The København cycle chic manifesto

January 2nd, 2018

Jane and I spent today cycling in Stockholm. It is still cold here and the ride triggered a memory from over ten years ago. Early that morning, I remember finding the København Cycle Chic Manifesto, inspired by the photographer Mikael Colville-Andersen . The very first photo that he published about bicycles in Sweden, taken on 14th November 2006, has been referred to as “the photo that launched a million bicycles”:

The first photo

I wrote earlier about Sweden’s fixation with bicycles . That was not the first time I have pondered the subject though. About six months ago I had an unpleasant run-in with a Kiwi MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra) early one morning who swore like a sailor at me. Apparently, I did not get out of his way fast enough. I was running on a narrow path while he was geared-up and glowing like he was ready for the Tour de France. I forgave him – LOUDLY – as he pedaled off into the distance and he responded with a perfectly delivered one-fingered salute.

So, here for your enjoyment is the current version of the manifesto:

The København Cycle Chic Manifesto

We’ve been discussing for ages the composing of a manifesto regarding Cycling Chic. We coined the phrase, after all, so we thought it necessary to highlight what it’s all about. So here it is as ever, with a hint of seriousness, a splash of poetry and a dash of playfulness:

  • I choose to cycle chic and, at every opportunity, I will choose Style over Speed.
  • I embrace my responsibility to contribute visually to a more aesthetically pleasing urban landscape.
  • I am aware that my mere presence in said urban landscape will inspire others without me being labelled as a ‘bicycle activist’.
  • I will ride with grace, elegance and dignity.
  • I will choose a bicycle that reflects my personality and style.
  • I will, however, regard my bicycle as transport and as a mere supplement to my own personal style. Allowing my bike to upstage me is unacceptable.
  • I will endeavor to ensure that the total value of my clothes always exceeds that of my bicycle.
  • I will accessorize in accordance with the standards of a bicycle culture and acquire, where possible, a chain guard, kickstand, skirt guard, fenders, bell and basket. 
  • I will respect the traffic laws.
  • I will refrain from wearing and owning any form of ‘cycle wear’.(Let’s be honest, steel-toed boots, life vests, bullet-proof vests, construction hats, bike helmets or any other kind of safety gear have a hard time being chic, no matter how much the people who make them and profit off of them would like them to be. Chic isn’t just on the surface, it’s also in the brain so we encourage people to make an effort to understand the science of helmets.)

So, any MAMIL’s reading this – lighten up and, please, lose the one-fingered salutes.

Author: Rockweather

I am a writer, musician, teacher, and researcher at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Auckland, New Zealand.

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