Can we make biking look normal?

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Photo by PATRICIA BECK/Detroit Free Press

Thanks for the Free Press for running an article on biking to work. And thanks to Sally Palaian, whose highlighted in the article, for her commitment to bike to work.

But if Metro Detroit has any hope of increasing the number of people biking to work, we need to make it look normal, starting by showing bike commuters in normal clothes.

Blue jeans. Khakis. Collared shirts. Perhaps a suit on occasion.

mange_cyklister_jpg_281_mbBiking to work doesn’t mean one must dress like Lance Armstrong. We need to show people that ride bikes to work, not cyclists that ride to work.

It’s enough of a challenge to encourage people to change their mode of transportation. Why try to change their mode of clothing?

On the right is a photo from Denmark’s We Cycle to Work web site.

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19 Responses to “Can we make biking look normal?”

  1. Mike Ingels Says:

    Interesting. I used to live in an apartment about a half mile off Chicago Boulevard in Tecumseh, MI. Half the people who lived there either walked or biked to work out of necessity. And I think that there are lots of people like that in Monroe and Lenawee Counties. I think that it has something to do with the major elephant in the room – class structure. I guess if you can’t afford a car, you aren’t really a biker.

    BTW, older cities like Monroe and Adrian have excellent legacy sidewalk systems that make it possible to walk and bike to the necessities.

  2. Streetsblog » Today’s Headlines Says:

    […] Commuting’s Image Problem (M-Bike via […]

  3. Streetsblog » How Can We Make Bike Commuting “Normal”? Says:

    […] M-Bike.org in Detroit wants to project a different image of bike commuters. Like, they want them to look […]

  4. BB Says:

    How do you tell some one it is going to take an extra hour to get to work and make that normal. Was the reporter on a bike?

  5. Streetsblog » How Can We Make Bike Commuting “Normal”? Says:

    […] M-Bike.org in Detroit wants to project a different image of bike commuters. Like, they want them to look […]

  6. Todd Scott Says:

    There are a few different ways to justify the extra time cycling to work may take.

    * Getting the recommended moderate exercise each week takes time. Biking to work may let you kill two birds with one stone.
    * Driving and maintaining cars is far more expensive than it is for bicycles. Money is time.
    * Studies show that regular exercise leads to improved health and a longer lifespan. You may spend more of your day commuting by bike, but you’ll live longer.

  7. Streetsblog » Can We Make Bike Commuting “Normal?” Says:

    […] M-Bike.org in Detroit wants to project a different image of bike commuters. Like, they want them to look […]

  8. Poor Suburban Rider Says:

    Yes all of this is fine when you live only a few miles from where you work. While that may be the case in Detroit, many of us who live in expensive urban areas (DC) can’t live close enough to ride on a dutch bike in a suit. Thus my spandex and sick Fuji Cross. If you think most working stiffs like me can do 40 miles roundtrip in a suit, you are nuts. Everyone I’ve talked to expresses apprehension about riding to work not because of the wardrobe but because they are unable to afford to live close enough to make riding a feasible option. That, and it gets to be 95 and humid here in the summer.

    The real way to get people on bikes; work with government to incentivize smarter growth and living patterns. There is no other way. In most parts of America, it is illegal to zone for pedestrians and cyclists. that is what keeps them off the road, not jerseys.

  9. Todd Scott Says:

    Poor Suburban Rider,

    I don’t disagree, but getting people to bike shorter distances to work in normal clothes is the lower hanging fruit. Getting people to ride 10 or 20 miles is a challenge. It’s pretty easy to live close to where you work in Detroit yet despite that we have the nation’s worst job sprawl.

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  15. Chris Says:

    Blasphemy! The Spandex police are on their way… 😉

  16. A Week of Detroit Biking Events | m-bike.org Says:

    […] we had bike commuters looking “normal” in blue jeans, baggy shorts and cotton […]

  17. I Bike NY Says:

    Bike commuting is not a sport and you don’t need to dress like it is!
    http://ibikenyc.com/2009/03/29/bike-commuting-is-not-a-sport/
    You probably won’t even sweat–
    http://ibikenyc.com/2009/05/02/bike-commuting-no-sweat/

  18. It’s winter bike commuting, not the Olympics | m-bike.org Says:

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  19. Fred Says:

    @PoorSuburbanRider Those who do live a bit too far from work might want to try driving part way and then biking the rest. I used to do that and it was still so worth it. I was sitting in traffic for the last few miles anyway and this way I get some excersize and save time on average. I used a folding bike so I could just keep it in my trunk.

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