5 February 2008

Copenhagen Cycle Chic FAQs

Danskerne cykler med stil

We often get questions about various aspects of the blog. We thought we may as well answer them all at once.

Mikael started the blog back in 2007, along with Copenhagenize.com, coining the phrase Cycle Chic in the process, and quite by accident. Read more about how it all started right here.

We have some friends who blog for us as well. Mary, Andreas, Lars, for example. We also have many visitors who send us guest photos of cycle chic from around the world.
Le Flâneur
The photos came first. One photo in particular started it all off. Mikael has been involved in street photography for some time and one day he snapped a fellow cyclist in the morning rush hour. All at once a theme, a visual style and a subject was born.

The original concept remains in place. Recording the daily life of Copenhagen's bike culture by shooting street photography while on our bikes. We never ride around looking for subject matter, all of our photos are taken while we are in the midst of a commute to work, to the supermarket, to a party, what have you.

We started out by calling it "Social Documentary in High Heels" - highlighting the stylish streetsmart of Copenhagen women. There was a lot of interest for the photos on various bike groups over at Flickr.com and, when we started the blog, we were surprised to see how many popped by to have a look. Most were bike-related visitors and we soon discovered that Copenhagen bike culture was something people were fascinated by.

It evolved organically into the "Bike Advocacy in High Heels" angle - interestingly enough because that was the angle the visitors gave us. We realised that making urban biking look effortless - which it is in Copenhagen - was an inspiration to people abroad who wished for the same thing where they live.

With that said, there is a streetstyle element inherent in the blog. What are Copenhageners wearing? Denmark has always been a design mecca and fashion is a major export, so we found that many visitors were looking at that. Which is cool.

The original photo was taken like this and the visual concept stuck for while.
There are a couple of reasons for this.
Flow *
As mentioned we are, by and large, on our bikes while we shoot. Waiting for the light to change, flying along the bike lanes. It's a practical issue, really. It's a tad difficult to take photos backwards while riding a bike.

Besides, we like the aesthetic value of the shots from behind. We are inspired by two specific artistic angles:

One is 'Rückenfigur' - German for 'back figure'. It's a concept often related to romantic painters such as Caspar David Friedrich and aims to make visible what the person featured is looking at.

The other one originates with the Chinese poet Zhu Ziqing and his poem 'Seeing Father From The Back' from 1925. There is a term in Chinese called 'Backsight', meaning basically the same thing as 'rückenfigur'.

With all that said, we now take photos from all angles, looking for shots that sum up the essence of "Cycle Chic".


Good question. What started out as a social documentary of the chic inhabitants of Copenhagen's bike lanes has developed into a kind of streetstyle blog as well as a bike advocacy blog.

We choose to focus on the chic female cyclists of the city - although we do feature many men - because, well, we like chic female cyclists. They embody the freedom of a bike culture. Cycling in high heels to work or a party, skirts a'flowing, hair a'waving. It is the complete opposite of bike 'culture' in other countries.

We like this quote:
"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel...the picture of free, untrammelled womanhood." - Susan B. Anthony, American Suffragist, 1896.

We aim to highlight that bike culture is an effortless pursuit. No lycra needed. No fancy gear. Just get out and ride. Style over Speed. Man or Woman.
Moi, en hiver
It is worth mentioning that we're not alone. We're not the only ones attracted to the sight of women on bikes. It's ingrained in Danish culture.

We have been interviewed a couple of times and you're welcome to read this interview for Fine Art Fashion Blog [you'll have to scroll down or page search for 'copenhagen'].

The same interview is translated into French on the Café Mode blog on L'Express' website.

Then there is a cool interview with Momentum Magazine out of Vancouver which can be read online here.


Morten Lange (Reykjavík) said...

Hi Mikael, Marie and Lars !

Can I use pictures from this blog ?
How do you suggest I credit you, or guest photographers/bloggers ?

Thanks for a very inspirational and lively blog ( along with the others you write :-)

Best Regards, Morten

in Reykjavik, Iceland ( Chairman at LHM, see www.LHM.is )

Colville-Andersen said...

hi morten.
sure. but what would you use the photos for?

Anonymous said...

hello, i've been a silent watcher of copenhagencyclechic for a few months now, and i am really in love with this blog. I'll be going off to college soon, and I really want a bike! Thing is, I'm pretty bike ignorant/never have owned a bike, and i dont know where to start. Alot of the bikes i've seen on here are beautiful, but i wonder if i could buy any of them in the US. Could you guys point me in the direction of some good brands, etc.?

trailsnet said...

Hey Mikael, Marie, and Lars,
I love your blog. I wish we had even half of the Copenhagen cycling culture here in the good ol' US of A. I'd live on a bicycle if I could.
I have a million questions for you guys, but I'll look at more of your archival posts to see if they've already been answered first. In the meantime, I noticed you have links to numerous other sites/blogs on your blog page. I have a website/blog called trailsnet.com that posts information about accessible bike trails (such as rails-to-trails). Currently I'm covering U.S. bike trails, but I'd like to go worldwide within a year or two. Anyway, would you guys be willing to put a link to my site/post on your blog page?
Thanks and keep up the awesome blogging.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mikael, Marie and Lars,

I love your blog!

You might be interested in a dutch animation film with a lot of cycling in it.
It is called' Father and Daughter' from Michael Dudok de Wit. It is a very beautiful film!

Kind regards Berber

Maryl said...

Hello guys; Mikael, Marie and Lars.

Is there any way I cant get in contact with any of you?

Saludos from Guadalajara, México.

Cara Griffin said...

My nonprofit used an image of yours with your permission in an exhibit about sustainable design -- we want to use it again in a publication about the exhibit. How do I get in touch with you to get your permission?

We planned to credit Mikael Colville-Andersen / CopenhagenCycleChic.com -- ok?


Chief Tea Drinker said...

I hope you don't mind but I just started a blog for our City and named it Canterbury Cycle Chic in homage to you?

30minutenschwarz said...

Hi, I´m a German TV producer working for a scientific show "Odysso". I´m preparing a report about cycling in Copenhagen and I want to get in touch with you for this report. You can send me an email to
visit the show (Odysso) on facebook or at www.swr.de/odysso
Kind regards

bjones said...

Hej Mikael,

Can I use a picture from your blog? I'm doing a design study (chronicled at http://brightpd.com/blog/) on the bicycle space on the trains we have here in Austin, Texas and you've got a good picture of how that space is handled in Copenhagen.

(Jeg har boet i København fra 2008 til 2010, så ofte tænke jeg på, hvordan man cykler derover.)


Ropey said...

I want to design a cycle jersey using style over speed, are there any restrictions, Teresa new zealand

Colville-Andersen said...

If you want to make a cycling jersey with Cycle Chic's slogan - you have completely misunderstood the concept.

Unknown said...

Hi Mikael, do you fancy an intern for this summer?! Lucie - lucieboase@gmail.com