27 October 2009

Cycle Chic Guide #6: Safe Bicycles

The Cycle Chic Guide to Safe Bicycles is really quite a simple concept. It all starts in our childhoods when our mothers taught us to sit up straight. All we need to do is apply this simple advice to riding bicycles.

The invention of the so-called 'Safety' Bicycle around 130 years ago was a revelation and and revolution. It provided easy and effective urban mobility for the masses and the masses were quick to hop on board.

Prior to the invention of the Safety bicycle, bikes were the domain of the sub-cultural upper classes who got their kicks on the contraptions by racing them and trying to outdo each other in daredevil stunts. Calling the design of the bicycle that we still use today the 'Safety' bicycle was simply a marketing move aimed at distancing the bicycle from the speedfreaks and 'daredevils' in order to sell bicycles to women and men in the other classes.

If all this sounds familiar it's because we are currently revisiting this pivotal point in bicycle history once again. In many Emerging Bicycle Cultures the male-dominated adrenaline crowd have had decades to brand cycling as a sport or adrenaline-based recreational activity, with little or no opposition to their marketing.

Now, fortunately, we are all very aware of the importance of urban mobility, creating liveable cities and using the bicycle as a tool to re-establish bicycle culture in urban centres around the world - and harvesting all the fruits that this move entails. These are exciting times for urban cycling.
new rapid ladys safety
Bicycle advert from the late 1800's.
So, is the upright Safety bicycle safe? Yes, it is. There is a very good reason that it has been the most popular bicycle on the planet for more than a century. If you morphed all the bicycles in the world right now into one bicycle, you'd end up with an upright model. It would probably be black, with three speeds and a chainguard/skirtguard and coaster brakes.

Why is the upright bicycle safe? First of all, have a look at the two girls in the photo at the top. Look at their posture. Not only pleasing their mothers, it is elegant. But more than that, this upright posture means that their centre of gravity is in much the same spot as it is when they are walking. Homo sapiens have been around for about 200,000 years and prior to that, other upright-walking species have spent around 2 million years evolving this all-important centre of gravity to near-perfection. In other words, our centre of gravity is quite handy in helping us get around. In addition, it is something that we use every single day in almost every move we make. We're quite good at using it.
Inner City
Look at the people on bicycles in this shot and compare their posture with the pedestrians in the background. There is little difference. All the centres of gravity are pretty much the same.

Compare this to the riding position on, for example, racing bikes. The upper body is pitched forward, which causes the centre of gravity to shift. In this position the point is dangling in mid-air somewhere over the crossbar. Just think about braking sharply. Your body must battle to keep the weight of your upper body from chucking you forward, which is unnatural for homo sapiens. In an upright position, your body knows how to readjust itself for this sudden stopping motion, much like when you stop suddenly when walking or jogging.

The racing position is great for people who... well... race or who like to go fast. Works perfectly for them, which is super. If you look at established bicycle cultures, the majority of people don't wish to adhere to this way of riding, prefering to merely use the bicycle as a quick and easy tool for getting around and wearing the clothes they have in the closets to do so. Not surprisingly, the upright bicycle is more often than not their vehicle of choice.

To illustrate the relaxed and natural upright position, here's a little film from Copenhagen. The majority of the people on bicycles in the film are using this safe, natural posture, on bicycles built for this purpose. This upright posture also raises you up above the cars, making you more visible on the urban landscape, instead of being hidden amongst the traffic, crouched over.

Go Tete de la Course
Acceleration on upright bicycles is also much easier, simply because your centre of gravity remains, largely, the same. You just stand up and assume even more of a walking posture.

Even if you have to lean a bit forward to accelerate a bit quicker the leaning forward motion is still not over-exaggerated, allowing you to maintain that all-important centre of gravity instead of tilting it into a more unstable position.

Shoulder Checking
Girl Executing Right Turn
Much the same physics applies to the simple but important task of keeping an eye on what's around you, including traffic. Walking down the street and turning your head to see if the bus is coming is not far removed from sitting upright on a bicycle and turning your head to perform a shoulder check. Your balance is stable.

Try sitting at a table and lean over it, as though you were on a racing bicycle. Then try to perform a shoulder check. Odds are you'll be mostly checking your shoulder, as opposed to the traffic. If you want to get a clearer view, you'll have to shift your centre of gravity to the side. Rather unnatural for humans, not to mention unstable. Sure, you could look under your arm, like racing cyclists do, but then you're removing your vision almost completely from what's ahead of you. Not advisable.

While you're at the table, leaning over, try looking straight ahead. Your neck is not in a comfortable position the way you have to keep it lifted up. This isn't a problem you'll have when you're sitting up straight.

All of this is basic physics and we don't need a PhD to understand it. There is, however, a number of scientific studies showing that upright bicycles with step-through frames are integral in reducing accidents. Marc at Amsterdamize posted a piece about the healthy posture. And a ten-year study of bicycle accidents featuring elderly cyclists in Sweden by Ulf Björnstig at Umeå University resulted in him advocating step-through frames and lower seat heights. April Streeter over at Treehugger did a piece about this: Swedes Conclude: Girls' Bikes Safer

Besides the safety aspects of the upright bicycle, the design encourages you to have a look around your city when you ride, instead of speeding off. You'll notice more on your daily ride and, indirectly, feel more of a part of your city. This sense of community is a fantastic bonus.

Interesting, the rapid growth in sales of bicycles that feature "Easy Boarding", or a frame that makes it even easier to get on or off the bicycle, is an indication that the upright bicycle is experiencing yet another renaissance. Originally designed for the elderly, these easy boarding models are quickly going mainstream, thanks to their ultra low frame.

By way of illustration, the Danish brand MBK Cykler has this Queen Shopping model.

Biria in the States sell some fine looking 'easy boarding' bicycle models, too.

In earlier Cycle Chic guides we have offered up some opinions that relate to this post:
- Cycle Chic's Top 10 Gorgeous Bicycles
- Cycle Chic Guide: Gentlemen Prefer Bicycles
- Cycle Chic Guide to Choosing a Bicycle

And remember... Style over Speed is actually the greatest safety slogan in the history of cycling. Take it easy and enjoy the ride.


Amsterdamize said...

Of course this feels to me like you're telling a story about vacuum cleaners :), but adding: it's also the most healthy posture.

Erik Sandblom said...

Hats off to Mikael!

I was just having a week-long helmet war and was wondering how to approach the safety issue without having people massively risk-compensate.

And along comes this fine guide. Well done!

Dave Schlabowske said...

I enjoy cycling in densely populated Copenhagen and Amsterdam when I am visiting. I ride those short trips on whatever bike someone loans me with pleasure. If I am visiting freinds in Hellerup though, I put that Iron Horse on the S trail to get into town because it is easier and faster.

Similarly I enjoy riding an Electra Amsterdam around my neighborhood in Milwaukee, WI USA. But the 10 km trip to work has lots of big hills which makes the electra Amsterdam no fun. I could put the Amsterdam on the bus, but that is slow. So, I switch to a more forward leaning bike for the commute trip. I have a few nice options to choose from that are more upright than my racing bikes, but I am still able to stand and pedal easily and have a more efficient stroke when seated. With all the hills, I much prefer that forward leaning postion for a long hilly ride.

kfg said...


To be fair the Amsterdam has more serious geometry problems than its being upright. It is unlike the bikes shown here. I wouldn't want to ride it the 10km uphill all the way to one of my favorite lunch spots, but have no problem doing so on my one speed U frame with riser bars, which allows me to stand just fine.

If you took the MBK in the picture and drew it on a drafting board you would find its geometry is the same as a good, drop bar touring bike. If you put drop bars on it and raised the stem so that the bar tops were at the level of the top of risers, you would have a nice semi-upright position that still allowed you to use the drops into the wind or for out of the saddle climbing power.

The same will not work with an Electra Amsterdam.

When using drops be aware of the caveat in the article Amsterdamize links to. Do not collapse the spine. Arch it so that the back forms a C. The spine is designed to arch like a cat's (or, more accurately, like a, ya know, primate's) and to PREVENT it going sway backed. Allowing your back to sway can indeed cause spinal injury. The fixie riders pictured in that article do indeed have horrible posture; you'll find that racers ridicule it mightily and do NOT ride like that, nor do experienced club/touring cyclists.

Kiwehtin said...

Wonderful article! If I had time to do more than just write comments, I would have put something like that together a long time ago. I have always felt that the geometry of a bike - and consequently its rider - is a major contributor to what happens when you are forced to a sudden stop. Still, I would love to see if there are scientific studies that confirm my idea that the centre of gravity and posture difference actually does affect your ability to come to a stop in a safe position rather than flying over the handlebars.

By the way, Biria is (originally) a German company. They do sell their bikes in the US, yes - I first saw one at CityBikes when I lived near Washington DC - but their home market (was) Germany. I tried finding their Biria.de web site but it no longer comes up. I checked them up on the web and found a German Wikipedia page saying that they had gone insolvent and been bought up, as well as having problems with a strike and government funding that they had to pay back. Pity. They had a very interesting line of bikes, including their Hawk Classic brand.

Jason Tinkey said...

a few years ago, a friend gave me a road bike he had fixed up. it was the first time i'd ridden a bike since high school. the ride home was fine, though i felt a bit wobbly on those narrow wheels. three blocks from home, i hit a pothole and flew over the handlebars, breaking my hand and ruining the front wheel in the process.

today, i sit straight up on a nice heavy batavus with big fat tires and the worst chicago potholes are nothing.

kfg said...

Kiwehtin: The short answer is no. The long answer is rather more complicated and results in a provisional yes.

Such is the nature of reality. It is writ in grayscale, not black & white.

I will note, however, that I have paid my dues and bear the mark of the "serious cyclist", which is to say that I have broken my collarbone; by going over the DROP bars in a panic stop.

Kiwehtin said...

To kfg-

I'm not sure what you're answering here... Are you saying that there aren't any scientific studies like I was asking about, on the effect of geometry and posture on the physics of accidental stops? I'm finding myself rather confused by the delphic phrasing of your response... Would love an explanation of what you were trying to tell me.


Anonymous said...

Last weekend I (road bike owner) was in a hurry to get some beer. For convenience I grabbed my wife's bike (balloon tire beach cruiser). I was, and still am jealous at the comfort of her bike. I am quite close to converting.

kfg said...

"I'm not sure what you're answering here.."

Yeah, after I wrote that I realized I had not defined myself explicitly enough. Sorry.

If you are interested in the physics of bicycling you could do a lot worse than getting a copy of the classic work Bicycling Science: Ergonomics and Mechanics; Whitt & Wilson; MIT Press, now in its third addition. Perhaps your local library has/can get a copy, but I was referring to the actual dynamics and the problem is that it is, well, dynamic.

It's all simple Newtonian mechanics, but the ultimate answer is - it depends.

The behavior of the rider is the critical factor, because the rider is both the most massive and dynamic element of a bike. Watch a sidecar "monkey." Speaking purely of the physics the lower and farther back the center of gravity the less the tendency to go over the bars; thus the DROP bar bike is less likely to endo IF you brake from the drops, slide back in the seat AND brace your arms against the bars to counter your own inertia. A non expert cyclist isn't likely to behave in this manner, however. If you brake a drop bar bike from the tops with heavy weight on the bars your weight is forward, high and you can't properly brace against the bars, so over you go.

An upright bike naturally places the center of gravity higher, but naturally further back, with the bars in FRONT of you rather than under so you can more naturally brace against them (although less effectively); and if you do not change your position on the bike does not CHANGE its basic handling characteristics. Although less optimum for braking, the non expert cyclist is more likely to remain in control of the bike, because they can more accurately predict its behavior and adjust their own accordingly.

kfg said...

". . .now in its third addition."

Or edition even. Need . . . more . . . coffee.

Unknown said...

I want to accept at face value advice on safe cycling from a site that glorifies slick leather-soled high-heeled shoes as appropriate cycling attire. I really do...

Center of gravity means everything. Lower is better-- especially at slower speeds. Then there's the knotty issue of dodging roadway hazards (potholes, etc)... Further, efficiency is seriously compromised when one sits back. Not everyone aspires to be a sport cyclist, but in hilly areas an efficient riding position and posture are safer--both for maintaining control of the cycle, and for avoiding injuries.

Not saying an upright posture isn't comfortable, but your arguments for enhanced visibility are long on emotion, but short on fact. What works seated at a coffee table has little or no relevance to what works at, say, 15 kp/h.

I love this site, but in this article, you seriously veer out of your area of experience. Best to advise on matters asthetical, and encourage people to follow their passions. Your arguments are a bit facile, and the studies you cite pertain mostly to elderly cyclists, for whom a different set of limitations apply.

Keep up the good work, but be careful when stating opinion as fact.

Colville-Andersen said...

we'll agree to disagree then, shall we?

i've yet to see studies that confirm a forward leaning position is safer than an upright one. send them along if you have them.

the point is that regular people can cycle in slick leather-soled high-heeled shoes and do, without any trouble.

there are 100 million everyday cyclists in Europe according to the European Cyclists Federation. There are probably more high heels on any given day than total cyclist in other regions of the world. :-)

you're welcome to your opinion about the post, and i enjoyed reading it and i welcome it. but really, aren't we both just stating opinions as fact?

Colville-Andersen said...

oh, and this is how you deal with slick high-heels shoes on pedals - Copenhagen style.

Pierre said...

Reversing what the cycling world has known for a century...

Unfortunately, while the pictures are nice, the upright kind of riding is only good for short, relatively easy distances... suitable for people on bikes rather than cyclists.

There is a happy medium between that, and the exaggerated, nonsensical triathlon/road bike riding position. Even Dr. Ruffier and Velocio didn't ride upright decades ago. But neither did they ride with their behind in the stratosphere and their nose on the ground.

Frankly, I think both Cycle Chic and Bike Forums advice is wrong.

Amsterdamize said...

Pierre...I suppose you're a real cyclist?

I think you should try one before making any judgments about them being only suitable for short / easy distances. Meanwhile I'll tell the people I know who ride these for long distances, for tours around the country and trips abroad to stop being so ridiculous.
- Tongue firmly planted in cheek.-

Unknown said...

The only time I was ever hurt on a bike was riding a hybrid and taking a right turn fairly fast, hitting loose gravel and flying over the handlebars onto my arms, which turned black over the next few days and left me unable to lift anything higher than my mouth for weeks. Now that I ride a Dutch Oma, I've never felt in danger of tipping or sliding. I do go a bit slower, but I can put my foot down to steady myself if need be (rarely), and I'm much more visible to cars when riding on streets -- I'm actually higher than drivers' roofs. Plus the easy stop and start is better for the urban riding I do than the more aggressive posture bikes ever were.

It's also psychological: on hybrid or racing bikes, you want to go faster because that's the way your body is positioned and when you slow down, you wobble. Sitting upright, by constrast, makes it easier to go slow while staying steady.
Since I ride in the mostly flat central city areas of Portland, often carry stuff from the gym or the store or whatever, and most of my rides are under 3-5 miles, a Dutch bike is just about ideal: much smoother, more stable and more comfortable (especially on my back and wrists) ride than a hybrid. Even if I had a faster, lighter bike with different rider geometry, I probably wouldn't get where I'm going much faster because it's city riding with stop lights, stop signs and traffic. And it sure wouldn't be as enjoyable -- I know, because that's exactly what I did before I got my Oma.

Looking forward to seeing you Portland this week, Mikael.

Adrienne Johnson said...

@ Pierre- I have a deep step through, upright, Dutch bike. It is a tank. I rode it 30 miles on Sunday and 20 miles on Monday. Each day I had a 45 lb child on the back. Each day I rode it around San Francisco, CA. We do not understand the term "flat". It is time to get over the idea that only certain bikes do certain things. All bikes go, some do some things better than others, but the all go.

@Mikael- My step through has a rather odd sticker on it that reads "Easy Entry" which has always made me think my bike may be a bit lacking in decorum.

Darling Pretty said...

fantastic read.

Saschi said...

There is room for everybody.
Two or three things come to my mind:
in this blog upright and dutch style bikes are of ten associated with slow and thus with safe. While this is generally not outright wrong (you CAN go fast with this stuff!) two intervening factors:
a) hills (lot of them in Germany ,none in DK and NL) ANY bike is a fast race bike downhill!
b) new electric support: my Granny can go 30 with that.

Therefore: bikes are generally safe, but also dont be naive: a bike is not a pedestrian concerning its energy potential.
So it is not helpful to reinforce this naivety (no, this is NOT negative advertisung!)

Therefore (among other things: I think it is for example not helpful to have pictures of cyclists with a headset on while cycling (like one girl in this post). I have been nearly run over by those two or three times already.
Also I really appreciate colleagues using bikes with working brakes, lights etc. Safer for them, safer for me.
By the way, just for info: you can look to the back from a race bike position quite well, you just look "under your arm". No big deal.

Pierre said...

If anything, upright is harder on the back. It's better to have a forward-leaning posture with a slightly arched back.

In my previous comment, if you take the time to read it all, I'm not advocating a racing position, just a moderate, sensible forward-leaning position. There are many non-racing bikes which are suitable for this. Even in the old days, on what today we would consider to be city bikes, the grips on the handlebars or the handlebars themselves (depending on the style of handlebar) were relatively low - about the same height as the saddle or a bit lower. This is because it's both comfortable, safe and much more efficient than trying to pedal a heavy bike using only your thigh muscles.

Sure, there's always someone who has struggled through a 30 mile ride riding upright in a headwind. So what? Why do it the hard way?

I've been riding since the 1960's, so, yes, I suppose that might make me a "cyclist", as opposed to a stylish person on a bike.

Colville-Andersen said...

Salut Pierre: I bet you look funny walking around Montreal like that. With a forward-leaning posture with a slightly arched back.

lagatta à montréal said...

Pierre, c'est un Montréalais?

We have one so-called mountain (high hill) other than that just banal climbs, and I must be about Pierre's vintage.

I'll have to get a camera - I see so many chic cyclists, male and female, passing by on the street beneath my home office, at marché Jean-Talon and elsewhere. One lass had a matching deep purple béret and muffler. Wow.

William said...

Geometry, schmeometry.

while "safe and slow", or "unsafe at any speed" are terms that seem self-evident, do be careful that you do not mistake them for everlasting truth.

There are upright bikes upon which no man looks stylish - there are upright bikes which are built for speed - there are crouch-model bikes which aren't really all that fast - and while none of these may be typical bikes, they do still exist in large numbers.

There also exists, in large numbers, myths about natural positions which are 'good' for you, which are borne out of lack of deeper understanding of the way the human body really works.

(there are diagrams out there which equate the human spine with a straight rod, drawing the conclusion that any impact to the rump is transferred directly to the brain, while the spine is in truth more or less 's'-shaped, even when we stand)

The basic truth is that if you get there on time and can use the bikes several hours each day without pain, it's good enough. If you often feel yourself striving towards an unattainable position (letting go of the handlebars so you can sit upright, for example), then the bike isn't right for you.

kfg said...

". . .deeper understanding of the way the human body really works."

Hint: We were not really designed to walk upright, but are a rather kludgey adaptation of critters designed to go about on all fours.

"If you often feel yourself striving towards an unattainable position (letting go of the handlebars so you can sit upright, for example)"

Actually, I find this position quite attainable and being able to ride like this for miles at a time one the required attributes of my drop bar bikes. How else would I play penny whistle while riding?

Unknown said...

Quick note: That Pierre is another Pierre, who might or might not be a fellow Montrealer of mine. Do not accept any substitute! ;-)

My city bike (a Marin Belvedere 2008) seems to be in a middle ground, where I'm only slightly bent forward, and I feel rather safe as far as flying over the handlebars go. Maybe it's my old mountain biking experience poking through, but I like being mostly straight up, as it allows me to get up a little and move my behind further back when braking hard, moving my center of gravity back.

I'm shopping around for a more relaxed and dignified city bike, an ANT Light Roadster if I can scrape up serious funds, otherwise maybe a Globe Live 3?

Anonymous said...

I have both a road bike and an upright bike. I love both. I love the speed and responsiveness of my road bike as it “floats” up hills. But I also like my upright bike taking it easy and enjoying the sights. Both are fine and safe they just different ways

If I may relate it to cooking. It’s like different types of Bar-B-Q. You can cook your steak fast and quick on high heat or your ribs low and slow. They both are going to taste good.

Erika said...

One reason why I don't bike ride anymore is that racing culture you describe; the other is the steep hills in my city. In much of the U.S., it's all or nothing. Either you're decked out in spandex, speeding on a racer bike at 25 mph or you don't ride at all.

Unknown said...

@Erika: That's really too bad! I'm no racer myself, but while I understand (and sometimes share!) the "need for speed", that really shouldn't stop "normal people" from riding at whatever speed they find comfortable. Biking as a fun mean of transportation is well alive in some US city, even some that have steep hills, like San Francisco! There, cyclists are more likely to wear tight jeans than spandex, really! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I've been using a bike for transportation on and off since the mid 70s - long before most "cycle chic" bloggers were even born - and I've never, repeat, never, gone over the handlebars while braking on a drop bar bike.
Blaming spandex and racing for the lack of cycle commuters is ridiculous. I've been seeing utility bikes in the shops for years. People buy them, but don't bother to ride them. They're afraid of traffic, or they don't bother to learn to shift gears, or they're just plain lazy.
Why would you want to limit yourself to just one kind of bike and one style of riding anyway? Buzzing around to the shops on an upright bike is fun - but so is blasting down a country road on a fast road bike, drafting your club mates.

Colville-Andersen said...

what works fine for you doesn't necessarily work fine for the general population.

there are 500,000 daily cyclists in copenhagen. only a fraction of them can associate with this idea of "blasting down a country road on a fast road bike, drafting your club mates".

for the general population, 'cycling' is merely the quickest way to get around their city, not a hobby/fetish/recreational activity.

we've all been licking stamps and sending letters for years but very few of us are members of stamp collecting clubs.

oh, and i was around in the mid-70's, on a bicycle.

Anonymous said...

Well, maybe you have to be a female who grew up with a rigidly conservative mother in the 60s to understand. I don't associate riding in a dress with freedom, it brings back depressing memories of being nagged constantly to be more "ladylike" and only being allowed to wear pants and skirts on Saturday - here in Canada. Where it gets down to -37 C in the winter.
I'm a bit fed up with the "We invented the wheel!" attitude of some of these cycle chic blogs. I can't remember a time when there weren't basic utility bikes in the shops and I can't ever remember seeing many of them in actual use. And I'm getting a bit sick and tired of being told I'm some sort of weirdo because I like other forms of cycling, wearing fit for purpose clothes, and that it's somehow my fault that more people don't ride bikes to work!
Yes, I used to race, I have the medals and trophies to prove it. Now I'm a middle aged woman and I think that someone my age might be more inspired by the sight of my grey-haired plump-bodied self on a bike than some 20 year old in silly looking high-heeled boots.

Anonymous said...

If you want a easy comfortable QUICK way to commute local or city a Safety bike is just the easiest. I have cycled since the mid 70s I drive a car too I own three bikes at the moment and I have one right outside my door locked. If I want fun I use the mountain bike. If I want transport I usually use the safety. Its just easier quick and more enjoyable then driving in a car or walking.
Racing bikes are great I still want to hang the guy that nicked my old one but for getting around its just easier to use the safety.
If God had meant us to walk he would not have given us the bicycle.

PS There is an industry problem A new bike shop opened near me last year they did not have one bike on sale that came with mudgards or lights fitted. I ask the sales guy if he had any bikes for commuting and he tried to sell me one without mudgards. I live in Ireland we do rain big time. So a bike shop in Ireland sells bikes with mudgards as extras. That just shows that there is a problem with how the industry thinks about their bikes in the English speaking world.

lagatta à montréal said...

To "Anonymous 10 November 2009 08:29",

My mum didn't even let me ride a bicycle as a child while of course my brother had one - I bought my first bicycle as a teenager and taught myself to ride it. But I do like dresses and especially skirts (with tights or leggings in cold weather). I'm also middle-aged and plump (a lot of us past a certain age would be far worse if we didn't cycle) and there would certainly be grey in my hair if I didn't colour it.

What on earth is wrong with trying to look pretty - or smartly-dressed if a man? It isn't letting the feminist side down; I like people of whatever sex, age or sexual orientation to make an effort to look nice.

Not all the people shown on this board are in their 20s; there are definitely examples of well-turned-out cyclists, male and female, of our vintage and older.

It rarely gets down to -37c in southern Canada except on the Prairies, and a minority of us cycle in the depths of winter. More will as the cycle paths are more systematically ploughed.

Confess that the thought of middle-aged, plump bodies squeezed into lycra fitness gear when riding along city streets is not the most appetising, but to be fair men are the far more common offenders, at least in my experience.

The idea of this blog is, well yes to promote street style, but also to counteract the prevailing idea that cycling is only a competitive sport and requires a lot of expensive "gear". If you don't like the vision behind this blog, you will find many on the subject of racing, mountain-biking and "gear". It takes all kinds, but mass cycling has to be welcoming to people wearing the normal clothes they wear to go to work in.

Colville-Andersen said...

well said, lagatta.

if a small majority like sports/recreational cycling more power to them.

selling cycling to the masses will never work if this minority are the only voice out there.

we've all licked stamps and sent letters but few of us are members of a stamp collecting club.

redemocratizing cycling to the general public is the goal, whether the minority like it or not.

Anonymous said...

How do you feel about recumbents?

Anonymous said...

I just love my new old fashioned Batavus. Had to go 9km to town the other morning just could not face the car as it was rush hour. So put on my two piece single breasted suit and crisp white shirt and cycled in sitting bolt upright ( ankle, knee,hip,shoulder and ear in line) it was easy comfortable and a real pleasure. It took me 25 mins I locked the bike outside the front door of the office where I had the meeting. No shower needed, no clothes change needed, no need to pay or look for parking. Very easy and stress free.
Yet I could see that many people on the way in cars and at bus stops were a little surprised to see someone on a bike in a suit when all around me every one on a lean forward bikes were dressed in oceans of "special cycling clothes"
From my experience from the many bikes I have owned over the years is as soon as you lean forward you put more weight over the point of effort ( ie pedal) therefore you can push down with more effort, result is more speed plus you increase body temp etc.
Also you lean forward on a bike and the revolutions per min just tend to go up.

Everbody that goes to Amsterdam or Copenhagen just rave about people using bikes and how we wish our own cities were like this. The soloution is easy if you like the look of that bike culture just ride the same type of bike.