Bicycle culture is a phrase with two related, but different meanings. It can be used for countries with a culture that supports, encourages, and has high bicycle usage. In countries with relatively low bicycle usage, such as the USA, it refers to the cycling subculture, and related fashions and characteristics.
Integrated cycling cultureEdit
This type of cycling culture is found in cities and countries that feature a high rate of bicycle usage, sometimes called utility cycling, as part of their cultural identity. Several countries have established bicycle cultures, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, China, Bangladesh and Japan. It is particularly in the cities that bicycle culture is most widespread. In Copenhagen and Amsterdam, in particular, 37% and 40% respectively of all citizens ride their bike on a daily basis. In Europe, bicycle culture is generally regarded as meaning citizens using their bikes for commuting, running errands and dropping off children at school or kindergarten.
A city with a strong bicycle culture usually has a well-developed infrastructure favouring bicycles, including segregated bike lanes and extensive facilities catering to a large amount of bicycles in the urban landscape, such as bike racks at railway stations.
Cycling subculture Edit
In some countries, where transportation infrastructure is focused on automobiles, people who ride bicycles may do so as an ethical and emotional choice, and an active cycling sub-culture has developed. Examples of countries where this is the case are the USA, Canada, and Australia. Bike culture is regarded as a social movement, a sub-culture in many areas, celebrating cycling as a choice, and advocating an increase in bicycle usage in the population. Bike sub-culture is a loose collection of magazines, fashion trends, websites, art, music, and community events offered by passionate bicyclists. Often these are attempts to inspire beginners, rally the faithful, and express their love of bicycling as a life choice.
Those who have made bicycling a lifestyle choice, not a mere recreational habit, often see bicycling as a movement they want to help grow to stop pollution, and build local communities. There are several paths people use to convince others to try biking: Practical improvements, Logic and Facts, and "Bike Culture".
Practical improvements include measures at the level of local government, such as bike lanes , improved parking facilities, and access to public transportation. Improvements in products that improve the bicycling experience, such as flat-resistant tires and simple, effective safety products also help encourage people to cycle. These techniques help address the common objections to bicycling: "I don't feel safe", "my tires are flat", "what if my bike gets stolen?"
Bike Culture contributors use their efforts to access the emotions that are at the heart of decision-making. Recognizing that bicycling for transportation represents a significant departure from a more established automobile-centered lifestyle, and therefore requires a strong emotional basis, Bike Culture artists, musicians, and organizers seeks to use their offerings and events to embolden these emotions, and encourage people to use bicycles as a transportation choice. Through music, art, and shared group experiences such as rides and events, bike culture aims to hit the emotions that can bring us the point of making changes in peoples daily habits and lives.
Bike culture consists of:
- Bike music
- Bike films
- Art bikes, often impractical for transportation purposes or fantastical, such as tall bikes, choppers, unusual multi-person human-powered vehicles, and human powered floats.
- Printed word: blogs, haikus, zines and magazines, stickers, spoke cards. Books include: Thomas Stevens with his narrative "Around the World on a Bicycle," Mark Twain with his essay "Taming the Bicycle" and H. G. Wells with his novel The Wheels of Chance are popular to bicycle culture.
- Spoken word: slang, rap, poetry
- Arts and crafts (both handmade and mass manufactured): an example of visual art is Mona Caron's Bike Mural.
Contributors to bike cultureEdit
Many cities contain subcultures of bicycle enthusiasts, including racers, bicycle messengers, bicycle transportation activists, mutant bicycle fabricators, bicycle mechanics, and cyclists who share an interest in peace and justice activism or various counter-culture groups. Group activities may involve competitive cycling, fun rides, or even civil disobedience, which is how motorists may characterize the activities of Critical Mass. Some groups work to promote bicycle transportation (community bicycle program); others fix up bicycles to give to children or the homeless, or to poor people in other countries (Bikes Not Bombs).
Bicycle magazines and organizations give yearly awards to cities for being "bicycle friendly". US Cities known as such include Austin, Boulder, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Portland feature "bicycle culture" as part of their urban identity.
Midnight Ridazz is a group of bicycle enthusiasts who ride every second Friday of the month in Los Angeles California. Riding in numbers exceeding 1000 cyclists, this ride's only political motive is to inspire more people to ride bicycles. Similar midnight rides such as the Midnight Mystery rides of Portland and Victoria, the bi-monthly Midnight Mass of Vancouver BC, and similar rides across the US and Europe have been growing in popularity.