Cycle Chic around the world… just not here

Slideshow on Grist.org

Grist.org features 13 snapshots of well-dressed bike riders from around the world… but not from Seattle. So, where is our Cycle Chic movement?

It can be argued that the term “Cycle Chic” imposes an aesthetic that isn’t congruent with Seattle and all its hills, rain, and athletic orientation. Well then if not “chic,” how about casual, comfortable, simple, or relaxed? Even for the sportiest among us, does every ride have to entail clipless shoes and workout speeds? If complete adoption of Copenhagen or Amsterdam’esque stylish cycling seems disingenuous or even unrealistic, there should be a way to shift urban bike travel to something more inviting and less intimidating, while remaining true to the values and identity of Seattle, or to those of (your city here).

Idealistic? Not aiming high enough? Missing the point entirely? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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7 thoughts on “Cycle Chic around the world… just not here”

  1. The typical Seattle bicyclists are way too obsessed with clipless pedals and gore-tex for the most part (blame REI?). Clipless pedal to me make no sense in commute mode, and I always go out of a stop so much faster than the clipless riders with my regular pedals and normal shoes. I also wear my regular clothes every day when I ride a bike (and I ride every day no matter what), even in the rain, and frankly skirts and tights are better for this endeavor. Also a good trench coat is plenty coverage for the rain– no need for hundreds of dollars of technical fabrics. I just think people tend to parrot what they see, and in Seattle, it is NOT being very well dressed while riding a bike (or doing a lot of other things frankly).

    Ugh. No offense, Wes, but there will be no bus for me. I ride my bicycle to avoid it (and the cost of a bus pass). I have never been healthier and happier!

    1. Thanks Amanda. Your riding every day in everyday wear is inspiring.

      So you’re saying Seattleites could step it up a bit fasion-wise in general. Would doing so be inherently non-Seattle…ish?

  2. I think you summed it up beautifully! A bicycle is an extension of me, and I am more than a touring cyclist. I’m an urban cyclist who spends most of my time riding short 3-5 mile trips around Seattle, and I don’t need or want to “suit up” in my lycra shorts and clipless pedals to get a loaf of bread at the bakery or meet a friend for lunch. But I do want to ride my bike comfortably. My secret ingredient to happiness for ALL cycling: wool.

    1. I think helmets can still be fashionable, or at least fun. This is a whole other debate, but maybe helmets are one thing that sets us apart from the European cities currently defining chic cycling.

  3. Put the ‘pimp in Poindexter’…i.e. technical fabrics with stylish tailoring with names like Outlier, Nau, Mission Workshop, ExIT shoes, Quoc Pham,etc. Unfortunately, these items all cost lots of money, but they last a long time (thanks for providing this stuff).

    As for the hills, I vote for riding slow. Some more efficient internally-geared hubs and possibly electric-assist are an option for those who don’t want to show up sweaty.

    A bus pass is also nice for when you’re sick of riding in the rain for the 15th straight day.

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