Bicycle Diaries: <i>Pedaling Revolution</i>

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Pedaling Revolution

how cyclists
are changing
American cities

Over at the NYTimes, David Byrne reviews Jeff Mapes's new book, Pedaling Revolution. Byrne highlights two fascinating points. First, biking won't truly take off until more women join the Vélotariat. This is especially true with celebrity women such as actress Jennifer Aniston and model Agyness Deyn. Second, the challenge of getting women on bikes is the crazy, contradictory attitudes most Americans have about biking. On the one hand, bikes are viewed as bright, shiny toys. Angry cagers typically demostrate this when they yell at street bikers to get back on the sidewalks. On the other hand, bikes are aften associated with extreme sports. As Byrne writes,
For decades, Americans have too often seen cycling as a kind of macho extreme sport, which has actually done a lot to damage the cause of winning acceptance for biking as a legitimate form of transportation. If your association with bikes is guys in spandex narrowly missing you on the weekends or YouTube videos of kids flying over ramps on their clown-size bikes, you’re likely to think that bikes are for only the athletic and the risk-prone. Manufacturers in the United States have tended to make bikes that look like the two-wheeled equivalent of Hummers, with fat tires and stocky frames necessitating a hunched-over riding position that is downright unsafe for urban biking and commuting. But that’s been changing for at least a few years now. Whew.
Whew, indeed...

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Blogger Thom said...

I think the "bike as toy" problem is a much bigger hurdle than the "biking as extreme sports" hurdle, and both can be overcome by example. Just show up on your bike to a few gatherings with non-bike friends and you've done a lot to be an ambassador.

30/5/09 17:50  

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