The bicycle as a cult(ural) item
Today the bicycle is firmly embedded in society. It has reinvented itself and has become a symbol of autonomous, healthy and environmentally friendly transportation.
Everyday cycle chic
In towns and cities the bicycle has long since become a fashion and lifestyle item. Nowadays cycling is also an expression of a modern, chic lifestyle. So things like cycle clothing get a great deal of attention. For instance, the fashion blog Copenhagen Cycle Chic devotes itself entirely to finding the right cycling outfit. However, this is not about high-tech clothing for the professional biker, it's primarily about everyday fashion that can be worn on a bicycle. Companies are also addressing the issue: Levis has for example latched on to the cycle chic trend and unveiled a cycle clothing collection called Levis Commuter. The Baden-Württemberg brand Dos Caballos has taken things a step further, devoting itself exclusively to cycle clothing.
Trendy cultural activities put the bicycle in the spotlight
Many "bike people" and initiatives involving various cycling activities seek to drum up support for cycling and cycling-friendly towns and cities, and also to draw attention to their presence as road users and to demand more dedicated road space. One example of this is the global Critical Mass movement. This involves people meeting up and riding through towns as a group: for instance on the first Friday of every month in Stuttgart.
The bicycle in music and film
The 10-member brass band "Moop Mama" brought out a rap song called "Die Erfindung des Rades" ("The Invention of the Bike") in 2016 – just one of many examples of the bicycle featuring in popular music. In 2005 Katie Melua had a huge hit with her song "Nine Million Bicycles in Beijing". In 2002 US rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers brought out their "Bicycle Song". And in the early 1990s the acapella pop band "Die Prinzen" launched their song "Mein Fahrrad" ("My Bicycle"), while a decade earlier the iconic electropop group Kraftwerk had a hit with "Tour de France". In 1978 the song "Bicycle Race" by British rock group Queen largely became known for its refrain "I want to ride my bicycle". Various bands have brought out different versions of the Bavarian folk-style song "Ja, mir san mim Radl da…." since it first appeared in the early 1970s.
Over this period, cycling themes have also found their way back into films: The iconic biking film according to cycling aficionados is the 2012 action thriller "Premium Rush", a story about a cycle courier in New York City who unintentionally gets embroiled in an illegal money scam and then has to "cycle for his life". New York City was also where the Bicycle Film Festival was inaugurated in 2001. It's based in New York, but it's also a touring event which has visited over 50 cities around the world since then. Comedies like Tati's "Traffic" or family films like "The Kid with a Bike" by the Belgian Dardenne brothers, or thrillers like "Peking Bicycle" by Wang Xiaoshuai provide a great stage for the bicycle. The official review of the drama "Wadjda" said it was "highly recommended". Although as a girl Wadjda is not allowed to cycle in her home city of Riyadh, she finds inventive ways to save up for her dream bicycle. It's a film about strong Arabian women who fight for the right of women to determine their own future.
BU: "Wadjda" is the first Saudi Arabian film to be directed by a woman. In it the bicycle symbolises youth, freedom and autonomy.