By: Dora A. Ayora Talavera
“We live in a cyclist town”, in Mexico we use this expression in a pejorative way, meaning a place that is underdeveloped. Nowadays, when someone use this expression I do not know exactly what it means, because this phrase makes me think about some towns that I had met; towns that commonly use bicycles as a transport and I like them very much.
I met a cyclist town, where its main transport are two wheels, thought there were two legs… and four, six, twelve even one hundred wheels if we think of train.
What did I find there?
A city that privilege pedestrians and bicycles presence, that makes it fascinating to travel its streets, letting appreciate among other things, the diversity of bicycles models that exist and showing all the options you can choose according to your needs.
I am going to describe some examples that I found:
There were the Old Fashion models, they were the most common, I call them Bike-banger, they thunder while pedalling. They are very safe to pedestrians, you know when they are coming because of their thundering; the owners look relax without any worry about their sonority.
There were the Modern models, racing bicycles, light, which look like they do not weight anything and these are the fastest. They pass as fast as the cyclist blows away and you just feel a gust of wind.
Family models are fantastic, to two and three people. Exactly, what I dreamt to ride with my sisters. There are many family models: a big one the front and a small one at the back, they are used to transport kids to school. Another one is a traditional bicycle with a small chair at the back, where babies go tied with a sit bel and a helmet; they are sleeping while their heads are shaking from side to side.
I could see some models that I call Twins, they are like a motorcycle with sidecar, the sidecar could be opened or closed depending on the weather. They were used to transport kids and babies too.
There was a model that could be perfect to my father; it was like a tricycle with the loading area at the back, a big one. I can imagine him with short trousers and venison-skin sandals riding the tricycle; in the loading area his shotgun and a wild boar, product of his hobby, hunting. Of course, this model can be used to carry groceries too.
Another model, is the traditional tricycle with a big basket in the front, but it is covered with checked fabric and the person that is inside the basket just have the head outside, during rainy seasons it could be very useful.
If social practices tell many things about the culture of a country, let’s imagine all the models that Mexican ingenuity could create, and how they could change our transportations practices.
Ironically that cyclist town had some lacks, it did not any street vendors, it did not have stray dogs, neither advertising on buildings, during presidential elections there were not hordes of political advertising invading the city and making life impossible.
I do not believe that every cyclist town has to be the same, however, if being one implies to have a city that privilege citizens instead cars, that privilege the beauty of the buildings instead marketing, it could make our cities, a space that favours the healthy practice of walking and riding our bikes.
Should we become a cyclist town? What do you think?