After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Vancouver's cycling style sense: Can Vancouver become Cycle Chic?

Vancouver Cycle Chic aims to promote style over speed, encouraging more Vancouverites to get on their bikes without spending a fortune on cyclewear. Be sure to check out the Vancouver Cycle Chic Social on June 29.

Vancouver Cycle Chic--Can Vancouverites be cycle chic?
Photo credit: Christoph Prevost

Cyclist. When you think of the word, you imagine a person clad in skin-tight fluorescent spandex with a matching helmet and reflective shades, riding a 10-speed bike that can be lifted with one hand. Does it make you cringe a little? Or perhaps make you feel compelled to purchase the same outfit before you can hop on a bike?

Well that’s the image Vancouver Cycle Chic is trying to change.

In short, David Phu, founder of the Vancouver Cycle Chic chapter describes Vancouver’s cycle style as awful.

While the cyclist spandex is practical, it’s not something everyone can afford or even wants to wear. “I started biking every day in 2005,” said Phu. “I wore regular clothes on my commutes, but as I observed other commuters I became increasingly intimidated by all the lycra, MEC/Gore-Tex uniforms and helmets I was surrounded by.”

Just as Phu was about to drop a few bills and pick up his own set of standard cyclewear, he discovered Copenhagen Cycle Chic. “I discovered that biking is very different everywhere else on the planet except here in North America. Everywhere else was just normal.” After speaking with Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagen Cycle Chic, Vancouver Cycle Chic was formed.

Vancouver Cycle Chic

Photo credit: Vancouver Cycle Chic

Cycle Chic advocates style over speed and defines itself as advocacy on heels. “Everyday biking [should] be every bit as ordinary as walking from point A to B. It’s about dressing for the destination, not the journey,” says Phu. “People seem to think that biking is dangerous and sporty, but it’s not. The clothes I wear on my bike are the same clothes that I would wear anywhere else.”

Cycle Chic Vancouver aims to make Vancouver a bike-friendly city where people would actually consider hopping on their bike to get to their friends’ houses or to the mall. “Vancouver will come around,” Phu insists, “Who doesn’t want healthy, active, connected citizens?” While the progress has been slow, Vancouver has made its efforts to increase biking including its new bike infrastructure and of course, the Vancouver Cycle Chic blog.

“I want my city to be bikeable. I want people to think that biking is an option,” says Phu, “Biking has been a hot solution for tons of great cities and Vancouver has nothing but opportunity and room for this.”

Vancouver Cycle Chic aims to make biking as ordinary as it is in cities such as Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Barcelona. Through propagating images of Vancouverites dressed casually while biking, Vancouver Cycle Chic is helping to raise cycle chic bike-awareness. “I believe...generations of misconceptions have turned us into a car-obsessed society that has alienated pedestrians and bikes...If the government keeps up their work on policy on infrastructure, then we might all have a bikeable city in the long term.”

Vancouver Cycle Chic

Photo credit: Vancouver Cycle Chic

While Vancouver Cycle Chic is still in its early phases, its top blogs are reaching over 15,000 hits per day, inspiring people to just hop on their bikes and go—no spandex required.

Vancouver Cycle Chic is hosting a Cycle Chic Social on June 29, 2012, to promote its success in joining cycling and style. The party will feature a fashion show by Fashionilla and other local designers, local art displays, music and much more. The event is also being catered by Edible Mark (Mark Tagulao) and Earnest Ice Cream.

Thank yous:

Vancouver Cycle Chic Society, Opus Bicycles, Cuchè Bikinis, Rowan Sky, Whoa! Nellie Bikes, Fashionilla, Grass Frames, Neighbour, Bianca Barr Designs, Dream Apparel, Macpherson Crate Co., MarkED Edible Design, Earnest Ice Cream, Beaumont Studios, Blanche Macdonald Centre, Numa Models, Velo Tack, and Eco Fashion Week.



More in Fashion

Deeeeep detritus => haute couture

Victoria Marina fetes Canada Day with flotsam fashions to benefit Ocean Legacy
Margaret Atwood, Canada's Queen of Curls

Smart women who rock their curls

Here’s a list of talented, brainy, creative women who are rocking the world while they rock their curls.

Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week[End] returns for its third year

VALT is about living in an Alternative Fashion, and it is so much more than simply showing unique clothes, because Vancouver is alternative, said Ferneyhough.
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.