Posted by: Mike Rubbo | December 3, 2009

The Guy from Cycle Chic

I’ve just finished editing the film you find below. A young filmmaker friend of mine, Violeta Brana-Lafourcade went to Copenhagen recently to interview for this blog, the famous Mikael Colville-Andersen.

Mikael is a film maker by background whose life, chance has turned in a different direction.

The uploading of a photo of his several years ago onto Flicker, a mysterious snap of a long skirted biker in high heels (she was waiting for the lights to change) catapulted him into a a new life.

The wild response prompted the creation of the blog, Copenhagen Cycle Chic, dedicated to the discovery that not only are bikes beautiful, but they present those who ride them as very beautiful as well.

Whilst the word, Chic, suggests fashion, even the fashion industry, catwalks, etc. Mikael’s observed cycle world is peopled by riders who wear their own clothes, who are not posing, who are unselfconscious in their gliding beauty.

There is no promotion of special cycling clothes here, indeed his cycle chic is all about avoiding the the usual uniforms of cycling, the tight lycra, the space age helmets.

It’s all, by contrast, about just getting on a bike, any old bike, and just riding it because that’s the the most sensible way to get from A to B. The attractiveness is the byproduct.

As my blog name suggests, I put special emphasis on the type of bike one rides, the sit-up bike and the posture it produces.

It’s no accident that almost every photo on Cycle chic has its rider proudly and serenely upright as if to say, I’m at the peak of this way of being, and I’ve nothing to do with cyclists hunched over their machines for speed.

Cycling is a broad church, everyone keeps reminding me. True enough, but here in Australia, the congregation has warped itself a certain way, and I find nothing wrong with suggesting some balance.

It so happens that this coincides with the bursting on the scene of a video from Britain which explores beauty on bikes. It’s release is imminent

We have only seen the trailer of Beauty and the Bike, as yet but everyone is rightly tantalized. Here it is.

I plan to explore this same theme here; why are young women not riding bikes?

On a smaller scale, but following the same idea, I hope to recruit a group of young women, probably around 15-16, who’ve never been interested in using bikes for transport, and find out why.

Then, having nailed down the reasons for their disinterest, we’ll get them on some stately sit-up bikes, dressed as they want to be seen, and we’ll have them riding around, savoring this new experience, and seeing if their attitudes change.

We will have a problem, Jill Charlton and I, which the British film makers did not have.

There, the girls could legally ride without helmets. Since helmets, we predict will turn out to be part of the problem, my daughter recently got on a bike after many years when I stopped the helmet nagging…..

….we’ll have to find a way to have our girls ride hair free as well.

Anticipating that problem, we’ll find an off road location which looks like normal streets, but to which the helmet law does not apply, probably the grounds of a University. There, we’ll do our test rides.

Anyone who’d like to help with this project, please contact this blog.

And if you think we’re thus promoting dangerous behavior, consider that the safest cycling takes place in those countries with the least helmet use, a paradox which it takes some time to delve, but which deserves debate it has yet to get.

See another film on this blog; Doctor on a Bike

See also the films on the charming Sue Abbott, who has chosen to confront the law.

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Responses

  1. Great film Mike.

    I think we have some big problems with developing a cycle culture in the UK. Most UK cyclists are fetishists who hate the idea of cycle paths, normal bikes and normal clothes. However the biggest obstacle is the car lobby and the terrible dangerous driving, something that has got a lot worse in my 30 years on a bike… I spend a lot of time getting wound up by these things, so I really like the gentle and relaxed style of your films, it is very calming after the daily commute.

    Your telling of Sue’s tale was great, I only wish common sense could prevail and your countries laws could be reversed.

    Best
    Nipper

    • Thanks, Nipper, for the great reply. It’s so encouraging when people bring in their own perspective, in this case on my “relaxed films” which I did not realize might work this way. I try also to give them more polish and craft than you usually see on Youtube. If there can be cycle chic, then I’m reaching for a special mini movie mood.

      Now, I’ll drop in your blog. By the way to you know the blog, View from the Cycle path? David Hembrown moved from GB to Holland for the riding, and does not regret it at all. Mike

      Cheers, Mike

  2. Hi Mike

    Thanks for the link on my comments page (apologies I’m not very technology savvy so I haven’t figured out how to put a contact me on my blog yet – only just managed to add comments the other week!).

    An interesting film and congratulations on getting an interview with the man himself. I can see the challenge of getting cycle chic to take off in Australia is a big undertaking. However, having only just ditched my own helmet recently, I can say on the plus side that the current fashion for straight hair means helmet hair isn’t too much of an issue. Now perms and curls – well that’s more of a challenge…

  3. Another excellent video Mike.

    I found this video really interesting because it brings me back to where I started.

    I grew up in France, near Paris. Lots of people, especially kids, were using bicycle as a daily form of transport. You would cycle to school, to the shops, to your friends place, or wherever you needed to go. You never worried about safety. Car drivers were very respectful of bicycles. Accidents were very rare. Cycling was simply normal. There was bicycle parking everywhere.

    When I came to Australia, it was very different. There were few bicycles. Cars did not respect bicycles much, cycling seemed “dangerous”. You were supposed to wear a clumsy hat called a helmet, although it provides minimal protection.

    The helmet law only result was to discourage people from cycling. That made cyclists an even smaller minority of road users that car drivers feel increasingly comfortable to be aggressive towards. It has made the situation worse. Cycling is no safer, and the real source of the problem, motorists attitudes, has been exacerbated.

    Most people don’t even consider using a bicycle for short trips anymore. I know of some older people who keep complaining about various illnesses and health problems. If only they would cycle for short trips, many of those problems would go away. They would be a lot healthier & happier as a result.

    As a society, we are shooting ourselves in the foot by discouraging cycling in Australia.

  4. Sounds like a great idea. One thing intrigues me – do you have areas in Oz where the helmet law does not apply? Here in NZ, it is the mere act of getting on a bicycle that requires a helmet. Although this is not the case for a tricycle or unicycle – go figure!
    See
    http://aucklandcyclechic.blogspot.com/2009/11/what-do-unicycles-and-tricycles-have-in.html
    http://aucklandcyclechic.blogspot.com/2009/10/new-zealand-australia-upside-down.html


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