I normally enjoy listening to ABC radio podcasts and I came across this podcast http://www.abc.net.au/rn/bydesign/stories/2010/3013454.htm which discusses cycling as transport as opposed to cycling as sport.
It makes some interesting points, mostly that cycling culture in Australia is dominated by the culture of cycle sport. This is nothing really new, but what is interesting is the whole chicken and egg issue of how we go from a car dominated culture to a more pedestrian/cyclist culture. One of the people in the podcast is an advocate for upright style bicycles much like the types in Northern Europe or Asia.
It's a bit of a chicken and egg thing because quite often you have one camp which argues that we can be the next Amsterdam/Copenhagen, that grandmas in flowing dresses with umbrellas can be riding Dutch style bikes to the local leagues club meat raffle bingo. Then you have the other camp which argues that upright bikes are crap, weigh too much and are for pussies - that upright bikes are suited to bike paths which we don't have. It is quite sad to see though that really when you walk into a bike store in Australia there are really two types, road or MTB. Neither has mudguards or a rack from the factory and are "accessories" rather than standard fittings. Jump across the pacific to Japan and every single bicycle has mudguards, racks, front basket and dynamo lights. This is no different to Germany or the Netherlands. '
It's apparent to me that neither camp is correct, that as cycling becomes more mainstream there will be more demand for practical bikes to ride on the increasing number of bike paths, shops will try to meet these demands and so on. I think we all can agree that this change towards cycling as a mainstream transport activity will take time. How long? It took many cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam decades, they have been implementing policies to discourage car use and encourage public transport and cycling since the 70's. Believe it or not, they were not always cycling nirvanas.
I've done a bit of research a lot on this (meaning I've read a lot of blogs and stuff) and seeing as I like stereotypes (it's a lot easier than actually trying to get to know everyone) I thought I might highlight the two opposite end of the spectrum stereotypical cyclists
Firstly you have your "Cycle Chic™" viewpoint:
- Abhors lycra and looks down on sporty cycling generally
- Typically rides a Dutch style bike or similar
- Rides in a skirt/dress preferably with heels, note that being helmetless is a prerequisite
- Usually hot like in the pic above, but not always.
Then you have the polar opposite cycling fanatic
- Lives in lycra and doesn't understand why anyone would ride a bike wearing jeans... what about the blisters you'd get after riding a century???
- Deplores "accessories" such as mudguards, racks and dynamo lights on bikes
- Every ride is a training ride, yes even the ride down to the shops for milk must involve the use of a powermeter and/or a Garmin - usually on a time trial bike with rear disc and deep dish carbon front wheel.
I don't really get the point of all this infighting though really, the cycling community arguing amongst themselves is really quite pointless. The most important thing is for people to be out there on bikes regardless of the type or how they look. The more people on bikes the more demand there will be for infrastructure and a general social acceptance. As much as I despise (and secretly admire) the whole fixie trend it means there is more bums on bikes. Most cyclist-haters don't give a shit about the sub-cultures within cycling, to them all cyclists are whinging non-rego paying, tofu-eating greenie ferals who run red lights, usually in lycra.
Anyway that's all for now