Bicycle culture

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Style of bicycle popular for urban commuting

Bicycle culture can refer to a mainstream culture that supports the use of bicycles or to a subculture. Although "bike culture" is often used to refer to various forms of associated fashion, it is erroneous to call fashion in and of itself a culture.[1]

Cycling culture refers to cities and countries which actively support a large percentage of utility cycling. Examples include Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium (Flanders in particular), Sweden, China, Bangladesh and Japan. A city with a strong bicycle culture usually has a well-developed cycling infrastructure, including segregated bike lanes and extensive facilities catering to urban bicycles, such as bike racks. There are also towns in some countries where bicycle culture has been an integral part of the landscape for generations, even without much official support. That is the case of Ílhavo, in Portugal. North American cities with bicycle cultures include Madison,[2] Portland, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, Lincoln,[3] Peoria, and the Twin Cities.


In some cities and countries, transportation infrastructure is focused on automobiles, and large portions of the population use cars as their only local mechanical transport. Bicycling advocates, those who advocate an increase in population-wide commuting, acceptance of cycling, and legislation and infrastructure to promote and protect the safety and rights of cyclists.

Advocacy within the cycling community may aim for improvements including requesting bike lanes, improved parking facilities, and access to public transportation.

Within the cycling community, activism may take many forms, creative and practical, such as the creation of bike related music, bike related films, organized bike rides, often noncompetitive in nature (such as Critical Mass and World Naked Bike Ride), the building and showing of art bikes, printed word advocacy such as blogs, zines and magazines, stickers, and spoke cards, and the publication and distribution of books such as: Thomas Stevens's Around the World on a Bicycle, Mark Twain's essay "Taming the Bicycle" and H. G. Wells's novel The Wheels of Chance. There are hundreds of bicycle cooperatives offering spaces for cyclists to replace their own bikes and socialise.


Cyclists in Portland, Oregon, moving the contents of a house, demonstrating the use of biking even for large tasks

Many cities contain subcultures of bicycle enthusiasts, including racers, bicycle messengers, bicycle transportation activists, mutant bicycle fabricators, bicycle mechanics, and bicycle commuters. Some such groups are affiliated with activism or counterculture groups. These hybrid groups often organize activities such as competitive cycling, fun rides, protest, and civil disobedience, such as Critical Mass. Some groups work to promote bicycle transportation (community bicycle program); others fix bicycles to give to children or the homeless (Bikes Not Bombs).

Bicycle magazines and organizations give awards to cities for being "bicycle friendly". US cities known as such include Boulder, Minneapolis, Austin, Philadelphia, Madison, Seattle, and Portland - all cities which promote "bicycle culture."

Midnight Ridazz is a group of bicycle enthusiasts who ride every second Friday of the month in Los Angeles, California. Riding in numbers exceeding 1000 cyclists, this ride's only political motive is to inspire more people to ride bicycles. Similar midnight rides such as the Midnight Mystery rides of Portland and Victoria, the bi-monthly Midnight Mass of Vancouver BC, and similar rides across the US and Europe have been growing in popularity.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Snob, Bike (2009). Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling [Hardcover]. 
  2. ^
  3. ^

Further reading[edit]