goeson to say “ This hatred of clichéd cyclewear unites bike-style bloggers across Europe and the US. They share a belief that the stereotype of an aggressive cyclist in Spandex shorts and wraparound shadesdoesa great deal to harm the concept of cycling as simply a normal, everyday means of getting from one place to the next ”
Cycle Chic is helping to normalise cycling towards becoming mainstream. It attracts the other 90%‘blue ocean’ folk, who normally do not cycle, wearing normal clothes to ride normal bikes - this is a huge opportunity for the bicycle industry. Mark Sanders is a Product and Bicycle Designer, visiting lecturer at Imperial College and The Royal College of Art; his award winning products sell globally. www.mas-design.com