Dorkness Visible

January 11, 2009

So it turns out that when you ride a big heavy commuter bike that’s laden down with clothes and books all week, a weekend spin on a road bike is weirdly liberating. It’s almost like having no bicycle at all.

Which doesn’t mean that I haven’t been totally digging the big heavy bike. It’s been a while since I rode in downtown rush hour traffic, so I’m trying to be as visible as possible. In the day that just means my big yellow reflective jacket. But I’m working two evenings a week, when I take the train home. Usually then I’m wearing my black leather jacket, which is far from ideal for the night-time mile or so from the MARTA station to my house. Luckily there’s this incredibly dorky solution, which I’ve just ordered:

Brilliantly visible, in a wonderfully silly sort of way. Once it arrives, I’m sure I’ll get a weird bust of satisfaction from strapping a giant triangle to myself. Maybe I’ll wear it around the house just for fun.

On another note, this is the first piece I’ve read that acknowledges the cyclists who seem totally unreached by mainstream bike culture. It could be my own ignorance – and I really hope it is – but there seems to be a massive disconnect between bike advocacy and low income cyclists, particularly immigrants. Does anyone know if there are many Spanish language bike groups? I see plenty of advocacy for bike commuters like me, people who are middle class or nearly so, and strap giant dorky reflective triangles to themselves. But because a lot of that sort of thing centers around bike stores (not to mention people with internet access), I don’t see signs of much outreach to people who can’t afford to buy cool reflective stuff and nifty panniers.

Do collectives like Atlanta’s SOPO reach the city’s immigrant communities? Are there other groups out there helping low income bike commuters to maintain their bikes and have access to the equipment needed for safe riding? I hope so, and that my lack of awareness of them is a function of my own ignorance.