CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum » Debate!

At what point is technical clothing 'bad'?

(119 posts)
  • Started 9 years ago by Wilmington's Cow
  • Latest reply from gembo

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  1. Dave
    Member

    "Perhaps people are missing that the point of Copenhagenize is to, well, 'copenhagen-ise'."

    "And so if we wear the "right" clothes and ride the "right" bikes then the government will pour all its money into turning the whole of the UK into Copenhagen(may angels sing its name unto God)? I don't think so."

    But you're attacking a straw man since the message of the Mainstream Cycling Movement (TM) to a prospective cyclist would be that *any* of their clothes are OK. Also, saying that you can ride a short distance to work on any bike (even the one in the back of your shed) is exactly the opposite of saying only the "right" sort of bike can be ridden.

    In fact, I'm not sure whether you aren't suckering me with a deliciously ironic reply, since what Copenhagenize is arguing is also against buying into the "right" sort of clothes, although "right" is subject to which side of the argument the speaker is on!?

    "The 'problem' from their perspective is a self-perpetuating exclusiveness that comes from being an out-group compounded twice over by having out-group clothes."

    "The "problem" from their perspective is that people in the UK do not have cycle friendly junctions, cleared and gritted cycle paths and segregated cycle lanes and so dress and ride accordingly and that this is somehow their fault."

    I'm not sure that people do "dress accordingly" though. There's nothing about junction design, gritted paths etc. that denotes a particular mode of dress. I would say that the narrow and specific type of people who participate in cycling define the type of clothes that are worn, and seen to be worn, by "British cyclists".

    There's a chicken-and-egg issue here. Cyclists are marginalised, both numerically and institutionally - an out-group. There is no solution to this except the "mainstreaming" of cycling, which requires one of two things - ordinary people becoming more like current cyclists, or cyclists becoming more like ordinary people.

    Of course, not everybody wants to be "mainstreamed". I'm not sure I want cycling to be as popular here as it is in Europe, it would make it slow to get around, the segregated paths especially, I'd always have to be watching out for meandering pedestrians, and so on.

    It's also inherently understood that to suggest something should change is to criticise it, i.e. there is no way to advocate anything to do with cycling (except the status quo) that doesn't involve criticising people who will not like what they hear.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  2. kaputnik
    Moderator

    ordinary people becoming more like current cyclists

    Yeah! More people stomping round Waitrose in lycra shorts and clipless shoes :)

    Posted 9 years ago #
  3. chdot
    Admin

    "
    If more people rode bikes instead of driving cars, we might see more of a change in funding provision.

    "

    Mmm that is a 'chicken and egg'!

    "

    People don't know whether to buy into the message that you can cycle effectively in normal clothes, or that to cycle effectively you need specialised clothes made of dinosaurs and palm trees.

    "

    Even after all that has been posted above I'm far from convinced that 'uncertainty' about what to wear is putting off more than a tiny number of people - it may be a useful (extra) excuse.

    There are enough 'role models' - full lycra, bit of this and that, obviously 'everyday'/work clothing for people to 'get the message' that there is no 'rule'.

    The facts remain - in Edinburgh - more people ARE cycling.

    I wish a lot of things were better - 'infrastructure' (AND ESPECIALLY MAINTENANCE), driver attitudes, politicians, etc.

    There are clearly people who care about what they wear more than others (NOT related to cycling).

    There are clearly people who care about what they are seen driving/riding.

    There will undoubtedly be people surrounded by people who think/say 'you don't wanna do that' ('cycling' - or even riding a bike).

    If more people cycle, more people will cycle (even under present less than wonderful conditions).

    I some ways (in theory) I am more concerned about people who start cycling and then give up.

    It may be that they get a fright, get wet/cold (which is where clothing IS relevant). It could be that 'it's too hard' - either because they don't know that it needs a bit of persistence to make it 'easier' - or they don't understand gears - or don't have the 'right' bike.

    Many people (understandably) borrow, buy secondhand or cheap (supermarket etc.)

    Unless they get lucky/good advice this is probably more of a disincentive than choosing the right 'look'.

    I have helped many 'beginners' by making sure that they feel confortable on their bikes.

    Most basic things are -

    1) seat height - some people don't feel safe unless both feet are flat on the ground.

    2) properly inflated tyres. The response is "WOW! It feels like a new bike."

    I think this forum has done a lot to 'support'/encourage 'newbies'.

    Long may it continue.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  4. wingpig
    Member

    "Yeah! More people stomping round Waitrose in lycra shorts and clipless shoes :)"

    We'll know when UK cycling culture has become mainstream when they request that cyclists entering shops have to put little things over their shoes to stop them marking the floor, like when stiletto heels went mainstream and people with shiny wooden floors requested that they mount little tiddlyink things over the points of the heels to prevent the floor becoming covered with tiny little round stab-marks like the hall floor at my school.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  5. Morningsider
    Member

    anth - I'm sure he is a good bloke and he clearly knows his fashion/marketing stuff. I do think it healthy that we (Scottish cyclists) get challenged by outside experts from time to time to stop us from getting too complacent. However, I think this intervention has been unhelpful as it has diverted energies away from promoting cycling to (yet another) argument between existing cyclists.

    I also think cycling in Edinburgh and some other UK cities is at something of a turning point as numbers cycling are clearly increasing. I feel that a pupative UK cycling culture is slowly starting to emerge - one which involves at least some people wearing some cycle specific clothing. If cycling in the UK does continue to grow then I think the UK cycle culture will develop to be quite different from that in Denmark. On current trends it would seem that bikes will be more technical and people will wear more cycle specific gear than in Denmark. This is in part cultural (utility bikes are a very real minority) and in part practical (average distances are likely to be slightly longer due to city layouts, more hills etc).

    Posted 9 years ago #
  6. kaputnik
    Moderator

    @wingpig - you can already buy those... but to protect your fancy cleats, not someone's nice floor!

    Posted 9 years ago #
  7. "However, I think this intervention has been unhelpful as it has diverted energies away from promoting cycling to (yet another) argument between existing cyclists."

    I agree with that, but I don't think suggesting he is vain or that 'a woman wouldn't put up with him' is helpful in the context of countering his intervention. If anything resorting to personal jibes weakens the position - like I say, attack the intervention, not the intervenor...

    Posted 9 years ago #
  8. @kaputnik - absolutely necessary if you've got the basic Crank Bros cleats which appear to be made of cheese. And not a hard cheese like a Lincolnshire Poacher. Something more akin to an Ossau Iraty or a Durrus.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  9. Baldcyclist
    Member

    Apologies if some folks took my comments as a personal attack on this person, they weren't intended as such. They were intended as a light hearted stereotyping of this type of person. We do it all of the time on the forum eg High Octane Petrol what's his face, or a lot of the comments regarding types of motorists.

    Is this case different because the person is a cyclist, and some among us may be an acquaintance of him, or agree with some of what he says?
    Whilst most of the comments on this forum are general and person-less, some of them are most definitely directed at a person and sometimes quite scathing, are these comments deemed more acceptable because we don't know the person, or share some of their views?

    Posted 9 years ago #
  10. SRD
    Moderator

    "ordinary people becoming more like current cyclists"

    Was thinking about my day yesterday and day before - dropped daughter at school. lots of other bikes, although some usual cyclists on foot (cold/ice worries?). Cycled through brunstfield and meadows - lots of bikes. parked at UNi. Lots of bikes. Picked up daughter at afterschool care - followed in another Mum in cycle kit.

    Sunday: Stopped at PY for loaf of bread on the way home mid-afternoon - no parking for bike on any railings outside -- all full.

    Now, south Edinburgh and the Uni are not 'normal' but honestly, I could not have possibly have felt out of place at any time. All the places I went were packed out with bikes.

    Attire: Morning - lycra etc; Evening long woolen coat, skirt, boots.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  11. kaputnik
    Moderator

    I can sympathise with Baldcyclist, it was a joke taken out of context - which is all too easy to happen on forum / twitter / blog etc.

    I'm very, very tempted to do a "cyclechic manifesto" cartoon of a man in a (designer) mackintosh hiding in a bush taking pictures of pretty girls legs as they cycle by on utlity bikes. But I'm not going to. (Yet. I'm saving that in reserve.) Yes he's for whatever reason decided to pick on a cartoon as if it was a manifesto. Yes he has "previous" for this sort of thing". Yes he's smug and blind to any reasoned argument or debate that flies in the face of his own. Yes he's taken me completely out of context and over-looked certain points to the point of being disingenuous.

    But, no, I think fanning the flames with a counter-attack would not be productive - it would just "reduce me" to "his level". A level that has annoyed and frustrated me. Rise above it and draw a cartoon of nakedness, I say.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  12. "Whilst most of the comments on this forum are general and person-less, some of them are most definitely directed at a person and sometimes quite scathing, are these comments deemed more acceptable because we don't know the person, or share some of their views?"

    That's a fair point, and something I should be more aware of. Although I personally try (would have to check back to see if it's always successful) to comment on the idea rather than (say) suggest that Fuel Heid stays with his mum and is practised in the art of onanism.

    My take on it in this thread isn't that he's a cyclist and therefore it's unacceptable, but rather that it has nothing to do with the debate in question to suggest that he's unmarried and people couldn't put up with his vanity (though it would be interesting to see that sort of route taken elsewhere with Ed Balls suggesting that Osborne's policies were bunkum because he still lived with his mum and had a poster of Kylie on his bedroom wall).

    Posted 9 years ago #
  13. wingpig
    Member

    The university areas (both here and elsewhere in the country (except at UEA where there are far too many steps all over the place) exhibit a sort of microcosm of (for want of a better term) Copenhagenlike bikes-everywhere-ridden-by-people-dressed-non-stereotypically-cyclistically. It works there because the distances are short, hills are minimal (even the unfit and gearing-clueless soon get used to the slopey bits of KB-George Square when they're doing it a couple of times a day), there's no opportunity or time for people to change into and out of different clothes, the time saved even over such a short journey is palpable (even after finding somewhere to lock up on a railing outside Hugh Robson (this was before the current vast rank of racks was installed) or the Rutherford building), there's not too much to carry and the atmosphere is relaxed enough to accommodate a bit of puffing and sweating (though Dr. Kristmundsdottir once told me to remove my cap when I was trying to conceal my combination shower-damp/sweaty hair).

    This is absent from most of the rest of the city, but there are fingers spreading out from the hub areas, particularly into Marchmont and Bruntsfield. It'd be interesting to see what the occurrence and spread would be like without the off-road routes, and how the KB2CCQBC will affect things.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  14. TwoWheels
    Member

    Wingpig's got it. Personally, I'd much prefer a stilleto heel and it's accessory in my background visual environment over hi-viz and lycra (although I will confess that there are some cyclists who wear the lycra well.)

    In my little burg of 8,000 souls (not counting the damn bears, about a zillion deer and a couple of mountain lions), I am one of exactly 3 non-sport cyclists. Given that I am frequently seen, as I was yesterday, pedaling madly down the road in -15C temps, I know that the vast majority of the town think I'm a whacknut to start off with. Thus, I am free of both peer pressure and public approbation in the development of my satorial tastes. I am, if you will, a tabula rasa of cycling clothing selection.

    And, honestly, I don't think anything I wear has anything to do with how people around here view utility cycling. My office work clothes (suit and tie)? Whacknut. Everyday dude (jeans & tee)? Whacknut. Winter wonderland (2 underlayers, soft-shell pants, Underarmor jersey, fleece, bi-layer ski shell)? Whacknut. Sportif (Lycra shorts, logo jersey, wrap-around shades)? Whacknut.

    In short, the zeitgiest of my environment is so wrapped and tied to the automobile that *nothing I do, say or wear* will alter others' opinion of me.

    Absolutely the only thing that can change that -- and this is Copenhagenize's true genius -- is to make cycling sexy.

    This is how the automobile is sold. Look at any car ad -- it is dripping with sexy. As a man, I can have that 6-foot brunette with legs longer than a night in jail *if I buy THAT CAR!"

    As a woman, I can be as alluring and mysterious and desirable if I BUY THAT CAR!

    In short, I think Wingpig touched on, without realizing it, the solution to selling cycling in Scotland and, indeed, the rest of the civilized world.

    Stilletto heels. The more cyclists in stilletto heels, the more cyclists there will be.

    Ok, glad that's solved. Gotta go fix things up in the Middle East now.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  15. Dave
    Member

    "I feel that a pupative UK cycling culture is slowly starting to emerge - one which involves at least some people wearing some cycle specific clothing. If cycling in the UK does continue to grow then I think the UK cycle culture will develop to be quite different from that in Denmark. On current trends it would seem that bikes will be more technical and people will wear more cycle specific gear than in Denmark. This is in part cultural (utility bikes are a very real minority) and in part practical (average distances are likely to be slightly longer due to city layouts, more hills etc)."

    Yes. Also the point must be made that "cyclists' cyclists" are always going to be first. I bet in 70's Denmark there was also a preponderance towards "cycling enthusiasts" rather than "bike as a way of getting around" too, but this has lessened as cycling has become mainstream. People used to wear driving gloves to go driving.

    I also think it's important to look at advocacy with a full understanding of the point of it in mind; cycling in the UK "works" just fine right now, in the sense that anyone can get on a bike and get around wearing whatever they like with no significant realised danger or inconvenience to their person. The subjective view is not as rosy as the truth of it, but there you are.

    Advocacy means rocking the boat, that's just the way it is, and boat-rocking leads to fear, anger, and mistrust from current sailors as well as prospective ones ;-)

    Posted 9 years ago #
  16. Dave
    Member

    PS. great post by TwoWheels ;-)

    Posted 9 years ago #
  17. TwoWheels
    Member

    BTW, this is what I typically look like on any given day. You will understand, upon viewing, why anything I wear is likely to leave the general populace unfazed:

    http://www.docaltmed.com/aljimages/avery_yehuda.jpg

    Posted 9 years ago #
  18. Roibeard
    Member

    And just in case anyone takes umbrage at being unable to promote cycling due to a lack of said stilletos...

    Stilletos in sizes 8-14

    ;-)

    Robert

    Posted 9 years ago #
  19. minus six
    Member

    Looking again at the notion of Citizen Cyclists, I think the emphasis in Copenhagen (or Oslo etc) is of a Citizen that just happens to use a bike to get around.

    There's more emphasis on citizenship than anything else, and that actually means something in these european cities.

    We aren't citizens in the UK. We are subjects, and on the whole we are treated as children by the media and the authorities, more often than not.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  20. Min
    Member

    In fact, I'm not sure whether you aren't suckering me with a deliciously ironic reply, since what Copenhagenize is arguing is also against buying into the "right" sort of clothes, although "right" is subject to which side of the argument the speaker is on!?"

    The only delicious irony here is that you are having to reword the meaning of this particular article in order to disagree with me.

    If the article was a positive and encouraging one, pointing out to people who already know full well they can ride a bike in any gear but choose to ignore that to make excuses for themselves, I would agree with it. Because it is a negative one, attacking sporting cyclists for daring to post on the internet I do not.

    "It's also inherently understood that to suggest something should change is to criticise it, i.e. there is no way to advocate anything to do with cycling (except the status quo) that doesn't involve criticising people who will not like what they hear."

    Except that he is criticising the wrong people. We are already out on our bikes and trying to do our best to encourage the increase in bike use. Well most of us. Personally, despite wearing a range of gear from jeans to full on roadie gear throughout my life I have never done anything other than encourage other people to try cycling. And I have done this just by riding a bike. Sometimes I have done it by riding a fast bike huge distances in full on gear. And the people I have encouraged have then got on their BSOs in jeans, just like I did to start with because they are not stupid. Whether they stuck to it or not is not down to me. The fact that they got on in the first place is.

    People potter gently round Copenhagen in normal clothing because the authorities there decided that how it was going to be a few decades ago, not because the existing cyclists at the time started wearing bowler hats instead of Coppi caps.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  21. wingpig
    Member

    "Absolutely the only thing that can change that -- and this is Copenhagenize's true genius -- is to make cycling sexy."

    Google "shoreditch wheelers" (probably best to not do so at work). Note the "Fixe" magazine cover (unadorned! curved! do you see what they did there?). Attempting to make cycling sexy results in option A (added nakedness, predominantly female), option B (adoption by hipsters (including association football performers who wheel their pristine fixie to the shop and back from the SUV)) and option C (premium fashion branding).

    In a way, official specific cycling-wear can have an androgynising effect (except where it's been imaginatively coloured pastel pink or blue by the manufacturer) or at least reduces sartorial dimorphism, which could either be a good or a bad thing, depending on viewpoint and circumstance. At least it levels the playing field for the achievement of sexy (for those who want to try and deliberately achieve it whilst cycling) without it being purely down to 'normal' clothing's standard low-neck or high-hem (or lengthened-leg-at-the-expense-of-lumbar-integrity) cop-outs and whatever the appropriate male equivalents are, be they widening the shoulders and narrowing the waist (or at least discreetly covering the bit where the adipose tissue of the abdomen protrudes over the waistband of the trousers).

    Posted 9 years ago #
  22. crowriver
    Member

    Hoxton Wheelers, perhaps?

    It's easy to take the mick out of young people posing. The 'hipster' is an out group category too. Who are the folk doing all the hating though? 'Serious' cyclists? Or car drivers? Or both?

    Posted 9 years ago #
  23. wingpig
    Member

    Aha. Them are the ones.
    Which hating where?
    I can rephrase option B as occurrence as 'vaguely affordable fashion item' (as opposed to the relative unaffordability of option C) if you like.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  24. crowriver
    Member

    Oh I didn't mean you, I meant the folk who run that blog! Reminds me of the various pikey/chav/ned mickey taking sites, just an excuse to spit bile at a particular group of (usually) young folk...

    Sometimes being bitchy works, but you have to do it right. Bike Snob NYC springs to mind...

    Posted 9 years ago #
  25. Uberuce
    Member

    @SRD You seem to be saying that 'real cyclists' are the sporty ones?

    I confess! I am a dyed in the wool jock*, to borrow an admirably parsimonious idiom from across your side of the pond. If an activity has any kind of objective limit that skill, geekery and fitness can overcome, I'm pretty much always going to respect the act of pushing that limit as an end in itself. Usual ethical provisos, mind.

    Utility cycling is dead easy for me in my no-kids central flat, so the action's all in the sportive side, but I hadn't thought about people with a much harder job of utility cycling than me, which was a bit silly.

    Do we jocks spoil a perfectly relaxing fun stroll/pootle/game of frisbee by coming along and making a sport of it? Probably yes, but the idea of not caring at all about performance is a square peg and my brain's a round hole. Second day I cycled to work, I had to beat the time on the first day. Ho hum.

    *And also a Jock, which reminds me of the time I was walking past Craiglockhart primary and a lad in the playground starting point at me and shouting 'Scottish! You're Scottish!', which was a flawless guess.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  26. Dave
    Member

    "The only delicious irony here is that you are having to reword the meaning of this particular article in order to disagree with me.

    If the article was a positive and encouraging one, pointing out to people who already know full well they can ride a bike in any gear but choose to ignore that to make excuses for themselves, I would agree with it. Because it is a negative one, attacking sporting cyclists for daring to post on the internet I do not."

    First, the debate seemed to have moved on beyond one particular article (the man is vain and has no wife, and other ground already covered), so I was referring more to "Copenhagenization" than this specific article.

    However, genuinely, I think there's a danger of not being able to see the wood for the trees here. Obviously we know and enjoy Kaputnik's work but that doesn't mean it can't be used sincerely as an illustration of the phenomenon he's complaining about.

    I just googled for "winter cycling clothes" and applied the standard "prospective cyclist test" on them with the aid of a colleague.

    Five of the ten were selling roadie gear. Three of the remaining five were editorial but too hardcore for a perspective rider (buy a winter bike, etc).

    The last two were quite good though - the sort of thing I might link someone to. One says "It’s not hard to ride a beat-up old bike while wearing everyday pants, coat, and gloves." the other "Each day, simply look at the weather forecast and remember yesterday's ride. Were you too warm? Did you get wet? Were your ears cold? Is it going to be colder today? Will it rain?"

    Maybe I'm being too generous and referencing the list of sports equipment worn by a British commuter (provided in funky infographic format) was actually an evil act, but it didn't really get my dander up.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  27. I think it was the fact that the image of kaputnik wasn't just referenced but he called it 'useless', effectively branding it as 'part of the problem'. Misconstrued (deliberately ergo not sincerely?).

    In the context of the rest of the Copenhagenize site there's an editorial policy, clearly, and with that background it's hard to see the use as truly 'sincere'.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  28. ruggtomcat
    Member

    Right! Good debate!

    I think there is a definite cultural problem going on here as Dave rightly pointed out a couple pages ago. The university area is a much better model for Copenhagen style cycling than the sort we all do as commuters.

    Housing density in Copenhagen is unbelievable, and for most people its never more than about 3/4 miles to the center. Everyone rides a bike and it ceases to be a thing and just becomes another fashion item. If you go to gawp at the christiania bike shop window you will see it full of flat foot cruisers with beautiful custom paint jobs. I also saw the gaudiest bike ever, the cycle equivalent of a pair of gold nike's in another shop, and saw people riding them, in business suits.

    However once you get a couple miles out of the centre you find the ringroad (which is huge!) and the suburbs (which are much larger than ours, almost colonial feeling of spread) And there you mainly find the lycra crew.

    I would argue that we are seeing a difference between urban cycling and suburban cycling, where a bike is either just a quicker alternative to walking, or a viable alternative to driving.

    I think most people do just ride in their normal clothes, with concessions to 'safety' (helmet, viz) but there is a LOT higher percentage of long distance commuters here.

    as for the argument that this is detrimental to getting people riding, nah, I don't buy it. By all means cycling can be promoted as sexy and normal but you are always going to have elite groups and those who follow/deride them. Personally I think a well trained cyclist in full lycra looks stunning! Motorsport doesn't hurt car sales.

    I am in the 'whackjob' boat with two-wheels and so enjoy cycling to work in full suit, tie, top hat and stripey socks pulled up to my knees, and In fact never really wear cycle specific clothing anymore unless Im going upright.

    One thing that did get me tho from the list is a buff.

    A buff? Really? Personally I think they are one of the greatest pieces of modern clothing and am bereft when I don't have one. I think if your getting down to the level of attacking a subset for wearing a buff, then you have somewhat lost the point.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  29. Min
    Member

    "And there you mainly find the lycra crew."

    Are you saying (just to get this clear in my head) that there are people in Copenhagen who ride bikes wearing lycra?

    I had a think about this at lunchtime and personally I don't see any reason why cycling should be treated differently from anything else. Photography for example which I have recently got into. You don't need fancy equipment to take a photograph, especially not nowadays but how many articles have I seen deriding people with fancy cameras for putting people off using their mobile to take a photo? None. A quick google for "photography equipment" turns up a list of specialist photography shops. Is that elitist? Or just a reflection of what people who are interested in photography equipment are looking for?

    Posted 9 years ago #
  30. chdot
    Admin

    OK

    So what 'we' 'need' to do is Edinburghise Edinburgh - starting from PY outwards.

    It's obvious that 'we' are all doing the right thing - riding all sorts of bikes, all sorts of distances in all sorts of weather at all times of the year.

    In general we do this for our convenience on the best thing for the purpose according to our taste/style/budget.

    We also like sensible levels of comfort - which, due to vagaries of the weather it's not always possible to manage!

    We also like to be safe which involves a mixture of experience, caution/boldness, luck (sadly) and safety stuff (inc. lights) which may involve clothing - which might be "technical".

    Whether to be lycra-chic, cycle-chic, Edinburgh-chic, no-chic-Sherlock is personal choice.

    Any positive or negative effect on non-cyclers (or bicycleperps who may or may not think they are in the same out-group as you) is purely coincidental.

    Posted 9 years ago #

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