While I appreciate some of what the Cycle Chic movement has done for making urban cycling cool, my criticisms in this piece stand. Particularly the emphasis on mostly shooting photos of young beautiful and mostly well-off women. It just seems to miss the point of how cycling levels the field for those riding in our cities.
I like bicycles. I like photography. I like pretty girls. So you'd think that I'd be an easy mark for the so-called Cycle Chic movement which has grown from its Copenhagen origin to dozens of other cities throughout the planet. I've even mulled the idea of launching a separate Reno Cycle Chic website at one point.
Unfortunately, over recent years cycle chic has started to rub me the wrong way. For instance, they have the audacity of taking credit for the growing cycling movement all the while expressing disdain for the work of bicycle advocates who created the very urban infrastructure that the cycle chic subjects ride on daily. The fact that these advocates started working in Europe in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, to build a better urban space that provides a safe environment for cyclists years before they provided a back drop for Cycle Chic seems to go unnoticed.
Also troubling is that the socioeconomic status continually represented on the site. I get that the movement is about fashion and looking good on bicycles being used as a utilitarian tool. It is called cycling “chic” after all. But the emphasis does seem to grossly misrepresent the reality of bicycle use around the planet. The subjects represented are almost exclusively young, beautiful, women. Nice to look at but when Cycle Chic starts claiming that they have done more for cycling since the inception of their blog than all of the bicycling advocates than you have to question whether they believe that 95% of cyclists are beautiful 20 something women.
I suppose I could create a website called the Pragmatic Pedaler but that really is not nearly as sexy sounding. But it does more accurately reflect the reality of life on the streets for most urban cyclists. Not just in Reno, but around the world, where millions of people ride their bikes in clothes that look like they are going to work in a factory or in the fields, not in an advertisement for for some high tech industry.
More than that, if you look at their criteria for setting up a “cycle chic” blog for your own city you realize just how tight their vision is for urban cycling. No helmets are to be pictured, …. I'm not out to start a helmet war but it seems to me that if an individual rider decides they feel better wearing a helmet on their commute are they out of hand dismissed from possibly being chic?
It seems to me that adhering to this strict view of what is cycling and what is chic, all the while taking credit for the growing bicycle boom is extraordinarily arrogant. As it is, I'm content to occasionally post photos of cyclists in Reno who are practical and chic in their own ways.
For over 12 Years I wrote the Reno Rambler Blog covering everything from Bicycle Advocacy, Reno Politics, Popular Culture, and my experiences as a long-time cyclist.