A short time ago I started a new blog, District Citizen Cycling. It’s a mix of photos (mine, see slideshow above for some samples), short video clips, articles, links, etc springing from my somewhat new passion for what might be called a European (mainly Dutch/Danish) model of biking and bike culture - dressed in normal clothes, riding slower, sitting more upright, trying to follow traffic laws, ideally on a bike with a chainguard, fenders, even a skirt over the rear wheel. ‘Citizen cycling’, aka upright biking, sit-up biking, utility biking, etc.
Tongue somewhat in cheek, I subtitled the blog 'Chainguard Revolution’. Meaning in order to ride-as-you-are, it all starts with the chainguard et al. No pant-leg clips or worrying about getting splattered in wet weather. A 'revolution’ because bicycling needs a model of urban riding that is more attractive to the masses. So a driver could see a citizen cyclist toodling along comfortably upright on their commute or errands and think, hey, that could be me.
It quickly becomes a self-reinforcing cycle - if vastly more non-bikers start biking, the city can justify even more bicycle amenities like protected bike lanes, traffic tends to calm, and the quality of life increases overall. Even drivers benefit from less traffic. Getting around becomes more sustainable, healthier, more fun. The worst part of your day (the commute) becomes the best.
Seems people everywhere are having a similar lightbulb moment. Just look at Copenhagen, Amsterdam, or Munich. Or Montreal or emerging bike cities like New York. Ask half a million Danes who commute by bike everyday, generally without incident and without helmets. Their bikescape is that safe and well-developed (the helmet debate is a whole other issue, and a tiresome one at that).
Anyway I hope you’ll take a look, even if you’re not interested in biking per se. I’m no bike geek myself, at times the blog is as much about Washington, its neighborhoods, and a certain urban aesthetic as it is about the city’s emerging bike culture.
In other words it’s not just biking. A better biking city is a better city.
You can follow District Citizen Cycling on Facebook and Twitter (@dcitizencycling).