Category: Lifestyle

Cargo biking, one big sub-sub-culture of American bicycling

Updated May 10, 2011, to include link and information about cargo bike meetup.

As far as the sub-culture of American bicycling goes, cargobikes are quickly becoming one of the fastest sub-sub-cultures.

I’m part of a group of cargobike owners and enthusiasts. We blog and post photographs about our cargo bikes and spread the cargobike love to our friends and neighbors. A friend of mine in Portland, Oregon, first owned a bakfiets (Dutch cargo bike with bucket in front), a Madsen (bucket in back), and now simultaneously owns an orange Yuba Mundo and a black Harry vs. Larry Bullitt (modern, aluminum take on Danish Long John bike).

Travis may like cargobikes more than me – he makes t-shirts!

So what did I do to earn my cargobike chops this month?

I just added five new comments to Dottie’s review of her one-day trip around town with the Yuba Mundo, now for sale at two Chicago local bike shops, J.C. Lind and Blue City Cycles (where mine was born).

I’m also working on emulating this Portland cargo bike meetup for Chicago. My first problem is finding the appropriate bar/restaurant that has a lot of space out front for all the Chicagoans to bring their family and cargo bikes.

Cargo bike meet-up outside Green Dragon Pub in SE Portland. Photo by Jonathan Maus.

I went all the way to Portland, Oregon, to test ride a Yuba Mundo at Joe Bike on Hawthorne. See more photos of my Yuba Mundo or from that trip.

Chicago cycling cliques

As part of what seems to be New City’s week of articles about all things bike in Chicago, John Alex Colón, wants to take you back to high school. The high school lunchroom specifically.

Who exudes more “cool” in this photo?

In “Even cycling has its ‘Mean Girls’,” he equates bike riding attitudes in Chicago to those of cliques, seating preferences, and what you had on your tray.

Always more important than mid-day nourishment was the decision to align yourself with a certain slice of the stratified, trajectory-defining social construct of the lunchroom. Similarly, with whom you choose to cycle and where you choose to cycle matters more in Chicago than that Salisbury steak you’re riding.

I understand John’s point of view, and I think I’ve witnessed such stratification in action, but I believe the people who engage in the uncultivating behavior of arbitrarily classifying other bike riders are few and far between. Go to a Critical Mass ride in the summer and you’ll meet people who wouldn’t think once about judging others on their choice in helmet wearing, or style and function of their bicycle. You’ll meet people who showed up because they heard 2,000 other people will, too, and they get to ride a bike.

Ride because you wanna ride!

Whatever the truth about biking in-crowds may be (or its prevalence), John and I both agree about how to deal with it: “My advice is to enjoy your ride no matter how you practice it, because you are part of it. Regardless of what you eat or what you ride, cycling culture exists because of your pedal power.”

Cycle Chic can’t stop

The Urbanophile writes a cheeky essay not just about Cycle Chic, but also about racy girls on bikes (not racing), fashion, The Sartorialist, and more! It’s “Girls on bikes.”

It doesn’t seem like a normal topic, somehow squeezed in between copious opinions on Ohioan cities or how to fight your state’s Department of Transportation.

Guys can be cycle chic, too! Yours truly riding a WorkCycles Fr8 from the Dutch Bike Co. in Chicago, Illinois.