07 NOVEMBER 2016
The Bicycle Made for Cities
If you lined up every bicycle ever built since the 1880s, the vast majority would look much like the one above. Easily 75%. It would probably be black, with three speeds, a chainguard and coaster brakes. Since the 1970s, bicycles designed for racing or touring or climbing hills have increased in popularity but when it comes to transport in cities and towns, nothing beats the upright bicycle. There are many reasons for why it became – by far – the most popular bicycle design in history. The simplest one is that it appeals to regular citizens and has been well-suited to urban life for over a century.
For the purpose of this article, we’re going to a festive dinner party. To explore, over cocktails, why upright bikes – the norm in mainstream bicycle cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen – should be promoted more for city living. They have been sadly neglected for many years by a rather singular focus on cycling for sports or recreation. Now, however, bicycles are back as transport and bikes for the 99% are an important aspect of growing cycling levels. Brent Toderian and Chris Brunlett tackled this subject well in their recent joint article – In Praise of the Upright Bike.