26 February 2010

Pretty Girl on a Bicycle and Profiteering

Pretty Girl on a Bicycle
Back in Bicycle Culture 1.0, at the turn of the last century, the sudden and massive societal shift that followed the invention of the bicycle was most profound because of the urban mobility that women enjoyed.

"Pretty girl on a bicycle" has been a cultural icon ever since, not least in Danish history and on this blog. Back then the visual delight that was overwhelming the streets of cities all over the world was used and exploited in many ways. Like the advert, above. It's for a barber and he's sucking in the reader with a headline that he knew would appeal. A fine example of the powerful symbol that is the Cycling Girl.

Bicycle Clothing
The bicycle craze of Bicycle Culture 1.0 caused many people to realise that they could make some money off of it. They tried to convince people that they needed special clothes for the simple act of riding a bicycle.

Above, it's 'bicycle wear' they're selling. You know what? It's just a corset. Virtually identical to all the corsets women already had in their closets. Like with all the modern 'cycling clothes' people are trying to sell you these days, in the midst of Bicycle Culture 2.0, the clothes in your closet are sufficent.

Anything you can walk in, you can ride a bicycle in, as we here at Cycle Chic show each and every day. Overcomplicating the issue with modern versions of this corset doesn't help mainstream cycling.

Seriously?... people are actually designing "urban cycling trousers". Oooh. they look like REGULAR jeans but they're for CYCLING. Get off my internet with this crap. How on earth have we cycled for 125 YEARS without products like these?! Pure profiteering - and overcomplication. Sending all the wrong messages.

All you need is a bicycle. All you've ever needed is a bicycle.

Now that we're returning the bicycle to its rightful place on the urban landscape and redemocratizing it for Citizen Cyclists, let's keep our eye on the ball and do it properly. Free of fear mongering and false products.

Bicycle Bell Advert
Just so we're clear on this... 'Cycle Chic' [as we coined the phrase] certainly means welcoming additions, developments and improvements on stuff people actually need. Gorgeous bike bells, for example. Things that make your bicycle lovely. Things that serve a practical design function for urban living in general. Thumbs up for all that.


maggie said...

I'd love to have that bell!! Mine's got a big eyeball on it that spins around on a gimbal. The helmet link was interesting - I don't know if helmet are mandatory here in Portland, but everyone wears them. I feel like you're sort of "shamed" if you don't. I actually find it impedes my vision a bit.

Freedom Cyclist said...

hear! hear!

Unknown said...

Do the three cable cardigans I purchased at a bargan price at Target count as bicycle wear?

On the helmet front, helmets are really pushed in Flagstaff. Kids have to wear them by law or they can be ticketed. The PD also gives them away I believe. I'm in the beginning stages of organizing a Tweed ride this summer (our city's first) and I don't plan to wear one. I'll probably be shamed but much as I love my cute Nutcase helmet, it won't go with the "outfit".

Anneke said...

While I totally agree that any and all clothing will do for cycling, I don't think I'd cycle as much if I had to wear a victorian corset! :D

Beck said...

I'll pass on the corset but where do I get one of those bells?!

I have finally figured out a compromise with my helmet. Legally I have to wear one and I have to be seen to be obeying the law for my kids. So I wear one but I don't do up the chin strap. Call it childish defiance (the schoolboy undone tie), but it's much more comfortable and it also triggers fun debates with people who have never considered that there might be any disadvantage to cycle helmets.