Copenhagen Cycle Chic

The Danes and Dutch lead the way in normalizing cycling. To them it’s just an everyday activity. Wide bike-friendly streets, priority over vehicles, punitive car tax and an abundance of bikes combine to make these countries a cycling heaven.

It’s also had an impact on the way that they dress for cycling. Their practical, sit-up-and-beg cycles are designed for getting from A to B in style, but not at excessive speeds. There’s simply no need to wear anything other than everyday clothes.

From Copenhagen Cycle Chic

Copenhagen Cycle Chic has been documenting Danes on two wheels since 2006, which in online terms is about a generation. The site is biased towards nubile females and to my eyes there’s a slightly voyeuristic feel to it. If I set up London Commuter Chic and started snapping girls on the Underground, I’d probably get arrested, but the Danes seem cool about it. It’s now so much a part of the Danish cultural fabric it’s become immortalised in Lego.

I toured Denmark by bike in ’93. I stood out like a sore thumb with scruffy sports clothing and cycling helmet. The latter caused some amusement among Copenhagen’s cyclists. On or off a bike the Danes are intimidatingly (spell checker says that’s not a word, but it should be) stylish.

Copenhagen Cycle Chic has spawned a world-wide franchise of sites celebrating stylish cycling. The list reads like a table of contents for Wallpaper* magazine; Rio, San Francisco, Barcelona they’re all present. So a tick for the cool cities, but what caught my eye was that Sheffield now sports a Cycle Chic clone. This has a much more everyday feel to it. I’m now eagerly awaiting Hull, Doncaster, Newport [insert regular British town here] Cycle Chic.

So if there’s someone pointing a lens at you next time you’re at the traffic lights, you might want to check your local cycle chic site.

  1. There are all types of cyclists in CPH. Good bike paths mean they can avoid getting so dirty and so don’t need to change out of their regular clothes. I don’t know if this really makes them more stylish.

    I would say that most of them don’t do more than 5k in a journey. They also go slowly on heavy old bikes (bike theft is rife so why get a nice bike when you can get something to do your commute and/or pub trips for 500 DKK?) and thus don’t feel they need a shower at the end of it (although I would argue that some of them do; cycling related BO is fairly common in Danish offices).

    But this kind of riding wouldn’t really be possible in a hot climate or over longer distances, worse road/path conditions etc.

    Not wearing a helmet is just dumb. I used to go cycling just with a cap, but at some point about 12-13 years ago it just stopped feeling OK. Recently saved me an injury in a nasty little crash.

    • Hi Niilo – you’re my first genuine comment!

      I’ve heard about the theft problem. In the Netherlands it’s as high 1 in 4 bikes. I hadn’t heard about the “cycling related BO” problem but it makes sense – reassuring to know that the Danes aren’t quite as perfect on every count.

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