simple is beautiful
Copenhagen Cycle Chic - Streetstyle and Bike Advoc
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Monday, November 17, 2008

French Kiss

For some strange reason this short film by François Truffaut popped into my head the other day. Les Mistons - The Brats - was one of his first directorial efforts, in 1957. It laid the groundwork for the adolescent themes in some of his later films. It's about five boys who quite fancy an 'older woman' and who subsequently get jealous when she takes a lover.

No, this hasn't turned into a film blog, I'm including it here because the first 3:30 of the film is a beautiful woman on a bicycle. Skirts a'fluttering. As they have since the bicycle was invented - so feel free to giggle when somebody tells you cycling is only a 'sport'. That's why I call it Bicycle Culture 2.0 [beta]. We've all been there before and we're going there again. Regular people on normal bikes in everyday clothes. All over the world.

”In the late 19th century, large numbers of women were already using bicycles to get to work, women office workers and shop assistants wending their way each weekday morning from the suburbs to the town. They found the bicycle a convenient form of transport for distances up to, say, ten miles”.
John Woodeforde ”The Story of the Bicycle”, 1970

And they weren't wearing lycra or riding carbon fibre contraptions and they weren't restricted to flat areas.

The Sartorialist - aka The Colville-Andersen on No Wheels - :-) posted a couple of lovely bicycle shots recently. The film above was shot in Nîmes and this photo is in Paris.

Red Bicycle
Nothing French about this shot, I just like it. Taken at the new Royal Theatre - Skuespilhuset - on the harbour in Copenhagen.

Splashes of Red, Splashes and Anarchy Chic

Red Hat
I haven't forgotten the Cycle Chic Hat challenge laid down by some readers. Until I collect the appropriate shots for the series, here's a couple hatastic Copenhageners.
Old school charm and grace.
While visiting the new Royal Theatre Skuespilhuset on the harbour, I saw this person just riding around in slow, happy circles on the old quay. Riding through puddles. That's it. Nothing more to it than that. How lovely.

Anarchy Chic
Here's a spot of Anarchy Cycle Chic. If you're going to protest the World Bank summit in 2000, what better way to get around than on a normal bicycle. That chainguard is handy for stopping water cannons from getting your chain wet. That back rack is convenient for carrying molotov cocktails or a friend or a friend carrying molotov cocktails. And the dynamo light will help you through the tear gas/smoke from burned cars. And lord knows you'd look stupid if you were wearing lycra in this situation. Normal clothes are fine. From an advert for Lee Jeans' Make History photo contest.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cycle Chic Contest - Dogme 1 Photography

Minor Adjustments
Okay, here's a contest. There's even a prize. Thanks to Adrienne for the challenge. In the previous post we highlighted a fun angle on Cycle Chic, started by a fellow Copenhagener, Eric Daugaard on Flickr. It's called Dogme 1.

So now we're opening up the contest to the rest of the world. I'll chuck in a Copenhagen Cycle Chic poster for the winner. See what it looks like here.
Red Light People

Here's the rules:
Take a photo of a female cyclist anywhere OUTSIDE of Copenhagen or Amsterdam.
The photo is your own original work.
The photo has to fulfill at least three of the following Dogme 1 rules:

-The bicycle is a 'sit up and beg' type and clearly too big for her.
-The bicycle has a handlebar-basket mounted, preferably decorated with artificial flowers.
-The lady wears sunglasses. The bigger the better.
-The lady wears high boots and/or high heels
-The lady is wearing a huge scarf
-The lady is concerned about other things than traffic.
-The lady is carrying some sort of electronic equipment in her hand.
-The lady has some sort of large messy bag hanging from her shoulder or on the bicycle.
-The lady looks miffed / mentally absent
-The lady isn't wearing a helmet
-The photo is shot from close distance and from the front.
-Flash is used.

Minimum three of the above to qualify. Obviously the more you get, the better your chances are of winning. The judges are me, Velomama and Eric [he started the whole thing] in order to find the semi-finalists. These photos will then be voted on by you.

Send your entries - preferably a link to a Flickr photo but feel free to send a photo or a link to another place - to Cycle Chic's email.

Contest closes on December 15, 2008.

Have fun.

Bike is the New Black

Another Danish photographer, Erik Daugaard, has some great shots of Copenhagen women on bikes, with a tongue in cheek angle. He calls his theme Dogme 1 - this is the land of Dogme after all.

- The bicycle is a classic form and clearly too big for her.
- The bicycle has a handlebar-basket mounted, preferably decorated with artificial flowers.
- The lady wears sunglasses. The bigger the better.
- The lady wears long boots and/or high heels
- The lady is wearing a huge scarf
- The lady is concerned about other things than traffic.
- The lady is carrying some sort of electronic equipment in her hand.
- The lady has some sort of large messy bag hanging from her shoulder or on the bicycle.
- The lady doesn't wear a helmet.
- The lady looks miffed / mentally absent
- The photo is shot from close distance.
- Flash is used.

Try to fullfill as many rules as possible - minimum 3 rules.

Model Rådhuspladsen 3
He offers here a couple of examples of his quest.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

La Double Vie de Verychic

La Double Vie de Verychic
Girlfriends riding together on the bike lanes of Copenhagen. Sociable, sustainable, fashionable. [Confused about the blog title?]
La Double Vie de Verychic
Girlfriends continuing their chat at a red light. The one on the right practices the old school red light posture. Getting right off the bike and waiting for green. Style over speed indeed. Maybe it goes with being a violin player. Or just being a Copenhagener. Or both.

Three Astride
And on some stretches, there's room for three [or more] friends to ride astride and chat on the bike lanes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Two Years With Cycle Chic

Green Light Go *
The photograph that launched a thousand bikes. November 14, 2006. 08:43.
Two years ago this day, at exactly 08:43 - I took a photo on my way to work at Danish Broadcasting. The subject matter was something regarded as incredibly anonymous and uninteresting to most people in this city, including me - Copenhageners on bikes in the morning rush hour.

At that point I had a habit of keeping my camera on me and taking street photography shots to and from work. I was waiting at a red light on Åboulevarden on a grey November day and I noticed that the Copenhagener in front of me was rather stylish. I could see some cyclists approaching from the left, turning into frame. The light was nice, I thought, and the red light would change to green in a moment. I pulled out my camera and took a shot, catching the cyclists on the left, the cyclist on the right pushing off and, in the middle, a pillar of style and calm.

I thought it to be a nice urban shot when I took it. Farther along the route, minutes later, I snapped a couple of more shots of stylish cyclists, as though noticing the Copenhagen connection between style and bicycles for the first time:
Tensed and Waiting for Green * Post-Modern Cowgirl

I hopped off the bike even farther along and took a few more shots of Copenhageners on bikes in the morning light. It was mostly because of the light, I might add.
Sunrise Movement in Concerto

Wheel Melt

Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard Golden Blur

On my way home that evening I snapped this shot of a dancing taillight in front of me:
Taillight - Quite Literally
The next day I didn't take any photos of bikes at all. But then the trickle started turning into a stream. Little did I know what that one photograph at the top would launch.

Like most Copenhageners, I hadn't noticed this thing people in other countries call 'bike culture', even after riding my bike each day for many years in the city. I started, slowly, noticing bicycles and, more importantly, the people riding them over the course of the few days, this this shot, on November 16th:
Uomo con bike*

It all kind of snowballed from there. Which is a bit of an understatement. Months later, in June 2007, I started this blog, after having amassed a respectable archive of Cycle Chic shots that had proven to be a hit on Flickr. That, too, was a spontaneous decision and I never expected it to amount to anything. I just figured it would be nice to gather them all in one place.

Here we are today. 'Cycle Chic' - a flippant, casual description of a Copenhagen cyclist on a winter's morning - has become a concept. Dozens of other blogs and sites have been launched in the same vein around the world. These photographs have been published in magazines and newspapers around the world. Exhibitions are underway.

It's all rather overwhelming. Most importantly, it is all rather wonderful. To think that this one photo has created all of this is brilliant. I didn't know at that point how those Copenhageners who happen to ride bicycles could inspire people around the world to do the same through a long series of photographs. I didn't know that there was nerve out there that needed to be hit. To think of the whole wave of promoting urban cycling as a normal and feasible activity that has surged forth over the past couple of years - 2008 in particular - is rather overwhelming. The testimonials I get sent are moving and touching.

This one shot has led to this blog,, the online shop, the Slow Bicycle Movement, as well as consultancy work helping other cities move towards 'bike culture'. Quite remarkable if I think about it. Yes, sometimes I tire of taking photos of bicycles and need a break. But then all of a sudden it's back.

So thanks to all of you readers who make Cycle Chic a part of your day. Thanks to all the guest contributors for showcasing the march of Cycle Chic around the world. Thanks, not least, to the good people of Copenhagen for being so frightfully cool and stylish and sustainably mobile.

I'm off to take some shots.

Simply This

Father and Son
Father and son in the evening light on their Short John.

Copenhagener pedalling casually over Knippels Bridge.