Why do people love their cars so much? They are built around the user. For example, minivans have features like sliding doors, plenty of seating for all the kids and family when they visit, seats that fold out of the way for cargo, and small things like kid entertainment or a very comfortable ride for when the kids have finally fallen asleep.
Now, in contrast, most bicycles we sell in the United States are designed for speed and as a single occupancy bicycle (SOB). Imagine that most available cars being built for one person, starting at $25,000, and can go from 0-60 very quickly. The suspension is stiff, the seats are built to keep you contained in those fast corners, and you should probably buy the fancy driving shoes too. By the way, if you want to be able to put your keys or phone somewhere you’ll need to add a bag to hang on the back of your spoiler.
At Bike Shop Girl, we love fitness, road, and mountain bikes but we strongly believe that if more bikes were designed with an everyday user in mind that we would start to see a shift in mode share or at least a rise in hobbyist riding by normalizing the bike.
What Does an “Everyday” Bike Look Like?
The old Raleigh 3-speed with a built-in generator light is the last bike mass produced for the US market we have seen. When we say mass produced, we mean that it was very popular and not an oddity to see one.
The bike we believe to be the closest is something like the Linus Dutchi or Mixte. It has a comfortable position and comes with fenders and a rear rack. The only thing missing are lights, a built-in lock, and perhaps designed for someone to ride on the rear rack.
We talk a great deal about bike culture, infrastructure design, and product. Our recent discussion with Modacity on their new book summarizes a lot of this. We can simplify this even more. We want to normalizing biking in our community, the cities of Denver and Aurora in Colorado, and ultimately the United States.
Normalizing means that when you go by bike you are viewed as a normal person doing normal things. It also means with your personal habits you grab your bike keys as naturally as you would your car or house keys.
Normalizing takes many layers of vision from you personally, to your favorite bike shop, your local community planners, and even your favorite restaurant to have the forethought to have safe and secure bike parking.
Yes, we would all need to make gentle shifts in our daily life to make this practice normal. You need an everyday bike that is reliable as a new car. You need the right clothing and accessories for the cold, dark or snow. You need to plan your day and trips so that you aren’t too rushed and feel safe like you would in your 2-ton car. It is like moving to a new and exciting, healthier, city where you have to learn about the climate, traffic patterns, and roads. Sounds exciting, right?
Normalizing for a family takes all this a step further. Special bikes that allow you to carry your kids in all weather make this a good amount easier. The great thing about kids is that they will almost always prefer taking a bike over a car unless you make the experience dreadful for them! We suggest keeping them warm and to always have snacks. As you can see from our header photo, the kids love the ride and this family beat soccer traffic with front row parking in the shade. As of writing this - they left their cars home all weekend thanks to the Xtracycle eSwoop.
The Most Important Question of All - Why?
Now maybe you are reading this and you haven’t experienced the joy and freedom of a bike ride recently. Maybe your community is awful to ride in. Maybe you have a lot of other barriers we haven’t touched on in this article. If you made it this far you are probably thinking, why would anyone make these major shifts in their lives?
This is when we should tell you all the amazing reasons a bike is good for your physical and mental health, your wallet, and the environment. These are all valid reasons that may help you stay motivated but without talking to each of you individually we can’t give you a blanket reason why you should get started biking to more everyday things other than this one thing -
No one ever said, “that was a fun drive to Target!”