Tuesday, September 7, 2010
In Honor of My Other Love, San Francisco
Hipster Parking Only
Remember when a bicycle was just a bike? A means of transportation? Not sure I do either, but these days the streets of big cities are paved with fancy fixed-gear bicycles, a.k.a. the Maseratis of the cycling world. Or maybe the Ferraris? I know my speedy cars about as well as I know my speedy bikes, and perhaps that says something.
Don't get me wrong: My preferred transit method is my bike. I was a diligent San Francisco bike commuter for three years, a beach bum Santa Barbara biker in college, and a perpetually-late-for-class cycling high schooler back in the day. I respect the two wheels. I rely on them. I admire the pelotons that whoosh past me when I go running in West Davis, the ones who yell "Incoming!" loud enough to overpower any functional woman's iPod, and then squeeze by you with thighs that seem to laugh at you with their sheer force. I, at one time, wove blue streamers through my bike wheels so I could participate in the Picnic Day Parade. I joined the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and volunteered at the summertime Phat Tire event. I've done my fair share of critical masses, and boy, there are few things more exhilarating then tearing through the Sutter tunnel at rush hour on a Friday, surrounded by a few hundred likewise giddy cyclists who, on a normal day, would never dream of zipping through MUNI and commute traffic for that kind of adrenaline rush.
The real issue I see with cycling today isn't the bicycle itself, nor really the people who use it to commute or to exercise, but the general aura of ennui that it seems to breed among the young and oh-so-hip. That really annoying way that fixie riders tend to jerk abruptly from side to side to effect a brake. And, finally, the fashion choices that cycling sometimes inspires. I've got no problem with spandex and padded shorts--if anything, the world needs more of both--but what I'm referring to here is the skinny jeans phenomena. Skinny jeans and skinny mustaches.
I'd like to close this on a happy note, so I'm enclosing a picture of two bicycles dear to my heart. I'd like to think that this picture captures the reasons I bike: to get somewhere, to exercise, and to bike with people who likewise like to bike.