Safe Routes Scoop

Bicycle Chic
by Dr. Cheryl Allen-Munley


Congratulations.  In honor of May's Bike to Work Month, you have accepted the challenge to ride to work.  Now for your next challenge - what do you wear?  If the vision of being seen by co-workers kitted out in clipless bike cleats, tight Spandex bike shorts and a loud jersey replete with over-stuffed fanny pockets gives you pause, you are not alone.  Even President Obama has been ridiculed for his dorky bicycle image.  In 2008, The New York Times, fearing the planned photo of a cycling Barack Obama in bike helmet and baggy, high-waisted jeans might hurt his presidential campaign, swapped the photo for a macho shot of Obama in a military tank. If you too don’t want to be labeled a Cycle Geek, better check out the world of Cycle Chic.


Wikipedia defines “Cycle Chic “ as the culture of cycling in fashionable clothes. It is associated with utility cycling in Asian and European cities, such as Amsterdam, Basel, Berlin, Paris, Berne, Bristol and Copenhagen.  In Vietnam, Cycle Chic has been popular for decades with school girls admired for their colorful cycling outfits and stylish hats.
.  According to the International Bicycle Fund, bicycles in the Netherlands account for over 30 percent of all trips. The Cycle Chic movement evolved as people who ride bikes for basic transportation opted for everyday clothes rather than the specialist clothing usually associated with sports cycling. 

The term "Cycle Chic" was coined by the filmmaker and photographer Mikael Colville-Andersen in Copenhagen in 2006 when he launched the first Cycle Chic blog – “Cycle Chic - The Original from Copenhagen.” Called "The Sartorialist on two wheels" by Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, Colville-Andersen has been selected as one of the "Top 10 Fashion Bloggers" by The Guardian/Observer; his blog was included among the world's Top 100 by the Times. Colville-Andersen advocates normalizing urban cycling and increasing trips by bicycle. He travels around the world speaking about Cycle Chic as it relates to urban mobility and holding cycle chic events.


In America, Cycle Chic is a relatively new phenomenon. The number of American utility riders have been historically low.  According to the  U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, only 5 percent of cyclists in 2003 commuted to work and school; the vast majority, nearly 80 percent, rode for recreation and fitness.  Today, with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s support of “Complete Streets” coupled with concerns over global warming and physical fitness, utility bicycling is gaining popularity in cities which have invested in bicycle-friendly facilities, such as Boulder (CO,) Portland (OR,) New York City, San Francisco and Cambridge (MA.)


In the past year, Cycle Chic images seem to have appeared everywhere

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