Bike Culture: A Roundup
How to slam-dunk rubbish, or what abandoned bikes have to do with the economy of war.
By now you likely know that we’re devoted to bikes, to riding them as well as admiring them in all their variety. Today we’d like to steer you to three waypoints in the growing bike culture trend—at least we hope it’s both growing and a trend.
David Byrne’s New York City bike racks (remember those?) double as an editorial in iron—each rack is designed to comment on the character of the neighborhood, its businesses and denizens.
We all know that lots of adults ride bikes in Copenhagen—about 30% of that city’s population regularly commutes by bike. That compares to about .07% of New Yorkers. So it makes sense that the city planners would think of all the little improvements aimed at making the cyclist comfortable, such as this footrest.
David Hembrow documents life on a bike in a country perhaps most deeply associated with practical riding in everyday life, The Netherlands. In his blog, “A view from the cycle path,” David recently showed how civil and green the Dutch can be, all without stepping off their bike — rubbish receptacles for coasting and disposing.
For the big bicycle picture, for advancing its place at the center of US politics, there’s the Bike Caucus, run by congressman Earl Blumenthal who always begins his speeches on behalf of the caucus with a dedication to all those Americans stuck in traffic on the way to the gym to ride a stationary bike.
To chart not only the increase in bike-friendly infrastructure, but also to chart your next ride, use the new Google Maps directions for cyclists. Map it, cycle it, and then give Google your feedback—all ways to do your own two-wheeler activism.
BICYCLE ART & STYLE
Joe Schumacher is a NYC-based photographer who walks a lot and takes pictures of things he finds. His blog, what about the plastic animals?, captures the off-beat and pedestrian, but we’d like to direct you to his haunting and beautiful photos of abandoned bicycles of Gotham.
Those who don’t abandon their bikes can also evoke a striking scene. Perhaps a cousin of steampunk, the Bicycle Tweed movement is rolling through cities across the U.S. Here’s the site dedicated to San Francisans astride their velos and attired in their distinctive and antique wool.
Art and commerce come coasting together at Bertelli Bici in New York City. The site’s photography is simple and gorgeous and these bikes, built from a combination of old and new parts, achieve a kind of sculptural beauty.
BICYCLE ACTIVISM, OF SORTS
We all know about the Critical Mass movement spreading around the world. But devoted cyclists have a nice set of alternatives to express their dreams of making the world a better place. One organization we’ve long admired is Bikes Not Bombs in Boston. It’s an organization that stitches together community, education and employment of the under served, and bicycle culture as an alternative to cars, the oil economy, and war.
And what could be less threatening than a kid on a bike looking for a high five? Well, not so much if that kid happens to be a SCUL pilot steering a ship called Angry Candy and offering a high five from about six or seven feet up, roughly the position of a pilot on a typical SCUL ship. SCUL (Subversive Choppers Urban Legion) is a Massachusetts-based “anti-elite band of pilots testing out experimental ships, exploring the Greater Boston Star systems and occasionally other galaxies” from their “subspace communication broadcast headquarters.”
Finally, we’ve got to give a shout out to our local bike culture faves, the volunteers at Bikerowave. Lots of cities have them, but this LA neighborhood tool library and DIY bike repair hangout has a great vibe and lots of knowledgeable and friendly volunteers.
Published June 9, 2010