citizen cyclists making urban spaces liveable

18 May 2011

The Two Faces of "Commuter" Cycling

We at Cycle Chic dislike the word commuter.
It's not that we don't "travel some distance regularly between one's home and one's place of work" like countless other people but more the connotation that it must be a "specific activity".

Bicycles to us are just a way to get from A to B.  Always have been.
It's only in recent years that they have become an accessorized sport tool rather than a simple, easy, accessible mode of transport.  We aim to reclaim the humble bicycle - to remind you that it can be easy, it should be accessible and nothing is needed other than a set of wheels.

This morning on Twitter I happened across two very different examples of regular citizens heading off to work - commuting if you will - which I'd like to share.
We'd be interested to hear your comments.

The first is a video from Cascade Bicycle Club in Seattle showing a first-time commuter as she prepares for and starts riding her bike to work.

And then there is this image from the Sartorialist - ever stylish, ever inspirational.

It reminded me of a certain dapper gentleman I snapped back in September last year outside Customs House.  A beacon of "commuter" style on the street of Sydney.

James at Customs House

James at Customs House

My work colleague summed it up nicely this morning when she said "the word commute to me means being specifically "equipped for the journey" but surely it's just a question of taking the bike out of the house and getting on it".



Gary said...

What, no ski goggles, heart rate monitor & GPS?

Seriously, was this video from Sesame Street? No wonder people think cycling is for children & not a serious mode of transport for adults.

I live on the Gold Coast & cycle to the train station every morning in normal office clothes. There are 20 secure bike lockers at the station & usually 17 are empty. This morning there were 19 empty!

People really need less cycling geek & more cycle chic - keep up the good work!

Edward said...

I agree with Gary. What absolute garbage. Is she going to work or riding across the Nullarbor? Why do you need an energy bar? And what is with the ham acting?

St Etienne said...

I dropped the word "commuter" from my bicycle vocabularly a long time ago. In fact, these days I use it as a mocking term: over-dressed and over-accessorised cyclists setting off to work as if they are intending to traverse the Siberian steppes. By advising would-be cyclists to adorn themselves in this battle gear before heading off on a bike, we are adding more layers of unnecessary complexity to an extremely simple form of transport.

Cycle Chic blogs like this are vital enough in educating people that riding a bike should be about simplicity and spontaneity, but I'm now seeing them as a good way to save potential cyclists a lot of money by telling them that the clothes already sitting in their closet are just as suitable for riding as an expensive cycle kit. Keep up the good work Saskia!

Anonymous said...

Commuter cyclists give cycling a bad name and a bad image. Something about being on the road and going to work makes everyone so aggressive. I get shouted at just about every day by 'commuter' cyclists, regular motorists and so on. I cycle incredibly conscientiously, with traffic when i can keep up, and on pavement where there is no alternative (ie road would be certain death, and I keep to walking speed, and avoid pedestrians and stop to let them pass) And yet I get constantly shouted abuse, for very nonsensical things. I think the best we can do is to represent; show that we aren't all jerks on the road. And I don't believe in special gear for my commute! Why buy an entirely new wardrobe just so I can look like one of those jerks? I'm looking forward to the day when 'normal' cyclists are, well, normal to see on the roads!

Mens accessories said...

Nice style, I will try it some day, but your suit is great

SydneyRider said...

Bizarre video aside.

I'm a rider, but I find this approach to the subject all very tiresome at times.

What is commuting if it's not "going from A to B" ? Your argument is circular...

And, as for accuracy: where do you get the notion that "only in recent years" have bikes become a sport tool? What have you been smoking? Performance riding has been been around for some 90+ years and its greatest proponents are THE FRENCH. Yes, the chic-est of them all.

Sorry to say your loathe of lycra and all that goes with it is not recent history at all.

To ride is to be. People should be able to ride for whatever purpose they like. This them vs us notion in the cyclechic genre is very boring.