Copenhagenizing Has Another Name: The Slow Bike Movement

slow bike photo

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.)

slow bike new york photo

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.

slow bike new york bike lane photo

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

Follow me on Twitter! @lloydalter and friend me on Facebook

Related Content on