19 August 2011

Overcomplication - Bicycle to Boardroom

Dublin Cycle Chic - Dutch Couple Night Ride2
A Dutch colleague of ours, Philip de Roos, lives in Dublin and he has kindly provided us with this guest post. It relates to something we often talk about here on the blog and over at Cycle Chic. The PRETTY GIRLS ON BICYCLES & PROFITEERING ON THE CYCLING CRAZE post is an example. An overcomplication of the simple act of cycling. Philip also has the Dutch in Dublin blog with his girlfriend.

I'll let Philip - pictured above with his girlfriend Joni - from Bear Bicycles in Dublin, take over here:

Recently I read 'From Bicycle to Boardroom', an article by the Financial Times Travel Editor Tom Robbins. It’s a review of Brompton's new ‘cycling jacket’.

In impeccable FT style, Robbins describes there are more bikes in London nowadays than there are Angry Birds on Google Chrome. Robbins also observes: “shorts, courier bags, cagoules and helmets (…) are just not acceptable in a business context, and that goes double for Lycra”.

That’s right.

He then describes his difficulties to find the right clothing for cycling, and finally concludes: '(...) cyclists don’t need gimmicks, they just need clothes that are breathable, crease-resistant, smart (...)'.

That’s almost right.

In my humble opinion, the search for smart ‘cycling clothes’ is less likely to yield results than the search for the Loch Ness monster. As cycling advocate, Cycle Chic blogger and boyfriend of a lady with a Dutch bicycles shop in Dublin, I think it would have been more to the point had Robbins written 'cyclists don’t need gimmicks, they just need clothes. Period. And perhaps: a bit of deodorant.'

Because as long as the bike is right, any clothes will do.

Amsterdam and Copenhagen residents have been demonstrating this for years, but also increasingly in Dublin (my current home) and other European cities, people on bikes (I write 'people on bikes', not 'cyclists' -- there's a difference) wear the same clothes as they do in the boardroom -- or, in my case: the cubicle.

Sweatiness can't be a problem either. At the right pace on the right bike, there is less need of breathable garments than there is in London's tube.

In that same vein, I also disagree with Robbins’ remark that 'Brompton’s jacket is a pedal-spin in the right direction but the “solution” is still a little way off'. The solution, quite simply, is in the bike -- not the clothes. And the good news is: it has been there all along. Now all cities need are bikes that are suitable for suits, and a cycling culture that supports fun and functional cycling.

Since Robbins seems to enjoy cycling himself, I thought he might help turn the FT into a powerful pro-cycling ally. I wrote Robbins a letter, asking him to join the cause of building a cycling culture that would allow his readers – captains of industry, bankers, solicitors – to take a bike to work and give their chauffeurs a day off.

If Robbins replies, I hope that you – the readers of Copenhagenize – will be there to help with facts, figures, and photo's that show this can be done, and has been done.