Copenhagenizing Has Another Name: The Slow Bike Movement


Image credit Lloyd Alter

We have talked about "Copenhagenizing", Mikael Colville-Anderson's term for learning to ride bikes like they do in Copenhagen, in street clothes, at a comfortable pace, usually without a helmet. Andrew Sullivan points us to the American version, where it has become part of the Slow Movement, and is now called Slow Biking. (My own idea for a Slow Car Movement never caught on.)
At the Public Bike Launch, New York City

Celeste LeCompte makes some suggestions for Slow Biking in the San Francisco Chronicle:

-Choose a bike that lets you keep an upright posture. Racing-style road bikes encourage the rider to lean forward, while step-throughs, cruisers and mixte frame bikes are more upright.

-- Look for fashion-protecting features. Keep your ride comfy and your clothes clean with good fenders, chain guards or internal hubs, flat pedals and maybe even a kickstand.

-- Go for gears. You're not looking for a lot, but more gears gives you more options when you're tackling San Francisco's hilly terrain at a more casual speed.

-- Ride safely. Even though you're riding slowly, don't forgo the helmet, stop at traffic signals and ride predictably.

-- Share the road. When you're riding slowly, it's easier to double up in the roadways and chat with a fellow rider. Bring a friend and enjoy the time to catch up.


I would also point out that slow biking is a lot safer. I ride a gearless Strida that is a lot slower than conventional bikes, and find that I dodge pedestrians and brake for opening doors a lot more easily than I would on a conventional bike.

Felix Salmon picks up the story at Reuters, and suggests that everyone should just slow down:

As a general rule, the propensity of non-bicyclists to give biking a try is inversely proportional to the average velocity of the bikers they see on the street. If you live in a city where women in wedge heels are steering their old steel bikes around their daily errand route, there's really nothing intimidating or scary about the prospect of getting on a bike yourself. If it's all hipsters on fixies, by contrast, that just makes biking feel all the more alien and stupid.

So, next time you get on a bike, give yourself an extra five or ten minutes, and take your time. You'll be much happier for doing so. And your happiness is likely to prove contagious.

While I agree with Felix about slowing down, I don't share his criticism of hipsters on fixies; I find that generally they would fall into the slow biking movement. It is more the jerks on probably stolen mountain mountain bikes, like the one I saw riding on the sidewalk yesterday, almost taking out a walking hipster, that are the real problem.

More on Slow Biking:
Mikael of Copenhagenize on Why We Should NOT Wear Bike Helmets
Dutch Cycling: Remember the Phone, Forget the Helmet

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Tags: Bikes | Biking