Monday, 11 August 2008

You're Better Off by Bike

Of late, I have been obsessed with cycling. It may seem odd, but let me explain: The current vogue in menswear of rolling-up trousers and t-shirt sleeves, coupled with a heightened sense of ecological awareness and the ol’ “credit crunch” all seem to coincide with the bicycle. This fashion stems from two influential points.
First, the bicycle courier; a utilitarian yet very individual figure who is enough of an outsider to convincingly rock a Mohican haircut or a radio headset without looking like a prat, but still prevalent across urban cityscapes, literally cutting a dash through the city. It is the independent, maverick nature of these couriers which is appealing; while they do not have a uniform per se, they are instantly recognisable (even without the bikes), and their daily play with death or serious injury in urban traffic combined with honed physiques and undeniable confidence make them attractive.
Second, the East London fashionite. As the quest for affordable housing in London pushes people much further from the centre, East London’s relatively affordable ‘studio’ and ‘warehouse’ spaces have become the de rigueur place to reside for a good few years now. While trendy in an edgy sort of way, fashionable types working centrally have realized that travel costs are eating into their Beyond Retro budgets, and thus invested in retro bikes in order to commute more easily. As cycle lanes have sprung up, so has the popularity of this method of transport, and now Bethnal Green Road is positively bursting with pretty girls on Pashleys in pastels and pointy shoes.
The convergence of these two scenes, coupled with a particular excitement bubbling up from within my peer group for this mode of transport has seen an influx of courier-inspired fashion details. From mutlicoloured cyclecaps, to the aforementioned cuffing of trousers; fashion spreads in transport/fashion hybrid magazine Intersection and endless photos of our buffoon of a mayor cycling to work, cycling is everywhere. Time to get on the saddle. For me, this t-shirt embodies this scene. Meeting a group of couriers in a central London pub, we got to talking, and one of them was selling these t-shirts. Turns out he'd been involved in an altercation with a Merc, which had run him over. In anger, he'd picked up his bike and chucked it through the Merc's windscreen. Ordered to pay damages, he took the inventive approach of making these t's and selling them off, thereby easily recouping his losses. Hotheaded initially, but with the support of not only the courier community, but the wider public also, this for me was a tipping point into cycling culture. Send in the bikes...
Other Staples this week:
Embracing cycling culture
Field Day festival
Rediscovering Mario Kart & GoldenEye on the N64
M&S Scones
Relaxing on a sofa

EDIT: Just as I was about to publish this post, a TfL adfor cycling appeared on the telly; thus inspiring the title. Fate...?

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