It occurred to me last night while riding home in the frosty night air, only a week since returning to Melbourne after a year in the African heat, why it is that I truly, without exception, would rather bicycle back in the cold than drive in a heated car.
Life has to be experienced to be enjoyed.
There is untold joy in bicycling about in the cool night air, just as there is in cycling home, with a trickle of sweat between your breasts, in the 3am summer heat.
Traveling by bicycle is to experience everything there is in the world to be had.
In a car with the cooling up or the heating on is to dampen, moderate and make mediocre the day that is there for the taking.
It is, for example, like taking a Valium while on a roller-coaster ride. You’ll be there, you’ll have had the ride, but you cannot say, and nor does it feel like, you really experienced the buzz.
In your half comatose state every high and every low is there, but you won’t ever know just how high the high really was, or just how low the low can go.
You won’t ever understand the utterly indescribable feeling of your belly being sky high and your body being sub zero, because it’s a you-got-to-do-it-to-get-it kind of thing.
It’s like giving birth to your first child having never known the extremes of that wonder of life because you took a tablet to mask the moment.
It’s like reaching the top of Mount Everest in a chopper, while you made the summit you got none of what makes it worth the view.
And it’s like watching someone else finish an extreme-sports race while you sit silent in front of the screen.
In fact the science says when we watch TV human brain function drops to a state less conscious than sleep, which you could call a form of coma.
The human state of consciousness is not black and white, on or off. It is indeed a range, from fully conscious to fully comatose, with everything in between, and all measured by brain function.
We can even drop into a state of torpor, similar to hibernating bats and bears. Your heart is beating and your lungs are breathing, and your brain can be switched back on, but you’re also almost on the way to dead.
And that’s really just it. Life only becomes lived when you are doing it wide awake: making the choose-able choices, taking the takeable turns and doing the pedaling as well.
In a car the outside air can be cut off, the heat of the summer can be cooled down and the feeling of freedom reaches only to the 4 doors that confine you.
Bicycling home in a frost bite or a heat wave is like sex with the man of your dreams on a beach in Brazil, minus the condom: passionate, pleasurable and with the possibility of the miracle of life in the making.
I had high bicycle hopes for Paris. I’d heard on the grape vine that Paris was a bicycle city.
I had visions of beautiful Parisians in flowing fashions, bicycling down boulevards, casually calling Bonjour to each other on their way to the morning market.
Why does Paris have this odd reputation for being so delightful and beautiful and picturesque?
Where is that Paris? Because it’s sure not the one I located on the map of France and flew to.
The Paris I landed in, is 24 hours of a honking steaming bog of cars and I wouldn’t ride through it if you paid me, nor would anyone else it seems.
Paris boasts a big bicycle share scheme, yet I saw no one actually using it, save for a few tourists making a dash to the Louvre.
Did I arrive just on the one day of the year everyone chose to drive, or is Paris’ love of bicycles a myth?
Well, I waited a week for the bicycles to appear in Paris, but I waited in vein.
I even went in search of answers, but got few satisfactory ones.
And as for anything worthy of an active bicycle lobby, well I tried to get in contact with Paris Cycle Chic, and only got a reply some days after I’d left town in dismay.
I hate to burst the Parisians bubble, but they do not live in the city of love, they live in a city where everyone is having an elicit affair with the car, while telling the world they are wedded to the bicycle.
Paris, you have a long way to go and a reality check to take before anything your Mayor says actually comes to fruition. You’re all smooth talk and no action.
Nothing we didn’t know about the French already.
Budapest has a cityscape like no other, with the massive Danube crossed by great bridges, a parliament house fit for a king and the over grown ruins of a by gone era bordering the city’s edge.
If you stand on the hill looking out over the city, you can almost hear the kings of the Ottoman Empire at council and the peasants singing in the fields.
You could, if it wasn’t for the roar of car traffic that now rises up from the two highways that now boarder the Danube.
Budapest is an old city, but it’s full of interesting people, not to mention a bunch of bicycle activists, fashion designers and other bicycle sorts intent on building, not just a modern, but a beautiful bicycle city.
For such a small city and population Budapest boasts an usually high number bicycle entrepreneurs and it runs, twice a year, the world’s biggest Critical Mass, some 20,000 people, or more, turn up.
The biggest glitch in the system, which seems to be the major stumbling block in many cities, are the politicians who seem blind to the potential the bicycle provides their city, and also blind to the enthusiasm of their population for a sustainable, cheap and practical transport solution.
One would have thought that every politician’s dream would be to have the citizens of their city prefer the bicycle over the car, thus erasing an entire city’s congestion, pollution, health and parking problems.
Yet, with a few exceptions to the rule, the situation seem the opposite and Budapest’s bicycle activists have had to fight every step of the way to have bicycle infrastructure included during the building of new roads and bridges.
Budapest highlights this world-wide phenomenon because it is a city that is transitioning from communism, when fewer people owned private cars, and thus, it’s only been in recent years that the government has begun to invest in large road building projects, unlike cities like Melbourne where most of the central roads are already in place.
Budapest had the perfect opportunity to build the bicycle in, but their perfect opportunities have either been completely missed, or completely messed up.
Some 30Billion Hungarian Forints were spent on a new six-lane bridge over the Danube and only one narrow bike lane was included, which is more like a continuation of the pedestrian footpath and makes for a dangerous and chaotic mix.
A new road through the centre of the city didn’t include a bicycle lane at all until Budapest’s bicycle activist demanded one be painted in, and it’s only a few hundred meter long and dangerously narrow.
It’s not like there was no room to include them: there is a central line of trees and grass, a double footpath, a tram stop with platforms, 3 lanes for cars either side, and an extra wide footpath on both sides of the road.
Not including a adequately-sized bicycle lane is simply a matter of having no intention to include it.
A complete lack of intention to make getting about by bicycle an attractive, easy and workable option is not unique to Budapest, but they just seem to be the most obvious and most unusual example given the fact that they are in the process of urbanization as well as having a highly active bicycle community, both of which you would have thought would bring about a great bicycle city, unless the failure was intentional.
Intentional or not is always hard to assess, what’s not hard to assess is simply the What’s So. There is one bicycle What’s So in Budapest, that says it all for me.
A bicycle repair station, situated on the main bicycle route through the city, provides free servicing. It’s seems a great idea, especially considering it’s been generously funded by Mol, Hungary’s biggest oil company.
Look a little closer and Mol’s generosity only extends to the provision of a single hand pump for pumping the tires of an entire city’s bicycle commuter population, either on their way to work or in a rush to get home.
Strange, wouldn’t you say, when air pressure pumps for cars went automatic long ago.
Vienna was a bicycle surprise for me. It’s not a place I was expecting to find a lot of bicycle action, which indeed I didn’t, but I did find all the right signs.
Vienna has bicycle lanes, bicycle signs and bicycle parking a plenty, but it seems to be all talk and no action because I hardly saw anyone using it.
When I hit town I do a lot of walking and I walked the whole city and I even rode the Danube only to find a couple of leisure cyclists.
But Vienna is not without its bicycle enthusiasts, it just seems that that were is begin and ends. There are the ultra cool, ultra alternative types, that do critical mass, fix there bike at The Bike Kitchen and buy their fixies at FixDich, everyone else takes the car.
It puzzled me as to how a city could spend so much on good bicycle infrastructure (we’re talking separated bicycle lanes, bicycle traffic lights and 30km zones), but the population take no notice.
I just had to get to the bottom of this, so I hired a Vienna City Bike – their very colourful bike share scheme – and set out on a bicycle fact-finding mission.
First stop was the Critical Mass ride. Critical Mass bicycle rides started in San Francisco and have spread around the world as one evening a month where bicycles, in their hundreds and sometimes thousands, take up the streets.
Vienna’s Critical Mass is rather impressive, not only the number of people on the ride, but the distance they travel.
After about 3 hours, I found myself on the out skirts of Vienna, with the sun going down and not knowing how to get home.
Luckily Vienna has a good Metro system that allows the transportation of bicycles and I found my way back via a couple of trains.
It was however, a very informative event. Riding for just 5 mins on one of Vienna’s City Bikes would have been long enough to give me a clue as to one of the reasons the Viennese have not take enthusiastically to the bike, but 3 hours, well that said it all.
Vienna’s City Bikes are the most hideous piece of bicycle engineering I’ve ever encountered.
They are heavy. Not normal heavy, but if you lose your balance you’re going down no matter what, heavy.
They are slow. Not simply slower than a racing bike, but you would be forgiven for mistaking it for a stationary bicycle at the gym, kind of slow.
And they are hard work. Not harder work than sitting behind a the wheel of a car, but heave your way through each pedal revolution and sweat like a horse while doing it, hard work.
Bicycle share schemes are considered, in fact counted on by those who install them, to give people a pleasant and inviting taste of urban commuter bicycling.
Given the novelty and prominent invitation they present, they also end up being the first bicycle people ride after not having ridden since childhood.
The intended result of this invitation and the taste test, is that people experience the ease, speed and efficiency of using a bicycle, and will be inclined to either use it again, instead of their car, or even invest in bicycle of their own and replace the car for urban commutes.
That is the theory of bicycle share schemes. The reality of the Vienna City Bike, and many other bicycle share schemes around the world, including Melbourne, Berlin and Paris, is the opposite.
Nothing does the job of turning people off bicycles better than a poorly designed, slow, heavy bicycle.
Most people who never ride are under the impression that bicycle are like cars, and despite a BMW being beautifully engineered, a Toyota stills gets your there in pretty much the same fashion and ultimately, in an urban environment where every is doing the same speed, the driver feels no difference.
I suspect whoever is purchasing bicycles for city share schemes is either an avid car driver or simply a half wit, because this is not the case for bicycles.
Every inch of engineering that goes into a bicycle changes the ease, speed and comfort for the rider. A good bicycle will get you there no sweat, and a bad bicycle, well you probably won’t get there.
No one in Vienna using a City Bike will ever be enticed to ride one again, let alone give up there car for the bicycle, that I know for sure.
What I don’t yet know is, after 100 years of bicycle building and hundreds companies manufacturing excellent specimens, who on earth is manufacturing such hideous contraptions, and who in Vienna had the bright idea of paying good money for a batch of bicycle lemons?
I want to know because getting bicycle share schemes right, might just be the secret to bringing the bicycle back!
Copenhagen’s helmet woes are more than likely a glitch in a well-oiled bicycle cog, and while the authorities quibble over to helmet or not to helmet, others are getting on with what Copenhagen does best, building beautiful bicycles for beautiful people.
To name just two of the Copenhagen’s bike beauties, the first is Bullitt, a cargo bicycle built for speed and manoverability, which is being used all over the world as a super-fast urban transportation vehicle including the sperm bank bicycle, e-commerce couriers in Barcelona and, if I have anything to do with it, will one day replace Africa’s cargo bicycles.
The second is Copenhagen’s most recent bicycle beauty, the Velorbis bicycle, which is my personal favourite because Cycle Chic is all about “style over speed”.
Built on the principle of classic design that lasts a lifetime, Velorbis is a bicycle built for living the bicycle lifestyle with freedom and ease, forever!
Freedom from bicycle fads and fashions, freedom from oil, freedom from cheap Chinese design and easy everything else that all lasts a life time.
The bicycle is the baby of Kenneth Bodiker who was in New York during 9/11 and witnessed the phenomenon of people being “forced” to take to the bicycle when public transport and city streets were blocked.
He came to thinking about what kind of bicycle he would want to ride if there was no other option, and then he got to designing a simple by stylish bicycle that was comfortable and practical as well as sleek and sassy.
His first bicycle, plain chrome with balloon tyres, was a hit and the rest is history.
The company now produces bicycles with the basic principle of a bicycle designed to be a timeless fashion piece that lasts a lifetime.
The concept is a welcome breath of fresh air in a world swamped by waste from our unsustainable production cycle, which has even resulted in cars – four wheels and an engine then and now – being constantly upgraded with a new look.
A bicycle that lasts forever and for which you will always be able to buy replacement parts ensures producing a new bicycle, a solution for oil consumption, does not contribute to the oil-consuming over production for over consumption, ending in an ever increasing waste pile, production cycle.
In celebration of a bicycle with brains as well as beauty, Melbourne Cycle Chic and Velorbis are giving away a timeless leather bicycle tool bag, a must for any babe living the bicycle lifestyle.
What do you get when you cross a city on an urban bicycling mission with a well-dressed population?
The birth place of Cycle Chic.
Copenhagen is where Cycle Chic was invented, for the sole reason it could not have been anywhere else.
Being the best bicycle city in the world is Copenhagen City Council’s mission and the Copenhageners, unlike the Dutch who already have the world’s best bicycle city title, have a serious passion for fashion.
The chic factor is also helped by the striking good looks of a nation of Vikings.
In true Vikings style there is a battle raging in Copenhagen over none other than a helmet. Not the horned version worn by their great grandfathers, but a modern mutation styled for the bicycle.
And the battle is over what and who is causing a national decline in bicycling rates.
In the city of Copenhagen bicycling has remained steady, but over the last ten years Denmark has experienced a decline in cycling, not a good look for a city on a mission to be the world’s best bicycle nation.
The decline coinsides with the promotion of helmets in Denmark which were previously unheard of in this fashion-conscious, and bicycle-loving nation.
There seems no clear answer, with all sides of the debate either claiming there has been no decline, or that there are too many factors involved to know why.
One thing is for sure, helmet promotion was not brought in for the reason that cycling in Copenhagen is dangerous enough to require a helmet.
In fact, the opposite is the case with bicycling being safer now than ever before due to Copenhagen’s ever expanding bicycle infrastructure: wider bicycle lanes, some as wide as a full car lane; whole train carriages reserved for passengers with bicycles; traffic lights that preference bicycles; balancing bars at lights so bicycle commuters need not dismount; and much more.
Despite all this the perception that bicycling has become less safe is increasing, which seems to be the reason why an ever increasing number of Copenhageners are wearing helmets.
The question still remains.
Why when a city is expanding bicycle infrastructure and giving bicycles more space on the road would people suddenly, after a 100 year history of bicycling helmet free, start thinking it unsafe and wear helmets?
The answer is they wouldn’t, and they didn’t until the advertising of helmets created the concern. Concern not for themselves, concern for their children.
Copenhagen’s helmet lobby has worked hard to get a foot in, and as with all advertising they have found out how to push the right buttons and their advertising campaigns have focused on the nervous parent.
Slogans like “Keep the little ones safe in traffic”, not only deliberately target every parent’s eternal fear for their child’s safety, but worse, being seen to be a bad parent.
It is also a complete distortion of reality in a city where the bicycle lanes are so wide and often completely separated from the car traffic that one never need ride with kids in traffic at all.
It has however, worked wonders. Ask Copenhageners why they wear helmets and “Because my kids do”, or “Because I have kids” came in the top answers.
Ask people why they don’t wear helmets and “Because I feel safe” and “I’ve never had an accident” are the main responses.
Not a seemingly unreasonable situation. Keeping children safe in traffic is a major concern for any parent, but worrying when the research shows that the wearing of helmets has the reverse effect.
The wearing of helmets completely changes the dynamics between bicycle and car commuters, causing both groups to manage their vehicles with less care and tolerance, and increases car vs. bicycle conflicts.
Car drivers no longer view bicycle riders as vulnerable road users like they do pedestrians, but rather as armed competitors for road space.
Bicycle commuters also take on a bullet-proof mentality and ride with less care around their fellow bicycle riders and perform risky manoeuvres in traffic.
Luckily for Copenhagen’s health and safety authorities the other 80% of Copenhagen’s bicycling citizens continue to ride helmet free and will keep the world’s most ambitious bicycle city on track to becoming the best.
This has been a week of everyone getting their bicycle nickers in a tangle.
What do men in cars driving like prats around bicycle babes have to do with catching a tan and paddling in the wave froth?
Geoengineer Kristy Kuo is wanting to spend tax payer dollars to “increase the longevity of [salty rain] clouds” to try and make the clouds whiter to reflect the sun’s heat.
Like seriously girl, go get yourself a bicycle and some desirable ideas. I’d rather ride my bike through a climate change induced hurricane than a Kristy Kuo induced salt-rain storm.
I like my ground water unsalted, and an “insurance policy for the earth” doesn’t thrill me either.
That would make the Geoengineers the “insurance companies of the earth”, and we all know how much insurance policies costs and how good the insurers are at wiggling out of paying for damages.
You’re a scientist lady, it’s called the precautionary principle.
Anyway you could make a serious hole in emissions right now by putting every man, women, child and urban delivery service on a bicycle.
The world’s transport industry uses half the world’s oil and so when transport turns away from oil, oil has nowhere else to go.
On a positive note the EU has finally got it right and discovered the bicycle!
They have started a new campaign to inspire people as to how climate policies will make their lives better right now, as well as reducing planetary risk in the long term.
Wow, like no way Sherlock!
“There are many good solutions out there that other people can learn from“, one official told the BBC.
Yes indeed. The bicycle solution has been around for over 100 years and the bicycle babe for at least 50 of those, and what more inspiration do you need than that.
Berlin reminds me of Melbourne: the city has a cool vibe, the people are relaxed and cool, and those that get about by bicycle hang out in uber cool back-alley bars.
Like Melbournians, Beliners also love their locally-styled, locally-made and locally-sold from a boutique in the local ally fashion.
I stumbled across one such place as it opened its doors of an evening – they are so cool they only open between five and ten at night.
A Loja is a fashion house run by four young designers that specialise in creating one-off pieces that are a true expression of Berlin’s unique look.
The Berlin look, which made a rapid debut about 6 years ago, with it’s bright colours yet trashy styling is anything but the stereotypical German in socks and sandals, and has become the trade mark of Berlin’s trendy set, who also all ride bicycles.
However, to a Berliner the bicycle is almost just the fashion accessory says Esther, A Loja designer and owner. She has 3 folding bicycles each a difference colour, or with a different style of handle-bar to go with her “trashy” Berlin fashion.
Also like Melbourne, Berlin is a city where the majority of short inner-city trips are made by car (32%), but that’s a whole lot less than Melbourne’s 77%, which makes Berlin a whole lot more uber in the bicycle department.
What gives Berlin its capital U in bicycles isn’t the unique fashion, it’s an uber cool bicycle plan and some uber cool ideas to get people cycling.
Burkhard Horn from the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment, says Berlin hasn’t yet done enough to get people on bicycles and his department has just put out their 3rd progressive transport plan, the first was in 2003.
Horn says the Berlin government are convinced that cycling is one of the best ways to get around in Berlin, not just for leisure, but for every-day purposes.
“The infrastructure is cheap, riding is healthy for people as well as the environment, and bicycles require less space than cars”, says Horn.
Interestingly, the overall aim of Berlin’s transport plan is not so much focused on bicycles, but on reducing car use. The government is simply looking to the bicycle because Berlin already has a high level of public transport use.
Horn says they’d like to see bicycle use reach 18 – 20% in the next 10 years. He considers this high for a large a city like Berlin where they have long distances between were people come from to where they work.
Horn says you can’t compare big cites like Berlin to very compact cities like Copenhagen.
Thus, Berlin is not looking to cities like Copenhagen to for its bicycle strategy, which has for the most part used the expansion of bicycle paths to encourage more cyclists.
The first thing Berlin is looking at is urban development, says Horn.
“Berlin has the advantage that it’s polly-centric, with 12 main centers of work with in Greater Berlin. This style of development reduces the distances between where people live and work”.
“The first thing we must do is continue this kind of urban development, because if the distances are getting longer, between people’s home and work place, that’s more in favour of car use”, Horn says.
Bicycle infrastructure comes a close second in the plan, and third is communication.
“It’s important to tell people where they can bike, but also if people are moving to Berlin or finding work in Berlin, to tell them how they can go by bike”, says Horn.
Showing people how to get about by bicycle in Berlin, or better, showing them Berlin by bike has become another unique Berlin fashion statement.
Berlin’s divided history meant that it wasn’t a tourist destination until after the fall of the Wall in 1989.
Now Berlin’s unique history means tourist want to discover the city and as Berlin’s tourist industry grows, Berlin’s Tourism Department is promoting the bicycle as the easy and green way to see Berlin.
One of the first bicycle trails, established in 2001, follows the remains of the Berlin Wall for 163 km and traverses inner city, suburbs and countryside, and can be joined or left at 7 train stations along the route.
Bicycle tours of Berlin have become so popular that you can take anything from a classic Dutch bicycle through to a hip fixed gear, and see not just Berlin’s classic tourist spots, but Berlin’s Turkish cultural delights, Berlin’s Vietnamese quarter, Berlin’s hidden hangouts or the uber cool urban art tour.
Berlin’s unique bicycle ideas and cool bicycle concepts don’t end there.
On the final day of my week in Berlin I was treated to a visit to Berlin’s bicycle royalty.
Ulrike Saade has, for 30 years, made it her business to promote everything that’s cool, as well as all that is quirky, about bicycles and not just to Berliners, but the world.
Velo:konzept runs expos, campaigns and road shows on all things bicycles because as Saade says, “people just don’t know about all the great accessories and products for bicycles, but when they do, they like it!”
Saade has been a bicycle mechanic, head of the German bicycle shops association and now director of Velo:konzept. She got urban bicycles, instead of sports bicycles, to be manufactured in Germany, imported E bikes into Germany, has run government advertising campaigns, and now she’s encouraging the design of bicycle fashions.
Saade says getting people on bicycles is not just about bicycle plans it’s about showing people what’s possible and giving them solutions.
“When you ride a cheap bike it’s not so fun, it’s better to ride a better bike. We see in our shows, [that] people don’t know there are bicycle solutions. That’s why we do our shows. When they see what’s possible they say that’s great!”.
There is another big obstacle to increasing bicycle use in Berlin, says Saade.
“It’s always hard when you want space from the cars. People always say OK we love the concept, but when we try and get space on the road from cars, it gets hard.”
“In Amsterdam and Copenhagen they have more space [for bicycles] because they took the space from the cars.”
“It won’t be long before people say it’s stupid to give so much space for cars”, says Saade.
However, it seems transforming cities from car dominated to bicycle orientated takes time, it has been over 30 years since Saade sold her car and began promoting bicycles in Berlin, and she says there is still more to do in terms of infrastructure and getting people to feel safe on the road.
So after all this time, why does she still do it?
“It’s quality of life. It’s healthy, I feel good. That’s the most important thing”.
And so may Berlin continue on it path to being a great bicycle city as we head to a city that really is going for bicycle greatness, Copenhagen!
You can’t understand just how awesome a great bicycle city is until you ride it.
We’ve all seen the photos of Amsterdam or heard about the bicycles, but when you actually come here and get to really taste the joy of a bicycle-centered city, it’s like a whole new world. In fact, it’s heaven.
The brilliance of Netherland’s transport system is one that is rarely referenced which is not only a shame, but an international injustice.
That anyone is subjected to the traffic congestion, air pollution, the inconvenience of car parking, the economic burden of petrol or a road toll, when cities like Amsterdam solved all that long ago, is a global absurdity.
Riding in Amsterdam makes you wonder how on earth Melbourne ever got itself in a traffic mess when the solution was found long ago.
It’s not like no one knows how to integrate bicycles, trams, buses and cars in to a city’s transport system.
With all the fuss in Melbourne about which option Council will or won’t take when it comes to bicycle lanes, you’d have thought we were the trail blazers leading the world in doing something extraordinary, untested and ultra experimental!
It’s simple. One man, one vote. One vehicle, one lane.
No need to ponder it. All that’s required it to acknowledge what Amsterdam acknowledged years ago: without the bicycle and the bicycle lanes, car drivers would simply be not be able to move in the city.
So how is it that Amsterdam avoided the traffic jam and kept the bicycle as a key mode of transport while other cities fell in to the car trap?
Tom Gogefrooij from the Dutch Cycling Embassy thinks the answer lies in two things: the Netherlands never had a large car industry and thus a car lobby, and the Dutch have a strong egalitarian society where equity and fare share are highly valued.
I’d say it took more than that. I’d say it took politicians and decision makers having a clear vision based on an worthy goal and not an object or a profit margin.
If your goal is to move people with ease, freedom and choice you’d choose the bicycle and the bus, if your goal was to sell a transport product that made you the biggest profit, you’d choose the car.
As Ria Hilhorst, Policy Adviser at the Directorate of Infrastructure, Traffic and Transport in Amsterdam says, no matter the political leaning, all politicians in Amsterdam know that bicycles are vital to the economic and social success of the country.
There’s just no argument here as to whether cars and bicycles should share the road space, whose road it is, or who pays for the road and thus has more or less right to it.
It’s simply, if there are four modes of transport then there are four lanes.
And it really is that simple, because even in Amsterdam they experience conflict between transport modes as soon as they fail to provide separate lanes for very different vehicles.
In recent years the motorized scooter has made a come back in Amsterdam. The scooters are vulnerable in car traffic and so they have been allowed to drive in the bicycle lane, but sure enough because the scooters can accelerate faster between traffic lights and leave in their wake a cloud of smoke, those riding bicycles are not happy to share a lane that was create to rule out those things out.
Amsterdam is without a doubt transportation heaven and I sure hope, in fact I plan on it, that Melbourne won’t wait till we die a painful death waiting in a traffic jam before we build our own bicycle heaven right here on Earth!
Uncovering a bicycle fashion secret is my favourite past time, finding one that’s been around since the beginning of the bicycle just cannot be topped.
I was about to give up on Brussels in the Cycle Chic department because despite Brusselians all riding funky looking fold-up bicycles, the Belgians are not renown for their bicycle fashion sense, sorry!
However, on my last day I discovered that they do one essential fashion item for the fashion-conscious bicycle babe very well!
In a tiny shop, Ganterie Italienne, tucked away in the Galleries Royales St Hubert is the underground workshop of expert glove-maker Pauwels Donat.
The shop and workshop have been run by the same family since 1890 and Donat, the third generation, has been making delicate hand-made leather gloves since 1985.
A good pair of genuine leather gloves is one of my secrets to living a fabulous bicycle life: they protect your hands from sunburn, handle bar chafe, cold wind, and in the unlikely event of tipping over, they stop gravel rash.
Fine leather gloves also breathe and after a few wears molds perfectly to your hand so it’s almost like wearing nothing at all. And they can be worn all seasons and in any weather.
Pauwels Donat was kind enough to show me the secrets to making the finest leather gloves in the land!
Along with the bicycle, hand-made leather gloves will be making a come back in Brussels!
Along with the bicycle, hand-made leather gloves will be making a come back in Brussels!