Angry Robot

Curbside, City Bikes, North America

This sort of meanders naturally from the previous post.

So yeah, I was making some discoveries about bike types, including the surprisingly practical Dutch bikes, which no one seems to use here.

Except, they do. Sort of.

Dutch bikes are a type of city bike, which is sometimes also called a utility bike, a cruiser or a roadster.

Doing my research for possible bike purchases, I stumbled upon Simcoe, a new Canadian bike company. As it turns out, it was run by the people who do Curbside Cycle, an Annex bike store I had visited many times. Their specialty? City bikes.

Also, talking. Listening to the mighty Eric get rhapsodical about Simcoe, I learned a lot about these city bikes. Here’s an interview with him that will provide a reasonable facsimile of the experience:

You can create a direct link between the decline of the bicycle and mid-20th century suburban expansion. At the turn of 20th century, North American cities supported a dense urban culture where 90% of activities took place within 10km of your home. In that situation, the bicycle was an ideal mode of transportation and upright bikes, or “city-bikes,” were everywhere. But as suburbs evolved and people began to live further from their daily destinations, the bicycle fell into relative disuse. Cycling also didn’t really work in suburbs because cul-de-sacs don’t encourage terribly serious biking. Your main supplier in that situation is a store like Canadian Tire where you could buy relatively inexpensive, lesser quality bikes. Out in the countryside, cycling evolved into an adrenaline sport, i.e. performance road racing, mountain biking and BMX and whole new bicycle varieties were invented while cycling’s urban antecedents was slowly stripped away.

More thrilling heroics on this topic in the next post.