Sunday, January 17, 2010

Aliens on Two Wheels

I am enjoying a section in "The Cyclist's Manifesto" titled The Bicyclist's Costume. Robert Hurst starts out by using a quote from an 1895 article about what bicyclists should not do:
Don't wear a clown's costume. It inspires facetious comment.
He goes on to prove that throughout the history of the bicycle, goofy costumes were never far behind. He calls the helmet an insect-head-like thing, biking an excuse for leg shavers everywhere. The spandex and lycra and crazy colors he says constitute an alien being.
Some go so far as to say they would never ride without their bike clothes... But a lot of the people making these claims have never really tried to ride in their normal clothes... How many folks want to dress up like a shiny superhero when they go about their daily business? The mistaken assumption that such a costume is necessary equipment remains one of the most persistent obstacles to wider adoption of the bicycle for everyday transportation purposes.
I think he makes a great point. One of the magazines I enjoyed subscribing to a couple years back was Momentum: The Magazine for Self-Propelled People. It does a good job of showing how bicycling is becoming the stylish form of transportation in many of the big cities in the world.

Kristin and I have travelled to several major American cities over the last five years including Chicago, Seattle, Boston, Austin, Portland, New Orleans (we also visited Dallas and Houston but they were horrible exceptions to this rule) and really were surprised to see this occurring first hand. The people riding bikes down the street weren't just the homeless folks, or the aliens, they were the young creative crowd that our city supposedly wants to attract. Here are a few of the photos I took along the way:


Above is a picture I took of a bike rack filled to overflowing next to an office building in downtown Chicago.

Random bicycle locked to young tree, or crazy bike wreck...

Taxi anyone?


Bicycle polo on Tennis court.


Just over the last two years I have seen an increase in the young creatives on cycles in and around downtown Tulsa. All that to say I think what Robert Hurst is proposing is spot on. Until people see less of the aliens on two wheels and more of those who use it as a means of everyday transportation, the adoption rate is going to be slow.


  1. Yep. Spandex and Pearl Izumi? Soooo yesterday. Got dress?

  2. Interesting concept and just like everything else it will have to become "fashionable" before more people do it. I've seen three unicycles since I've been back in Fayetteville. Sadly, I think that's a fluke not a trend.