It’s true that bicycles are a thing of beauty and craftsmanship. Just like your choice of car, they have the potential to reflect your personality and make a fashion statement. And of course, bikes made by designers like Cynthia Rowley and Fendi remind people that hey, there are still bikes around, and sometimes people ride them.
But overall, I don’t think that the bicycle as accessory fad will have a long-term effect on cycling culture or make a significant addition to the number of bicycle commuters on the road. And it’s not because I am afraid of “wobbling fashionistas” endangering my safety—I’m happy to encourage anyone who wants to give riding a bike a try.
Here’s my reasoning: By making a bike seem like a luxury item or a fashion accessory, it takes away from the idea of the bicycle as a functional instrument that can be part of anyone’s day-to-day life. Yes, it can and should add beauty to that life as well. Yes, I personally prefer to cycle in everyday clothes, and I try to make those clothes fashionable. But since a bicycle is meant to be a practical, useful tool for getting around, it’s not something you should buy on looks (or designer name) alone. Are the people who buy these bikes really getting something that fits their needs and lifestyle? If not, they’re not going to be riding longterm.
Perhaps this worry is pointless, since it’s likely that these designer models will only appeal to those who were waiting for a bicycle with enough bling to dazzle them into forgetting that riding it entails getting off the couch and turning off “Gossip Girl.” Those people will likely be perfectly content with a Rowley cruiser. But anyone who thinks these bikes are going to lead to a large increase in bicycle commuters and bike advocates is fooling themselves.