Saturday, June 06, 2009

Front Porch Cycle Chic: The revolt against lifestyle

Two people converse next to a high-wheel bicycle at the fence of the first home of Alfred W. Bitting, 259 North Emporia Avenue, Wichita, c. 1882. Unknown photographer. Click image to enlarge. Repository: Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum. Image found here.

I don't know whether the bicycle in the picture belonged to the Bitting family or to a visitor. But it doesn't matter. What matters for purposes of this (very long) piece is what that bicycle suggests to me and, indeed, what cycling has come to embody for me: an easy, practical means for its owner to maintain a connection with others who don't live within its owner's immediate vicinity.

Something I'd never before imagined myself seeing was a philosophical kinship of any sort between Copenhagen Cycle Chic and Front Porch Republic. But that was before this morning. As strange a confluence as this is, though, it matters to you--or should--if you share my interest in trying to shift the conceptual frame cycling gets placed in by Wichitans--even by most cyclists--known by the insidious term "lifestyle." Until that shift occurs, we'll continue to see really, really nice bike paths built that don't really go to places where people live, work and shop and, at the same time, a continued lack of on-street infrastructure for cyclists that would facilitate their getting to places where they do live, work and shop.

(Much) more here.

1 comment:

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