Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Slow Biking: Not Everyone Is In A Race

slow bike photo

slow bike new york photoMost cyclist have heard about or know about "Copenhagenizing", Mikael Colville-Anderson's term for learning to ride bikes like they do in Copenhagen, in street clothes, at a comfortable pace, usually without a helmet. Andrew Sullivan points us to the American version, where it has become part of the Slow Movement, and is now called Slow Biking, since a slow car movement has never caught on.

Celeste LeCompte makes some suggestions for Slow Biking in the San Francisco Chronicle:
-Choose a bike that lets you keep an upright posture. Racing-style road bikes encourage the rider to lean forward, while step-throughs, cruisers and mixte frame bikes are more upright. -- Look for fashion-protecting features. Keep your ride comfy and your clothes clean with good fenders, chain guards or internal hubs, flat pedals and maybe even a kickstand.
-- Go for gears. You're not looking for a lot, but more gears gives you more options when you're tackling San Francisco's hilly terrain at a more casual speed.
-- Ride safely. Even though you're riding slowly, don't forgo the helmet, stop at traffic signals and ride predictably.
-- Share the road. When you're riding slowly, it's easier to double up in the roadways and chat with a fellow rider. Bring a friend and enjoy the time to catch up.
slow bike new york bike lane photoI would also point out that slow biking is a lot safer. I typically ride a road bike and it is harder to go slow, but my wife's commuter is a "slow ride". She rides a 3-speed Trek Belleville that is relatively slower than conventional bikes, but she finds that she can dodge pedestrians and brake for opening doors a lot more easily than she would on a conventional bike.

Felix Salmon picks up the story at Reuters, and suggests that everyone should just slow down:
As a general rule, the propensity of non-bicyclists to give biking a try is inversely proportional to the average velocity of the bikers they see on the street. If you live in a city where women in wedge heels are steering their old steel bikes around their daily errand route, there's really nothing intimidating or scary about the prospect of getting on a bike yourself. If it's all hipsters on fixies, by contrast, that just makes biking feel all the more alien and stupid.

So, next time you get on a bike, give yourself an extra five or ten minutes, and take your time. You'll be much happier for doing so. And your happiness is likely to prove contagious.
While I agree with Felix about slowing down, I don't share his criticism of hipsters on fixies; I find that generally they would fall into the slow biking movement. It is more the jerks on probably stolen mountain mountain bikes, like the one I saw riding on the sidewalk yesterday, almost taking out a walking hipster, that are the real problem.


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