CHINESE HIPSTERS ARE COOLER THAN YOU

Nǐ hǎo, my favorite Seattleites!

Man, it’s great to be back in the land of the living. I just spent the last week enduring about a pint of lung fungus trying to claw its way out through my throat/nostrils. This was only after spending the week before that with a dirty little case of influenza.

Protip: get your vaccines, people.

My Public-Health-partner-in-crime would never forgive me if I didn’t mention it. Besides, the CDC says you’ve got way better odds with this one than last year’s, so best get on that. Like now.

And don't tell me you'll do it "next week." That's exactly what I said two days before I woke up with a lovely 103-degree fever.

Do it.

 

 

Got a chance to test out Fearless Leader’s new slackline yesterday on the sandy shores of Golden Gardens, soaking up the last days of summer before the onset of the Northwest's looming cold front. It was good fun and a much needed reprieve from being cramped indoors for two weeks.

Many a zen—plus maybe some skinned knees—was had by all.

   

And by all, I mean yrstruly. FL obviously has some experience...

Show us your best Crane Kick, FL.

 Looking good.

Then there's that other guy:

 What a goober.

Hey, what’s that fancy new logo on TheBikeMensch’s fancy new shirt, you ask? Let’s take a closer look.

I think it's time to ENHANCE!

Ah, the magic of Hollywood technology.

 

And away we go—enhance!

 

 

Rotate 45 degrees counterclockwise, and—oh what the hell—let's ENHANCE AGAIN!

 Oooooh, purdy.

Golly that looks mighty familiar... Hmm...

Ah yes!

MBR's newest shipment of promotional cycle gear is made from super lightweight polyester—great for bikes, beaches, boarding, and any other non-dirty b-word you can think of.

Okay, maybe some dirty ones, too.

Come snag one and be the first on your block to rep your favorite local shop with the comfiest cycleshirts your hard-earned yuan can buy.

 

 

Speaking of the yuan... 

In other news, in case you've missed it (which, being a savvy Seattleite, you probably haven't), China's President Ji Xinping has been hanging out in Seattle the past few days, likely discussing all sorts of money-related important things with all sorts of rich important people. It sounds like it's gone well so far, and it's been fascinating to watch the myriad responses to his visit among the Seattle's general populace.

(Oh, and to any of his censor-happy government officials monitoring this right now: hi guys! Free speech! Woo!)

If you've been blessed to be a commuter this week, you've undoubtely run into some of the recent heinous traffic, a direct result of the presence of our high-profile guest and his motorcade, seen obliquely here in my poorly-timed photograph taken just up the block from the shop:

 

I saw many a workbound cyclist held up by the jam-packed downtown streets, seeming to bob, weave, and swerve a bit more madly than usual.

Stay cool, friends. For the good of the colony.

Cycling needs to maintain as squeaky-clean an image as possible to get more people on bikes, making it safer for all of us, cyclists and motorists alike. We can't do that if people are shying away from the roads for fear of busting up their bodies or wrecking their trusty steeds. Saturating the road with cyclists is the key to our continued advancement and lobbying efforts as a group.

We've come so far, and we can't afford to let our ridership plummet way of China's in the 80s. Their numbers are only barely starting to rebound now.

Granted, our eastern neighbors have had an interesting relationship with their own bike culture over the past half-century. Early communist China saw citizens striving for "sanshengyisiang, or 'three rounds and sound' — a wristwatch, bicycle, sewing machine and radio: the markers of a modern man." Then came the next great era in China's history: an unprecedented industrialization—the rapidity of which is still causing ripples in Chinese politics, social/health issues, and environmental policies—that saw that mindset shift drastically. The country's opinion of itself changed, and things that were historically "Chinese" by nature now seemed backwards and passé.

Uncool, even.

A man on a bicycle getting exercise and helping make the earth a cleaner and more livable place?

How gauche.

 

The fallout was tough on cycling. A 2008 report by the Earth Policy Institute found that from 1995 to 2005, "China's bike fleet declined by 35 percent, from 670 million to 435 million, while private car ownership more than doubled, from 4.2 million to 8.9 million. Blaming cyclists for increasing accidents and congestion, some city governments have closed bike lanes. Shanghai even banned bicycles from certain downtown roads in 2004."

The resulting middle-class boom after China's rapid development and expansion of industry saw the average Chinese citizen eschewing bicycles in favor of cars as their new status symbols.

Now, cycling in major Chinese cities is again on the rise but only after a long, angsty period of hating on bikes. China's recent about-face on its environmental policies are definitely a factor, and we expect to see our overseas brethren become more accomodating to cyclists in the coming decades with new infrastructure, safety policies, and a new influx of ridership.

For now though, cycling (at least as we know it in bike-hubs like Seattle and Portland) in China is still on the fringe of mainstream. Alley cat races and fixie ownership are slowly becoming more prominent as a result of a burgeoning Chinese hipster culture.

 

 

But hey—let's not forget about our own special brand of those.

Like any other "cool" or "underground" movement, cycling's again been appropriated by the masses. By way of the hippest among us, bikes have become mainstream again, and therefore more popular.

We essentially have the resurgence of our favorite ironically mustachioed and fixie-riding twenty/thirty somethings to thank for our cycling's reintroduction into mainstream culture. 

Yes. This guy.

But of course, this isn't a bad thing.

Numbers is numbers, and when modern hipster culture was just starting to get noticed by the rest of the country, cycling saw a slow but steady increase in ridership. "Since 2005, states have seen, on average, a 46% increase in the share of people commuting by bike" with some areas seeing as much as 105%. Granted, some saw no growth at all, but I'm gonna go ahead and say that Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota maybe aren't geographically/topographically ideal for cycling (i.e. big, flat, and predominantly rural).

Whatever the reasoning, our global numbers are the highest they've ever been, and they're still on the rise. This is good news for cyclists everywhere, be you American, Chinese, or Romulan. (Okay. Maybe not Romulan.)

So remember, kiddies:

More cyclists = more exposure = more awareness = more exposure = more cyclists = SAFER FOR EVERYBODY.

 

So get out there and make us look good!

 

—TheBikeMensch


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