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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.

Nowa­days the bicy­cle is an expres­sion of a modern, chic lifestyle.

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.