Sunday, 29 May 2011

I like to ride my bicycle

Last year my darling partner in crime decided he wanted to build us both a bicycle; this was a little out of the blue. We live in Dallas, not the centre of bicycling, Copenhagen and Portland it most certainly is not. In fact Dallas was named as one of the most bike unfriendly places in the US, in 2008, by Bicycling Magazine. There are BIG trucks, there are BIG highways and there are BIG, long hot summers. There are not that many canal paths, shady bike lanes or quiet streets to pedal to your pleasure along. BUT Dallas has a vision (or a few folks in Dallas do). Dallas is a “can do” city and after living here a few years our cynical British hearts have been infected with the attitude, and we fear the positivity and can do-ness may be getting worse!

Our bike story began at the Dallas City Store, our tiny apartment/flat has become a home and a bike shop and several weeks later two of the greatest bikes in the world were born. Okay so they may not be the greatest, and they are definitely works in progress but for a first attempt they are really rather great. Full disclosure: The bikes were not actually built by aforementioned in house bicycle maker; the old police bicycles were stripped, re-sprayed and customized. See below for brief photo journal of the entire performance:

Despite the obsessive tendencies of our resident bicycle maker and the chaos that is constantly our tiny, very tiny, apartment/flat. (In our dreams our next place will definitely have a craft room, shed, garage and a garden. In our practicalities the next place must at the very least have a second room/space for hobbies both his and hers!) It is great to be able to modify as needs arise, yes I would like a pink crate on the back of my bike, yes I would like up right handle bars, oh yes please pretty saddle! The other nice thing about in house bicycle maker is if something does go wrong I do not have very far to go to get an allen key and a repair. He is now in the process of customizing friends bicycles and is looking into training as a bike mechanic and only one of those statements is a half truth.

We have come full wheel and earlier this year we attended the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Austin, where the in house bicycle maker was in his heaven and chatted with all sorts of other slightly obsessive types about cranks, shifters and frames. 
The very friendly Brooks Bicycle Company representative was happy to hear that we ride bicycles in Dallas. The Brooks Bicycle Company is an English company established in 1866, it is small, their products are pricey but they are all lovingly hand crafted and so beautiful that they are like works of arts on your bicycle.

The bikes are pretty, but the other BIG reason why I love to ride my bicycle is the community. We have met some wonderful people and we have had the best times cycling around Dallas. We have seen a fun, friendly side of Dallas we would never have been a part of were it not for our bicycles.

Our first introduction to the world of the cycling in Dallas were our very dear neighbors, they have since abandoned us in their move to the North East, as we have had a fun visit to Boston see previous post, we have sort of forgiven them for the abandonment. A few friends started Bike Friendly Knox Henderson; a group started, “to use bicycling as a means to building a happier, healthier, and more livable community.” The group was based on the excellent Bike Friendly Oak Cliff started by (amongst others) Mr. Jason Roberts; whom it could be argued is the one of the founding fathers of promoting a cycling culture in Dallas, (amongst many, many, many, other things). Out of these small local neighborhood groups, more and more groups and communities have formed re-formed and combined forces so that on any given week in Dallas (and surrounding suburbs, Richardson, Denton and Arlington in particular have very active bicycling clubs and groups) you can find at least one ride to suit your riding needs. There are fast rides, slow rides, rides to events, riding around just for fun, historical rides, tweed rides etc. etc. Dallas Cycle Chic, promoting bicycling throughout Dallas, based on the original Copenhagen Cycle Chic, was a big success in it’s inaugural year, 2011.

Cycling is becoming increasingly popular as more people in Dallas and beyond realize that cycling does not just have to be about spandex nor is it an exclusive sports activity (although we do love ALL of our fellow bicyclists to quote Dallas Cycle Chic; “With or without spandex”). At a time of rising gas/petrol prices people are looking to alternatives to the private car and the bicycle is a great mode of transportation. (Yes; the bicycle ride can get a little sweaty but that’s why short sleeves, sunscreen, showers and deodorant are important!) Your health improves without having to make any extra time for the gym or working out. It is built into your day; so your bike ride is your commute and it is your ride to the concert or the shops/store.  Cycling is very social. Cycling is also great for the environment, fewer cars obviously means fewer emissions. But more bicycles also means fewer speedy cars whizzing through your neighborhood, which equals a safer friendly place to live, work and play in.  Dallas has officially jumped on the bike wagon with the soon to be adopted (fingers crossed) Dallas Bike Plan 2011. All of this is great news for not just the bicycling community of Dallas but Dallas as a whole.


Liz said...

Love this. So much.

Ola Ozranov-Palchik said...

Wonderful post Jigs!