It has been an amazing weekend and I'm thrilled to report that the majority of it was spent on my bicycle! And as promised, here is my panda action shot from the Critical Mass 20th Birthday Ride! Massive amounts of cyclists showed up, and I will defer to Adrienne's very well written and well documented post about it on Change Your Life, Ride A Bike instead of attempting to write something less stellar and with mediocre photos. We had an incredible, fun, safe and friendly ride on Friday, and most people we passed in cars and on the street were happy to see us celebrating twenty years of one of the most successful and sustaining public protests in history!
I'm ready to get critical today - the 20th anniversary of the first Critical Mass in San Francisco, the demonstration that kicked off a worldwide movement to raise awareness and consciousness that cyclists are part of traffic. Join me and thousands of other cyclists who strongly feel that we belong here on the streets, and come celebrate the strength of many as we ride on in solidarity! Wish I could have taken a more active self-portrait, but Cloud doesn't know how to operate a camera... yet. I'll promise to take some more shots that pass the Bike Test once I'm out on the streets tonight and share them with you here.
poster art by Meligrosa
Are you getting ready to play Critical Mass 20th Anniversary on Friday? Suggested itinerary: Ride Critical Mass, peel off and view some vintage bike films at Oddball in the mission, eat some good foods from MamakSF at the event.
Poster by Mona Caron I'm off to Palm Springs, CA for a long weekend, but before I jet, I wanted to let you all know about the festivities celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Critical Mass next week. Like it or not, ride it or not, Critical Mass caused a critical shift in awareness about city cycling at a time when we needed it most. And many cyclists around the world continue to find incredible inspiration from this tradition that began right here in San Francisco 20 years ago. Cycling in cities has evolved, but we've still got a long road before us, which is why we should all tip our hats to Critical Mass next week. Also you can purchase this gorgeous poster by Mona Caron, whether or not you think it passes the Bike Test or not. Ride on, two wheelers! xoxo
One of my most favorite discussions, women and biking, has come to the podium again. Elly Blue has written an article in which she lays out criteria for the Bike Test, modeled after the film industry's Bechdel Test. I couldn't be more pleased. Like Madonna and Lady Gaga, I'm one of those people who believe that any kind of PR is good PR: if it gets people to start talking about the subject more, then that's a good thing. Which is why, four and a half years ago, I was inspired by Cycle Chic and Mikael Colville Andersen to start this very blog about women, street fashion and the bicycle. Quite serendipitously since Cycle Chic hit the streets and the blogosphere, many good things have taken flight: 1) more bike blogs by women (and men), 2) more women and men in North America using the bicycle for every day transportation, and 3) more types of bikes on the streets. Whether or not this can be attributed to Cycle Chic or not is highly debatable. Many MANY factors contribute to the rise of cycling as a real form of transportation (rise in gas prices, awareness of climate change and the desire to "go green"), but the Cycle Chic phenomenon cannot be overlooked as a factor. My own self included, many women were inspired and empowered by seeing other women wearing fashionable clothing while riding European style bicycles to work and play, and they decided to get their own bikes and join the movement. Let me tell you my own story as an example. I'm going to start from the beginning. My whole life, I have always loved the bicycle. I used to have a yellow Schwinn with a banana seat when I was a kid. When I was a teenager, I graduated to a mountain bike. It was the trendy thing to do as I lived in Marin County. I used to ride everywhere - to work, to visit friends, to play, to exercise. (I never wore a helmet either.) I brought the bike to college in San Diego and when I lived off campus, I used to ride my bike to school, until it got stolen when I left it parked overnight during finals. I inherited another mountain bike from a friend of mine, and was more careful with it. I kept that bike through grad school and beyond. It came with me when I moved to Los Angeles. I never bike-commuted to work because I worked at night and I lived too far away from my office. I did, however, ride it around my neighborhood to yoga, farmers' markets and cafés to meet friends. When I decided to move back to the Bay Area in 2006, I gave the bike to my friend who helped me move out of my Silver Lake apartment. Back in the Bay Area, I lived in West Marin for a year and a half. Again, the job I ended up with prevented me from biking to and from work. It was a night job, or should I say THEY were night jobs. I had three of them, and all of them started at 5 pm and ended at 2 am, and some of them were over 32 miles away from home, over bridges with no bike lane. So I bought a new bike that I would enjoy during the day. I got a road bike, with clipless pedals even, and I wore a helmet, lycra shorts, butt pads and cycle jerseys when I rode this bike through redwood forests, along streams, past reservoirs and pastures, and I did this for about 2 - 3 hours every single day. On weekdays, in one of the most beautiful counties in California, I literally got high riding my bike. And on weekends, I rode this same road bike to and from San Francisco to party and stay with my friends and enjoy my singlehood. This road bike, belovedly named Beurre et Sucre, is one of my very favorites. Every time I saddle up, happiness and exhilaration ensue. I moved from West Marin to San Francisco in 2007, and for many reasons, it was clear that the Beurre et Sucre was not an ideal everyday bike for The City. This is when Cycle Chic comes in. On New Year's Eve, my friend and co-founder of Vélo Vogue, Lilia, invited me to a Cyclecide party at the Junkyard. I didn't feel comfortable riding my road bike with clipless pedals in my New Year's outfit and high heels to the party across town. I couldn't blend fashion with my bicycle. I remember her words to me on that night to this day: "But Kristin, bicycle IS fashion." I ended up taking the bus, but I also had one of the most memorable riding double experiences on the way home on the back of a boy's bike at 4 o'clock in the morning that I will take to my grave. Shortly after that night, in fact in February of 2008, Lilia sent me a link to Cycle Chic. I immediately related to its appeal. These gorgeous Scandinavian women rode bicycles wearing Christian Louboutins and I was sold. The next day, I took a photo of a stylish woman on a bicycle in San Francisco, and Vélo Vogue was born. I also found a new-to-me bike on Craigslist - a Motobécane Mixte for $88 that I bought on Chinese New Year and instantly knew that it would be my new city bike. Le Rouge et Noir became my new ride, and my notion of cycling was redefined. I am telling you my life story for the simple reason that I am not only a woman who rides a bicycle and writes a blog about it. I am also a woman who is an award-winning filmmaker. So the Bechdel Test is something that I feel very strongly about. HOWEVER, my film that currently is in festivals, Forms of Identification, might not pass the Bechdel Test. Even though it has all the ingredients of feminist quandary, from a purist's standpoint, it might fail. This is the very same reason that Vélo Vogue is independent of the Cycle Chic Republic. I do not subscribe to the Cycle Chic Manifesto. I also do not absolutely subscribe to the Bechdel Test as a filmmaker. Therefore, I cannot absolutely subscribe to the Bike Bechdel Test as a bike blogger. I support both the Test and the Manifesto wholeheartedly for their good intentions to inspire more realistic portrayals of women in film and more real women on bikes, respectively. I also think that both the Manifesto and the Test provide some people a framework within to operate. If you need these rules, then take the inspiration and ride on. The Bike Bechdel Test, like the Cycle Chic Manifesto, both question today's norm, but in different ways. Since we still live in a democracy, we know that access to information and freedom of speech and expression are what makes it all possible. We need these different approaches to the movement to keep it healthy and diverse, so all kinds of women and all kinds of cyclists can not only find their place, but become empowered to go the extra mile and create and participate. So, since I am a woman bike blogger and a woman filmmaker/mediamaker, here's what I vow to do with the new Bike Bechdel Test. I will subject all my posts about women and bikes to the following criteria in hopes that the content will spark dialogue that challenges the status quo and the definition of women and biking in the same way that Cycle Chic changed the game for me four years ago: 1. Are women present or represented at all? 2. Are the women presented as active subjects rather than passive objects? 3. If the gender were reversed, would the meaning stay more or less unchanged? (Or would the image become hilarious?) My hope is that these criteria will lift the discussion to a new level on this blog and my peers' blogs, and inspire male and female bike bloggers to scrutinize their posts about women and cycling in a new light, and that this light will carry to bike manufacturers, bike shops, bike expos, bike clothing and accessory designers to rethink exactly what inspires real women to hop on a bike and what women really need to change the world. Yes, I said it. Change The World.
I'm often disheartened by the animosity between cyclists and motorists in San Francisco, a city whose heritage is one of tolerance, openness, and yes, peace and love. In our lifetime, in this city and in this country, I think we can achieve more harmonious shared roadways for cyclists, motorists, pedestrians and other kinds of ambulant beings, but we need to slow down and be more aware of our surroundings. We need to envision a community where we don't have to fight with others for a sliver of space on the same road. We need to envision a community where politeness comes before entitlement. We need to envision a community where each of us is responsible for the safety of all who use our public streets, instead of placing blame on the other. I believe we can coexist. We must first start by envisioning a community of tolerance, awareness, politeness and safety for all, and then as a community, we must set those visions into motion through our actions.
This post is dedicated to the way that bicycles bring people together. And how riding together is such a fun experience of life. The more the merrier! by Franz-Michael S. Mellbin in Copenhagen by SebastianCorrea by Simply Bike in the Midwest by Cameron Adams in Atlanta Image by John Hwang from ubrayj02 on flickr Image by Joe Atlas by ubrayj02 on flickr by Kristin Tieche in SF Pas de quatre! by 'Xander in Toronto
Marc of Amsterdamize. Hello American Women! We own this, right? So now, let's show the naysayers, and the world, just what we've been trying to prove for years. The time is now. It's about us. That means you and me.
It's September Inside, and the Giants, believe it or not, are STILL in first place in the division. This weekend they take on their rivals, the Dodgers, so Robin and I would like to wish them the best of luck! Robin, the sexiest Giants fan by far, is now the proud owner of the sexiest bike. Para los Gigantes con amor... VAMOSSSSSSS!!!!!! [BEAT LA!]
Today is as fitting a day as any to bring the conversation back to Le Carré Rouge - symbol of solidarity with the Quebec student movement - otherwise known as Maple Spring. The student protests essentially rose from discontent over tuition hikes, and the Quebecois came out in droves to support them. Basically, if you were not wearing a little red square in the summer of 2012, you were... well... square. Quebec went to the polls on Tuesday and the Quebec Separatist Party came out winning. This is largely due to the unpopularity of Jean Charest, versus the Quebecois' desire to secede. Even though I was a little late for Les Casseroles, when the Quebecois took to the streets in peaceful protest banging pots and pans, thankfully, I was in Montreal to witness the vibe. Here's an interview with Camille Robert, a spokesperson from the Carrés Rouges - explaining that the student movement grew to include more than just students, but families, elders and other people who felt the need to manifest their dissent publicly. I'd like to think that yesterday's election of the Separatist Party, giving Quebec a leftist and female head of government, is a sign that true democracy still exists, and that the people's voice does matter, and especially when it comes to our votes, that it just doesn't come down to who controls the money. Vive le Quebec Libre!
Ride 'em, Cowboys! The Astros? Seriously? Hey girl, Toronto was boring before you came to visit. Bixi is the best! This bike cop literally tried to pick me up after I snapped this shot. But the hottest of all two-wheeled Torontonians has gotta be 'Xander of 416cyclestyle. He gets extra points for coming to my film screening when I was there this summer, and for being an all around great guy and excellent bike blogger.