Friday, August 12, 2011

The Great American People's Bike Revolution Cometh

So as I've no doubt endlessly prattled about, my favorite form of cycling is done by the people, for the people, because it's a lot of fun, it's practical, and it's a hell of a cheap way to get around (this has been highlighted by my recent use of my car). There have been signs lately that point to me, at least, that great and overwhelming numbers of vehicular cyclists are coming. The creation by American brands and retailers of regular commuter bikes, available in regular stores.

This has been highlighted by the recent premier of the Missoni for Target collection, coming in September. Missoni is an Italian fashion house who have created a line of cool, funky clothes and accessories for Target (who I assume I don't have to introduce). Among this collection has been a bicycle. But not just a bike. A step-through frame, in a way-cool color scheme, that comes standard with a fully enclosed chaincase, dressguard, fenders, a basket, bell, and awesome upright geometry with swept-back handlebars. Behold:

What makes it significant to me is that is a real, true commuter bike you can ride in any clothing. It looks cool and is promoted as fashionable, and most importantly, will be sold on the sales floor of a big-box retailer regular people routinely visit. As much as I love the LBS and all it brings to cycling, you have to know you want a bike to walk into one. You don't impulse buy one with your patio furniture.

And while I understand a lot of these adorable bikes will be purchased and left in garages all across America, lots of them will be used. Maybe for pleasure cruises, maybe to buy beer, maybe just to feel cool. They probably won't have the world's nicest component spec. But past a point, who cares?! I got by just fine on my bike I bought at Target while I was in college, and it's a lot of what brought me to cycling.

In slightly higher quality but similar in idea, there is Public Bike. They make city bikes that look cool, work like they're supposed to, and range in price from around $550 - $900. Now this may sound like a lot, but a $550 bike, brand new is pretty reasonable for a piece of transportation that will pay for itself. They're comfortable, practical, and come in all kinds of awesome funky colors.

The best thing about these bikes is with the exception of a rack, they come standard with at least fenders, and are ready for a rack. Pretty much all you have to do is get on the thing and ride it.

Even better, the distribution of these bikes involves a "Ready to Ride" option shipped directly to the customer. Now admittedly, I personally would take any bike built before it was shipped to me to a shop for a safety check at the bare minimum. But the EXISTENCE of such a product with that kind of service eliminates barriers to cycling. And elimination of barriers creates a larger modeshare.

Get ready, designers of roads, the people's bike cometh.

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