The good news is it's a bicycling story in the NYTimes. The bad news is they are being treated like fashion accessories. Next week it'll be chihuahuas or pocket watches. But there is not denying that New York has made a concerted effort to embrace the bicycle in recent years so it's not surprising to see it influencing fashion designers. All in all a good thing.
Until recently, bikes were merely fashionable. Lately, it seems, they are fashion — and they don’t have to be ultraexpensive novelty items to qualify. As fashion companies start marketing bicycles and bike gear, Mr. Dutreil, a supporter of bicycle-advocacy programs in New York, said he wants to see more cyclists pedaling around in high style, just like that woman in the Randall photograph.
“An elegant lady or man,” he said, “on a bike that is elegant, that’s really the new art of living.”
But some purists worry that their beloved bikes are being turned into a showy status symbol.
“There is definitely a downside to biking when bikes become a fashion fad,” Wendy Booher, 39, a cycling journalist in Somerville, Mass., wrote in an e-mail message. “If you unleash a herd of teetering, wobbly fashionistas into city streets without any real knowledge of how to ride a bike in traffic, accidents can (and likely will) happen.”Birgitte Philippides, a makeup artist who has been a bike commuter in New York for 20 years, said she finds amusing the idea of riding a shiny “It” bike in a city where you need to chain down your beater Murray three-speed with two Kryptonite locks. “The fancy-schmancy bikes, the ones you see in the Paul Smith windows, you couldn’t leave that out on the street for two minutes,” she said.
It is no coincidence that fashion is having a bike moment at the same time that New York City, the capital of American fashion, has gone bicycle crazy. The number of daily cyclists in the city has jumped to an estimated 185,000, from 107,000 in 2005, according to Transportation Alternatives, a bicycle-advocacy organization. Indeed, some New York designers are bike commuters themselves, like Steven Alan, who commutes to work on a foldable Strida, which looks like a bicycle as reimagined by Duchamp.
In addition, the city has installed more than 120 miles of bike lanes in the last two years, making it easier for new cyclists to take to the streets dressed to impress, not to duel with cars.