Forget the car and forget public transport. The trendiest mode of transportation is the humble push bike. Yes, you heard correctly. It’s no longer just a children’s play thing and relegated to childhood memories of days spent attempting to ride with no hands. The push bike is now an adult must-have.
This two-wheel creation dating back to somewhere between the 1400′s and 1800′s depending on which history book you refer to, has made a meteoric comeback in the modern world, popping up in urban centres and suburbs across the globe. And it’s not just the men clocking up the kilometres on their bikes. Women are pounding the pavements and roads right there with them. Whether you are in Copenhagen, Paris, Los Angeles or Sydney, keen cyclists representing both genders litter the roads, commuting from their homes to the office and back again during the working week.
But it doesn’t stop there. You can spot cyclists on the weekend too, bright eyed and bushy tailed, radiating a picture of health at an ungodly hour on a Saturday or Sunday morning (or both). Sometimes you’ll see them with a kid or two in tow. At other times, you may even catch one with an infant strapped to their bike!
And then there are the serious cyclists, the ones decked down to the nines in the latest cycling gear, with a push bike worth as much as a new car, riding competitively up and down rolling hills like they are competing in the Tour de France.
So with sustainability an issue high on the media and political agenda, it would be fair to say that the rise in the cycling sub-culture in the 21st century is indicative of the rising eco consciousness of our society. Cycling is the most energy efficient means of transportation around (if you exclude walking and running). No fossil fuels are consumed and nor does not produce greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, the growth in cycling is subtle proof of mankind gravitating towards sustainable options, whether the multi-billion dollar resource industry agrees with this or not.
As cycling grows ever more popular with the urban masses, the business community are also getting into the eco spirit and companies such as Digital Eskimo in Sydney are revolutionising the workplace and encouraging their employees to join the eco movement by installing bike stations equipped with bike rack, repair tools and other bicycle bits and pieces.
The rise of the movement is also evident in the corresponding cycling apparel industry. A simple Google search reveals the rise of this bicycle fashion phenomenon with countless websites dedicated to “cycle fashion” “cycle style” and more commonly “cycle chic.” It is literally a sub-culture within a sub-culture. In this uber cool scene, wearing lycra is not just the only option. Top quality jerseys are in, no longer denying them of the joy of cycling and finally catering to larger people, there is an understanding that the modern day cyclist is not just a lithe athlete, but a person from varying demographics with no standard size or shape.
In fact, as more and more cyclists reject the skin-tight look as fashion faux pas and embracing a more relaxed approach to their cycling, many more are turning to the comfort that only their wardrobes can provide. You now have women wearing jeans and sandals, longer skirts and flat shoes, backpacks instead of handbags. Men too are ditching the lycra and opting for casual pants and sneakers, jeans and a t-shirt.
But there is one thing that is obligatory, whether you are cycling for fun, to get fit or to save the planet. You must wear a helmet. The days of the stack hat are long gone so there is no excuse for not wearing one. Yes, style and comfort are necessary (and often imperative), but they should never come before safety. Ever.