Does Auckland have Bicycle Culture?
Damn right it does! For those of us who attended Cycle Style Auckland this week on a crisp Thursday evening that was plainly evident.
Here in Auckland’s Viaduct Basin was as diverse a bunch of citizens as you would ever come across, but united by the common bond of the bicycle. The room was full of bikes and they glittered and shone in the spotlight, clamouring for attention, but it was the people that stole the show. High-heels, sequined gowns and dinner-suits. Sneakers, t-shirts and cut-off jeans and everything in between, and I’m talking about the crowd not the models scorching up and down the runway.
Elder statesmen, rug-rats, matriarchs, fixie hipsters, suburban mums and dads (my category), politicians, urban socialites, Tour de France racers, tree-huggers, BMX bandits, mountainbikers and road warriors. It was a delicious mix from all walks of life and that diversity really added something to the night.
I’ve watched bicycle culture exploding in cities all over the world in the last few years and wondered if we could ever make it happen here. Portland’s Pedalpalooza and Zoo Bomb, London’s Naked Bike Ride, New York’s Summer Streets, various Bicycle Film Festivals. There is bikey stuff happening everywhere and I have been green with envy. Thursday night’s experience confirmed to me that we are further down the track than I expected, the enthusiasm in that room was palpable.
The bike fashion on display was wonderful too. New Zealand cycle style has traditionally been viewed as the uniforms of various sporting cliques. You have the Lycra® Cowboys that descend upon the city at dawn like swarms of neon cockroaches, clogging the city streets and frustrating bike and car commuters alike. What some of these people are thinking is puzzling as many of those physiques are not suitable for shrink-wrapping. It’s like a malfunctioning sausage machine has attempted to squeeze a sumo wrestler into a circus chimp’s clown costume – not a pretty site at any hour of the day and down right nauseating on an empty stomach.
The mountainbike crowd make a better fist of it, still plenty of Lycra® on show but many of the new styles look just like street-clothes, especially from some of the New Zealand brands. You could walk down the street in it and not feel out of place.
But you don’t need special clothes to ride a bike, you’re picking up a bottle of milk or riding to work, not ascending Mont Ventoux.
I got a real sense of excitement from the crowd and a hunger for bicycle culture in our city that you don’t come across in your day to day routine. If the organizers were worried about getting the numbers required they worried in vain because the event sold out and this bodes well for a repeat next year. The inaugural Cycle Style Auckland was a great success and it can only get bigger and better as word spreads and cycle culture continues to boom next summer. Lets have more events like this!