It was a gorgeous weekend in Columbus, OH, and I was lucky enough to spend a fair amount of it watching the neighborhood soak in the sun. As I sat on my porch, I saw an impressive number of people on bikes — hipsters on street bikes, middle-aged couples on mountain bikes (and too often, on the sidewalk), the hard-core guy on the recumbent bike… streams of them rode by my porch.
One trendy young woman passed a couple of times on one of those new-style “easy-boarding” cruiser-types; they look significantly different than trad or even updated cruisers — it’s not just that there’s no crossbar, but that the frame dips almost to the road between front and back tire.
I haven’t been able to figure them out, but seeing that girl ride hers in a dress made me realize at least part of the point — they’re wardrobe-friendly for women. (They’re also nicely accessible.) I ride a new cruiser myself, but it doesn’t have that design feature, which does impact what I wear to work in terms of practicality and decency. More importantly, they are actually part of a growing fashion trend: the cute, stylish bike that goes with a cute, stylish outfit… and lifestyle.
Coincidentally, today Tim sent me a link to David Byrne’s review of Jeff Mapes’ “Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities.” In it, DB agrees with Mapes’ claim that growing numbers of women riders will play a major role in attitudes and policies about riding:
I can ride till my legs are sore and it won’t make riding any cooler, but when attractive women are seen sitting upright going about their city business on bikes day and night, the crowds will surely follow.
I caught a glimpse of that shift today — and it brought another ray of sunshine. Because that ride had rhetorical potential.
Now if only she’d take that message off the sidewalk.