Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The future of cycling?

A recent post over at Web Urbanist (a great blog of the odd and artistic sides of life) was on interesting concept bikes. Much like the concept cars unveiled at every auto show, the bikes on display in the post are radically designed. In some cases the bikes look like they're more artistic than functional, and some are designs I've seen in other places (like Bicycle Design). In either case, it got me thinking:

Why are so many people looking for "the future of cycling" in some kind of radical or odd design?

I freely admit to retro-grouchy inclinations when it comes to bikes. I ride nothing but steel and 2/3 of my stable is older than I am. All that aside I have to wonder what it is that causes so many people, including avid cyclists, to dream of the future? I don't see the future of cycling in an odd, artistic, or radical design. Far from it. I see the future of cycling in a throwback, specifically the old-school city bike. 

We don't need bikes to be different, we need to look at bikes differently. Most people, including many cyclists, see bikes and riding as:
  • something kids do
  • something athletes like Lance do
  • something you have to wear spandex to do
As long as bikes are viewed as either athletic equipment or toys people won't think about cycling as a part of daily life. As long as people don't see cycling as a part of daily life we won't see wide-scale changes to the way cities are laid out, meaning that while we may see more bike lanes we won't see any serious integration of cycling.

And personally, the future of cycling I want to see is one where people riding a bike to work aren't given strange looks.

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