March 8th, 2010

What's really driving this cycling renaissance?

Why, snobbery darling, of course!
Writing this blog has been a process of scratching about, hoping to uncover whatever it is I have been sensing had to be said, and I feel I am getting closer. The title, Behooving Moving, my decision to buy a Velorbis, the whole idea I set out with of buying 8 prestige bikes for the price of one prestige car— I have been wanting to say that the cycling renaissance we are currently witnessing, is like any renaissance really, insofar as it is being driven by snobbery.
What drove the Italian Renaissance? It was self-made merchants wanting to show they were on par with royalty and the church, through the art and architecture they patronized. This great era of liberal thinking and individual autonomy that set the stage for the enlightenment, would not have happened had it not been for snobs.
Time for some images, of a bicycle parking station in Washington by the architectural firm KGP Studio, where you can leave your 10K piece of carbon, shower, have some mechanical repairs done, buy nicks, access your personal locker and no doubt drop off your suit for dry cleaning. It doesn't look like a shed, but a canonical work by ultra chic architects Coop Himmelblau in Vienna, pictured right.

People are not cycling because they are broke, or have lost their driving licenses, but to show off. And what better way to demonstrate your piety, fitness, skill, fearlessness, concern, taste, discernment etc etc, than to be seen by hundreds of rush hour commuters stepping from your own personal cathedral freshly showered and all suited up.
Although they will ultimately make cycling more accessible to the masses, because the masses will all try to follow these peoples' lead, the prestige cyclists are not lobbying for cycle ways, or any of that. They want to stay rare. They do not want their city to become Copenhagen, with cycle lanes  choked with old ladies on step-throughs. They want to be seen dodging traffic, or better still looking nonchalant despite their having no brakes on their lime green and orange fully lugged fixie.   
To be sure, I am the biggest poser I know of. I have shunned the fixie craze, but only because I was too late to lead it, and am now aiming to get on board the classic town bike band wagon before you all notice it leaving.

A simple bikepark, but no less in keeping with high end design trends. This one in England.

The Automatic Shit Bike Dispensers. I would sooner wear Kevin Rudd issue clothing, or public health glasses. 

Things like these though, really do make my hair stand on end. Cycling is an individual pursuit, that can't be canned and sold to the masses, by corporations or governments trying to greenwash all their other nasty big-end-of-town deeds. Marxist perspectives on cycling, now there's a book tutle!