22 October 2009

Latest Bike Culture Buzzwords

Infrastructure Paris Bike Lane
On my recent travels to a host of countries I've noticed a couple of buzzwords - buzzphrases, really - that are popping up around the shop. I'm only mentioning them because they really something that a lot of people are talking about.

The first is:

"Necessary Infrastructure"

One of the main hurdles to increasing the number of people cycling in the city is the problems with building the necessary infrastructure in the form of bike lanes, cycle tracks and other facilities.

In many cities and towns the municipality doesn't really have to ask anyone if they should fix a road or build a new one. The same applies to sidewalks. These are givens. When it comes to bike infrastructure, all of a sudden you have to ask every man and his dog and often the bike lane gets voted down. Either by citizen groups or business associations.

'Necessary infrastructure' is taking bicycle infrastructure out of the wet, stinky cardboard box it is kept in and placing it on the same shelf as the other infrastructure.

So when somebody says, "Hey, we don't want any bike lanes here!" the city can just shrug and say, "It's necessary infrastructure... now please get out of the way of the jackhammer/painting machine."

This is an exciting development.

Fixie Counter
The other bicycle culture buzzword/phrase I've been hearing is:

"Vintage Racing Bicycles"

If you look at the first movers in London and Berlin, they're ditching their fixies. We all knew it was a fad anyway, but now we're seeing signs that we're moving on to The Next Big Thing.

A vintage racer from the 1940's, 50's, 60's. All original components. Preferbly a bike that Eddie Mercyx rode when winning a stage in Le Tour. Or something like that.

Bummer if you just bought a new fixie. Bummer that loads of large bicycle companies showed off new fixies at Interbike - two years too late. We're going vintage. Great for people like Rob Sargent.

But bummer that someone used so much time and effort on adding some spice to the Copenhagen bicycle counter in the photo above. It's quite brilliant, though, how they added text and a fake digital sign that reads "You are fixie number: 6969 today". It really is well made. Even though the number is fantastically optimistic.

I don't think I've used the word 'bummer' that much since the early 1990's. Maybe that's a buzzword, too. Bummer if it is.

By the way, the rest of the sign, from top, says:
"You are cyclist number 4344 today"
"Out of a total of 1,396,950 since June 15, 2009"

That's just on this side of the street. Double it for the total on the stretch.